Wednesday 2 February 2011


C. is in Tel Aviv at the moment, and I found myself unusually ahead of schedule last night: home from work at a reasonable hour and dinner prepared and eaten by 7pm.  There was nothing on the telly, so I decided that this was probably a good opportunity to light the fire, make a cup of tea and to read my book.

I'm a keen reader, but I've not been getting much reading done of late.  The reason is not too difficult to ascertain: I'm reading "Emma" by Jane Austen and finding it dull.  I started it in November, and apart from reading a couple of other books inbetween-times, I've found it something of a struggle to find the motivation to get it finished.  Still, this was as good a time as any to make some headway and to move onto something else.

I'm about halfway through, but after about five minute of reading, I decided that I frankly didn't care who supplied Jane Fairfax with the pianoforte, and I began to update my book list instead.  In theory, this is the ongoing list of all the things that I've been reading since March 2008, but in practice it's a list of all the ones that I can remember when I eventually get round to updating it.

That took me a few minutes, but once it was done, rather than read more Austen, I began to think about what books I want to read this year.  I tend to pick up things that catch my eye as I go along, but inspired by Mandy, I thought I'd maybe work up a little list of possible reading for 2011.  Through the day, I've been randomly asking people what their favourite book was, with a view to picking a few of them and reading them.  Here's what I've got so far:

> "The Lord of the Flies" - William Golding.  I've already read it, but not in about twenty years... probably well overdue a revisit, I think.  No Kindle edition, I notice, so I'll have to do this one the old fashioned way.

> "The Hobbit" - J.R.R. Tolkien.  Well, it's a classic, obviously, but I read this one again back in September, so....

> "The Doctor's Wife" - Brian Moore.  Nominated for the Booker Prize in 1976, but currently out of print.  David Belbin told me this was a book that changed his life, so I thought it was well worth a look, and on that basis definitely one to try.

> "Jurassic Park" - Michael Crichton.  We're all familiar with this one, but one of my colleagues tells me that the book is very little like the film and is a rip-snorting read.  Okay then.  This might be next, I think.

> "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Well, I read "A Study In Scarlet" again towards the end of last year, but I've always loved these stories, so perhaps one to work my way through over the course of the year.

> An Atlas.  Hmm.  The person who told me this seemed to be serious, but I did have to ask him if he realised that the blue bits were actually water.....

> "The Profession of Violence.  The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins" - John PearsonGary told me that he didn't read much, and certainly not much fiction... but he did love this.  I'm not sure if it's quite my cup of tea, but who knows?  Maybe worth a look?

So.  What would you add to the shortlist?  What's your favourite book?  I'm going to keep asking around for a bit as I plough my way towards the end of the Austen, so all suggestions welcome.


  1. I've spent many a happy hour poring over my atlases - I got an enormous one from Oxfam a while back for £3.99 - it's a bit out of date though, the Sinai peninsula is designated as Israel Military Administration.

    But anyway, my favourite book ever is probably Diary of a Nobody. If you're on for something a bit meatier then I recommend the Gormanghast trilogy.

    It's funny, I find it much harder to recommend books than I do albums.

  2. the Diary of a Nobody I love (although I haven't read it in years and years, so perhaps it's high time I gave it another airing). The Gormenghast trilogy I have, but I got bogged down about 3/4 of the way through the first book and couldn't get any further. It became quite heavy going and I just couldn't face reading any further. Worth persevering with then, I take it?

  3. I think the middle book, Gormenghast itself, is the best and I don't think it really matters that much if you skip the first one.

  4. I'd like to like it, if you know what I mean. As I have all the books, maybe I'll try again.

  5. (once I struggle my way through Emma, obv....)

  6. If you haven't already done so, I'd heartily recommend the Steig Larsson Millenium Trilogy.

  7. I'd suggest something by Len Deighton - maybe "Horse Under Water" or "Funeral in Berlin".

    The Eye in the Sky

  8. How about a spot of Clive Cussler...?