Thursday, 19 December 2013

Books of the Year

I've been scanning my bookshelves, looking at the books I've read this year.

Most of the fiction I've read has been as a result of media of one type or another, whether radio, TV or newspapers, and so has some of the non-fiction, such as Morrissey's Autobiography. Some of the fiction has also been the result of reading non-fiction too as I'll explain.  Anyway, here are the fiction books I've read in 2013.

Black-out in Gretley by J.B. Priestley

Spy thriller set in an English town in World War II which I read having listened to a radio adaptation with Anton Lessor.

The Code of the Woosters, The Inimitable Jeeves and Much Obliged, Jeeves by P.G.Wodehouse

Having read The Fascists in Britain by Colin Cross, about Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in the 30's, I went in search of his fictional counterpart Roderick Spode.

The Aerodrome by Rex Warner

For the same reason, I also read this about an attempted takeover of Britain by fascist air force officers.

Sweet Thursday and East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I read Cannery Row years ago and would have read the sequel Sweet Thursday too if I'd heard about it before. East of Eden, Steinbeck's epic Cain and Abel-based novel set in his native Salinas Valley in Northern California, had long been on my "books I really should get round to reading" list.

Home to Harlem by Claude McKay

A poem by McKay and a short biography of him that I read in a newspaper (a Jamaican-born black Communist in America and Britain in the twenties, he later converted to Catholicism) prompted me to read this, his best known novel.

Red Or Dead by David Peace

Having enjoyed Peace's The Damned Utd about Brian Clough's short reign as manager of Leeds, I pretty much had to read this about another of football's colourful characters, Liverpool manager Bill Shankly.

The Alteration by Kingsley Amis

I spotted this on a top ten of alternate history novels in the Review section of The Guardian. It's set in a still Catholic 70's England in which officials of the Holy Office include Foot and Stansgate.

House of Earth by Woody Guthrie

Not quite the ecosocialist masterpiece some have tried to make it out to be but another book I had to read given that I've been a Woody Guthrie fan since my teens and his music led me to both Dylan and the blues.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

I've always been sold on books by TV programmes that dramatise parts of them. This, featured in an edition of BBC2's Culture Show presented by James Runcie about books set in the London Blitz, is the last of Greene's explicitly Catholic novels.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I know it's been knocked for its length, plot structure and ending but I quite enjoyed this Booker Prize-winning New Zealand Gold Rush-set detective novel.

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