“After the Armistice Ball” by Catriona McPherson
“The Burry Man’s Day” by Catriona McPherson
“Bury her Deep” by Catriona McPherson
More Dandy Gilver books; gentle, historical detective fiction set in Scotland.Â I find these books soothing and also quite funny in places.
“Transcription” by Kate Atkinson
Every Kate Atkinson book is really good.Â This one about a woman who works transcribing material for an English spy during the second world war is really good.Â I didn’t love it as much as I have loved some of her other books but it is still very, very good.
“Middle England” by Jonathan Coe
Jonathan Coe’s anguish on Brexit revisiting the characters from the Rotters’ club.Â I quite enjoyed this and a paragraph about our hero hooking up with his old girlfriend made me laugh out loud.
“How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig
This is about people who don’t age at the same rate as the rest of us.Â The premise is clever and it’s reasonably well executed.Â I liked it.Â I find Matt Haig is full of these ingenious plot ideas and he’s good at playing them out to their conclusions.
“The Dead Fathers’ Club” by Matt Haig
More Matt Haig ingenuity; it’s about a boy whose father dies but he keeps seeing him.Â It’s clever but quite depressing.Â There are definite echoes of Hamlet (the boy’s mother takes up with his uncle) but I could have done without that.
“How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran
This was really popular when released; I found it fine but a bit of its time.Â There’s a lot of journalism slightly reheated in here and in my experience that doesn’t work well a number of years after the event.
“Educated” by Tara Westover
I thought this autobiography about being brought up by very strict – actually insane in the case of the father – Mormons was absolutely eye-opening.Â This isn’t a genre I care for much in general but the author is an exceptionally good writer and she has an extraordinary story to tell.Â Possibly the best thing I’ve read so far this year.
“The Moncks and Charleville House: A Wicklow Family in the Nineteenth Century” by Elisabeth Batt
I went to visit Charleville House on an open day and I was curious to learn more about it and the family who lived there.Â This book fitted the bill but it’s really more family history/local history than anything else notwithstanding that one of the Moncks was very influential in Canadian history which was covered extensively.Â For enthusiasts only.
“Lethal White” by Robert Galbraith
Latest JK Rowling crime offering.Â I quite enjoyed this, I have to say but her plots get ever more ludicrously complex.
“Notes to Self” by Emilie Pine
This is a beautifully written personal series of essays.Â I really loved this book although at times I found the author a bit irritating because sometimes she does seem to believe that she is the only one who has really felt.Â But what a writer.
“The Dubliner Diaries” by Trevor White
The notions; this is a book about a loss making magazine that Trevor White edited through the boom.Â I found it funny in spots and a real reminder of how we lost the run of ourselves.
“My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor
I found this interesting but a bit worthy.Â I can see how Sotomayor is an excellent legal writer but as an autobiography this was plodding.Â
“The Break” by Marian Keyes
Meh, it was ok; very readable as Marian Keyes is so good at this kind of stuff but quite forgettable.
“The Wych Elm” by Tana French
Another brilliant author whose every new book I read.Â This is a mystery story set in Dublin but for my money, not the best book she has ever written.Â Â Â I know the hero is meant to be complex and not entirely sympathetic but I just found him tough going.
“Insurgent” by Veronica Roth
“Allegiant” by Veronica Roth
God, these are definitely the worst written books I have read this year.Â The latter was written from different character points of view and I kept forgetting which character was supposed to be narrating which chapter as the authorial voice was so unchanging.Â Still, they were a cultural phenomenon and I read them.Â I cannot recommend them.
“The Shepherd’s Life” by James Rebanks
This is a beautiful book.Â A big hit in England, I understand.Â I got it after hearing the author on “Desert Island Discs” (why, hello, middle age). It’s by a man who works as a shepherd in the Lake District.Â He assumes a degree of ignorance about the ways of agriculture and farmers in his writing that I suppose is warranted in England but can seem aÂ bit patronising in this jurisdiction.Â We are not very far removed from farming.Â I have a colleague whose father is a shepherd and he helps out at the farm at weekends and takes leave for lambing.Â I recommended this book to him but he’s pretty dubious.Â I recommend it to you also.
“In this House of Brede” by Rumer Godden
This was recommended to me by a faithful blogging friend. I enjoyed it very much.Â It’s a very odd book written about life as a nun; by a convert, so very keen.Â Interesting.
