A year in books – 2015

Here is what I read and listened to in 2015. If nothing else, I hope 2016 is a bit more productive in this field.

The best I tackled? Definitely A Child Called “It”, a remarkable (and awful) story, very moving. Honourable mentions also go to The Wasp Factory and Little Gypsy.

A. L. Morton The English Utopia
Agatha Christie Crooked House
Anna Sebba That Woman : The Life of Wallis Simpson Duchess of Windsor
Catherine Aird Henrietta Who?
Charles Dickens Great Expectations
Colin Brown Whitehall : The Street that Shaped a Nation
Dave Pelzer A Child Called “It”
David Attenborough Life Stories
Dawn French Dear Fatty
Guest edited by Karen Celis and Sarah Childs Representation : Journal of Representatove Democracy Volume 44 Number 2 July 2008
Iain Banks The Wasp Factory
Jay Rayner The Apologist
Jesse Armstrong Love, Sex & Other Foreign Policy Goals
John Mortimer Rumpole at Christmas
John O’Farrell The Man Who Forgot His Wife
Marina Lewycka Various Pets Alive & Dead
Max Hastings Bomber Command
Mick McDermott Speaking With Forked Tongues : An amusing & revealing insight into the modern bookmaking industry
P. D. James The Private Patient : An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery
Patricia Cornwell Portrait Of A Killer
Peter Millar All Gone To Look For America
Robert Peston Who Runs Britain? …. and who’s to blame for the economic mess we’re in
Robin Harris The Conservatives – A History
Roxy Freeman Little Gypsy
Sarah Waters The Little Stranger
Simon Louvish Stan And Ollie The Roots Of Comedy : The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy
Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic & Sister
Tom Holland In The Shadow Of The Sword : The battle for global empire and the end of the ancient world
Vince Cable Free Radical
Winston Churchill The Second World War : Book Four: Triumph and Tragedy

Another year, 2013 in books

This is what I have read and listened to this year. If forced to pick out a ‘best’ I would opt for ‘Dear Boy : The Life Of Keith Moon’, with honourable mentions for ‘The Sisters Who would be Queen : The tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey’ and ‘The Last Fighting Tommy’.

Alexander McCall Smith Morality for Beautiful Girls
Ben Goldacre Bad Pharma : How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients
Carrie Fisher Wishful Drinking
Christopher Hibbert The Borgias
Danny Danziger The Goldfish Club
David Mitchell Back Story : A Memoir
Doreen Hawkins Drury Lane to Dimapur
Harry Patch with Richard Van Emden The Last Fighting Tommy
Harry Pearson Slipless in Settle : A slow turn around northern cricket
John Mortimer Where There’s a Will
Kate Summerscale Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace
Leanda De Lisle The Sisters Who would be Queen : The tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey
Lucy Moore Anything Goes : A biography of the Roaring Twenties
Lynne Truss Making The Cat Laugh
M. C. Beaton Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
Margaret Thatcher The Autobiography 1925-2013
Michael Crichton and Richard Preston Micro
Michael Palin New Europe
Molly Ivins Who Let The Dogs In? : A Personal History Of America’s Most Incredible Political Animals
Ngaio Marsh The Nursing Home Murder
Nick Cohen Pretty Straight Guys
Party of European Socialists Robin Cook : PES President 2001-2004
Pauline Prescott with Wendy Holden Smile Though Your Heart Is Breaking
Pete Townshend Who I Am
Peter Ackroyd London Under
Richard Dawkins The Magic of Reality : how we know what’s really true
Robert Goddard Name To A Face
Robert Goddard Sight Unseen
Robert Lacey Great Tales From English History – Cheddar Man To The Peasants’ Revolt
Robert Rogers Order! Order! : A Parliamentary Miscellany
Roger Moore My Word Is My Bond
Rupa Huq On the Edge : The Contested Cultures of English Surburbia
Ruth Rendell Talking To Strange Men
Ruth Rendell The Saint Zita Society
Ruth Rendell The Thief
Sid Waddell The Road Back Home
Simon Brett A Charles Paris Mystery : The Dead Side of the Mic
Simon Schama The American Future : A History
Simon Sebag Montefiore Jerusalem The Biography
Tony Fletcher Dear Boy : The Life Of Keith Moon

Books – my top of the audio pops

Following on from my post about the books I have recently read, here is a list of the books I have listened to and enjoyed the most.

I give a rating out of five to each audiobook that I listen to, and this list is those that get the top mark.

Alan Sillitoe Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Anonymous A Woman in Berlin
Antony Beevor Berlin The Downfall 1945
Ben Elton Gridlock
Bill Naughton Alfie
Bob Geldof Geldof in Africa
Channel Four Rising Damp Book Three
Christopher Lee This Sceptred Isle 1702 – 1760 The First British Empire
Christopher Lee This Sceptred Isle 55BC – 1087 Julius Caesar To William The Conqueror
David Starkey Elizabeth
Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine Last Chance to See
George Orwell Animal Farm
George Orwell Down and Out in Paris and London
Guy de la Bedoyere The Romans In Britain
Helen Forrester Twopence to Cross the Mersey
Helene Hanff 84 Charing Cross Road
Jeremy Paxman The English – A Portrait Of A People
John Lanchester The debt to pleasure
Ken Kesey One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Leanda De Lisle The Sisters Who would be Queen : The tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey
Martin Amis Time’s Arrow
Nicholas Monsarrat The Cruel Sea
Nick Hornby High Fidelity
Robert Goddard In Pale Battalions
Ruth Rendell A Demon In My View
Simon Schama A History of Britain Volume 1
Stan Barstow A Kind Of Loving
The Beatles The Beatles Tapes from the David Wigg interviews
Victor Hugo The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
Walter Lord A Night to Remember
William Golding Lord of the Flies

Books, the paper variety – most recent bests

I listen to a lot of audio books in the car and this is how I consume the majority of books these days. However, I do also physically read paper versions (I have yet to indulge in an eReader).

