Books of 2012

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I started using Goodreads this year to keep track of my reading. Here’s my list of books. It looks like a lot, but over a year it’s only just over 1 a week, which isn’t that good going, seeing as I’m a fast reader (more visual than auditory).

1) Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell- Susanna Clarke (re-read)
2) The Ladies of Grace Adieu- Susanna Clarke (re-read)
I really hope Susanna Clarke comes up with the sequel she’s promised soon.
3) Problem at Pollensa Bay- Agatha Christie
4) Crooked House- Agatha Christie
5) Puffin by Design- Phil Baines
6) How to Make Jewellery with Tatty Devine
7) Love- Angela Carter

8) Who Paid the Piper? the CIA and the Cultural Cold War- Frances Stonor Saunders
This book was not half as exciting as it sounded. I was disappointed.

9) A Life Like Other People’s- Alan Bennett

10) The Pillow Book- Sei Shonagon
The diary/book of lists of a woman in the Imperial Court in 10th Century Japan

11) A Proper Education for Girls- Elaine di Rollo

12) Ulysses- James Joyce
I seriously read the whole thing for university. It’s more fun if you read it separately chapter by chapter and have a firm grasp of the story of the Odyssey.

13) How to be an Illustrator- Darrel Rees

14) Wolf Hall- Hilary Mantel
As good as they say. I was in the National Portrait Gallery soon after, and I found myself only wanting to look at paintings from that time period.

15) Reflections on the Magic of Writing- Diana Wynne Jones
I bought it soon after attending her memorial, which was a little sad

16) On Monsters: an Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears- Stephen T. Asma

17) Oulipo Compendium- Alastair Brotchie
Surrealist word games

18) The New Moon With the Old- Dodie Smith
19) The Town in Bloom- Dodie Smith
There’s a reason her other books have been totally forgotten.

20) The Time of the Ghost- Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)

21) After Effects Hands on Training- Chad Fahs
This book is incredibly tedious, but useful.

22) The Spellcoats – Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
I went on a spate of re-reading Diana Wynne Jones books after attending her memorial

23) The God Beneath the Sea- Leon Garfield

24) Orpheus- Ann Wroe

25) It Ends with Revelations- Dodie Smith

26) Unseen Academicals- Terry Pratchett
I didn’t have to pay for this, and I didn’t really enjoy it, so it’s probably a good thing I didn’t buy it. I used to really like Terry Pratchett when I was a kid, and particularly like the fact that he always had a new book ready for Christmas, but when I was about 13 or so I suddenly spotted how similar most of his books are, and it was never really the same after that. This one was about football, and I don’t like sports, and most of the jokes went over my head.

27) Tales from Earthsea- Ursula K. Le Guin
I loved these books when I was a kid, and I never realised this book of short stories existed. The Studio Ghibli film is ok, it has lovely visuals, but they jumbled up the plots of three books and it just didn’t work. The less said about the shit, white-washed tv show version the better.

28) The Tombs of Atuan- Ursula K. Le Guin (re-read) 
This was always my favourite out of the series

29) The Farthest Shore- Ursula K. Le Guin (re-read)

30) Tehanu- Ursula K. Le Guin (re-read)

31) The Other Wind-Ursula K. Le Guin (re-read)

32) The Space Trilogy- C.S. Lewis
These 3 books are the most ludicrous thing ever. C.S. Lewis tries to do Christian space travel stories with a university professor hero. Has giant otters, a room with a spotty ceiling full of modern art designed to send you mad, a ridiculously over the top s&m butch policewoman villain and all sorts of weird stuff (especially in the third book)

33) Sleeping Murder- Agatha Christie

34) Cat Among the Pigeons- Agatha Christie
Look, I like unchallenging detective stories, ok?

35) Heroes and Villains- Angela Carter

36) Breverton’s Nautical Compendium – Terry Breverton

37) The Oxford Book of Ballads- James Kingsley
Come ye, all maidens fair. Ballads as in a certain type of Scottish poem, not a cheesy lovesong.

38) Tales of the Unexpected- Roald Dahl
They’re not so unexpected if you’ve seen the tv show, which I have. I was also supervising a kid’s football game while reading this. (Perfectly allowed, I should add- I just had to be there in case of accidents). I think it’s one of my all-time favourite tv theme tunes.

39) Jane Austen’s England- Maggie Lane
I was expecting a social history book, it was more like a guidebook of houses to visit.

40) T.S. Eliot, a Memoir- Robert Sencourt
More like T.S. Eliot, an Arse Kissing. Still, I learnt that Eliot had a habit of bringing whoopie cushions to boring meetings at Faber to liven things up

41) Writing: The Stories of Alphabets and Scripts- Georges Jean

42) Syd Barrett- A Very Irregular Head
I got this in Cambridge while doing a school trip. I’m firmly against anything Roger Waters has produced. Pompous nonsense.

43) A History of the Vikings- Gwyn Jones

44) The Incas: Empire of Blood and Gold

45) How Maxine Learned to Love Her Legs and Other Tales of Growing Up- ed. Bonnie Greer
I read this while visiting my friend Chella up in Sheffield. This book is recommended.

46) Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design- Laurie Wisbrun

47) How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired- Fig Taylor

48) Girls to the Front: the True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution- Sara Marcus
I enjoyed this book, and liked the fact that it tried to tell the story from multiple viewpoints

49) Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
I find North Korea fascinating, especially as you don’t get to hear very much from the people themselves. The end of the regime can’t come soon enough.

50) Death and the Penguin- Andrey Kurkov

51) Mr Norris Changes Trains- Christopher Isherwood

52) Goodbye to Berlin- Christopher Isherwood
Classic books. I still need to watch the tv drama about Isherwood with Matt Smith

53) The Poisonwood Bible- Barbara Kingsolver
Another classic. An arrogant bible-thumping American preacher drags his family to the Congo in the 1960s. A great novel about the beginning of the end for the European empires.

54) The Aleph and Other Stories- Jorge Luis Borges
I can’t recommend Jorge Luis Borges enough

55) Guns, Germs and Steel- Jared Diamond
The books are far better than the documentaries. Discovery Channel documentaries always seem to re-explain things too many times, and break things down into too-small chunks. Maybe I’m used to the slower, more involved style of BBC documentaries.

56) The Quest for Arthur’s Britain- Geoffrey Ashe
An archaeology book rather than a New Age one. Once when I was browsing in the bookshop in Tintagel, an Italian man asked at the counter if they had a nice edition of the Morte D’Arthur, because he wanted to buy a present for a professor of mediaeval poetry. The wafty hippy woman at the counter tried to aggressively sell him Mists of Avalon instead (ie, slightly trashy 80s novels) because they were “more feminine and intuitive”.

57) Why Iceland?- Asgeir Jonsson
This turned out to have more dry descriptions of the workings of Icelandic banks than I was hoping.

58) Ausperity: Living the High Life on a Low Budget- Lucy Tobin
I borrowed this, I didn’t really pick up any tips I wasn’t already using. I guess I’m just broke rather than in need of money-saving tips.

59) At Home: A Short History of Private Life- Bill Bryson
I enjoyed this, but Bill Bryson is not always the most trusty purveyor of facts

60) The Basque History of the World- Mark Kurlansky
The Basques have had far more influence on world history than people realise

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