A Book for Every Year…

I got the idea for this post primarily from the brilliant Christa over at A Voluptuous Mind who posed a list earlier in the year of her favourite movies from every year she has been alive.

I got to thinking what my favourite books would be and inspired by the 1951 Club, I thought I would list my choice for the best books of 1971 to 2015! The reason I’m stopping at 2015 is because I didn’t read any notable new releases in 2016 or so far this year given my on-going book ban. Some years were easier than others – 1971 was pretty tough, but I had to debate between several books for 1993! Some were read at the time (although obviously I wasn’t reading John Berger on my first birthday!) and some only recently, but they represent a selection of some of my favourite books!

So, let’s kick off and see if any of your favourites are here too!

1971 – 1980

1971: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

1972: Ways of Seeing by John Berger

1973: Deenie by Judy Blume

1974: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig

1975: American Buffalo by David Mamet

1976: Will you Please be Quiet, Please by Raymond Carver

1977: Dispatches by Michael Herr

1978: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

1979: The Executioners Song by Norman Mailer

1980: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

1981 – 1990

1981: Good Behaviour by Molly Keane

1982: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend

1983: Fool for Love by Sam Sheperd

1984: Money by Martin Amis

1985: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

1986: Perfume by Patrick Suskind

1987: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

1988: Libra by Don DeLillo

1989: A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving

1990: Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

1991 – 2000

1991: Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney

1992: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

1993: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha! By Roddy Doyle

1994: The Skriker by Caryl Churchill

1995: Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

1996: Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane

1997: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

1998: Birds of America by Lorrie Moore

1999: Plainsong by Kent Haruf

2000: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

2001 – 2010

2001: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

2002: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

2003: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

2004: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

2005: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

2006: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

2007: Remainder by Tom McCarthy

2008: A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

2009: A Scattering Christopher Reid

2010: A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

2011 – 2015

2011: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

2012: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

2013: Tenth of December by George Saunders

2014: A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

2015: Tender by Belinda McKeon

Any of these take you back to a specific year? Or is anyone else tempted to make a list of their own? I’d quite like to do the same for music and movies, if I can find the time!

Bookish and Not so Bookish Thoughts


As I’m still getting back into the swing of things after Reading Ireland Month, I thought I would ease myself in with a Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts post which is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous

  • Anyone who has read my blog for long enough will know I’m a bit of an 80s baby, so imagine my delight when I got to meet JOHN CUSACK last week. Yep, you read it right. Me. And Mr John Cusack! John came to the Belfast Film Festival for a special ‘In Conversation’ event was as intelligent, funny and witty as you would expect. After the event, he was signing copies of his book Things That Can and Cannot Be Said, written with Arundhati Roy. My friend bought me a copy so I wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to speak to my favourite leading man, although when it came my turn to get my book signed, I found myself completely unable to speak at all. I was so totally star struck that when he asked me if I spelled my name with a ‘K’, I said ‘Sure!’

I know you can’t see much under that baseball cap, but I SWEAR that’s John Cusack….


Now, if I could just meet Kevin Bacon, I could die a happy woman…

  • Can we just for a minute talk about Big Little Lies and how bloody AMAZING it was? I hadn’t read the book, but I inhaled the TV show which was smart, thrilling and completely refreshing. The finale was one of the best hours of television I’ve ever seen. I got into a lengthy discussion with friends on Facebook about how this show would have got so much more attention if it had featured the same story but with four male protagonists, played by Oscar nominated/ winning actors. I saw Big Little Lies being disparaged and called trashy in a way it simply wouldn’t have if it had been about the messy lives of four men. I, for one, would love more television like this – I’ve never seen domestic violence depicted with such intelligence, insight and sensitivity. Brilliant, brilliant television.



  • I’ve booked the family summer holiday to the West of Ireland again and, of course, that gets me thinking about the 20 Books of Summer Challenge! I wasn’t sure if I would do it again, but I think I will. I need to shave off some of the TBR and it is always a great incentive to read, read read! Anyone else planning on joining in?


