Some I read, some I didn’t ………….
This time last year in my “looking back looking forward ” post I highlighted nine titles which I would be looking out for during the year. I thought I’d take a look back at these. In 2017 I managed to read four of the ten titles I’d focused on then, how did I do last year. Just as a reminder here are the titles and how I’ve got on.
The Only Story – Julian Barnes (Cape) – Came out in February. After mentioning this here I seemed to forget all about it. Didn’t read it and it hasn’t even really been on my radar.
Bookwork: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan (Square Peg) – Read it, loved it. Was number 3 on my Books Of The Year list.
Barracoon- Zora Neale Hurston (Harper Collins) Read it in September. Based on interviews with the last known slave in 1927, Hurston’s non-fiction work remained unpublished to this year. I said “This is a work which manages to be spine-chilling and endearing and is a thought-provoking and always relevant read.” My four star review can be read here.
Warlight – Michael Ondaatje – Didn’t read it and I do think I have missed out because it appeared regularly on “Best Of The Year” lists. I did highlight it again recently in my “What I Should Have Read” post and I will get round to it sometime.
My Year of Rest And Relaxation- Ottessa Moshfegh – Didn’t read this when it arrived in July but did read her earlier novella “McGlue” which was published in the UK following the success of her “Eileen”. I said of that “I can appreciate it as writing but it does not satisfy me in the way that I feel a novel should.” Therefore, I did not rush to seek her latest title out.
Playtime – Andrew McMillan (Cape) – I said “Hopefully I will read more poetry in 2018.” Unfortunately I did not read any.
The Lost Magician -Piers Torday (Quercus) – I also didn’t read as much children’s fiction as I had anticipated . Due out in paperback in March so perhaps I will get around to it then.
Transcription – Kate Atkinson (Doubleday) – This one I have scheduled as I have borrowed it in e-book form from the library.
Melmoth — Sarah Perry (Serpent’s Tail) – I forgot I had this on this list. I’ve toyed with the idea of reading it a few times when I’ve encountered it but haven’t done so yet. Once again I am sure I will. Got slightly mixed reviews (and I was a little disappointed I couldn’t buy into the hype of “The Essex Serpent”) but readers seem to think it is certainly worth giving a go.
Some potential highlights from 2019
Well that’s my excuses for these books done. Reading takes a different direction than planned and that is what is exciting. 20 of the books I read this year were as part of the Sandown Library Reading Challenge which I was certainly thrilled to take part in as it introduced me to authors such as Susan Hill, Elizabeth Taylor and, especially, my book of the Year “The Count Of Monte Cristo” which I would never have got round to reading.
On so onto the forthcoming titles that have piqued my fancy for this year.
The Library Book – Susan Orlean (Atlantic) – just published in last couple of days. This non-fiction work examines a 1986 fire at the New York Public Library and becomes a love letter to libraries and how essential and relevant they are to modern societies.
What Hell Is Not – Alessandro D’Avenia (Oneworld) – Due Jan 24th- From one of my favourite publishers, a translation from the Italian of a best-selling novel set in the mafia run slums of Palermo
Out Of The Woods – Luke Turner (W&N) – Due Jan 24th – A memoir with Epping Forest at its centre which according to Olivia Laing is “electrifying on sex and nature, religion and love.” There’s quite a buzz about this book
Black Leopard, Red Wolf – Marlon James (Hamish Hamilton) – Due in Feb – How do you follow a Booker Prize winning novel about an attempted assassination of Bob Marley? I know, begin a fantasy trilogy set in mythical Africa. There are “Game Of Thrones” comparisons being bandied about and I’m not a huge lover of fantasy novels but this seems such a brave (and potentially foolhardy) move that I’m certainly going to be looking out for it
Zuleikha – Guzel Yahkina (Oneworld) – Due in Feb – Books in translation seem to well in my end of year Top 10. This one is translated from Russian and is apparently a stunning debut set in a Siberian camp in 1930. A tale of survival and conquering terrible conditions can be a life-affirming read.
Narrow Land – Christine Dwyer-Hickey (Atlantic) – Due in March – I really liked this author’s “Tatty” published back in 2004 and this new title set in Cape Cod in 1950 looks stylish and highly promising . We are promised a novel which takes in loneliness, regret and the myth of the American Dream
New Daughters Of Africa – Edited by Margaret Busby (Myriad) – Due in March- An anthology which takes in different types of writing from 200 women writers of African descent.
Confessions Of Frannie Langton – Sara Collins (Viking) – Due in April- This is a big buzz debut which sounds right up my street. A nineteenth century tale with a good feel of the Gothic about a Jamaican slave girl ending up at the Old Bailey in London.
Big Sky – Kate Atkinson (Doubleday) -Due in June – A new Jackson Brodie novel after a nine year wait. Hopefully I can read those I still have outstanding before June. I’ve been promising myself this for some time and I have most of them on my shelves so maybe this new arrival will be the impetus I need.
The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead (Fleet) – Due in August. In his first publication since the five star rated, Top 3 Book Of The Year “The Underground Railroad” we are promised a tale of a 1960’s set novel of two black boys sent to a reform school, based on a hideous real-life institution which operated in Florida for over a century.
I think it’s going to be good year….Happy reading!