This list (that might or might not continue to 10-19) will include anything I've managed to finish and AT LEAST LIKE. These are definitely not in any order of preference, and aren't in any order amongst other books that might make it onto future lists! Oh, and my comments on each are neither bound to be plot summaries or particularly exciting! Often a book reminds me of a time or place that I read it. Maybe the more I do, the more I'll feel like writing, but summing up the gist of a book in a few lines is something I find relatively painstaking! I've linked each title to its Wikipedia entry or some sort of review where Wiki is lacking so you can look further if you like. The covers I've chosen for the grid above are, where possible, the cover of the edition I read. Good for my memory, you see. Hopefully someone will find this idea interesting enough to comment!
- The Swan Thieves - Elizabeth Kostova - Troubled artist and flash-backs to 19th century Paris and the birth of Impressionism. Well, it might become apparent if you don't know it already, but this was enough to get me to pick this one up. As it turns out, it was an easy choice because it turned up at work as an advance proof... so no risk there. It didn't go over with the critics too well, but I enjoyed it enough.
- Man With a Blue Scarf - Martin Gayford - Martin Gayford sits for a portrait for Lucian Freud and essentially interviews him throughout the process. This is the book. Sound simple? In fact a FASCINATING insight into the mind of a legendary painter from the moment the subject sits down to the finishing strokes and post-painting etchings. his creative process, his life, general mumbo jumbo. utterly brilliant.
- The Crimson Petal and the White - Michael Faber - I found this for £1 at a charity shop and had no idea what it was until I read the blurb on the back cover. It's huge, it's 19th Century London, it's saucy. It sunk it's teeth in and didn't let go. Gorgeously descriptive from the first pages. No, I didn't see the TV adaptation.
- Remember Me... - Melvyn Bragg - Picked this up damaged at the shop. Again, had no idea. Didn't know anything about Melvyn Bragg either - it is largely autobiographical and I think NOT knowing who he was before reading let me judge the book more fairly. A colleague at work told me she loved it, but it wasn't received so well by the critics. She said it could be seen as a bit "slow". Troubled artist, London and Oxford ... here we go again. Anyway, I fell in love with it. Not too slow, not too long. Left a lasting impression.
- Blink - Malcolm Gladwell - Ooooohhh very good, very thought-provoking. And Dan went out and got that damned chair. Damned unbelievably comfortable and amazing chair. Something to work towards. Sorry, I know if you haven't read this you have no idea what I'm talking about... but read it, it's good and worth it.
- The Brightest Star in the Sky - Marian Keyes -Ok, NOW I expect this might be the time someone will get snooty and it's exactly why I wanted to put it on here in the first place! A lot of books I enjoy because "I just do" ... not that they rock my world in any way - but that doesn't mean they were a waste of time. I'll be honest, I only picked this up because I liked the cover (and I was sent a free copy from the publisher). I hate the term "chick-lit" for many reasons. One being that because this author falls into this category that it's supposed to be saying something about me and my tastes if I choose to read her. I don't see how the term can really be seen as anything but derogatory. Enough said. The thing is I LIKED IT -- despite the fact I was not MEANT to as a 'serious reader' -- ugh! AND... yes there's more ... I liked it enough to read ANOTHER of her books soon afterwards (which I also liked, but it will remain nameless in case I want to put it on a future list). Easy to read, yes. That shouldn't be a problem (although I realise for a lot of you snoots it remarkably is), but it was also a lot grittier than I would have previously thought. That's a good thing.
- Notes from an Exhibition -Patrick Gale - Troubled and talented artist, descriptive scenes of the creative process and working space. Lots more, of course, but need I say more about why I liked it?
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami - LOVE it. This is a definite love. Not the first of Murakami's books I'd read, but somehow this is the one that absolutely knocked my socks off. "How did he do that?" was what rolled around in my lesser mortal head when he tied up a incredibly intricate and complex story with as little splash as an olympic diver's gold performance. Did you see what I did there? I told you I was a lesser mortal.
- David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - I read this when I was in between London and London (that is, that relatively bleak time between returning from my studies at LSE to a couple years later, when I moved back to England permanently). Most of the time between London and London I was longing for London... thus the London at the end of the time between London and London. Ahem. David walks around a fair few familiar areas roundabout where I was living and well, let's just say I appreciate his part in my plan to return.