“Breakfast with the Nikolides” by Rumer Godden
This is a terribly sad book – autobiographical in part, I suspect – about a sensitive young girl in India whose parents are not getting on.Â It’s excellent and quite, quite different from the nun book.
“And then there were none” by Agatha Christie
I haven’t read this in a long time – still a very good read.Â Michael found it around the house and adored it.
“The Witness for the Prosecution” by Agatha Christie
I got this out of the library for Dan as my sister took him to see the play in London.Â Sadly, he had no interest but Michael and I quite enjoyed these classic short stories.Â Mediums feature strongly.
“Admissions” by Henry Marsh
More stories from a neurosurgeon about his life.Â Interesting although he is an unusual and difficult man based on his own account.
“Guards Guards” by Terry Pratchett
I saw this on a colleague’s desk at the office and it precipatated a general discussion on the brilliance of Terry Pratchett and also made me realise that I had never read this one before or at least had no recollection of doing so which is just as good.Â Great stuff.
“The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry
This was an immensely popular book when it came out so when I read it, I had high expectations.Â I did enjoy it – a 19th century mystery/romance – and some of the characters were wonderful but I was not overwhelmed with delight.
“The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr” by Frances Maynard
This is a bit like “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” – young woman with a domineering mother and difficulties has to get on in life.Â It suffers by being so similar thematically to “Eleanor Oliphant” because although it is a very well written, interesting and funny book, it just doesn’t feel as novel.
“The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas
This is a very well-written, deeply depressing book about race relations in America told through the prism of a girl who witnesses police shoot her friend.Â You’d want to be in the whole of your health to tackle it.
“This Could Hurt” by Gillian Madoff
I thought this was a bit meh.Â It’s about life in HR in a big company.Â Funny in parts but overall, I was underwhelmed.
“A Manual for Cleaning Women” by Lucia Berlin
This is a series of beautifully written, very autobiographical short stories.Â Each is more depressing than the last.Â I would recommend consuming them in small doses rather than reading a whole collection at once.
“Small Fry” by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
If you would like to feel better about your parenting or how your parents brought you up, this is the book for you.Â Steve Jobs comes across as an appalling parent and an unpleasant human being but his daughter still adored him so I suppose he had something. It’s very unclear what it might have been from this memoir.Â Competently written but I’m not sure I would have found it so engaging if her father were not Steve Jobs which makes me feel a bit displeased with myself.
“Reasons to be Cheerful” by Nina Stibbe
Funny story about a dentist’s assistant.Â A familiar range of characters, if you have read any of the author’s previous books.Â The cover describes her as the heir to Sue Townsend.Â Somewhat similar in tone, alright although not quite as good as Townsend at her best.
I always love to read your book reviews, and to hear about unknown authors. And so glad to hear that Kate Atkinson has a new (to me) book, I will order it tonight.
Lots of overlap with what I’m reading, although you seem to be getting through a lot more of them (not being on Twitter must help). Currently reading the Wych Elm and not loving it as much as everyone else but it’s ticking along. Have you read The Underground Railroad? That was hard going because of the subject matter but also brilliant
was it me who suggested Brede? I read it years ago, enjoyed it very much and re read it recently and thought that it still had it. When I next see you (maybe not too many years) then J and I shall tell you our J Coe story
When I was a boy at prep school the library was open for half an hour after lunch so we could take books out. You could look and read the books at any hour of the day you were free, but you could only take them away if you signed them out in that magic 30 minutes. I trained myself to read a book in a day, because if I took longer I would possible have to go half a day with nothing to read. I read before lessons, I read during lessons if bored, I read in break, I read in bed with a torch. However I donâ€™t think I ever matched your consumption of literature! These days I am lucky to deal with a couple of books in a week.
Thanks Viviane, that is nice to hear. Especially since my sister tells me that she always finds the book posts v dull!
TM, being off Twitter does really help. Genuinely don’t think “Wych Elm” is her best work. Would really recommend “Broken Harbour”. I might try “The Underground Railroad” but I’m not quite sure I’m able for it.
Yes, Heather, it was you and I did enjoy it and on foot of it I read a couple of more of her books. She was a good writer but a deeply unhappy person, I think.
Well, Charles, all I can say is that I’m getting through a lot more since I have given up on twitter. And, frankly, not all of them are hugely demanding reads…