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!

No 734 Run by Ann Patchett

ImageMarch Madness Reads 1/10

I’ve been quiet lately. I’ve been reading.

March Madness is upon me and 5 days in, I’ve managed 2 of my 10 reads.

I decided to start with a book that has been on my shelf for probably well over 5 years and had been started and abandoned several times.

In Run, Ann Patchett explores the fall-out from an unexpected encounter between two young African-American brothers, raised as the adopted sons of the white mayor of Boston, and their biological mother, who appears suddenly on a cold winter evening and saves one of the siblings from an oncoming car. While in hospital, her daughter is left in the charge of the family and  over the ensuing 24 hours, this accident sparks a series of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Patchett has been very successful at taking unlikely plots and turning them into believable, readable novels. Bel Canto, her previous and (in my mind) more effective work, was about an opera singer performing for a Japanese ambassadorial party in South America whose guests are all taken hostage in a coup attempt. What she created there was a magical and moving tale. Like Bel Canto, Run shows the reader how spheres of privilege and poverty can exist side by side and how humanity connects seemingly disparate lives through secrets, responsibility, duty and finally love.

This is a heart-warming book, filled with heart-warming people who are basically trying to do the best they can for the people they love. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. So much fiction can be cold, analytical, and critical – Patchett however, never forgets the beating heart. Her strengths are to present these characters without sentimentality through some beautiful prose;

Anger and sadness and a sense of injustice that was bigger than any one thing that had happened stoked an enormous fire in her chest and that fire kept her heart alive, a beautiful, infallible machine.

Where the book fails a little for me is in its treatment of the ‘big issues’ that are raised early on. Race, class, adoption, and politics – all are there, but none are really examined in any detail. She plants the story with a great deal of potential then never fully harvests it. As such, the realism of her novel is slight, creating characters who feel as symbolic as the saintly statue at the centre of the story. Possibly Patchett wants her readers to escape into the world as it should be, rather than the harsh, hard place it can be. She is speaking up for human potential and avoiding sentimentality in the process, reminding us that

In life there was never a limitless number of nights.

Which is a good thing to remember…

Read On: Book

Number Read: 13

Number Remaining: 733

March Madness Starter Post


“Have I gone mad?
I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 So, clearly, because I haven’t set myself a ridiculous enough challenge with my blog as a whole, I have been persuaded to take part in March Madness by the lovely Juliana at Cedar Station! As part of the month-long readathon beginning this Saturday, I have set myself the goal of reading a minimum of 10 books during March. As I am averaging 4 -5 a month at the moment, 10 will be hard work to get through, but the temptation to get the 746 down into the 720s in a matter of weeks is too good to resist!

So here are the books I hope to read, in no particular order:

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

The Seven Days of Peter Crumb by Johnny Glynn

Race by David Mamet

Posh by Laura Wade

The Scattering by Christopher Reid

Run by Ann Patchett

This is Water by David Foster Wallace

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

Point Omega by Don DeLillo

Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa

If you look closely you’ll see that there are two plays, a volume of poetry and well, a speech in there, so I have been selective in the length of books I’ve chosen. Yet they are all in the 746 and would have to be read at some point, so I’m going to give myself a break! I’ve also made the effort to support the Read Women 2014 initiative so 50% of these books are written by women.

My posts during the month will obviously be much shorter – can’t take up too much precious reading time – but they will be more frequent so it all balances out.

If you are taking part in March Madness, please do link up to your own starter post below, I like to see what other people are reading and I’m going to need all the support I can get!

I really am mad, but let’s do this….