Friday, 2 January 2009

Books of 2008

I love reading, and every year I set myself the goal of reading 52 books by the end of December. I generally read whatever I fancy, but last year I also started to read some books from the 1001 Books You Should Read Before You Die list. Of the 45 books I managed to finish in 2008, only 14 were in the 1001 Books list, so I shall have to get cracking!

I keep a notebook of all the books I read, with a short description of the book ( so I don't forget what it was about) and I also give it a rating out of 5, which is daggy I know, but interesting to look back on. The books that I gave five stars to last year were:

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill - a brilliant collection
of short stories, some horror, some not

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons - hilarious satire of bucolic English novels, with wonderful characters

The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden - beautiful children's story about a gypsy girl, one of my favourites as a child

What to Eat by Marion Nestle - very interesting look at nutrition and how supermarkets and food companies influence what we eat

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - need I say more?

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir - meticulously researched and very readable non-fiction

The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough - I'm a sucker for a good historical novel

The Journal of Dora Damage by Belinda Starling - bookbinding and pornography in Victorian London

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates - fascinating novel based on the life of Marilyn Monroe

There were only a few books I really didn't like. I found The Light of Day by Graham Swift very tedious and had to force myself to finish. Candy Girl by Diablo Cody was terribly self-indulgent, and although it's rather fascinating to learn about the inner workings of strip clubs, it left me feeling rather seedy. I also tried to read Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. What a mistake! It is terribly dull and rather badly written, with shallow, two-dimensional characters, and the worst thing is, it's very, very LONG. Avoid.

I've been obsessed with Tudor England, so I read quite a few books with that theme, both fiction and non-fiction. I read quite a lot of Phillipa Gregory, who is quite reasonable. I enjoyed Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett, which is about Thomas Moore's family, and The Sixth Wife by Suzannah Dunn, which is about Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour. I also read The Concubine by Nora Lofts, which is from 1963 by doesn't seem to have dated that much. For Tudor non-fiction I stuck with Alison Weir, and read The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and Henry VIII: King and Court, which are both excellent.

So now I'm off to read a novel by Alison Weir called The Lady Elizabeth, which has such a lovely cover I had to buy myself a copy!


  1. We're Rumer Godden fans ourselves -- one of my kidlit favorites. Have you read Jean Plaidy/Norah Lofts? I think she has one more pen-name. Very prolific writer of somewhat fluffy historical novels. My mom devoured the Tudor ones when I was a kid, and she's now reading Alison Weir. btw, what is 'daggy' please? We don't say it here!

  2. Daggy means uncool, not fashionable or trendy. You know, I never realised it was Australian until now!
    I've never read Jean Plaidy but now I will go hunt some down, thanks for the lead.

  3. I, too, love phillipa, though I won't be reading her this year. I have had an obsession with tubor england forever. I have some obscure history books, like tudor housewives, law in tudor england etc. Those, I can read, as they were published WELL before 1955. Thanks for stopping by my blog and I like yours. What a nice idea to read the 53 books. Right now I am really trying to focus on literature and history of my current time period 1955. I just found an obscure aldos huxley book published in 1955 but it's been out of print and i have had to get it sent from some little shop in england, I can't wait for it. I am also reading the man in the grey flannel suit, though I cannot see the movie yet as it came out in 56. Thanks for stopping by.