Sunday, 30 January 2011

5/111 - Fup by Jim Dodge

I bought this book back in 2010 when I was working at Waterstone's. A colleague had recommended it to me along with Andrew Kaufman's All My Friends Are Superheroes. I read the other one immediately, because the pretext sounded really interesting. I loved it. Not many things bring a tear to my eye, but Kaufman's story did.

Fup, on the other hand, got left behind for the best part of a year, until today, but it also had a similar effect. At only 117 pages, this took me just over an hour to read all in one sitting. The story follows Tiny and his grandpa Jake, and their lives on Jake's farm. Jake is already an old man when Tiny comes to live with him after the sudden death of his mother. Jake spends his days sipping on home-made whiskey and Tiny loves to build fences. Whilst out building fences one day, Tiny comes across a duckling who has spent the night being terrorised by a wild pig. He takes her home where she is revived by a shot of moonshine and named 'Fup', and she soon becomes part of the family.

In some ways, there isn't really all that much to Fup. It flows easily and the writing is simple and clear, but full of surreal imagery and humour. The subtitle of the novella is 'a modern fable'. I can see what that means - this is kind of like a more fun version of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, with added whiskey.

Tiny, Jake and Fup work beautifully as a trio - the addition of a duck to their family just seems so completely natural and leads to many moments of laughter, and a few moments of sadness. The conflict in Fup comes from Tiny's desire to hunt and kill a wild pig, Lockjaw, who has been terrorising his beloved fences for years. There's something deeper going on with the fences, and also something do to with flight that I don't really feel like getting into right now - maybe another time.

The story is so short, but I think that's good because a longer, deeper version of this might not hold up as well. My only criticism is the abruptness of the ending. It ties up well, but maybe a little too quickly, considering the fact that Fup herself does not appear until halfway through the story.

This little gem is short and sweet - make sure to read it in one sitting; there's no need for breaks. It would even make a sweet story to read to children.

Next time: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

4/111 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

It’s taken me longer to read this one than it should have, partly because I’ve been a bit lazy with it, and also because I’ve enjoyed it so much I kind of didn’t want it to end. I bought this book a couple of years ago when I was at uni, I think again to fill in the missing book in a 3 for 2 offer somewhere.

The main reason I have put off reading this book for so long is that I’ve already seen the film and didn’t like it much. I saw it on my 22nd birthday, not realising that not only would I not enjoy it much, but that it was also a pretty depressing film. I think that because it had Will Smith in it, it would be more light-hearted and action-y, despite the whole apocalypse thing going on. 

So, I approached this book with a fair amount of trepidation, not expecting to enjoy it that much.

I was wrong.

I was totally blown away by how good it is. I’m pretty cool with sci-fi and fantasy anyway, though I don’t tend to read that much of it, mostly just Stephen King, and a lot of that is not sci-fi/fantasy-based. (Incidentally, Stephen King writes the introduction to this edition of I Am Legend, and explains the debt he owes to writers like Richard Matheson for helping to revive the horror genre and paving the way for Stephen King.)

Just to outline the plot briefly: Robert Neville is the las man left on earth after a plague has wiped out everyone else. But instead of merely killing them, it turns them into vampires. He spends his days killing them and his nights in drunken despair. The first thing which startled me into love was the writing style. It’s fantastic, and concise and so, so modern. It flows so well, which is one of the things I love about Stephen King’s writing. It wasn’t until I remarked upon this and turned to the front to see what date it had first been published that I got a real shock.


I think I knew that this wasn’t a contemporary novel, but I always kind of assumed it had been written in the 70s or the 80s, but the 50s?! My awe immediately doubled, because not only was the book good in its own right, but it was also incredibly ahead of its time. So it seems to me, anyway. It’s possible that I just haven’t read enough 1950s horror novels.

Another large area of enjoyment for me was how different it played out compared with the film. There were some good parts to the film – the enormous cityscapes devoid of people were incredible, and a difficult thing to imagine. Will Smith also did a decent job, and there are a few creepy moments with him talking to mannequins, but I wish there had been more of that darker stuff. The main downfall of the film is the way they changed the plot so much. It was pretty much a different story.

