2007 Reading

One thing that all this reading has done is make me much more aware of what new books are being published and when. As a result I have resorted to buying a number of books in hardback form as soon as they hit the shelves. That was the case with Black Swan Green, Theft, Restless and Everyman and is also true of a number of books in the 2007 list. I suppose I just get impatient now and can’t wait for the paperback to come out, even though they do take up more space on the bookshelf. Understandably the first thing I did in 2007 was to go to the IKEA sales and by myself a new bookcase for my study. That is now nearly full, as well, although we also now have the benefit of owning a house in France, so I can start moving books across the Channel as I run out of bookshelf space here.

You may notice that in 2007 I read a lot of non-Western fiction and especially Japanese fiction. This started off when I went to a conference in Malta in December 2006. There I met some very nice people from Istanbul and we had a conversation about contemporary literature. To my shame I had to admit that I had only ever read one Turkish novel (Pamuk’s Snow) and they recommended to me Memed, My Hawk by Yashar Kemal and I started looking out for other non-Western novels. I had for a while been meaning to read some Haruki Murakami. Once I had read my first, I couldn’t stop and that encouraged me to look out for some more Japanese literature. You’ll find a fair few in the list below. So, this was a theme that really just emerged during the course of the year.

One other book I should perhaps mention is Early Mourning by Edla Van Steen. In November I went to a conference in Krakow and the in-flight magazine had an article on Brazil and specifically on Sao Paulo. I was, coincidentally, due to go to Sao Paulo in December at the invitation of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In the article it recommended Early Mourning as the  quintessential Sao Paulo novel, and indeed it is. I managed to track down a copy on abebooks.com and it arrived (from the States) just before I left for Brazil. I read it during my first day there and it was as good an introduction to the city as any tourist guide. It’s very short and filmic in structure, so can be read in a single sitting of a couple of hours. It is also very funny and I would recommend it whether or not you’re planning a trip to Sao Paulo.

Anyway, here is the list for 2007:

Salman Rushdie Shalimar the Clown (January)

John Haskell American Purgatoro (January)

Nigel Slater Toast (January)

Ismail Kadare The Successor (January)

Yashar Kemal Memed, My Hawk (January)

Orham Pamuk My Name is Red (February)

Carlo Lucarelli Almost Blue (February)

Fred Vargas Seeking Whom He May Devour (February)

Neil Jordan The Dream of a Beast (February)

Paul Auster Travels in the Scriptorium (February)

Hugh Brody The Other Side of Eden (March)

Paulo Coelho The Zahir (March)

Ake Edwardson Sun and Shadow (March)

Karin Alvtegen Missing (March)

Henry Porter Remembrance Day (March)

Bill Bryson The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (March)

Flann o’ Brien The Third Policeman (April)

Ian McEwan On Chesil Beach (April)

Andrea Camilleri The Scent of the Night (April)

Alaa Al Aswany  The Yacoubian Building (April)

Haruki Murakami Norwegian Wood (April)

Declan Hughes The Wrong Kind of Blood (April)

Laura Esquivel Malinche (April)

Haruki Murakami A Wild Sheep Chase (April)

Graham Greene The Confidential Agent (April)

Taichi Yamada Strangers (April)

Taichi Yamada In Search of a Distant Voice (April)

Banana Yoshimoto Goodbye Tsugumi (May)

Haruki Murakami The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (May)

Kader Abdolah My Father’s Notebook (May)

Henning Mankell Chronicler of the Winds (June)

Peter Hobbs The Short Day Dying (June)

Haruki Murakami Kafka on the Shore (June)

Haruki Murakami  South of the Border, West of the Sun (June)

Khaled Hosseini A Thousand Splendid Suns (June)

Haruki Murakami After Dark (July)

Yasmina Khadra The Sirens of Baghdad (July)

Hilary Mantel Beyond Black (July)

Peter Robinson Gallows View (July)

Paul Auster Mr. Vertigo (August)

Haruki Murakami Hardboiled Wonderland and the Edge of the World (August)

Michael Chabon The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (August)

Haruki Murakami Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (August)

Peter Robinson A Dedicated Man (September)

Ian Rankin The Naming of the Dead (September)

Philip Roth I Married a Communist (October)

Arnaldur Indridason Voices (October)

Ake Edwardson Never End (October)

Ian Rankin Exit Music (October)

Mari Akasaka Vibrator (October)

Hitomi Kanehara Snakes and Earrings (October)

J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (November)

Natsuo Kirino Out (November)

Susan Hill THe Man in the Picture (November)

Haruki Murakami Dance, Dance, Dance (December)

Ian McEwan Black Dogs (December)

Edla Van Steen Early Mourning (December)

Philip Roth The Great American Novel (December)

Banana Yoshimoto Kitchen (December)

A grand total of 59. OK, I know that 3 of those on the list aren’t really fiction (Nigel Slater, Bill Bryson and Hugh Brody), but they all have the same strong sense of narrative and they tend to be read as if they were novels, so I’m counting them. Anyway, even withouth them, I still passed the target of 52 and beat last year’s total. Also, there’s another healthy sprinkling of detective novels in the list, a theme that I hope to continue into 2008.

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