I got this idea from Lee. Keep a running list of the books you read in one year, with a brief (or in depth depending on your whims) comment on each. I’m hardly a literary critic, so don’t go expecting devastating incisiveness.

You couldn’t peel me away from a book when I was younger. I still read plenty, but I do squeeze a few other things into my life here and there.

I reregisted with the local library, now I’m back in Kent til whenever. When I asked how many books you were allowed to take out, they told me “30, and please make full use of it, we need the borrowings”. So I did, although I could only physically carry 16 home, because too many of the books I wanted were hardbacks. I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment, and not much money, and I’m feeling a little anti-social/misanthropic of late, so the library is my friend.

I like to re-read books again a few years after I originally read them, so there will be quite a few re-reads on the list as it goes on.

1. The Closed Circle– Jonathan Coe
2. Dibs in Search of Self– Virginia Axline
3. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case– Agatha Christie

The Closed Circle is the sequel to the Rotters’ Club, a favourite of mine. This is the second time I’ve read the sequel, and the second time I haven’t enjoyed it. The first book was full of joie de vivre, despite the harsh things that happen to the characters, but the second was a dull plod. A dull plod through the life of middle-aged disappointments who were supposed to be the older version of the (far more interesting) characters in the 70s, with a bit of ham-fisted social commentary on New Labour. I still need to see the tv version of the Rotters’ Club, it’s supposed to be excellent.

I did A-level psychology, and Dibs in Search of Self was a background book we were supposed to read for the Childhood Development module (Freud, Piaget etc etc). I found it the other day when I was sorting some books out, and fancied re-reading it. I was the only person in class who actually bothered to read it at the time, I think. It’s about a seriously emotionally disturbed boy brought up by the coldest parents imaginable, and how he comes out of his shell through play therapy. It’s written from a clinical perspective though (Axline was the therapist), so is free of the usual sort of maudlin crap you find in books about troubled children, without being uncaring, and is very well written and thought-provoking.

Agatha Christie books are like mindless comfort food. I’ve read most of them, but there are so many, and they’re so similar, that if I leave a long enough gap, I can read them again because I’ve forgotten most of the mystery. Even when I remember whodunnit, it’s quite fun to track the clues and the red herrings and seemingly throwaway bits that are actually real clues. This one is Poirot’s last case, and it’s depressing, because everyone is old and ill and about to die/mourning dead relatives. Agatha Christie wrote it in the 40s in case she died in WWII, so that Poirot had a proper ending, which might also explain why it’s such a major downer. It wasn’t published until the 70s, when Agatha Christie was a little senile and had spent the last 10 years writing mystery stories that didn’t make much sense (sometimes it’s good to quit while you’re ahead …) , so at least the basic mystery is good, and hangs together. I also spent quite a lot of it thinking “Captain Hastings, have you not noticed that your youngest daughter is a blatant Nazi?”