  • Last night I went to see the Lyric Theatre Belfast’s fantastic production of John Logan’s Red, which is based on the artistic life of Mark Rothko. It was a really wonderful, passionate and often thrilling show which made this hardened Rothko detractor think again about his work. I reviewed the show for No More Workshorse and you can read my review here



  •  And finally this week, it was Mr 746’s birthday so there was cake, chocolate, cake and more cake. And some wine. Of course!


What has been the highlight of your week? Do share!

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts!

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous – go say hi!

It’s been another busy week at 746 Books and as I am clearly not organised enough to do a review, I’m doing one of these posts instead 🙂

  • It’s all about The OA round our house at the moment – have you seen it? Ooh, so exciting! A girl, Praire, is found alive after being missing for seven years. The twist? She was blind when she went missing and now she can see. What has caused this, and why does she need a band of 5 misfits to help her find ‘the others’? The OA is incredibly smart sci-fi and I can’t wait to see how it ends
  • Last week I had the privilege of meeting novelist Deirdre Madden when she came to HomePlace to chat about her work and her life growing up just down the road from HomePlace in Toomebridge. I’m a major fan of Madden’s work and reviewed Molly Fox’s Birthday here and it was such a treat to meet her.
  • I do love it when books and music meet and so far this month I’ve been listening non-stop to Max Richter’s new composition Woolf Works, the music to a new ballet triptych about the life of Virgina Woolf. Woolf Works is currently on at the Royal Opera House in London and the description on the website sounds amazing.

    Virginia Woolf defied the false order of narrative conventions to depict a heightened, startling and poignant reality. Woolf Works re-creates the synaesthetic collision of form and substance in her writings.

    The music is stunning. Do yourself a favour and have a listen!


A scene from Woolf Works



  • I am starting to get geared up for Reading Ireland Month next month and am prepping like mad. I was lucky enough to get sent a review copy of Lisa McInerney’s new book The Blood Miracles. A follow up to The Glorious Heresies, I can attest to the fact that it is just as good as its predecessor and will certainly cement McInerney’s reputation as a literary force to be reckoned with.


  • Finally, and most excitedly, I have managed to get tickets to hear the amazing George Saunders read at the Mountains to the Sea Festival in Dublin next month. He’ll be reading from his new book Lincoln at the Bardo and the hubbie has offered to buy me a copy so that I don’t break my book-buying ban….I’m a bit of a cheat, I know, but come on! It’s George Saunders! I have to get him to sign my book!

George Saunders,

Has anyone else been up to anything bookish, or not so bookish? Now that I’ve finished procrastinating, I should really go and write a proper review. Or watch another episode of The OA….

Christmas Gifts for Book Lovers

So, as I am still sick in bed, I’ve had a bit of time to do some online Christmas shopping and have come across some lovely bookish gifts perfect for the book lovers in my life and, well, for myself! I’d be delighted to see any of these items in my Christmas stocking.

Take a peek:

  1. We Have Always Lived at the Castle tee

I adore everything on the Out of Print website. I’m the proud owner of a Wuthering Heights tee, a Light in August tee and a To the Lighthouse sweatshirt, but they have outdone themselves with this gorgeous specimen, celebrating Shirley Jackson’s classic tale.


2. ‘Paperback’ perfume from The Library of Fragrance

I have no clue what this smells like, I’m not even sure it would be nice, but come on….something that makes you smell of paperback books? What’s not to love?!

paperback-30_grande3. Ulysses Tote Bag

I have completely fallen for this gorgeous tote bag featuring Leopold Bloom’s musing on the circular nature of life – ‘longest way round is the shortest way home’. There is a great range of totes at the Literary Gift Company website, but this is the one for me.


