Books I’ve read so far 2011.

I realised I have almost certainly forgotten a lot of books I’ve read which is pretty sad so I decided at the beginning of 2011 to keep a journal of books I’ve read. From here on, I will be blogging about the books I’ve read so I’ll catch you up on what I’ve read up until now. These brief descriptions aren’t my best work! Click on the links to order your copies.

  1. ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett. It really is a great read about African-American maids working for white households in the Deep South in the early 1960s. It is a really moving piece of work but it also has moments of real humour. Stockett manages to capture the voices of her characters so exquisitely that they leap off the page. It is a must-read.
  2. ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue. A story inspired by the Fritzl case. It tells the story of four-year old Jack who lives in a room where he and his mother are held captive by ‘Old Nick’. Written from Jack’s point of view, it’s a touchy subject but really well told.
  3. ‘Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years’ by Sue Townsend. Good old Adrian, he’ll never let me down. He’s still as infuriating as ever but you can’t help loving him.
  4. ‘The Slap’ by Christos Tsiolkas. This is an interesting read but not for those who are easily offended. It has graphic sex, frequent bad language and none of the characters are particularly likeable. However, it is an original representation of a Greek community in Australia.  
  5. ‘The Finkler Question’ by Howard Jacobsen. Booker Prize winner and allegedly comic novel. I say allegedly because, although I may have wryly smiled once or twice, that does not a comic novel make. To me, Jacobsen has created a slightly more intelligent Adrian Mole and I have to say, I prefer Adrian.
  6. ‘The Death Instinct’ by Jed Rubenfeld. Following up on ‘The Interpretation of Murder’, Rubenfeld continues NYC crime investigations with Younger and Littlemore, with a little help from Freud. A good yarn. 
  7. ‘The Pact’ by Jodi Picoult. A girl commits suicide and her childhood sweetheart is under suspicion. A typical Picoult story: shattered friendships, court scenes and plenty of twists. An easy read but dark at times.
  8. ‘Even The Dogs’ by Jon McGregor. Story about drug addicts told from varying points of view and non-linear narrative. Really interesting technique and original story. It takes some getting used to but stick with it. 
  9. ‘William Walker’s First Year of Marriage’ by Matt Rudd. Got this cheap on my Kindle but a nice easy read. It reminded me a bit of Bridget Jones, lots of misunderstandings and crazy characters but enjoyable.
  10. ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazio Ishuguro. I really enjoyed this book. The detailed descriptions are really lovely, conjuring up images in my head. It’s a bittersweet story though and really makes you consider how our society will evolve. 
  11. ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. I loved this book. Hosseini’s descriptions of life in Afghanistan are really interesting and it was useful to read about a country which has had negative press my entire life. This story is about family and friendship and is, at times, heartbreaking but absolutely worth the tears. 
  12. ‘Ethan Frome’ by Edith Wharton. A very quick read about a man whose wife is infirm and so gets her cousin to come and work in the house. The husband then falls in love with this girl. A great twist in the end.
  13. ‘Mr Chartwell’ by Rebecca Hunt. Hunt uses ‘the black dog’ as a metaphor for depression. It is hard to dislike Mr Chartwell, the dog who is haunting Winston Churchill among others, and I think that is part of her plan – how easy it is to welcome in depression without realising it.  
  14. ‘The Audacity of Hope’ by Barack Obama. My hero. I love the descriptions about his family time and his courtship with Michelle. He has some great anecdotes – and remember, this was before The White House – but his waxing lyrical about policies does get slightly boring at times. Although I appreciate their importance, some of the background seems unnecessary.  
  15. ‘Clouded Vision’ by Linwood Barclay. The author of the most preposterous crimes returns with a Quick Read in conjunction with Galaxy. Extremely quick but a nice way to get into reading if you’re not a frequent reader.
  16. ‘The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy. I was so disappointed with this book. I felt it was hard work. I didn’t care about the characters and felt it was a slog to finish it.  
