As is my custom at year end I am dedicating this blog post to the books I read this year. I have been busy in 2017 working on my fourth novel, the black comedy Sepultura (Release date January 11th). However, I did find some time to read. Here are the 20 books that I read this year. Click on the links to read my reviews. They are presented in the order in which I read them:
Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess by Andrew Lownie (2015) – This well written biography of the notorious spy Guy Burgess recounts his life from birth through to premature death in Moscow.
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones (2015) – Composed of short, engaging chapters, Dreamland is an award winning account of America’s opiate epidemic.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932) – This overrated satirical work lampoons the romanticised, often doom-laden ‘loam and lovechild’ novels of the 19th and early 20th century.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) – A timeless post-apocalyptic novel whose central theme is an exploration of how people confront imminent death. This reader was impressed by the adept characterisation.
I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (2004) – An amusing satire about campus life. Though prone to verbosity the author is a capable humourist and an ever-enthusiastic social commentator.
Newspaper Diapers by M. T. Johnson (2012) – This is a series of loosely connected vignettes about child abuse and group homes. The deeply disturbing content left an indelible mark on this reader’s mind.
Race To The Bottom by Chris Rhatigan (2016) – Replete with humour and employing a visceral prose style, this light transgressive novella’s prevailing theme is menial work.
Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (1935) – Hapless yet noble characters populate this allegorical and didactic work that extols friendship and virtue over capitalism and materialism.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938) – Imbibed with a sense of impending doom, Rebecca is a slow-moving, haunting and atmospheric literary masterpiece.
A Stain In The Blood by Joe Moshenska (2016) – This is the story of unheralded 17th century English hero and adventurer Kenelm Digby. This reader found the lengthy historical discourse and description tedious.
The Adventures of George by Blair Gowrie (2009) – This satirical poem (38,606 words) takes the form of a series of connected short stories, which revolve around a restaurant whose chef is a parody of George W. Bush.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2003) – This non-fiction work investigates the more unfamiliar scenarios involving our dead bodies. It will intrigue those with an interest in the macabre.
Born Bad by Heather Burnside (2017) – Set in 1970s and 80s Manchester, Born Bad is the eminently readable first instalment in a proposed Manchester-based crime trilogy.
Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (2006) –A sense of doom and despair permeates this somewhat disparate assemblage. Its cynicism, dark humour and tormented, fin-de-siécle tone appealed to this reader.
POP.1280 by Jim Thompson (1964) – POP.1280 is a seedy, first person work of noir fiction set in a sordid, rural Texas backwater. It features a highly manipulative sheriff.
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (2015) – The book compares unfavourably with the prequel, To Kill A Mockingbird. This reader grew weary of the endless reminiscing and esoteric discourses.
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford (2008) – Despite some of the themes not resonating with him, this reader found plenty to like about this curious and clever coming-of-age novel.
My GRL by John W. Howell (2013) – My GRL is a maritime thriller whose themes are terrorism and patriotism. This was John W. Howell’s debut novel.
Rat Stew by George Derringer (2017) – A mildly humorous if confusing work of Transgressive Fiction set in a dilapidated town in Northern England.
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002) – Time and reality are flexible and uncertain states in this mystical novel that infuses realism with ethereal elements.
Happy New Year.