One of my resolutions for 2011has been to reactivate this blog. I’m aware that it’s about nine months since I last posted anything on the blog and, to be honest, I’m rather surprised that people have continued visiting! But they have and I think it’s about tim
e I restarted things, not least because Gemma told me it was so difficult buying me any books for Christmas as she no longer knew what I had and hadn’t read. Fair enough.
The fact that the blog has been inactive for such a long time isn’t an indication that I haven’t been reading all this time. Admittedly, I didn’t manage to reach the target of 52 novels in the year (my first failure!) and in fact only managed a measly 31. The real reason that things have been quiet on the blogging front since March is that I started a new job in June and have been horrendously busy and spending more time in the car and less time on trains and in airports. So less opportunity for re
ading, in other words. And less opportunity for blogging. Oh, and then there was the arrival of our first grandchildren in September and October. So all in all, things have been a little on the busy side.
But enough of my wittering on – this blog is now active again and just to start things off here is my complete list of books from 2010. I shan’t offer reviews/notes for these, as this will take me too long, but will start again with 2011’s reading.
1. Anne Holt, Death in Oslo
2. Wells Tower, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
3. Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
4. Graham Swift, Making An Elephant
5. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, The Locked Room
6. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, Cop Killer
7. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, The Terrorists
8. Simon Mawer, The Glass Room
9. J M Coetze, Diary of a Bad Year
10. Jacques Chessex, A Jew Must Die
11. Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
12. Ake Edwardson, Death Angels
13. David Nicholls, One Day
14. Jacques Chessex, The Vampire of Ropraz
15. Philip Roth, The Humbling
16. Ian Rankin, The Complaints
17. Jo Nesbo, The Snowman
18. Glen David Gold, Sunnyside
19. Hans Fallada, Wolf Among Wolves
20. Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Prince of Mist
21. Andrea Camilleri, The Wings of the Sphinx
22. Paul Auster, Invisible
23. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell
24. William Boyd, Ordinary Thunderstorms
25. Lewis Nkosi, Mandela’s Ego
26. Sibusiso Nyembezi, The Rich Man of Pietermaritzburg
27. Philip Roth, Nemesis
28. David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
29. Kanoko Okamoto, A Riot of Goldfish
30. John le Carre, Our Kind of Traitor
31. Karin Fossum, The Water’s Edge
I am always reluctant to announce absolute favourite reads, but there were some real highlights amongst this year’s rather diminished (numerically speaking) list. On the crime fiction front, it was great to finish the Martin Beck series earlier this year and Jo Nesbo seems to get better (and bleaker) with each book. His latest comes out in translation in the UK later this month and I have pre-ordered it, so hope to be able to blog it speedily.
Simon Mawer’s The Glass Room was, I thought a magnificant achievement that really caught the atmosphere of inter-war European modernism. Likewise, Philip Roth’s novels seem to get shorter, but even more beautifully and poetically written, each time. Two which were eagerly anticipated (and did not dissapoint) were Glen David Gould’s Sunnyside and, in particular, David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I think Mitchell is probably the most extraordinary, unpredictable and ambitious novelist in English at the moment.
I should also mention Sibusiso Nyembezi’s The Rich Man of Pietermaritzburg. I was lucky enough to be in South Africa for a week in October and had this recommended to me. It is a short novel which is redolent of Gogol’s The Government Inspector and, like Gogol’s masterpiece, is a very sharp satire on politics and society. It is also rendered into an excellent translation from the original Zulu by a wonderful young literary journalist that I had the good fortune to meet in Johannesburg. Read it, if you can.
And so onto 2011. A large pile of books already awaits me and the first review should appear here very shortly. In the meantime, Happy New Year and Happy reading.