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 – Name That Tune!


I couldn’t resist this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish, which is all about books and music, my two favourite things! The topic this week is songs I wish were books but instead I decided to pick my Top Ten songs inspired by literature. I even got a bit over-excited and have created a little Spotify playlist (with a few extras added in!) is case any of you are inspired to listen!


1. Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush

Heathcliff, it’s me, it’s Cathy

I’ve come home….

Well come on. It had to be on the list didn’t it? I knew this song before I read the book and spent my primary school years having it sung to me because of my name. Kate Bush manages to capture the wildness, the spirit and the dark romance of Bronte’s classic perfectly

2. Tread Softly – Tiny Ruins

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Tiny Ruins are a band from Auckland in New Zealand fronted by the gorgeous voice of singer/ songwriter Hollie Fullbrook. I’ve been captivated by this band since hearing the beautiful song ‘Me at the Museum, You at the Winter Gardens’ and this version of WB Yeats’ He Wishes for The Clothes of Heaven is equally captivating.

3. The Ghost of Tom Joad – Bruce Springsteen

The highway is alive tonight

But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes

I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light

Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad

When you think of Bruce Springsteen, it’s usually the crowd-pleasing anthems of Born in the USA and Dancing in the Dark that come to mind, but I do love the quieter, more introspective albums like Nebraska and the gorgeous The Ghost of Tom Joad. Taking inspiration from the character from The Grapes of Wrath, Springsteen’s acoustic album is heavily influenced by literature, each sparse, poignant song like a novella of the desperation of ordinary people trying to live and ordinary live but trapped by poverty and depression.

4. Alice – Tom Waits

And I must be insane

To go skating on your name

And by tracing it twice

I fell through the ice

Of Alice

Not just one song, but an album of wonderfully odd songs, Tom Waits’ Alice was written for theatre director Robert Wilson’s stage adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. Waits is perfectly suited to the weird and the wonderful and this whole album evokes a ramshackle carnivalesque world of lost girls, strange creatures and mad hatters.

5. Big Julie – Jarvis Cocker

And this song may lead her far away

But tonight it seems to light the way

And she can almost see the future shine

And everything’s in tune and everything’s in time

It will play until the day Big Julie rules the world

Big Julie rules the world

Last week, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker presented a documentary on Radio 4 about Carson McCuller’s whose writing he is drawn to for its musicality and focus on the outsiders in life. Big Julie takes inspiration from her book The Member of the Wedding and opens with McCullers herself reading an abridged version of the opening paragraph and the lyrics of the song borrow freely from the text McCullers other masterpiece, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

books and movies first


6. Sylvia Plath – Ryan Adams

I wish I had a Sylvia Plath

Busted tooth and a smile

And cigarette ashes in her drink

The kind that goes out and then sleeps for a week

Ryan Adam’s Gold is one of my favourite albums of all time and Sylvia Plath is less of an ode to the poet herself and more an ode to the idea of her, a type of woman, a Sylvia Plath who will be complicated, dark and intriguing. Which is, I suppose, a little bit odd….

7. Scentless Apprentice – Nirvana

Like most babies smell like butter

His smell smelled like no other

He was born scentless and senseless

He was born a scentless apprentice

In Peter Suskind’s masterpiece Perfume, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the historical novel’s protagonist, is a perfume apprentice with hypersomnia, which gives a person a strong sense of smell, but ironically was born without a body scent. Kurt Cobain was on record as saying it was his favourite book – he carried it everywhere and reread it constantly before using it as the inspiration for this song.

8. Suzanne – Leonard Cohen

And you want to travel with her

And you want to travel blind

And you know that she will trust you

For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.

So, this is a little bit of a cheat, but Leonard Cohen’s classic song Suzanne began life as a poem ‘Suzanne Takes You Down’ which was included in his Selected Poems, 1956 – 1968. Cohen turned several of his poems into songs, including True Love Leaves No Traces and Queen Victoria and Me

9. A Good Man is Hard to Find – Sufjan Stevens

Once in the backyard,

she was once like me,

she was once like me.

Twice when I killed them,

they were once at peace,

they were once like me.

A Good Man is Hard to Find is Flannery O’Connor’s dark story of the brutal murder of an entire family by a killer on the loose called The Misfit and contains a moment of connection between the killer and one of his victims, the elderly grandmother. In this song, Sufjan Stevens sings from the point of view of The Misfit, using the same empathy as the grandmother in the original story.

10. Tear in Your Hand – Tori Amos

So you say you don’t wanna stay together anymore

Let me take a deep breath babe

If you need me Me and Neil’ll be

hangin’ out with the dream king

Neil says hi

This song is not entirely inspired by a work of literature but does make reference to Neil Gaiman and his Dream King character. Amos recorded Tear in Your Hand on her 1991 demo for Little Earthquakes and a mutual friend, upon hearing the reference introduced the pair. They have remained friends ever since and Gaiman returned the favour by immortalising Amos as a talking tree in his book Stardust.

books music 2


So there you have it! If you have a look at my playlist, you’ll see I whittled this down from about 25 possibilities!

Have you any favourite songs inspired by literature? Or any music you think would be a good soundtrack to your favourite book?