The movie Robert Neville lives alone with his dog, and seems to cope fairly well. He hides himself from the vampires, catches them by day and experiments on them. The movie vampires are savage beasts with no intellect. Neville just kind of repeats this process until a woman and a boy stumble into his life, and they bring all kinds of stupid trouble with them, and the ending with Neville sacrificing himself and the woman and boy taking the ‘cure’ to a new civilisation kind of feels like a cop-out.

The book Robert Neville also lives alone, but with no dog. He is a much, much darker character. He drinks heavily and is haunted by the loss of his wife and daughter, and his wife’s eventual reanimation as a vampire. He drinks heavily and flies into rages easily. He kills methodically each day. He is obsessed with finding out what causes the vampirism. He is repulsed by the vampires, and yet also finds himself drawn to the female vampires sexually.

The main huge difference is with the vampires themselves. In the film, they’re not supposed to have any intelligence and more akin to animals, but in the book we see that they can at least speak (some of them, anyway). It also turns out that some of them are able to overcome the vampirism (which is caused by a germ) and re-build their society. Their main problem is that Neville is killing them off. In their eyes, he is the villain.

All in all, this book was an unexpected delight. Out of everything I’ve read so far, I think this will influence my future reading choices the most – I will most definitely be reading some more Richard Matheson in the future.

Next is: Fup by Jim Dodge.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

3/111 - Your Voice In My Head by Emma Forrest

This is a book I bought recently. When I was buying The Help to brush up for my interview at Penguin, I needed something to make up the 3 for 2 offer. I had recently read an article in a Sunday Times magazine about Emma Forrest, and I was intrigued and decided to go for it.

It’s an autobiography, but the style of it reads quite a lot like a novel. Forrest is a novelist and screenwriter, so perhaps this is why. (I mean this comment as a positive, not a negative.) As a reader of mostly fiction, I’m not sure I could ever write by autobiography without it feeling like a novel. But the debate about the fine line between biography and fiction is for another day.

Your Voice In My Head charts Forrest’s move to New York as a young writer and her realisation that her quirks are perhaps more than quirks. After a string of terrible relationships and self-harming incidents including cutting and bulimia, Forrest is diagnosed as bipolar and put under the care of the mysteriously named Dr R. Forrest’s mental health problems are portrayed with frankness and sometimes humour. She often equates her illness with water; either rushing or stagnant and with the potential for drowning.

Her relationship with Dr R and her subsequent grief when he dies unexpectedly are what touched me most. She writes about him with great affection and admiration, as though he has become a member of her own family. From other parts of her book, it seems that Forrest has some issues regarding her relationships with men, but her relationship with Dr R is very much separate from this. The letters and tributes included from his other patients are also a lovely addition.

I was touched not only because of her deep love for Dr R, but also because of my own experiences with mental health and saying goodbye to a – I’m not even sure which word to use – a counsellor.

C & L were two different women I encountered during my time at University. C worked at the university, and L was a counsellor I saw outside of university for my ongoing problems. My relationships with C & L were not as long as Forrest’s relationship with Dr. R and did not end under any such tragic circumstances. However for several years they were an incredibly important part of my life. I stopped being a patient due to a move away from the area after my degree. They were both kind and seemed wise (though I’m sure they would have assured me otherwise). Before becoming ill, I had never considered the possibility of having a relationship like that with an older woman/ mother figure, let alone a mental health professional. I think of them often.

Still, the pain of saying goodbye to them was bereaving and unexpected. I had known the end was coming and was able to say goodbye. What’s more, they are both alive and well. I can’t imagine Forrest’s pain.

She also writes wonderfully about the love of her family, and it’s clear that she knows how incredibly lucky she is. There are also the passages about her former relationship with who she calls her Gypsy Husband. From some reviews, people seem to have taken to this pretty unkindly, which I think is unfair. I don’t tend to read many autobiographies, but when people launch accusations of the writer being ‘self-absorbed’, I have to say – what do you expect?! An autobiography is self-absorbed by its very nature! I’d also like to meet anyone who can claim not to be self-absorbed. But perhaps that’s just me trying to justify my own self-absorb-idity?

Your Voice In My Head was funny and touching, and I especially enjoyed reading about another person’s recollections of a fondly remembered carer. I liked it.