I have been keeping a record of what I have tackled in respect of paper books in recent years, and I assign a mark out of five to each one. A few have a mark of ‘5’ (that is, they are the most entertaining in my view), and here they are:

George Galloway I’m Not the Only One
John O’Farrell Things can only get better : Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter 1979 – 1997
Martin Linton edited by Mary Georghiou Labour’s Road to electoral reform – What’s wrong with first-past-the-post?
Tony Fletcher Dear Boy : The Life Of Keith Moon

Here are those that I have given a ‘4’ to (and thus are very close to the most entertaining category):

A. C. Grayling The Meaning of Things – Applying Philosophy to Life
Billy Bragg The Progressive Patriot
Douglas Palmer Fossil Revolution : The finds that changed our view of the past
Edited by Fred Grindrod and Mark Rusling Stopping the Far Right : How progressive politics can tackle political extremism
Edvard Radzinsky Stalin
Jeremy Paxman The Political Animal
John Kennedy Toole A Confederacy of Dunces
John Ketwig … and a hard rain fell : A GI’s true story of the War in Vietnam
John O’Farrell Global Village Idiot
Lynsey Hanley Estates : An Intimate History
Nick Cohen Pretty Straight Guys
Paul Foot The Vote : How It was Won and How It was Undermined
Rius Marx for Beginners
Simon Sebag Montefiore Jerusalem The Biography
Tony Benn Free at Last! : Diaries 1991 – 2001

Obviously I try to avoid bad books. However, sometimes it is unavoidable. Here are those that get the lowest mark:

G. K. Tull & P. McG. Bulwer Britain and the World in the nineteenth century
John M. Steane The Archaeology Of Power
Samuel P. Huntington The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

A year of books

For a number of years I have been keeping a record of the books I have either read or listened to. If nothing else it demonstrates my ability to forget pretty much all that I have learned.

Anyway, in an attempt to take an original look back over the last twelve months I present my reading and listening material for 2012.

Robert Lacey Great Tales From English History – Volume III The Battle of the Boyne to DNA
Michael Palin Himalaya
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
John Mortimer The Anti-social Behaviour of Horace Rumpole
Asne Seierstad The Bookseller of Kabul
David Crystal The Story Of English In 100 Words
Ross Kemp Warriors : British Fighting Heroes
Anne Watts Always the Children : A nurse’s story of home and war
Stephen Pollard David Blunkett
Chris Skidmore Death and the Virgin
Joel Engel Gene Roddenberry : The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek
Catherine Aird Henrietta Who?
John Peel John Peel remembered
George Orwell Keep The Aspidistra Flying
Kate Colquhoun Mr Briggs’ Hat
Candida Lycett Green Over The Hills & Far Away
John Mortimer Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders
Sara Wheeler Terra Incognita
John Wyndham The Chrysalids
Martin Amis the information
Alison Weir The Lady in The Tower : The Fall Of Anne Boleyn
William Dalrymple The Last Mughal : The Fall Of A Dynasty, Delhi, 1857
John O’Farrell The Man Who Forgot His Wife
A. M. Homes The Mistress’s Daughter
Homer The Odyssey
Leanda De Lisle The Sisters Who would be Queen : The tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey
Alison Weir Traitors of the Tower
Robert Barnard A Little Local Murder
Barbara Windsor All Of Me : My Extraordinary Life
Michael Connelly The Lincoln Lawyer
Andrew Gross Don’t Look Twice
Peter Carey My Life as a Fake

A Labour Heritage publication

I have just finished Labour In The East – Essays in Labour History in Suffolk, Suffolk & Essex, an interesting if not overly exciting read.

It is not often I can claim to know the authors of something I have read, but of the five contributors I know two of them. I even got them to inscribe the dedication page for me. As can be seen both John Gyford and Stan Newens have signed.

Most listened to

As I have blogged before (https://warelane.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/listening/) I listen to audiobooks whilst driving.

I thought it interesting to list my most listened to authors. It must be borne in mind that I am at the mercy of whatever is available in the libraries that I visit. The number of titles is shown against each author.

22 Ruth Rendell
19 Christopher Lee
16 Agatha Christie
11 Peter Robinson
9 Robert Goddard
8 Charles Dickens
7 Graham Greene
6 BBC
5 Elizabeth George
5 George Orwell
5 John Grisham
5 John Le Carre
5 John Mortimer
5 Mary Higgins Clark
5 Michael Crichton
5 Patricia Cornwell
5 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
5 Thomas Hardy
4 Alan Bennett
4 Charlotte Bronte
4 Ellis Peters
4 H. G. Wells
4 Jane Austen
4 Michael Palin
4 Minette Walters
4 P. G. Wodehouse
4 Val McDermid