Saturday, January 03, 2015

Here we go again! Books of 2014.

Another year done and the inevitable round up posts and hopes to post more often and more interestingly during 2015.  So, let us start with books.

The full list of what I consumed this year follows, and as is traditional audio books are italicised.  Not quite as many as last year, but I’m still quite pleased with the total and can even remember most of them!  There are a reasons for the dip in numbers – a couple of the books were pretty darn long (for example I finally caved in after years of wanting to and re-read the Lord Of The Rings.  This has been counted as just one book despite the option to divide into three (or even four if you take the appendices to their extremes)).  I also took two breaks from audio books, once when we were away (as I did not know if I would get the chance for regular enough listening to not lose track of my place – this extended for a month or so after we got back too as I had filled my phone up with music and had to listen through all of that before resuming) and also before Christmas as again I didn’t want to be in the middle of something with irregular availability.

I can also blame the acquisition of an iPad for distracting me from general book-based reading.  OK, I have used it for the Asterix books but where in previous years I might have turned a few pages while Joan was watching TV I am now more likely to be browsing blogs or other web-based distractions or playing Candy Crush.  The Kindle app on the phone has been useful in keeping the decline from being steeper though, as books like the QI ones are best digested in bite-sized chunks on the bus or between appointments rather than being for general bulk reading.

Not included in the list are books read by Mark Oshiro over at his Mark Reads project.  I have been in two minds about whether to include them or not, after all if I am happy to list audio books, why not videos of someone reading them out loud, with interjections?  I have been reading his reviews for a while, but drifted away from the site not long after he started doing the video reviews – mainly because he was covering books I wasn’t interested in and I prefer to read/listen to them myself before going for the Mark Reads experience.  But now he has started the Discworld books so I am glued to those posts.  If you go back through the older versions of this post it is clear from the word clouds, never mind the lists, that Terry Pratchett is probably my most-read author over the last ten years or so, so I felt no need to add to his size in the cloud by listing each one as Mark finishes them as well.

As is usually the case, I didn't meet a book I didn't enjoy this year.  This is partly through careful selection and knowing the sort of thing I like, partly through continuing series I have enjoyed and partly through having an open mind to seek out entertainment or information wherever I go looking.  So I feel confident in recommending anything on the list.  Some particular faves though:

The Writer’s Tale – an exquisite account of the last series and specials of the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who, basically reproducing emails between RTD and journalist Benjamin Cook.  A real insight into one way of writing and making  a hit TV series but making no claims to be the only way to do it.  It is also one of those books that makes me want to write more, and then get disheartened when I read my efforts back.  I really would like to study the art of writing more, and to get more practise so that words, images, metaphors and so forth flow more easily from me, but life does seem to get in the way.

The ongoing Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire saga – I am now at the same point in the books as the TV adaptation has reached and cannot decide whether to read on and get ahead of the visuals or not.  Following familiar paths but spotting the differences has been fun this way round, and I am not sure if I want to reverse that!

The Shadow Of The Seer – I remember devouring the first three of Michael Scott-Rohan’s “Winter Of The World” books at college and being thrilled a few years after graduating when he put a few more out.  I guess the last one must have appeared around when I first moved in with Joan, when we got married or when we bought the house as for one of those reasons time and cash was tight and I never got round to buying it.  As is the way of these things, some books just disappear from print rapidly and never seem to arrive in second hand bookshops either.  This one came back into my head when I first discovered Amazon and other online sources, but second hand copies were going for £30+ which I decided was way too steep.  Then finally this year it appeared on Kindle and I was bale at last to complete the saga.  It turns out this last book was not a direct follow-on to the rest of them tales so worked well in isolation, but has whetted my appetite for a complete re-read when time permits.

And of course it goes without saying that this is not a book of the year list – with the exception of the second QI entry I don’t think any of these are 2014 originals, just the books I happened to enjoy during those twelve months.  There were times when I couldn’t walk past Amberstones in Ipswich (or before that Clulows in Derby) without the latest work by an author I adored appearing in the window and having to be bought there and then for immediate enjoyment but these days I am happy to wait until time permits (and I have the entire set if appropriate) before diving in…  (Oh, and if anyone was wondering, the plan to do a photo of the day on a book or reading related subject was derailed by illness and never restarted.)

Robert Macfarlane The Wild Places
Neil Gaiman Fortunately, The Milk...
Michael Palin Himalaya
Terrance Dicks Doctor Who And The Brain Of Morbius
Joe Bennett Mustn't Grumble
David Long Tunnels, Towers and Temples: London's 100 Strangest Places
John Lloyd & Jon Canter Afterliff
Naomi Novik Empire Of Ivory
Rene Goscinny & Albert Uderzo Asterix And The Soothsayer
John Lloyd, John Mitchinson & James Harkin 1339 QI Facts To Make Your Jaw Drop
Simon Singh The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets
Bill Bryson At Home
Rene Goscinny & Albert Uderzo Asterix In Corsica
John Wyndham The Day Of The Triffids
George R.R. Martin A Storm Of Swords: Steel And Snow
Danny Dorling The 32 Stops (The Central Line)
Hunter Davies Behind The Scenes At The Museum Of Baked Beans
Rene Goscinny & Albert Uderzo Asterix And Ceasar's Gift
David Fisher Doctor Who And The Creature From The Pit
Mark Forsyth The Elements Of Eloquence: How To Turn The Perfect English Phrase
Michael Scott Rohan The Shadow Of The Seer
Terry Pratchett I Shall Wear Midnight
Rory McGrath Bearded Tit
Simon Garfield On The Map
Rene Goscinny & Albert Uderzo Asterix And The Great Crossing
Michael A. Johnson A 1980s Childhood
Terry Pratchett Raising Steam
Alistair Maclean Puppet On A Chain
Alain De Botton The Art Of Travel
Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene
Julian Barnes The Pedant In The Kitchen
Mark Billingham Lazybones
Marcus Hearn Doctor Who – The Vault
Jon Ronson Them: Adventures With Extremists
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman Good Omens
J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord Of The Rings
Travis Elborough Wish You Were Here
Rene Goscinny & Albert Uderzo Obelix And Co.
Patrick Bishop Wings
Jen Campbell More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops
George R.R. Martin A Storm Of Swords: Blood And Gold
Richard Mabey A Good Parcel Of English Soil (The Metropolitan Line)
Alistair Maclean Bear Island
J. B. Morrison The Extra Ordinary Life Of Frank Derrick, Age 81
Neil & Sue Perryman Adventures With The Wife In Space: Living With Doctor Who
Neil Gaiman The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
Travis Elborough The Long-Player Goodbye
Tim Cahill Hold The Enlightenment
John Lloyd, John Mitchinson & James Harkin 1411 QI Facts To Knock You Sideways
Arthur Conan-Doyle The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
Russell T. Davies & Benjamin Cook Doctor Who: The Writers Tale (The Final Chapter)


John Medd said...

Tall order, I know, SImon, but pick one and we'll put it on our list at Sun Readers. Only two caveats - it must be 350 pages or less and be readily available second hand.


Happy New Year btw.


Simon said...

Ah, not sure on second hand availability as it is still fairly newly published, but The Ocean At The End Of The Lane was my favourite of the year and I would suggest it has plenty to discuss within.