Next up is: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Ugly fonts help make beautiful minds

Stop! Everything you thought you knew about typesetting and good graphic design was wrong. All wrong…

Back in 2010 the BBC ran a piece titled, ‘What’s so wrong with Comic Sans?’ as an exploration into why the font has fostered so much hatred among not only typographers and design snobs but also regular humans. There is even an entire website devoted to what Laura Miller calls the “typographical jihad” against this single font. (Visit where you can make a donations towards a documentary on the most hated font in the world.)

They may have to put the brakes on their plans slightly, because as of this month, findings suggest that Comic Sans may actually lead to better retention of information. A study entitled; “Fortune favors the
Bold (and the italicized): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes” was conducted by a research team at Princeton University. The study consisted of teaching the same information to different groups of students of all different learning abilities. For one group of students, the study materials were printed in an ‘easy’ font, such as Arial. For the other, their materials were printed in so-called disfluent fonts such as Comic Sans Italicized and Monotype Corsiva (although no Wingdings, for some reason).

After several weeks of study, both groups of students were tested and the outcome was surprising: the group of students studying from the fonts that were more difficult to read performed better in their tests. There are several theories as to why this might be, with the main thought being that processing information in a more complex format forces the brain to try harder, which in turn forces you to take in and eventually recall the information more effectively. Neuroscientist Jonah Lehrer says;

“We assume that anything which makes it easier to see the content, to process the content, is a good thing. And you see that especially in the classroom where teachers assume that legibility makes it easier for kids to learn and remember the information they’re trying to process, and that turns out that that’s exactly backwards.”

The applications for learning potential is obvious, but I can’t help but wonder what the implications could be for the written word. Laura Miller points out that some e-reading devices already give users the choice of half a dozen different fonts, (although you can be sure that Comic Sans isn’t one of them). If this effect is so great, will we begin to print not only school materials, but also novels in fonts that encourage greater mental engagement? These findings may not even be permanent – perhaps in fifty years, when we’re used to reading everything in ugly fonts, we’ll have trouble comprehending our old faithful friend, Times New Roman.

As the years go by and I read more and more books, there have been several occasions on which I find that I have forgotten the plot, or key ideas in books that I have spent a total of over eight hours reading. On the one hand, it can bring great pleasure to revisit a treasured story for a second (or even third) time. However when it comes to forgetting the major plot points of a beast like Daniel Deronda, I can’t help but lament: if only it had been printed in Comic Sans.


Just as a side note - I also contribute about once-weekly to MobyLives, the blog for Melville House Publishing. So, I will occasionally re-post things here too. In the meantime, be sure to check out their blog; it's excellent.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

2.5/111 - The Escapists by Brian K. Vaughan (and others)

This was lent to me by my boyfriend when he found out I was going to be reading Kavalier and Clay, so I decided to sort of just add it onto the end, as it’s not very long. The introduction by Michael Chabon is quite a treat, as you get to see what Sammy and Rosa are up to twenty years down the line (no mention of Joe). I always find it a little strange to say goodbye to characters, especially after such a long novel, so it’s nice to get a little glimpse of what they’re up to, even though they’re not really real or anything.

The comic follows the efforts of Max to resurrect the Escapist comics that his father was so fond of. He also enlists the help of his friend Denny, and a girl, Case. Together they try to find a way to bring The Escapist back to life.

The story itself is short and sweet, and the characters are easy to warm to, much like Kavalier and Clay. The writing is all by Brian K. Vaughan from what I gather, but what is really interesting is the half dozen or so different artists used to put it all together.

The Escapists also contains a comic within the comic – you get to see parts of the story that the gang are working on interwoven with their own plight, and this is where the use of several different artists really comes into its own. It’s not only an easy and effective way to split up the different parts of the narrative, but it’s also just plain cool to have different ways of looking at things. There are also a few cool transitions from one artist to another, over the course of several panels. You can see where one has left off and the other has taken up. I’m not sure if maybe they have tried to mimic each other’s styles, but it looks good either way.

That’s all for this one, really. It didn’t take me long to read, so I don’t really consider it a separate endeavour. But if you read and enjoyed Kavalier and Clay, then it’s a nice little epilogue.

Next time: Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest.

