How is it the start of November already? Stop this madness.
I’ve now read 259 books this year, having whizzed past my Goodreads target about a million years ago. I’m going for 300 for the year now. Because I am a machine.
This is what I read in October.
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Part of my mission to read the Man Booker shortlist, this was a interesting and beautifully written account of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: a period I knew very little about. Review here.
- The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison
Post-apocalyptic nightmare of an infection that has killed nearly all the women and most of the men. It was harrowing but brilliant. Review here.
- The Graces by Laura Eve
This witchy YA has been hyped but I only thought it was ok. Entertaining but not groundbreaking.
- Girl Up by Laura Bates
Laura Bates is my hero and this book is brilliant. I would like to have enough money to buy a copy for every girl I know but, sadly, have had to settle for buying one spare to keep in my classroom.
- Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Another Booker nominee but, in this case, a terrible one. I was horrified by the prospect that it might have won. Review here.
- Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
I completely love Wolf by Wolf so I was hugely excited about this and it did not disappoint at all. A superb conclusion to the story of Yael.
- The Sellout by Paul Beatty
The eventual winner of the Man Booker and it’s a worthy one. I didn’t completely grasp the satire of a black man reintroducing slavery as a means of reasserting his identity, but the writing is very zingy and it’s definitely worth reading. Review here.
- The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Another terrifying YA horror from Lukavics, author of Daughters Unto Devils. This was a slowburner but had a very eventful conclusion.
- Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
I have a lot of time for All the Bright Places but this didn’t have the same impact on me. If anything, I thought the whole face-blindness/seeing the inner beauty of the overweight girl thing was a bit laboured.
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
For some reason I had bought this last year and not managed to get through it, which is pitiful and stupid. Now I have read it and loved it, I need to read everything by Jackson.
- Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
I got a signed copy of this at an event where Atwood was talking about the book. She was brilliant and the book, a modern reworking of The Tempest for the Hogarth Shakespeare series, is superb.
- The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
This is a particularly crazy book and I loved it. Southern gothic (even set in Ohio) is life.
- The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates
Should be renamed The Doll-Master and Other Stories in Which Nothing Really Happens Until a Really Obvious Twist at the End. Really dull and disappointing.
- Night of the Living Deadpool by Cullen Bunn
Deadpool is a strong contender to be my favourite comic book hero. I find him really hilarious and I enjoyed this spoof of the classic horror movie.
- The BFG by Roald Dahl
Having listened to Matilda last month, my daughter opted for The BFG as our next in-car audiobook. It’s read by David Walliams and we both really enjoyed it. If there’s a better sound than your three year old daughter giggling hysterically to Dahl’s wordplay, I haven’t heard it.
- His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnett
This is what I hoped would win the Booker; Burnett’s ‘found’ materials linking to a murder in a remote Scottish village in the 19th century create a compelling and entertaining story. It’s the most obviously enjoyable on the shortlist.
- All That Man Is by David Szalay
My final Booker read and what an anticlimax. This was plodding and dull, comprising of short stories which had barely anything to do with each other. It made me think men are actually really boring.
- Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Not the best book to read just before getting on a plane, but an entertaining account of a black girl ‘passing’ to become a WWII pilot.
- Deadpool’s Art of War by Peter David
Another Deadpool spoof, taking on Sun Tzu’s hints and tips about fighting and stuff. I found this one very funny too.
- Swing Time by Zadie Smith
This is out in November. It’s not my favourite Smith, with its somewhat unbalanced mix of fascinating childhood in London and slightly boring adult life as the PA to a Lady Gaga-esque pop star.
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Brilliant semi-historical account of slavery and the dangers of escape, with some less accurate elements added. I thought this was superb; Whitehead gives a very real sense of the horror of life on a cotton plantation, as well as excitement as the main character, Cora, escapes. I highly recommend.
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
This has been on my shelf for ages; I decided to take a couple of long-unread books on holiday to force myself to finally read them and this was one of them. I loved it; the idea of the water horses and the strange island on which they appear and race fascinated me.
- Faithful by Alice Hoffman
I’m a big fan of Hoffman so I was excited when this popped up to ‘Read Now’ on Netgalley. It wasn’t as heavy on magical realism as her other books, but did make me nearly cry several times.
- Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
I have been annoyingly quoting this book for the last week and now want to abandon my career and study geopolitics. Marshall’s explanations of how geography dictates policy are detailed but clear and filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of the world.
- Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Having bought this ages ago and forgotten about it, I took this on holiday too. It was okay; not too exciting but a serviceable enough story of a young woman leaving Ireland for New York.
- The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Another long-unread book, I wonder whether I would have been better off leaving this on the shelf. I can’t decide if it was dementedly brilliant or actually terrible. The plot is extremely random, with weird things happening for seemingly no reason. Maybe it was just bad.
- The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
This was nominated for the Baileys Prize and has been sitting on my Kindle for months. Quite a lot of it seemed irrelevant and pretty dull, while the main plot caught my attention and kept me reading. The painting narrating chapters was a little bit odd, to say the least.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This is what the little one and I moved on to after The BFG. I loved revisiting it but it did remind me how judgemental Dahl is about so many things, like television, obesity and parental responsibility. The audiobook is narrated by Douglas Hodge and he is BRILLIANT at it.
- Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Easily my most anticipated read of the year and MY GOD it did not disappoint at all. I loved Illuminae and I think this was just as good.
- The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
This was my second attempt to read this book and I rather wish I’d left it on the ‘unread’ pile; I’ve loved the other two Chabon novels I’ve read and I was intrigued by the alternate history premise of this one (i.e. Jews sent to Alaska instead of Israel after World War II, but with time running out on the agreement), but the main murder mystery plot just didn’t grab me. It was hard work.