4. Lady Macbeth Guest Soap

I know I’ve featured it on 746 Books before, but if you have to buy me soap at Christmas, then buy me this soap. Hilarious.

lady_macbeth_soap_1024x10245. Watership Down Mug

Or the Watership Downer mug as it’s known, featuring a rabbit reading Richard Adams classic tale. Poor bunny….

watership_downer_mug_0_1024x10246. Wuthering Heights Scarf

I love these scarves by storiarts.com and the Wuthering Heights one is particularly lovely. Other featured scarves include The Wizard of Oz, Anne of Green Gables and Hamlet.


7. Macbeth Flats

Cute flats? With a Shakespearian theme? I’m in! I just love these cute flats by LeadFootLucy on Etsy. In fact, I’d happily take her whole collection…


8. George Orwell Phone Cover

I don’t know quite what George Orwell would have made of the ubiquity of mobile phones in the present day, but I do know I want this phone cover from Ebay!


9. Literature Ladies Enamel Pin

What better way to celebrate these fantastic women writers (other than reading them, obviously) than by wearing this fantastically cute pin?

normal_literature-ladies-enamel-pin10. Hot Book Girl Sweatshirt

Hey, I may not be hot and I may not be a girl anymore, but I still love this sweatshirt from notonthehighstreet.com

Can someone buy it, wear it and I will appreciate it vicariously? Thank you.


And finally, once I’ve decided what I’m going to buy, there’s always the wrapping to think of. Wrapping paper and Virgina Woolf tape are from the Literary Gift Company!

So, is there anything there you fancy adding to your Christmas list?


Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Despite the fact that I have not one but two reviews to write for 20 Books of Summer and a mere 10 more books to read, I am procrastinating BIG TIME this week. I have lots going on though, so inspired by Elle Thinks, I decided to do a Bookish and Not So Bookish thoughts post for the first time!

  •  Today I am coming to terms with the end of one of my favourite TV shows – Person of Interest. It finished a while ago but we just watched the last episode last night and I cried more than I probably should about an Artificial Intelligence called The Machine, which tried to save people before they killed or were killed. No more kick-ass women like Shaw and Root, no more wondering if Jim Caviezel can speak above a whisper. Hell, no more generally having little idea what was going on but going along with it anyway. I’ve loved this show. I will have to console myself with Season 2 of Mr Robot.


  • Speaking of TV shows, my attempt to catch up on all the Gilmore Girls before the new episodes start looks like it isn’t going to happen. I’m just at the end of Season 4 so three more seasons to go.


  • We got a new print for the living room – just have to get it framed!


  • I am very excited to have made the final 12 of The Stage Critic Search 2016! Last week I went to see one of my favourite plays Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme by Frank McGuinness and was mentored by the fantastic Sam Marlowe of The Times. My review will be in The Stage next week before the final three are chosen!


  • I am working very hard trying to tie up all the loose ends at work before I start my new job next month. Leaving a job requires a leaving night out and a leaving night out requires a new dress. It’s the law. I went for this one…..
  • 9147044528158

  • If you are a fan of short stories, you could do worse that sign up to Thomas Morris’ Tiny Letter page. You get a short story emailed to you every fortnight and so far I’ve been treated to stories by A.M. Homes, David Foster Wallace, Richard Yates and Lorrie Moore. Fantastic stuff.

    • I am addicted to Angry Birds 2. If I didn’t play Angry Birds 2, I would most probably be on at least book 15 of my 20 Books of Summer.


    • In between watching The Avengers and The Force Awakens on constant rotation with the kids, Mr B and I managed to watch a grown-up movie this week, the brutal but brilliant 99 Homes. Starring Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield, this is a thriller set in the world of Real Estate (really) that deserved all the glory that The Big Short got.
    • My beautiful daughter wrote me a beautiful poem this week. Well, it’s beautiful until you get to the last line. As Elena over at Books and Reviews pointed out, at least she’s writing poetry!
    Stella Poem

    ‘My Mum is a very good chum, And a very good lady, And her bum is fat’

    That’s all for now, hopefully there will be a review by the end of the week!



    Bookish Thoughts is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. Pop over and say hi!