2/111 - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

This post will be in two halves, because as a partner to this I will also be reading Brian K. Vaughan's The Escapists, which I haven't read yet.

I bought Kavalier & Clay in the first quarter of 2010. I had just been offered a more permanent contract at Waterstone’s, and this book was in a new offer that we were putting in some time after the New Year. It was called ‘books of the decade’, I think, and there were around fifty titles, of varying amazing-ness, supposedly. I also bought Middlesex and Oscar Wao at the same time, as they were 3 for 2. I remember putting the offer in place on a Sunday, and it was hugely satisfying to make a whole table display out of nothing.

I bought it largely on the recommendation of my boyfriend, who had liked it (although when I spoke with him about it after finishing the book yesterday, he didn’t seem able to recall how it ended). He's a comic nerd, so I can see why this appealed to him, being set in the golden age of comics, as he called it. His comic nerd-y tastes have infiltrated me, to a certain extent. Before meeting him I had not really read anything seriously, although I had a slightly above average awareness of comics from my time spent working in a sci-fi bookshop. However, knowledge of comics is not necessary for following the novel at all, because even though the story contains some real places and people, the main characters are fiction.

Set during WWII, the story follows two cousins; Joe Kavalier, a Jewish refugee from Prague, and Sam Clay, a Brooklynite, who come up with an amazing idea for a superhero comic. It follows their lives for the next 20 years or so.

I enjoyed the first two-thirds of Kavalier & Clay very much. Reading about the two cousins as young men was extremely enjoyable, and I really loved the way their whole world unfolded in front of me with such ease. (Their interactions with their boss/publisher are also pretty funny.) There are real-life historical anchors in the novel, in the form of events and people, which is cool, in a Forrest Gump-y kind of way. Obviously loads of novels do this, but Kavalier & Clay  seems to do this more deliberately, as though it is trying to place itself in that history (with faux footnotes, etc).

Obviously I can never know for sure, but it feels like the re-creation of 40s and 50s America is very authentic. I don’t know enough about the history of comics to judge whether it’s an accurate rendering, but I suspect that it is – a lot of research has clearly gone into this novel.

I’m not totally sure where to go with this now. It might seem an odd thing not to have considered, but I’m not sure how carefully I should speak about the books I have read. On the one hand, I don’t feel as though I can write about a book I’ve read without mentioning anything that happens within it. But on the other hand, I know how annoying it is to have the plot of a book spoiled for you before you’ve had a chance to read it.

I’ll try the former, until it frustrates me.

The story suddenly veered off in a direction that took me by surprise. All I’ll say is that it has to do with some principal characters taking totally different courses for their futures. I was afraid, suddenly, that a novel I had been steadily consuming would be totally un-readable because of the course it had taken. The new direction was enjoyable and a little shocking in a way that I hadn’t expected, and so I continued.

The characters eventually re-unite twelve years later. This section of the novel was not as satisfying. It seemed somehow a little more rushed than the other sections, which had taken much more care and detail. In the final section of the novel, I found it harder to care about the direction the plot was taking as the characters that had been built up until that point were acting in ways I simply did not like. I was a little unconvinced, maybe. The more I think about it, the more I think it had to do with the pacing. Kavalier & Clay is a pretty huge novel, at over 600 pages. Michael Chabon has obviously taken great care with it, and there is a lot of detail and story in there. But the last section was just a little too rushed and unsatisfying.

Kind of like this post, maybe?

I’ll read The Escapists and then say what I think about that one.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Bookshelf Porn: I bet you can’t do THIS with a Kindle

I recently came across the Tumblr blog for Anthony Dever, the creator of The blog, which he’s been running since January 2009, is described as, "Porn for book lovers. A photoblog collection of all the best bookshelf photos for people who *heart* bookshelves.”

As someone without proper shelves of their own, I’ll be living vicariously through this blog for a while. Here are some of my favourites:

Saturday, 15 January 2011

1/111 - The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This book was becoming a big deal just as I left England at the end of August. I could have bought it back then, but I didn’t. This is the kind of book that I would have grouped as one step above chick-lit. More like middle-class chick-lit.