  17. ‘The Wedding Girl’ by Madeleine Whickham (AKA Sophie Kinsella). This is one of several rebranded books which were written before Sophie struck gold with her Shopaholic series. Although it is meant to be more “serious”, with heavier topics, it is not beyond her usual readers.
  18. ‘The Perfect Murder’ by Peter James. Another Galaxy Quick Read. I would definitely read another of his books. A great twist and well written. 
  19. ‘Death of a Murderer’ by Rupert Thompson. Written about a policeman asked to guard Myra Hindley’s corpse (fiction). Odd things start happening to him while in the morgue. Not as good as I was hoping.  
  20. ‘Dear John’ by Nicholas Sparks. I wasn’t expecting much from this book but it was great. It was a love story but it ran much deeper than that. I don’t want to give any of the plot away but I would recommend it.
  21. ‘A Week in December’ by Sebastian Faulks. Seven days, seven major characters. A hateful hedge fund manager, his stoner son, a footballer, a lawyer, a luvvie book reviewer, a tube train driver and a Muslim who may be considering something bad…. Not as good as the reviews suggested but alright.  
  22. ‘The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon. Absolutely amazing! So original.  
  23. ‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus. I read this as I felt I ‘should’. It was very short but felt quite laborious.  
  24. ‘Dark Horizons’ by Dan Smith. A really original thriller set in Sumatra. For full review, see  To order your copy, go to:
  25. ‘My Sister Lives on The Mantlepiece’ by Annabelle Pitcher. Another kids’ book but should be on the National Curriculum. Friendship, racism, tolerance, death and terrorism.  
  26. ‘Girls of Riyadh’ by Rajaa Alsanea. SATC in Saudi Arabia. I say this because it is about rich, privileged women who aren’t in touch with the real population. It is an interesting read but I feel it wasn’t particularly representative.  
  27. ‘Starting Over, One Cake at A Time’ by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Yes, she’s Sandy’s sister. She used to be a high-powered movie producer but she upped-sticks to become a baker and now she’s writing about it. It’s not the typical sibling biography (no goss) but it’s an ok-read. Also contains recipes.
  28. ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. One of my favourite books of all time. Such a wonderful story. As with ‘The Kite Runner’ there are some particularly heavy subjects but I had real empathy for the characters and cared what happened to them.
  29. ‘The Passage’ by Justin Cronin. The most original book I’ve read in years. A more savvy author would have made this into a series but Cronin has given the reader value for money and written this huge story. It spans centuries and has such a filmic quality in the way it is written. 
  30. ‘Incendiary’ by Chris Cleave. Written as an open letter, from a mother’s point of view after her husband and son are killed in a terrorist attack. So eloquent and such a convincing voice.
  31. ‘Sinema: The Northumberland Massacre’ by Rod Glenn. Set in my neck of the woods. A clever thriller, written by someone who obviously knows his references.  
  32. ‘The Friendship Test’ (AKA ‘The Tenko Club’) by Elizabeth Noble. I don’t understand the Tenko references, perhaps it’s my age. Another nice story from Elizabeth. Love, families, all that stuff.
  33. ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker. Pulitzer Prize winner for a reason. 
  34. ‘Breaking Away’ by Anna Gavalda. Translated from French about three siblings going to find their fourth sibling instead of going to a wedding. It’s about recapturing frivolity and youth.
  35. ‘Sleeping Arrangements’ by Madeleine Whickham. An easy but predictable read.  
  36. ‘Untold Story’ by Monica Ali. What would have happened if Princess Diana hadn’t died? I thought this was a really interesting premise but it was such a disappointment.
  37. ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd. Another book set in the Deep South in the 1960s, yet more uncomfortable scenes but a good read about friendship, growing up and, well, bees.
  38. ‘Ellis Island’ by Kate Kerrigan. A young Irish woman travels to New York in the 1920s to make her fortune. Not the kind of thing I would usually read but I really enjoyed it.  

Any suggestions for books to read would be gratefully received but I can’t promise to read them straight away.

Vic x


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