Sunday, January 31, 2010

bookmark of the week

Clearing out some old bookselves I came across this Lord of the Rings bookmark with the blurb about "one ring to rule them...". It is one of those film promotional bookmarks that crops u in books shops for a while to tie-in with the film.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

bookshops worth a visit - Book Time, Greenwich

Although on the look of it this sort of bookshop might scream out cheap and not worth going into it couldn’t be further from the truth. Inside there were five editions of McSweenys priced between £3 to £5 each and loads of other decent finds at a similar price.

The one slight problem is that payment has to be made in cash but if you go prepared you can find some great things. As you might have guessed this pic was taken just after Christmas the decorations should be down by now.

If you are in Greenwich then the bookshop is on the other side of the street to the Picturehouse cinema.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Month review

Really pleased with the start to the year. Hit the ground running although a scatter gun approach means all sorts of things have been read without much direction.

One of the highlights was reading another great JG Ballard in Rushing to paradise with all of the hallmarks of his work with strange obsessive end of worlders and the innocents dragged up and excited to be in their world.

it also included my first William Trevor. The Story of Lucy Gault was a story set in rural ireland that was as vivid as a film or picture. Tragic but done in a masterly way.

Hoping the rest of the year continues in this vein.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

book review - Pierre et Jean - Guy De Maupassant

“At first he thought she had suffocated herself. Grabbing her by the shoulders, he turned her over, still clutching the pillow to hide her face and to bite into to stop herself from screaming.”

This short story stars with the author spending a bit of time debating exactly what a novel should set out to do. In an article addressing critics De Maupassant argues that even if you don’t start from the very start of a characters life you can project what they feel by mood and gestures. This psychological interpretation is one that allows him to start a story at any given point and then let the characters explain themselves as they react to events.

He does exactly that with this tightly written story of two brothers divided by an old secret that emerges almost innocently but with devastating consequences.

Pierre and Jean are competitive brothers, one a doctor and the other a lawyer and they are introduced on a boat trip with their mother, father and an attractive young widow. Instantly you suspect the story is being set up as a love rivalry tale. But things change when they return from their boat trip to discover that the family lawyer has been trying to get hold of them to inform them that Jean has become the heir to a large amount of money left by and old family friend.

Pierre does his best to suppress his jealousy but as he talks to his old chemist friend and a casual girlfriend who works as a barmaid their thoughts – that Jean must have been the son of the dead man – eats away at him.

As Pierre struggles to control his fear that the rumours are right and his knowledge that he will appear jealous if he says anything Maupassant manages to convey the torture the characters are going through by slammed doors, glances at dinner as well as dialogue. He takes you into the thoughts of the characters but never in a way that makes it appear as if he is trying to make the reader lean one way or the other.

Without giving the ending away it’s fair to say that the main action here takes place inside the heart and heads of the triangle of brothers and mother. Her mistake to love the wrong man comes back to haunt her and as her family is torn apart she seems to be the main victim.

As an introduction to Maupassant, which this is for me, you start with his thoughts on what makes a novel and you quickly realise you are dealing with a writer who likes to operate in three dimensions and get behind the skin into the brain and heart of his characters.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thoughts at the halfway point of Rushing to Paradise

There is a pace about Ballard that grabs you by the eyeballs and leads you into places that you fear to look at. You know that the relationship between the passionate but unhinged Dr Barbara and the young lonely animal rights campaigner Neil is going to go to dark places.

She is determined to save the albatross nesting on an island being used by the French for nuclear experiments but he is following his primeval dreams of visiting and witnessing the nuclear destruction that destroyed his father who was exposed to tests.

The two set sail for the island and face the French, bullets and madness resulting in Neil being shot and becoming some sort of pin-up hero for the cause which rapidly starts snowballing into much more of a determined effort to return to the island and stay fighting off the French permanently to create some sort of paradise.

But with the knowledge of Dr Barbara's murderous past as a doctor happy to kill her elderly patients off and as a witness to her obsessive madness the question mark hovers over just exactly how far Neil is prepared to go with the Dr.

A review will be posted soon...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

bookmark of the week

This is a leather bookmark picked up on a day trip to Chichester Cathedral. Having never been to Chichester before it seemed like a great idea to pop into the cathedral and spend a few minutes stepping back in time to a quieter age before returning to the busy high street.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

bookshops worth a visit - Oxfam, Blackheath

In the strictest sense of the definition this is not a bookshop but upstairs there is a fantastic selection of books. Because there are a lot of readers around giving books it is possible to get the latest fiction here for fairly reasonable prices. Many a Sunday has been spent browsing the shelves before heading off for a walk in the nearby Greenwich Park.