However a couple of forces came into play which made me decide to buy and read it. Laura Miller’s essay on suggesting how to be a better reader in 2011 prompted me to pick it up and cast aside my totally unfounded judgements about this book. One of the things she suggested was to read something you think you normally wouldn't enjoy. Something to push you out of your comfort zone. Admittedly The Help is not really all that ‘out there’, but it’s not something I would normally choose for myself. (I should also say that this essay was also a little responsible for the prompt to get this project off the ground and finally read all the books I've accumulated over the last few years.)

The other factor in choosing it was my upcoming job interview at Penguin that week, and I thought it would be shamelessly studious of me to read something both recent and successful of theirs, since there is not a whole lot of penguin in my reading history.

As it turned out, my concerns were unnecessary, firstly because I enjoyed the novel very much, and secondly, Penguin came nowhere near close to asking me what kind of books I liked to read, which I thought would be pretty standard for a job with a company which publishes books. Silly me.

Now onto the book: Almost as soon as I started reading it, I thought I'd have a hard time, because a great deal of it is told in dialect. Out of the three narrators, two of them are black maids serving in the houses of white ladies. However the dialect was not as distracting as I had thought it would be, and as I got into the rhythm of the story, I quickly stopped noticing. This is a plus, because if I hadn't gotten used to it, I probably would have given up on it. Although it's no Clockwork Orange, by any stretch of the imagination.

I stormed through this book, partly because my interview at Penguin was the next day, but mostly because I was just really enjoying the story. It's not highly literary or even all that groundbreaking, subject-wise, but I just enjoyed it. I liked the characters and I cared about what happened to them.

One of the main things which I think Kathryn Stockett achieves very well is a sense of realism. I have read a couple of Jodie Picoult novels over the last few years, and my most hated part of them is how they are full of 'impossible' dilemmas that the contrived characters are too bereft of common sense to solve without causing another massive problem for themselves. They are full of overly dramatic revelations and characters with too much tunnel vision and not enough common sense. I assumed that The Help would be more of the same. I was wrong. That's not to say it's without drama, but it's more well-tempered than Jodi Picoult, and I didn't find myself exasperated when the token 'Independent Woman' finds herself a man - she doesn't! And that's okay.

I'm not going to talk about how much I admired the characters for their courage and blah blah blah, because it's all pretty straightforward and admirable stuff to do with civil rights, which as a Brit, I really don't know enough about. But it is good. And not too dramatic.

I don't have much else to say about it. I never grew up in an atmosphere with any sort of hired help, so I can't really relate to anything in the novel, from either perspective. It was enjoyable. It probably won't change my reading habits much, though. I guess I have not learned much so far.

Next is: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, and on the side, The Escapists by Brian K. Vaughan.

Friday, 14 January 2011

How this happened

One hundred and eleven books. My goodness, I have been naughty.

Buying books for me has become a compulsion. Maybe it has always been there. I love books, but lately it seems to me that I love buying them even more. I love to do it. I love going into a bookshop, picking up a book, putting it back down, touching it. Choosing it. Feeling like I just have to have it, right at that moment. I guess some people get this feeling with shoes or gadgets or lingerie, but for me, it’s books. I can promise you at for all the books on this list that I bought, when we were together in the bookshop, I just had to have them.

It took me quite a long time to write up this list of books. Well, an hour or so. And then another ten minutes to go back over everything and try to remember in what year I bought it all. I know virtually all the titles I have up there by heart, mainly because I have owned many of them for such a long time.

When I look at this list, I must admit that I don’t feel all that proud of it. I feel like it doesn’t quite reflect what I normally read, because for the past six or seven years, these are the books that have, until now, been left behind. I also can’t help but think of all the money I’ve spent on these books. It’s not as much as you’re thinking. I spent a year over 2009 and 2010 working as a Bookseller, and then a few years back I worked through my summers and Christmases as a Bookseller while I was a student, so a lot of my spending has happened during the times when I have been both employed and surrounded by books. My last stint as a Bookseller is mostly to blame for the majority of what’s on this list. Some of them were bought with my staff discount; others were grabbed as proof copies.

The rest of the list, particularly the stuff which has been sitting up there for a while, is either stuff that I have always meant to get round to reading (like Fragile Things, or A Room of One’s Own) or is stuff that I bought at the time thinking it sounded great, but am now not so sure that it will be as enjoyable as I thought (like This is Where I Leave You, and Yes Man). Others were given to me (like Recovery and Ten Storey Love Song), which are not quite to my taste, and others I have tried to read and enjoy but have not yet been able to (like Generation X and Slaughterhouse 5).

