My actual 2012 grownup reading roundup

I may not be what anyone would consider a prolific reader, but I’ve read the most books this year that I’ve read in many a year. Allow me to be uncharacteristically chuffed with myself. This is my 2012 reading list:

Chicken with Plums – Majane Satrapi
My first graphic-novel, selected by the book group I was a part of at the time. Left me cold. Probably because I read it in twenty minutes and it cost me about 20 quid!

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Still amazing. I loved re-reading this

Before I go to Sleep – A J Watson
My book group choice and it made me really cross! A page-turner but astonishingly silly

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
I had never read this, somehow, and I adored it in all its scary glory.

The Story of The Streets – Mike Skinner
I love Mike Skinner and I found his tales of growing up in the Midlands, moving to London and noodling around with making music really fascinating. He’s a wonderfully complex soul with a beguiling enquiring mind. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

In Office Hours – Lucy Kellaway
Recommended by the Independent on one of their summer reading lists, I found it quite banal.

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
Patrick Ness is a genius. An actual genius and his young adult Chaos Walking trilogy is brilliant. I had heard much about this a long while ago and eventually began to read it. At first I found it unusually straightforward for Patrick. How come then, by the end, I was drowning in tissues and snot? That’s Patrick. His words have tiny embedded barbs and before you know it there’s your heart at your feet in front of you.

Kill Your Friends – John Niven
This is possibly the vilest thing I’ve ever read. Deeply unpleasant.
Another Independent summer reading recommendation. This wasn’t their year – but it’s how I found Patrick Ness.

Pigeon English – Stephen Kellman
A book group suggestion and wonderful. I didn’t like the pigeon mechanism but the book was blistering and I read it with mid-level anxiety as to what would become of the family.

JPod by Douglas Coupland
I love DC’s work. This was enjoyable but flawed.

The Sisters Brothers – Patrick de Witt
Another must-read from the New York Times books of the year.
I’d tried to get my then book group to read this but no one voted for it. Their loss. Awesome.

Lucky Break by Esther Freud
I’ve read a few novels by Esther Freud and always liked them.
Just shows you can be wrong about people. I couldn’t wait for this to end. Formulaic and predictable. A bit shocked really.

The Crimson Petal and The White by Michel Faber
Rocketed into my favourite five books. Epic, devastating, stunning characterisation. I envy anyone who hasn’t read this yet.

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace
I came to this novel without any expectation or awareness which was just as well. I found it pedestrian and flat. Wants to be Nick Hornby but arrived via Tony Parsons.

The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
A thoughtful tale of a man’s life and relationships reconsidered.

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
I wasn’t sure who had less of an idea about what this was trying to be or say, me or the author. The first third is considerably more successful.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockinjay by Suzanne Collins
Awful and derivative. I have no idea why after reading one I went on to read the rest. I was ill, maybe that’s why.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Devastating prose written with killer effortlessness.

Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by Jenny Eclair
Dreadful title, with a too-neat ending but Jenny’s writing has razor-wire within it.
I really liked Camberwell Beauty which is why I read this. It explores similar themes with an uppercut in parts.

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
His writing style is bang-on in this Sherlock Holmes story. It left me wanting more so I moved onto pastiche in the form of The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss. Gatiss is slick and funny and his Lucifer Box stories get the job done.

The Colour by Rose Tremain
I’ve had this for a long long time and finally decided to read it. I knew nothing of it but it was one of my favourite books read this year. I should probably get on with Restoration which has also lain gathering dust for yonks.

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran
The best friend most of us would love but who we would all actually want to be.
She makes you laugh at her and with her, she makes you want to club her to death out of jealousy what with her nights out with Gaga and Benedict Cumberbatch. Then just when you were getting on so well, she quietly stabs you in the chest with her account of getting married days after her miscarriage.

The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
It took me two attempts to get through this book because I faffed around the first time. If you’re going to read this, take a breath and jump straight in because you need to pay attention. But it will reward you with a fascinating jaunt through minor literary renown and the vagaries of biography. I loved it

Life by Keith Richards
Yet more reasons to thank Caitlin Moran. In the canon of available showbiz recollections, I’d honestly not have given this another glance. But thanks to Caitlin’s ability in imparting its vagabond heart, I was intrigued. What a thrilling and compelling life. I’m not even a Stones fan and I tore through this doorstep in knots.

N-W by Zadie Smith
My last novel of the year and how. Zadie Smith’s characters are as fresh and conflicted as those that first kicked their way into my consciousness over a decade ago. What a welcome back

I can’t wait for the stories that await me in 2013.


2 thoughts on “My actual 2012 grownup reading roundup

  1. I’ve read a few in this list and I agree with your take on Before I go to sleep. When reading it, I kept turning the pages with anxiety then once it was over I sat there thinking, well that wasn’t all that.

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