Friday, January 22, 2010

book review - The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor

"All this - the house and the remnants of the pasture land, the seashore below the pale cliffs, the walk along it to the fishing village of Kilauran, the avenue over which the high branches of the chestnut tree now met - was as much part of Everand Gault as the features of his face were, the family traits that quite resembled a few of those in the drawing -room portrait, the smooth dark hair."

When people ask why I read one of the answers is that it really does have the ability to take you away from the here and now into foreign lands, eras and into different people's heads. That might sound like the blurb from the back cover of a particularly cheesy paperback but it can be true. If you want an example of when it works and works well then this rather sad but thoughtful story from William Trevor would be hard to beat.

You are gently taken into a rural Ireland of the 1920s where the landed aristocracy face being burnt and hounded out of their homes because of their English connections. The Gault family fall into that bracket because the wife of the head of the household the Everhard Gault, The Captain, happens to be English. The story starts with the captain shooting in the shoulder one of the three men that had come up to the house with the intention of burning it down.

His attempts, via the priest, to calm down the situation fail and the family, husband, wife and their daughter Lucy, face leaving their home. But Lucy rejects the idea and plans to run away. But through a twist of fate her attempts to hide are seen instead as an accidental drowning when her clothes are found near the sea. It is a broken hearted husband and wife who leave Ireland and spend the next twenty years travelling across Europe to try and escape their past.

So when Lucy is found near death but brought back it is frustrating that the family cannot be contacted but of course they are trying to escape completely from the past.

But what Trevor manages to do so well is leaving gaps in which the unsaid manages to fill. So the marriage, although loving, has the potential resentments that had she not been English and had she been prepared to go back to Ireland then...

That feeling of what if echoes round the book and what if Lucy had managed to find love instead of letting it go? What is she had been able to share her feelings instead of letting them stay bottled up?

Under the surface of what can and should be said in that class in that situation in Ireland there are tensions bubbling up which Trevor allows the reader to share. That is where the talent in this story lies because on the face of it, if you were to summarise it, the story appears to be relatively straightforward. What takes it far away from the ordinary is the characterisation not just of people but time and place and the ability to leave some incredibly large things unsaid hanging just to the side of the open page.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

book review - Nobody Move - Denis Johnson

"Luntz turned and flung himself to the ground, hearing gunshots, and his senses ceased functioning. When the darkness and silence ended he was over the side of the hill and standing behind the building and hearing the river, and now his senses were sharp, precise."

If you were to put the bleak violence of McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and the sharp style of Raymond Chandler into a blender then this mixture is the likely result. A sharp but cruel tale of gamblers, gangsters and greed is played out against the backdrop of sleazy clubs and drinking dens.

Motels, cadillacs and guns feature along with extreme violence. Thugs relish the chance to kill their rivals while at the back the brains of the operation pull the strings.

For those that were criminals hoping to put the past behind them all too quickly they are dragged back into it and their chances of getting to their next birthday's quickly drop down to zero.

So bearing all that in mind why should you care about the relationship between the two main characters Jimmy Luntz the barbershop crooning gambler and his femme fatale Anita as they kill and con heir way through life? Perhaps it is because in a world of complete evil some are less so than others and there is also some truth to the idea that love can emerge even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Compared to Tree of Smoke the style is different but that sense of pace you get in the last 200 pages of that book is the same here from the start. The moment that Luntz decides to shoot rather than pay his way out of trouble the action begins and he makes that decision just a few pages in.

For those that like their crime novels with bullets and blood then this fits the bill but it also comes with plenty of humour and leaves you thinking about just who is wrong when the conned decide to start kicking back at those who have conned them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thoughts at the half way point of The Story of Lucy Gault

There is an epic feeling to this story that you sense would have made it twice as long had it been written a century earlier. The echoes of the past are also strong because this is set in 1920s Ireland with a family facing upheaval as the country starts to turn on the hated English and burn the wealthy out of their homes.

The way Trevor writes a picturesque rural Ireland opens up to the reader and you find your self in the big house, down by the sea and watching the cows as they are herded into the milking shed.

But at the heart of this rural world things are not going well and as the Gault family prepares to pack up and leave for the safer shores of England the father and mother are left distraught after their daughter Lucy runs away to try to delay their departure.