Right now, I’m unemployed which leaves me with two things that I desperately need to get this project off the ground – the first is no money. I can’t buy new things without having a job, so instead I have pledged to make the effort to get through all of these books before I buy any more. The second thing I have which is really a by-product of having no job, is having lots of time; I am a quick reader.

I should explain how I managed to end up with such a huge number of books without realising it. It wasn’t hard to do. In the past couple of years I have moved four times, and each time a selection of books would come with me, and then when I had to move again, those books would remain packed up and I would start acquiring books again without realising the remaining large number of books that I already owned still tucked away in a box somewhere.

In August last year I was offered a job at a publishing house in New York for a few months, so I dropped pretty much everything and moved all my stuff back home before moving out there with just a suitcase. At home, I had half-heartedly tried to unpack my remaining things and put my books up onto a shelf, not quite realising that the count was already well into the 60s.

In New York, they had other books. Other lovely, lovely books. And of course I couldn’t resist! I came home with my luggage roughly 10kg overweight with the books I had bought out there.

Then there was Christmas and my birthday, and the couple of trips into my old store where I had missed out on some English releases while I was away, and I added those to my shelves. It wasn’t until a few days later, I did a count and realised that I had one hundred and eleven books on my shelves. I knew that something needed to be done. I knew that I needed to start reading some of these or else they would probably never get read. And in the meantime, I am not to buy any more books. I’m not sure I can do it. I have a great little library to choose from now, but with that number of books, it could be a year before I can buy anything new.


I guess I’m just going to have to put that compulsion on hold for a while.

