Thursday, 12 February 2009

Books read in 2008

Here, at last, is my list of last year's books: 162 in all. Here are a few statistics (pinched from Simon's End of the Year Meme):

Non-fiction [NF]: only 14, but these tend to be read over a longer period, and not recorded until they are finished, so quite a few are still underway.

Male authors 52, female 109 (more male authors than I expected!)

Non-fiction: Panther Soup by John Gimlette (an unusual choice for me, as it's about World War II) but I enjoyed all fourteen NF.

Fiction: very, very difficult choice, and I decided I would limit myself to one, because it was taking so long to choose. August Folly by Angela Thirkell (I have the orange Penguin version, but I like this cover,
and I read it twice during the course of the year.

Least favourite: Marcus Zsusak, The Book Thief – not even on the list, as I abandoned it part way through!

Oldest book read? One of the re-reads, What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge, published in 1872

Newest? Waiting for Coyote's Call by – a review copy from LibraryThing

Longest book title? The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Shortest title? Salal by Laurie Ricou
How many re-reads? Only 21!

Most books read by one author this year? 12 Campion books by Marjorie Allingham, mostly re-reads, followed by 8 by Madeleine L'Engle.

Any in translation? I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami; Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai (one of the year's two graphic novels); and Selected Tales by Jacques Ferron.

How many of this year's books were from the library? 27: I had a long-ish spell during the summer when I wasn't visiting the library very often. I shall have to do better this year.

In summary: a pretty good year, there were very few books that I didn't enjoy, so not many that I gave up on. And in July, I compiled my list of 101 Children's Books, 1840-1975, that I thought shouldn't be missed, and I was quite pleased with it. I feel that it's still a work in progress, and may well grow during the course of this year to 150 books. I've had a number of recommendations from people, including the suggestion that I should read Victor Watson's Reading Series Fiction, which I found very interesting. Since then I have amassed a small and diverting collection of books on children's literature.

Last year's books were:

Waiting for Coyote's Call by Jerry Wilson [NF]
2. Greenery Street by Denis McKail

The Comfort of Saturdays by Alexander McCall Smith
4. Making Money by Terry Pratchett

5. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

6. The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower
7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

8. The Harper's Quine by Pat McIntosh

9. Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

10. The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham - re-read

11. Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham - re-read

12. The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens

13. The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham – re-read

14. Ten-Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

15. Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman

16. The Chorister at the Abbey by Lis Howell

17. Death in Practice by Hazel Holt

18. Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham - reread

19. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

St Mungo's Robin by Pat McIntosh
21. The Silent Killer by Hazel Holt

Chorister's Cake by William Mayne - reread
23. The Coffin Trail by Martin Edwards

24. Street of the Five Moons by Elizabeth Peters

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
26. What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Scuba Dancing by Nicola Slade
29. Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh

30. Anne of Windy Willows by L.M. Montgomery

31. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
32. Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham – reread

33. By the Pricking of my Thumbs by Agatha Christie

34. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

35. Stranger at Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

36. Growing Up by Angela Thirkell

Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle
No Cure for Death by Hazel Holt
39. Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott

40. Police at the Funeral by Margery Allingham - re-read

41. Dragons in the Waters by Madeleine l'Engle
Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton
43. Women, Celebrity and Literary Culture Between the Wars by
Faye Hammill [NF]
44. Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham - re-read

Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome
Great Northern? by Arthur Ransome
47. Panther Soup by John Gimlette [NF]
48. Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse

49. Thrones, Dominations by Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy Sayers

50. I Leap Over the Wall by Monica Baldwin [NF]

51. Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham - reread

The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins
53. The Scent of the Night by Andrea Camilleri

54. Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham - reread

55. The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham - reread

56. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle
58. The Towers of Trebizond by Rose McCaulay

59. Witchfire at Lammas by Robert Neill

Reading Series Fiction by Victor Watson [NF]
61. Old School by Tobias Wolff

62. Scar Night by Alan Campbell

63. The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham - reread

64. Blood Trail by Tanya Huff

65. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - reread

66. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge - reread

67. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

68. Vintage Murder by Ngaio Marsh
69. The Dig by John Preston

Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle [NF]
72. The Moon By Night by Madeleine L'Engle

And Both Were Young by Madeleine L'Engle
74. Still Life by Louise Penny

75. The Year of the Rat by Andre Norton

An Acceptable Time by Madeleine l'Engle
77. Bridle Paths by A.F. Tschiffely [NF]

The Mark of the Cat by Andre Norton
79. Miss Bunting by Angela Thirkell
Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle
81. Black Plumes by Margery Allingham

The Crystal Gryphon by Andre Norton
83. The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie
84. My Grandmothers and I by Diana Holman-Hunt [NF]

85. I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
87. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

88. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

89. My Turn to Make the Tea by Monica Dickens
90. The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland

91. The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
94. Saplings by Noel Streatfeild

95. Pond Lane and Paris by Susie Vereker
96. Zoology by Ben Dolnick

97. Pelagia and the White Bulldog by Boris Akunin

98. The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
99. The Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

100. The Remains of an Altar by Phil Rickman

101. Love on the Borders by Martin Bax

102. Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Yellowknife by Steve Zipp
104. Salal by Laurie Ricou [NF]

105. A Death in the Family by Hazel Holt

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller
107. The River at Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston

108. The House of Arden by E. Nesbit

109. A Dubious Legacy by Mary Wesley -re-read

110. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

111. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell
113. The Angel in the Corner by Monica Dickens

114. Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson – re-read

115. Speaking of Love by Angela Young

Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie
117. The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr

118. Treasure at Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

119. Harnessing Peacocks by Mary Wesley - re-read

120. Voyage by Adele Geras

Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
123. Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton

124. Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge

125. Because I Know You Don't Read the Newspapers (The Boondocks) by Aaron McGruder

126. The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham

127. The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston

128. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym - re-read

129. A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones

130. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

131. Debs at War by Anne de Courcey [NF]

132. Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh

133. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

134. The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy

Why Didn't They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie
136. Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford – re-read
137. Lady Friday by Garth Nix

138. Thurber Carnival by James Thurber - re-read

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt
Selected Tales by Jacques Ferron
141. The Book of Lyonne by Burgess Drake - re-read

142. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell

143. August Folly by Angela Thirkell

144. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

145. Journey into Spring by Winston Clewes – re-read

146. To Let by John Galsworthy

147. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

148. Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai

149. Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes

150. The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton

151. Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura

152. The Children of Shallowford by Henry Williamson - re-read [NF]

153. The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill

The Last Guardian of Everness by John C. Wright
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
156. The Traitor's Sword by Amanda Hemingway

157. Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith

Dark Companion by Andre Norton
159. Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry [NF]

160. The Whole Beast by Fergus Henderson [NF]

161. More Ghost Trails of Northumbria by Clive Kristen [NF - ?]

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer


  1. A truly great list of books. I hope I can come close to reading as many books as you.

    Tony Peters
    Kids on a Case: The Case of the Ten Grand Kidnapping

  2. How many pages into The Book Thief did you give up? Obviously if you got well into it it wasn't for you. My review on The Book Thief commented - "Ten pages into this work I had my doubts. Was this going to be another of those books I never finished? Twenty pages in I decided it was at least likely to be finished. By thirty pages I was well and truly hooked..... " I rated it as one of the best books of the year so if you didn't get far into it anmd it's still hanging around can I ask you give it another try sometime.
    (My ten, twenty, thirty are not necessarily accurate.)

  3. Scriptor, hate to say it, but I got 120 pages into Book Thief and stopped reading, just couldn't get into it. I guess we all like different kinds of books.

    Tony Peters
    Kids on a Case: The Case of the Ten Grand Kidnapping

  4. 'Fraid I'm with Tony, SS - I was well over 50 pages in when I gave up, I seem to remember thinking that if I still hated it 1/3 of the way through, then it was reasonable to give up. I was reading it with the Cornflower Book Group, and almost everyone else was enjoying it and discussing it. It wasn't simply that I couldn't get into it, I actively disliked it. Not the first time I've been out of step with other readers!

  5. What a relief to see you read more books than I did last year. When I posted my books of the year, so many people said, 'Oh dear, I only read thirty' that I started to feel guilty!

    So many books on your list would be re-reads for me: Margery Allingham, Angela Thirlkell, all the children's books except Madeleine l'Engle.

    I picked up The Book Thief in a bookshop and after repeated dipping decided I just wouldn't like it, so I haven't even tried. One I just could not read was Needle in the Blood; hated it, gave up.

  6. What an amazing list of books! I really want to try some Angela Thirkell one of these days, I'm impressed that you read one of her books twice in 2008.

  7. callmemadam, I think you read an impressive number of books for someone who moved house last year. I wasn't sure about reading Needle in the Blood after my record of hating books everyone else loved, but I really quite enjoyed it. Do I infer that you're not a fan of L'Engle?

    Tara, do try Thirkell - the earlier ones are the best. I like August Folly so much it has turned in to comfort reading (along with much of B. Pym - sorry, callmemadam, but she makes me laugh).

  8. I read my first Soseki Natsume recently (Kokoro) and liked it greatly. Would you recommend I am a Cat?

  9. Just how do you read so many books?

    I did finish The Book Thief, although at the start I didn't think I would. The short sentences jarred but after a while I became absorbed in the story. I thought it was a disturbing, unsettling book.

    I've never read any of Terry Pratchett's books, although my son loves his books and I've been tempted. Did you enjoy Making Money? I saw his programme recently and was very impressed!

  10. Madeleine L'Engle.
    Nothing against her, just that I've only read Meet the Austins and A Wrinkle in Time, both fairly recently. I lied them both, was surprised to find that they have a strong Christian base, was surprised to enjoy a fantasy story (AWIT).

  11. Oh my gosh, that's a lot of books. You are a real reader! I love your lists, and have just copied and saved the children's books. What a lot of information you have compiled. Thanks so much.

  12. Dark Puss, yes, I think so - and it seems appropriate!

    Booksplease, I read in every spare moment and quite a few not-spare ones. I think the Discworld books are a bit variable in quality, with the first couple less good than the rest. I suspect that, if the humour works for you, it doesn't matter if you skip them (you can always go back to them later. In some ways the best place to start might be with his young adult series, of which The Wee Free Men is first. It's mature Pratchett writing, and not so dependent on knowing the characters. The third of the series, Wintersmith, is as good as anythign he's written.

    Callmemadam,the Chronos and Kairos series all feature the extended families of the Austins and the Murrys, and faith is always a big part of them. I loved AWIT when I was young, and still do, but one of the Austin ones, The Young Unicorns, is my favourite.

    Nan, I have a list-making bent, but now I'm starting to make lists of my lists!

  13. I laughed when I read call me madam's comment. I just may be one of those who left such a note on her blog. :<) If she comes back, I want to tell her not to feel guilty! Actually call me madam and geranium cat and various others who read a lot have inspired me, and I have changed my reading life because of them. I no longer ever read more than one book at a time. I've given up audio books. I am spending this year (at least) just reading my own books. I spend more time reading in the evening than I used to. And I am a happier reader and person because of all the changes. So, my thanks to you!

  14. What a marvelously helpful list! Thank you so much. AND I have recently become a grandmother, so your children's book list is very welcome.