Her clothes found on the beach indicate a drowning and so the heartbroken Gault parents head off on a tour of Europe running away from their grief. of course had they perhaps been more open with the reasons for leaving their daughter might have understood them more and been prepared to go with them.

As it is her disappearance rips the family apart and her reappearance sets things up for a fascinating second half.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts at the half way point of Nobody Move

if there is one element that echoes Tree of Smoke, the only other Johnson I have read, then it is the dry humour. Apart from that this is a book with a very different style.

As you start reading this story of gamblers, debts and guns you are reminded of No Country for Old men by Cormac McCarthy with the idea of someone being hunted down and Chandler for the heady mix of attractive women and double crossing.

The main focus is on Jerry Luntz who makes the mistake of shooting the man who has been sent to collect the debts the barber shop singer and gambler has run up. The shot is not fatal and so a game of cat and mouse starts. Thrown into the mix is a beautiful woman who is being chased by the feds for embezzling $2.3m.

When she strikes up a relationship with Luntz you know the two will act as a magnet for trouble.

This is great fun with some good moments that make you chuckle. okay so Johnson isn't Chandler but then again he is operating in a more violent world and his writing has to reflect that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

bookmark of the week

yesterday I popped into the natural history Museum with my youngest son. he can be a bit of a handful but it was great to spend some time alone with him looking at dinosaur bones. He knew that one of the things we always do is look for a bookmark and he chose this one of a king penguin chick.

The picture taken by Robert Friel was highly commended in the wildlife photographer of the year competition. As he says about the chick snapped in South Georgia "it's a reminder that, however brief our visits, our presence leaves a mark."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

bookshops worth a visit - G&P, Cambridge

This is the first in an occasional series, only made occasional by the fact that if I try to go to a bookshop every weekend there might be problems.

Anyway the first of my bookshops worth visiting series starts with a shop I have visited on and off for the last 20 plus years. Galloway & Porter sells remainder books and second hand at prices that are very reasonable. It holds monthly sales in a warehouse on the edge of Cambridge and again you can fill a bookshelf or two for not a huge amount of money.

If you are ever in Cambridge then make the effort to go because it is incredibly rewarding.

Friday, January 15, 2010

book review - The Book of Fame - Lloyd Jones

"We who had come to discover
found ourselves discovered
and, in the process, discovered

This book has been written with a great deal of pride as it weaves a narrative around the facts of the first New Zealand All Blacks your back in 1905. The Originals, as they came to be known, faced not just the mind boggling adventures of being overseas but turned from unknown names on a ships passenger list into famous legends.

They faced cheating, hostility and petty acts of jealously but above all they found fame as they toured England, Scotland, Wales, France and played a couple of games in the US. The record of the tour is staggering with only one defeat, and that is still being debated, and a points tally that rightly made them legends.

What Jones does is takes a largish cast of people and in a style that reminds you of a diary or even poetry weaves a story from the moment the boat leaves New Zealand to its arrival in England. The team, which struggles with homesickness and the conditions but maintains a pride in its performance that last until the very end.

An author using the skeleton of facts about team selection and scores has the option to either stick largely to the facts and fill in the blanks with a narrative based on diaries or to depart from reality and go off into the flights of fantasy. Jones is sympathetic, almost in awe, of the characters and that comes across in this book. But it also chimes in with his larger themes as a writer.

There is a theme that echoes Mister Pip which is about the idea of taking yourself out of a location and seeing how the changed environment helps you discover yourself. here the team find that away from what they know, the sights and smells of home, they are not only drawn closer together but in those moments of leisure time find themselves developing interests in different things, art and culture, and see sights that will never leave them. Going through that experience is as important as the scores run up at the thirty odd games they played on tour.

Although the All Blacks are now an almost invincible rugby team the 1905 tour was a period when they were not only completely unknown but when the black kits with the silver fern leaf were first introduced. The legend that most of us now take for granted was born on that tour. Despite that Jones leaves you wondering at the end of the book just why so little has been done to commemorate the achievements of the Originals. Even as someone completely unfamiliar with those men and their achievements you end up feeling the same. But of course The Book of Fame is its own commemoration and one that takes the legend of the All Blacks to a completely.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thoughts at the half way point of All Quiet on the Orient Express

There is a an ominous sense that what starts out as a camper deciding to stay on and carry out a few odd jobs is moving towards something much darker.

We all recognise the sense that without resolve our lives can be controlled by others and so it seems is happening to a camper who decides to stay on in a lakeside campsite after the other holiday makers have gone. As the season ends the lone tourist finds himself being dragged more and more into the small lakeside community.