The List

These are my book lists. They are a little confusing, I guess, so I'll do my best to explain them and how I keep track of them. This top list is my pool of 111 books. I will always have a pool of 111 books to choose from. Once a book on here has been read, it is moved to the bottom list, of finished books. Then, a book from the middle list is selected at random to take its place.
  1. The Behaviour of Moths – Poppy Adams - 2010
  2. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott - 2008
  3. The Pregnant Widow – Martin Amis
  4. Mad, Bad and Sad – Lisa Appignanesi - 2011
  5. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood - 2009
  6. The Tent – Margaret Atwood - 2008
  7. City of Glass – Paul Auster - 2010
  8. Crash – JG Ballard - 2010
  9. Transition – Ian Banks - 2011
  10. What It Is – Linda Barry
  11. Nurture Shock – Po Bronson - 2010
  12. The Lost Continent – Bill Bryson - 2009
  13. A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson - 2009
  14. X-ed Out – Chalres Burns
  15. Wilson – Daniel Clowes
  16. The House of Sleep – Jonathan Coe - 2010
  17. Gates of Eden – Ethan Coen - 2009
  18. Generation X & Generation A – Douglas Coupland - 2010
  19. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski - 2010
  20. True Things About Me – Deborah Kay Davies - 2010
  21. Customer Service – Benoit Dureutre - 2010
  22. Sum – David Eagleman - 2010
  23. The 19th Wife – David Ebershoff - 2010
  24. You Shall Know Our Velocity – Dave Eggers - 2010
  25. How We Are Hungry – Dave Eggers - 2010
  26. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers - 2008
  27. Bait and Switch & Nickel and Dimed – Barbara Ehrenreich - 2010
  28. Smile or Die – Barbara Ehrenreich - 2010
  29. Twilight of the Supeheroes – Deborah Eisenberg - 2010
  30. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides - 2010
  31. Ten Stories About Smoking - Stuart Evers
  32. Footnoes to Sex – Mia Farlane - 2010
  33. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer - 2010
  34. The Age of Obscurity – Michael Foley - 2010
  35. The Quickening Maze – Adam Foulds
  36. Tiger, Tiger - Margaux Fragoso
  37. Palo Alto – James Franco - 2011
  38. A Million Little Pieces – James Frey - 2009
  39. Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman – 2006
  40. Howl – Allen Ginsberg
  41. Resurrection – Mark Guggenheim - 2010
  42. Tinkers – Paul Harding - 2011
  43. In Praise of Slow – Carl Honore - 2010
  44. Atomised – Michel Houllebecq - 2008
  45. Spurious - Lars Iyer
  46. The Waterproof Bible – Andrew Kaufman - 2010
  47. On the Road – Jack Kerouac - 2009
  48. The End of Overeating – David Kessler - 2010
  49. Lisey’s Story – Stephen King - 2009
  50. Blockade Billy – Stephen King - 2010
  51. Danse Macabre – Stephen King - 2008
  52. Secret Windows – Stephen King - 2010
  53. Eat Your Heart Out – Felicity Lawrence - 2010
  54. Richard Yates – Tao Lin - 2010
  55. Bed – Tao Lin - 2010
  56. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist - 2009
  57. The Ask – Sam Lipsyte - 2011
  58. Hospital – Toby Litt - 2010
  59. Naïve. Super – Erlend Loe – 2008
  60. Girls – Luna Brothers - 2011
  61. And This is True – Emily Mackie
  62. A Book of Silence – Sarah Maitland - 2010
  63. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez - 2008
  64. Life of Pi – Yann Martel - 2008
  65. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier - 2008
  66. No Country For Old Men – Cormac McCarthy - 2009
  67. C – Tom McCarthy
  68. Even the Dogs – Jon McGregor - 2011
  69. Bright Lights, Big City – Jay McInery - 2010
  70. This Is Not Chick Lit - Elizabeth Merrick
  71. Ten Storey Love Song – Richard Milward - 2009
  72. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell - 2009
  73. Collected Stories – Lorrie Moore - 2010
  74. Runaway – Alice Munro - 2010
  75. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami - 2010
  76. The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama - 2009
  77. Fugitives and Refugees – Chuck Palahniuk - 2010
  78. Diary – Chuck Palahniuk - 2010
  79. People Who Eat Darkness – Richard Lloyd Parry
  80. Stuffed and Starved – Raj Patel - 2010
  81. Youth in Revolt – C.D. Payne - 2010
  82. Repeat it Today with Tears – Anne Peile
  83. The Losers’ Club – Richard Perez - 2010
  84. The Well and the Mine – Gin Phillips - 2010
  85. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maitenence – Robert Pirsig - 2008
  86. The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan - 2010
  87. Half the Human Race – Anthony Quinn
  88. Reclaiming the F Word – Catherine Redfern & Kristin Aune - 2011
  89. Anthropology – Dan Rhodes - 2010
  90. How to Live Off-Grid – Nick Rosen - 2010
  91. The Philosopher and the Wolf – Mark Rowlands - 2008
  92. Swamplandia! - Karen Russell
  93. 253 – Geoff Ryman - 2010
  94. The Blindfold Test – Barry Schecter - 2010
  95. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser - 2010
  96. Sex – Granta 110 - 2010
  97. The Accidental – Ali Smith - 2010
  98. The Book of Other People & Changing My Mind– Zadie Smith - 2010
  99. A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Rebecca Solint - 2011
  100. Solitude: A Return to the Self – Anthony Storr - 2011
  101. Spring – David Szalay
  102. A Fraction of the Whole – Steve Toltz
  103. The Road to the Dark Tower – Bev Vincent - 2010
  104. Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut - 2008
  105. Yes Man – Danny Wallace – 2006
  106. Peter and Max – Bill Willingham - 2011
  107. The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf – 2010
  108. The Vindication of the Rights of Women - Mary Wollstonecraft  - 2011
  109. New York Four – Brian Wood
  110. Bonsai – Alejandro Zambra – 2010

This is the list of books that I have accumulated since around 2005. The year is the year they were acquired, not the year they were published. My aim in to read them. All of them. In no particular order.


