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!