The farmer who owns the campsite seems to be the one propelling him into not only extending his stay but also into getting committed to carrying out an ever longer list of jobs after his attempt to leave fails because of rain flooding his motorbike engine.

Despite the sense of danger you can feel as a reader the main character seems happy enough allowing himself to be dragged back to the farm and ever deeper in debt to Mr Parker the farmer in charge.

More soon…

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

From the press - technology saving books

There is one school of thought that argues the rise of the ebook means death to the printed book and the end of the world as we know it. The collapse of Borders, the increasing pressure on local bookshops and the sorry state of libraries is all used as ammunition to fuel that argument.

So it is refreshing to see another point of view being put forward by Observer writer Robert McCrum arguing that the spread of English as the primary language, fulled by technology, means that in fact the market for books could be about to spread even further than in the past.

Is it really doomsday for books? Not while English casts its spell

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thoughts at the half way point of The Book of Fame

Occasionally you come across a book where the style of the text and presentation is as much of the experience and that is the case here.

As the All Blacks set sail in 1905 on a voyage to arrive in the UK to play 37 games against almost every team you can think of the story starts like a diary. Because rugby teams include a largish number of players it is hard to get to grips with the main characters.

But after a while you realise that knowing the names is enough as this is a study of a group of people that are very tight knit reacting almost as one to the experience of travel, meeting different people and crucially fame.

Above all else the book, of course the title gives it away, is about fame and the impact that being thrust into the limelight has on the All Blacks. As you follow them through their British and Irish tour the fame spreads and you start to wonder what might come in the second half when presumably that fame catches up with them at home.

More soon…

Sunday, January 10, 2010

bookmark of the week

One of the most famous landmarks in london is St Paul's Cathedral and really I should get in there more often but with parking not being too easy round there and coaches blocking up the place it is very rarely i manage to get inside. This tile was like most of the others and involved a flying visit to the shop to get this bookmark.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

book review - The Dream Life of Sukhanov - Olga Grushin

One of the best kind of reading experiences are those where a book starts solidly enough but then in the second half gets better and better. In the case of the Dream Life of Sukhanov you get to that half way point and sit back plotting out where you expect the story to go.

But by merging long past, near recollections with the present at an ever increasing speed any attempt to work out where you thought this might be going has to be abandoned. Instead you let XX take you on a journey that not only shows the danger of hearing only one side of the story and forgetting to make the effort to find out the truth.

In some respects it is of course a metaphor for a generation of Russians who allowed truth to be buried under fears and lies during the Communist years because to face reality was not only too dangerous but also difficult given that lies were produced officially continuously. The book is set in 1985. The winds of change are starting to blow through the art world as well as the political arena and for those that have pinned their colours to the party mast the times are getting challenging. It provides a chance for those that have buried themselves and beliefs in the years since their introduction to the ugly side of communism and the thaw to come out and show themselves. But what if they can’t remember what drove them then? What if they have locked up the dreams of their youth so securely in a commitment to personal safety and advancement that now when the time comes they are unable to unlock them? Or as with Sukhanov how does someone cope with dreams flooding back in a tide that turns into a flood that not only overwhelms them but as we all know because of the events in 1989 overwhelmed the USSR?

The main character has reached a certain position in life through compromising everything he believes in but as his life starts to fall apart he realises that although the state didn't do anything to help he is ultimately to blame. By not bothering to ever be bold enough not just to be himself but to invest in the relationships with his wife, children and friends that really mattered he is left alone in every respect.

Although the first part might at times feel a bit predictable with the rich and successful critic shunning his failed former artistic friend and looking down on the little people who drive and cook for him. But the way the dominoes fall comes in a skilful way. Starting off with dreams starting to blur into reality towards the end you are reading the past and the present at almost the same time as the memory of places and moments leads directly into the present.

The scales might have fallen from Sukhanov’s eyes but he is almost unable to say those words you want him to say to his wife and children. His father's suicide, or rather the fatal misunderstanding about it, haunts him and when he finally understands why his father died the blurs of time melt away completely.

At times it might feel like reading an art history text book but the knowledge of Russian art, politics and society is so well detailed that you never question the background. Those operating in the foreground grow as the camera comes into sharper focus not just on Sukhanov but also on his dreams.