Update: 4th February & 9th February

Since doing work experience at Random House in London, I have resigned myself to accumulating more books. This is the secondary list.
  1. O: A Presidential Novel - Anonymous
  2. Unnatural – Philip Ball
  3. Pulse – Julian Barnes
  4. The Tangled Spell - Carolyn Bear
  5. Boxer Beetle - Ned Beauman
  6. The Afterparty – Leo Benedictus
  7. Glister – John Burnside
  8. Savage Lands – Clare Clark
  9. Shampoo Planet – Douglas Coupland
  10. Miss Wyoming – Douglas Coupland
  11. Logicomix - Apostos Doxiadis
  12. A Week in December – Sebastian Faulks
  13. Lost in a Good Book – Jasper Fforde
  14. Delusions of Gender - Cordelia Fine
  15. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. Hate: A Romance - Tristan Garcia
  17. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Moshim Hamid
  18. The Rime of the Modern Mariner – Nick Hayes
  19. This Book Will Save Your Life - A. M. Homes
  20. Deloume Road – Matthew Hooton
  21. The Summer Without Men - Siri Hustvedt
  22. Five Bells – Gail Jones
  23. Advice For Strays – Justine Kilkerr
  24. Chew Volume 1 – John Layman
  25. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  26. The Lost Book of the Odyssey – Zachary Mason
  27. Solar – Ian McEwan
  28. What to Look for in Winter – Candia McWillaim
  29. February – Lisa Moore
  30. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? – Lorrie Moore
  31. A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore
  32. Menage – Ewan Morrison
  33. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  34. Personal Days – Ed Park
  35. Teach Us to Sit Still – Tim Parks
  36. The Echo Maker – Richard Powers
  37. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  38. Life Inc. – Douglas Rushkoff
  39. St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves – Karen Russell
  40. Precious – Sapphire
  41. Firmin - Sam Savage
  42. Small is Beautiful – E. F. Schumacher
  43. The End – Salvatore Scibona
  44. On Beauty - Zadie Smith
  45. The Dubious Salvation of Jack V. – Jacques Strauss
  46. The Lonely Polygamist – Bradley Udall
  47. The Hare with Amber Eyes – Edmund de Waal
  48. Reheated Cabbage – Irvine Welsh
  49. In Great Waters – Kit Whitfield
  50. How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe – Charles Yu


The finished books - click on the title to see my review.

  1. The Help – Kathryn Stockett - 2011
  2. Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon & The Escapists – Brian K. Vaughan - 2010/2011
  3. Your Voice in my Head – Emma Forrest - 2011
  4. I Am Legend – Richard Matheson - 2009
  5. Fup – Jim Dodge - 2010
  6. Super Sad True Love Story – Gary Shteyngart - 2011
  7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz - 2010
  8. Local – Brian Wood - 2010
  9. The Death of Bunny Munro – Nick Cave - 2010
  10. The Still Point – Amy Sackville - 2010
  11. The Beaufort Diaries – T Cooper - 2010
  12. The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly - Jean Dominique Bauby - 2008
  13. This is Where I Leave You - Jonathan Tropper – 2010
  14. Tree of Codes - Jonathan Safran Foer and Street of Crocodiles - Bruno Schulz
  15. Heroes and Villains - Angela Carter
  16. The Moneyless Man - Mark Boyle
  17. The Eyes of the Dragon - Stephen King – 2009
  18. The Unit - Ninni Holmqvist
  19. Things We Didn't See Coming - Stephen Amsterdam
  20. Shoot the Damn Dog - Sally Brampton
  21. The Best American Comics 2010 edited by Neil Gaiman
  22. Darkness Visible - William Styron
  23. The Coma - Alex Garland
  24. The Illumination - Kevin Brockmeier
  25. A Dark Matter - Peter Straub
  26. Vignettes of Ystov - William Golsmith
  27. Light Boxes - Shane Jones
  28. Annabel - Kathleen Winter
  29. The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott
  30. Black Hole - Charles Burns
  31. Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
  32. The Devil Within - Stephanie Merritt
  33. Northline - Willy Vlautin
  34. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  35. Delirium - Lauren Oliver
  36. Player One - Douglas Coupland
  37. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
  38. A Visit From the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
  39. The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson
  40. The Game - Neil Strauss
  41. World War Z - Max Brooks
  42. Grow Up - Ben Brooks
  43. Go To Sleep - Helen Walsh
  44. The Night Bookmobile - Audrey Niffenegger
  45. Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
  46. Bed - David Whitehouse
  47. Sarah - J.T. Leroy
  48. How To Be A Woman - Caitlin Moran
  49. The Last Werewolf - Glen Duncan
  50. Wilson by Daniel Clowes