    Dame Fiona Kidman at the Belfast Book Festival

    On Saturday evening I took a break from reading my 20 Books of Summer, to interview the wonderful Dame Fiona Kidman at the Belfast Book Festival about her new novel The Infinite Air – a fictionalised account of the life of Jean Batten, world famous 1930s aviator known as the ‘Garbo of the Skies’.

    Me & Fiona

    Fiona is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed writers. The Infinite Air is her ninth novel and she has also written seven collections of short stories, five collections of poetry, over 60 scripts for radio and television, a stage play, two autobiographies and various works of non-fiction and journalism. She has won numerous awards – here is just a taste of them:

    • Mobil New Zealand Short Story Award
    • The New Zealand Book Award
    • AW Reed Award for Lifetime Achievement
    • Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Fellow
    • Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters
    • The French Legion of Honour
    • Received an OBE in 1988 for services to literature
    • Appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998


    The Infinite Air is a thoughtful and fascinating account of Jean Batten’s extraordinary life. In 1934 she became a world-wide sensation when she flew solo from England to Australia in 14 days, 22 hours, breaking the previous record. The impeccably dressed, beautiful and elusive Batten was friends with royalty and celebrity, had a rumoured fling with Ian Fleming and had the world at her feet. Yet she died in a pauper’s grave, from an infection following a dog bite, with no one left to mourn her.


    Jean Batten with her aircraft

    Kidman charts Batten’s life from her childhood in Rotorua, New Zealand with her strong-willed mother, philandering father and distant brothers. The precocious Jean could have been a dancer or a concert pianist, but instead, her mother took her to London to train to be a pilot at the famous Stag Lane.

    The depictions of flight are compelling in the novel and Kidman perfectly captures the loneliness at the heart of both Jean’s flights and her life, portraying her complexity and her fragility as well as her determination and grit. There are men in the book, but the central relationship is undoubtedly between Jean and her mother Nellie. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with. It is a fascinating story, told with insight and grace and allows us to reclaim Jean from the notion that she was just a gold-digger who used men to get her own way.

    During our chat, Fiona talked about how we need ‘female heroines’ and now that I have met her, she is one of mine. Determined to be a writer from a young age, she was a beacon for women writers in the 1970’s urging them to give themselves ‘permission to write’. She has also worked tirelessly for the literary community, founding her own Creative Writing School, helping to set up the New Zealand Book Council and acting as Patron of the New Zealand Book Council.


    Now in her 70s, she is awaiting the publication of her tenth novel, researching her eleventh and still inspiring writers and audiences across the world.

    If any of you are in Belfast over the next week, do check out the fantastic events that are going on in the Belfast Book Festival.



    Book Spine Poetry aka Monday procrastination!

    I finished Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf last week for Heaven Ali’s #Woolfalong and I have been struggling to write a review that does it justice, so I’m procrastinating a little bit this Monday morning!

    I was inspired to try some book spine poetry over the weekend when I saw poems that Naomi at Consumed by Ink and Fiction Fan recently created. Naomi’s resulting poems were beautiful, Fiction Fan’s were ‘bitter and twisted’ – her words not mine, I thought they were pretty cool!

    Mine are….strange? What do you think?

    Here are four poems, three from real books and one from my Kindle collection and I have taken a little bit of liberty with punctuation!

    Book poems 1

    Our few and evil days in the forest.

    The visitor, the strangest man.

    Redemption falls,

    this changes everything.

    Book poems 2

    Quietly, a lover sings

    ‘You must remember this…’

    A slanting of the sun.

    Love lies bleeding, this side of brightness.

    Book poems 3

    Lonesome dove

    Grief is the thing with feathers.

    Until I find you this may hurt a bit.

    The death of the heart and the pursuit of happiness.

    book title poetry

    What was lost?

    ‘I don’t know’, I said

    Sleepwalkers, plowing the dark.

    A history of falling things, fallen.

    The dancers dancing, here on earth.

    Let the great world spin.


    Anyone else fancy having a go? I’d love to hear yours! It’s a little bit addictive once you get going!