I’ve been reflecting on some of the books I’ve read this year and as you can maybe tell from the small selection in the picture, I’ve made made a conscious effort to vary the subject matter, genre and style. This is part of an attempt to learn by ‘reading as a writer’ – a concept I was introduced to during an OU course on Creative Writing in 2011.
This list is not quite complete but a good representation of books I’ve enjoyed, with a few comments along the way. Hopefully you might take from it some reading ideas for yourselves:-
First write a sentence by Prof. Jo Moran – thoroughly engaging non-fiction, covering aspects of writing, grammar and punctuation; very accessible containing wonderful nuggets of wisdom. I can’t recommend this enough.
The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau – chosen by my American literature study group where we concentrate on female American authors, this is a fascinating, multi-layered novel, exploring race and gender through seven generations in the Deep South.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – not as harrowing as the title suggests; somehow kindness and hope find a place, despite the horror of the place.
I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock is a very readable page-turner in the genre of romance fiction. It involves the main character’s best friend and their children in a moral dilemma.
The Rumour by Lesley Kara – this crosses the genre of psychological thriller with romance fiction in a story about the damage caused by rumour and fake news, with good twists and turns.
The Way Of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry – another page-turner, this book conveys the work of doctors, obstetricians, and early anaesthetics, in a story of murder and misadventure in 1840s Edinburgh. It was great for me to read personally, as a doctor who visited Edinburgh this time last year ( see blog Oct 2018), it really brought to life the backstreets, closes and wynds we explored.
An American Marriage by Tayeri Jones is possibly my favourite book of the year. It’s a compelling and intimate study of black middle-class America and the effects of an awful miscarriage of justice.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley – a dark and gritty winter New Years Eve house party.
The Keeper by Graham Norton – a warmly written, enjoyable tale from Ireland.
Hampstead Fever by Carol Cooper – a romantic romp through contemporary London life with a group of thirty-something neighbours.
Circe by Madeleine Miller – a fascinating, modern classic, based on Greek mythology with a core of witchcraft and feminism.
Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence by Artemis Cooper – an interesting (if rather long and drawn out) insight into the life of the writer, her lovers and her social group from the 1940s until her death in 2014.
The Wedding by Dorothy West – another American Literature study group book, set in Martha’s Vineyard in the 50s, involving issues of race and class, and beautifully written.
There might be a few books I’ve forgotten (and just the odd one I didn’t finish) but that’s about it for now. Feel free to send me any recommendations for next year, thanks.