A great read to kick off 2010. The word haunting is so over used but it is. To describe the impact of this book in a personal way it made me think about the life I had 15 years ago and how the little signs of change had perhaps been ignored and there is a warning here about the dangers of lying to yourself.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Determined not to be swamped by books

After a frustrating year in 2009 when the piles of books stayed tall and discouraging I'm trying not to let it get to me as much. I hopefully have plenty of life left to get through books and it is not a competition. Sure the book piles remain high and are growing but for now I'm trying to be chilled out about it.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Doing things slightly differently

For the past three and a half years the approach has been to blog about books I'm reading on a daily basis. Great for me to remind myself what they are all about but not so interesting for those that simply want to see what i have read and thought about it. As a result the approach this year will be to do a half way through blog post and then a concluding review.

It makes more sense to summarise the progess of a book at the half way stage and then to produce a review at the end rather than a daily diary with potentially a big pause before the review appears.

I am concious that I am still working through a backlog of reviews of books read last year. I will try to get those up in the next few weeks sprinkled in among other more current reading.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reasons for leaving books unread

There is an interesting post at where Beth Carswell lists the top ten reasons why she leaves books unread.

Among the reasons she lists I would agree with her about the size of books putting you off. The idea of a 2666 or Kindly Ones is not just a question of intimidation but there is also the time reading those books will demand. If you have ambitions to read a fair bit then those books, good as they might be, will sidetrack you from that.

Also found myself nodding at the comments about the problem that often happens with books on the to be read pile. Distractions and other recommendations often leave you leaving certain books at the bottom of the pile.

For the full article click here:

Remaining Unread: The Top Ten Reasons We Don’t Get to Certain Books

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Thoughts on The Dream Life of Sukhanov at half way point

One review has used the word 'confusing' to describe this book and it is confusing because dreams merge into waking hours and the past crops up in the present.

But in a sense that perhaps is the point that in communist Russia your dreams and past remained buried. Ironically it is the inability of art critic Anatoly Sukhanov to tell of his past and dreams that makes his life more likely to fall apart.

he has spent his life towing the party line, thinking of art without emotion but politically and has made a comfortable life for himself. But as his life starts to fall apart he hears echoes in the past and is unable, at this stage at least, to vent his thoughts to those around him that could help him get through.

"'Don't let anyone clip your wings,' Pavel Sukhanov had written, and it was not, as Anatoly had previously believed, a bequest of bravery, a proud expression of defiance. It was a warning instead, a cautioning reminder that the only life worth living was a life without humiliation, a free life, a safe life - and the only sure way to avoid having one's wings clipped was to grow no wings at all."

In addition to the critic finding memories stirring this is set in 1985 where a whole system of political belief had just a few years left. So no wonder there are feelings of change in the air.

Monday, January 04, 2010

From the press: Looking back and ahead

The Guardian has a couple of interesting pieces to click onto. The first is a round-up of all the great writers that have died in the last decade and the second is a look forward to what is on the horizon for this year in the publishing world.

Living in the memory

A look ahead to what’s new in 2010

Sunday, January 03, 2010

bookmark of the week

I was debating whether or not to drop this this year but judging by the links this blog generates the bookmarks might well be the only bit people are reading! So with the festive spirit still in the air this is a metal bookmark from Lapland UK. A reminder of a magical day and a bookmark that has been made to last and to be treasured.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Final list of books read in 2009

1. Winter Notes on Summer Impressions by Fydor Dostoevsky
2. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
3. Print is Dead - Books in the Digital Age by Jeff Gomez
4. Boy in Darkness by Mervyn Peake
5. Poor Folk and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoevsky
6. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
7. The Boy in the Striped Pjyamas by John Boyne
8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Crabwalk by Gunter Grass
10. The Interrogation by J.L. le Clezio
11. The Human Factor by Graham Greene
12. 2666 by Roberto Bolano
13. 1974 by David Peace
14. 1977 by David Peace
15. 1980 by David Peace
16. 1983 by David Peace
17. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
18. The Damned United by David Peace
19. American Tabloid by James Ellroy
20. The Spire by William Golding
21. Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
22. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
23. Falling Man by Don DeLillo
24. Cosmopolis by Dan DeLillo
25. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safrer
26. Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton
27. Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
28. The Russian Interpreter by Michael Frayn
29. The Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
30. The Colony by Hugo Wilcken
31. Strange Energy by Benjamin J. Myers
32. Millennium People by J.G.Ballard
33. The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
34. The Drowned World by J.G.Ballard
35. Lights out for the Territory by Iain Sinclair
36. Dreams from the Endz by Faiza Guene
37. Just Like Tomorrow by Faiza Guene
38. High Rise by J.G.Ballard
39. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
40. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
41. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
42. The Twelve Chairs by Ilf & Petrov
43. The Red House by A.A. Milne
44. The Drought by JG Ballard
45. The Crystal World by JG Ballard
46. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
47. The Ancient Shore by Shirley Hazzard
48. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
49. The Tenth Man by Graham Greene
50. The Life of Monsieur Moliere by Mikhail Bulgakov
51. Journey to Nowhere by Eva Figes
52. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
53. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
54. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
55. Lost Hearts and Other Chilling Tales by M R James
56. Legend of a Suicide by David Vann
57. Explorers of the new century by Magnus Mills
58. The Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
59. Man in the Dark by Paul Auster
60. Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill
61. Murder at the Savoy by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
62. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
63. The Abominable Man by Maj Sjowall and Per Whaloo
64. The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas
65. The Last Englishman by Roland Chambers
66. Fire in the Blood by Irene
67. Hammerklavier by Yasmina Reza
68. The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins

Friday, January 01, 2010

Books read 2010

1. The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin
2. The Book of Fame by Lloyd Jones
3. All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills
4. The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor
5. Nobody Move by Denis Johnson
6. White Ravens by Owen Sheers
7. Rushing to Paradise by JG Ballard
8. Pierre et Jean by Guy de Maupassant
9. The Story of Mr Sommer by Patrick Suskind

10. A Dreambook for Our Time by Tadeusz Konwicki
11. The Man Who Knew Everything by Tom Stacey
12. The Locked Room by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
13. The Belly of the Atlantic by Fatou Diome
14. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
15. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
16. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

17. Bel Ami Guy du Maupassant
18. All the Conspirators by Christopher Isherwood
19. The Professor + The Housekeeper by Yoko Ogawa
20. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
21. Cop Killer by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
22. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
23. Solar by Ian McEwan

24. A Month in the Country by J.L Carr
25. The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill
26. How I Came to Know Fish by Ota Pavel
27. Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard
28. Tofu Landing by Evan Maloney
29. The White Castle by Orhan Panuk
30. Untimely Death by Cyril Hare
31. Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

32. Young Hitler by Claus Hant
33. Natasha by David Bezmozgis
34. The Elephant by Slawomir Mrozek
35. The Carpenter's Pencil by Manuel Rivas
36. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
37. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
38. The Cuckoo Boy by Grant Gillespie
39. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell

40. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
41. Repeat it Today With Tears by Anne Peile
42. Sabra Zoo by Mischa Hiller
43. All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman
44. Amulet by Roberto Bolano
45. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
46. Stones in a Landslide by Maria Barbal
47. A Preparation for Death by Greg Baxter

48. Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi
49. The Last Will & Testament of Senhor Da Silva Araujo by Germano Almeida
50. Tintin and the Secret of Literature by Tom McCarthy
51. Who is Mr Satoshi? by Jonathan Lee
52. The Opposite of Falling by Jennie Rooney
53. Light Boxes by Shane Jones
54. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

55. Prater Violet by Christopher Isherwood
56. Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic
57. The Luneburg Variation by Paolo Maurensig
58. Wessex Tales by Thomas Hardy
59. The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal by Jan Marsh
60. The Wine-Dark Sea by Leonardo Sciascia
61. The Courilof Affair by Irene Nemirovsky

62. From a View to a Death by Anthony Powell
63. Kings of the Water by Mark Behr
64. The Castle of Otranto by Horage Walpole
65. Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason
66. Vivian and I by Colin Bacon
67. First Love, Last Rites by Ian McEwan
68. C by Tom McCarthy

69. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
70. The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller
71. The Canal by Lee Rourke
72. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
73. Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
74. The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
75. Maigret and the millionaires by Georges Simenon

76. My Friend Maigret by Georges Simenon
77. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Horace McCoy
78. Men in Space by Tom McCarthy
79. The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
80. Who Killed Palomino Molero? by Mario Vargas Llosa
81. Circus Bulgaria by Deyan Enev
82. Coming Up for Air by George Orwell

83. The Interrogative Mood A Novel? by Padgett Powell
84. The Dead Beat by Cody James
85. The Small Hand by Susan Hill
86. Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer
87. The Passport by Herta Muller
88. The Box of Delights by John Masefield

Happy New Year

This happens to be my 2,000th post on this blog. It is also an opportunity to wish you all a happy new year.

I hope that 2010 will be a year of great things for you. May you read as much and as well as you want to. May you write if that is what you wish to do. But in all things may you be happy and healthy.

I look forward to blogging into 2010 and sharing some great reads with you all next year.