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!

Top Ten Tuesday – Most Owned Authors

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is the top ten authors I own the most books from.

Now, if I was being really honest, the top two would probably be Enid Blyton and Francine Pascal (I was OBSESSED with Sweet Valley High when I was young!) but since those books are all packed up somewhere safe and cannot be counted, I thought I’d go for the more grown up options! I’m not sure this list is indicative of my favourite authors of all time, but they have all been my favourite at some point in my life!

I’m also glad that the title for this week says ‘own’ and not ‘read’ because, as we all know, I have quite a few unread books in my collection!

So here goes.


1 - 5

1. David Mamet – 28
He’s in at the top spot with a grand total of 28 books/ plays read. I adore Mamet’s work, including his essays and novels, and although his latest plays haven’t been just so exciting, I will forgive all for the wonders of Speed The Plow, Oleanna and American Buffalo
Favourite Mamet? Glengarry Glen Ross


2. Joyce Carol Oates – 24
I’m actually surprised that Joyce here was pipped to the post for the Number 1 slot as she is my favourite author ever and incredibly underrated in my opinion. A wonderful, accessible and incredibly prolific writer.
Favourite JCO? Blonde


3. Don DeLillo – 17
I first read Underworld 15 years ago and it totally changed what I felt fiction could be. From the epic to the intimate, DeLillo explores the American way of life like no other author.
Favourite DeLillo? Underworld


4. Martin Amis – 14
I was surprised to see Martin Amis in my top five, as it has been a long time since he has written anything I have enjoyed, however I studied his work at University and his early novels are astonishingly clever. Lionel Asbo is waiting in the 746 so we’ll see if he can have a return to form.
Favourite Amis? London Fields


5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 13
The wondrous, magical world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez has enthralled and astounded me since reading Love in the Time of Cholera as a romantically inclined twenty year old. His was a true loss this year.
Favourite Marquez? One Hundred Years of Solitude


6 - 10

6. Chuck Palahniuk – 13
I know I posted a rather scathing review of the last Chuck Palahniuk I read, but his earlier books really are unique. And scary. And hilarious. And often disgusting. But I’ve read 13 of them, so he didn’t manage to put me off!
Favourite Palahniuk? Survivor


7. Margaret Atwood – 13
A joint entry with Chuck, I actually thought Margaret Atwood would have been higher on my list. While I’ve read most of her novels, I’ve yet to try her short stories and poetry. From science fiction to historical, Atwood never misses.
Favourite Atwood? Alias Grace


8. Henning Mankell – 12
Forget Steig Larsson, for me the Master of Scandi Crime has always been Henning Mankell with his Wallander series. Never just straight crime novels, his books examine issues of immigration, international politics and economics and feature one of the most interesting lead characters in Kurt Wallander.
Favourite Mankell? One Step Behind


9. William Faulkner – 11
In my final year at University, I took a course in the Literature of the American South on a complete whim and my love affair with William Faulkner began. The use of form in books like The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay dying has been often imitated but never bettered.
Favourite Faulkner? Light in August

10. Paul Auster – 11
Joint last place goes to that magician of reality Paul Auster, with his beautiful cover jacket photograph and his tales that mingle existentialism, detective stories, magic realism and coincidence. Always questioning the nature of identity and always hitting the spot.
Favourite Auster? The Music of Chance


So there we have it, my top ten. Special mention should also go to John Irving and Armistead Maupin, both with a score of 10 who nearly made the cut.
Do any of these authors appear on your lists? Who is your number one?

March Madness Ends and normal madness is resumed…

March Madness may well be over, but all that reading has left me way behind on reviews! I did manage to start all my 10 books in March, but unfortunately didn’t manage to finish Point Omega by Don DeLillo. I really pushed myself to read as much as possible this month and I’m delighted to be down into the 720’s already. Many thanks to the wonderful Cedar Station for all the support! I’m quite looking forward to reading at a more leisurely pace and choosing books as and when I feel like reading them. I’m also looking forward to reading some more pleasant books, given the high level of rapes, murders, child abuse, death and in the case of Tampa, several crimes against literature.

So, to round up, here are books 8 and 9 and the madness will spill in to April when I finish 10.


No 727 Race by David Mamet


8/10 of March Madness

In Race, a wealthy white man, accused of raping a black woman, turns to a law firm comprised of two male partners (one white, one black) and a young female, African-American junior associate. Although wary about taking Charles’s case, their hand is forced when their junior associate Susan, who is African American, makes two elementary legal errors. But the action shifts from questions of Charles’s guilt or innocence to internal politics and the issue of whether Susan is a victim of discrimination or the dubious product of affirmative action.

Race feels a bit like the younger sibling of Mamet’s superior Speed-the-Plow with the pair of legal eagles replacing the cynical fast-talking Hollywood producers and a characteristic female neophyte who they really should be keeping a closer eye on before she puts a spoke in these very masculine wheels.

This feels like a play of two halves and the opening scenes which examine the ducking and diving and intellectual power play in the legal profession are much more successful than the attempts to question the audience’s assumptions about race. Mamet does make a good attempt at turning our preconceptions on their head. “Do you know what you can say to a black man on the subject of race?” the apparently affable black lawyer asks the white defendant, a question to which we learn the only correct answer is “nothing”.

But while admiring Mamet’s panache in taking on so fraught a subject, the play does often feel mechanical. Mamet is in danger of seeming provoking rather than provocative. The characters are little more than points of view in this dramatic discussion where the theme is all and though the dialogue is as edgy and compelling as ever, featuring Mamet’s trademark overlaps, backtrackings and repetitions.

Again, I would imagine the play comes to life more in the performance, this video of the original Broadway production starring James Spader and Kerry Washington certainly suggests there were more laughs on stage than on page but for me, this is a play of ideas that never really engages the heart.

Read On: Book

Number Read: 20

Number Remaining: 726


No 726 Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

March Madness 9/10


What is it with me and books you feel like reading with one eye closed?

Hotel Iris is the story of Mari, a 17-year-old young woman who works for her tyrannical mother in a hotel by the sea. She meets an older man, a translator of Russian novels, who lives on an island and is rumoured to have murdered his wife. They start a relationship based on dominance and sado-masochistic violence yet they love each other.

“It occurred to me that I had never heard such a beautiful voice giving an order,” Mari thinks. “It was calm and imposing, with no hint of indecision. Even the word ‘whore’ was somehow appealing.”

Hotel Iris is reluctantly compelling. Ogawa is skilled at writing beautifully even about ugly, violent things and is a master at creating mood. The story is outside of time and using spare strokes and ingenious, often macabre detail, Ogawa creates a dreamlike narrative that, challenges our sense of security. There is a profound unease in this study of dependency with Mari ruled by an uncaring, tyrannical mother at home, and a domineering, sadistic lover in secret. Mari trades one form of servitude for another. She is a wisp of a girl, seeking her true self through pain and her lack of self awareness is both what draws the reader in and holds us strangely at arm’s length.

The book is as cool as the ocean breeze by the Hotel Iris, giving up no easy answers for why these characters do what they do. It is a story in a beautiful, tender and disturbing world all of its own.


Read On: Book

Number Read: 21

Number Remaining: 725






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….