bibliophily pt. XXIV

or 'Everything I have read so far this year'. 24 26 books in total - that means I need to read 28 26 more to average one a week; I don't think it's going to happen!
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green - at the start of the year EA still had me reading her young adult books. Pretty compelling. 7/10
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - as above. She turned me into a teenage girl, temporarily. 8/10.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - quite heartbreaking. 8/10.

  • Vernon God Little : a 21st century comedy in the presence of death by D. B. C. Pierre - absolutely hilarious, I also loved the language. Deserves the accolades it got. 10/10.
  • Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon - my surprise hit. I LOVE this book. It reminds me of Neal Stephenson's tangents and wit in The Diamond Age, combined with the historical setting of his The Baroque Cycle... so, my perfect novel! 10/10.
  • Girlfriend in a coma by Douglas Coupland - this was pretty entertaining, but it hasn't stuck with me, unlike some of his others. 6/10.
  • The almost moon by Alice Sebold - argh. Horribly compelling. I fear mental illness more than physical. 7/10.
  • The secret history by Donna Tartt - goood, very good! 8/10.
  • The Accidental by Ali Smith - I enjoyed. 7/10.
  • Rabbit, run by John Updike - Made me not want to get married... 8/10.
  • The bat tattoo by Russell Hoban - an absolute delight! Highly recommend. 9/10.
  • The last good kiss by James Crumley - a crime novel that I actually liked. 7/10.
  • The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh - historical novel(?) based in Burma/India; ventures all over the place. Very good. 7/10.
  • Walking on Glass by Iain Banks - Not his best but good. 5/10

  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - has nothing over the film, unfortunately. This and Fight Club are the only two I've found where the films equal or better the books. Still 7/10.
  • Transition by Iain Banks - very imaginative, but he verges on being a little too complicated this time. 5/10.
  • The martians by Kim Stanley Robinson - some real crackers in here if you're a fan of the trilogy! But some duff stuff too. Worth it for fans though. 6/10.
  • Kraken by China Mieville - just your standard underground cults stuff. 6/10.
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. - finally found this in a charity shop, what a gem! 9/10.
  • Lord of light by Roger Zelazny - brilliant brilliant brilliant! Definitely worth the read. 9/10.
  • The war of the world by H. G. Wells - made me want to watch Mars Attacks. Showing its age now, it's at first difficult to read the prose because of how usage has changed. 7/10.
  • The Line of Polity by Neal Asher - Sci-fi page turner... no good. 3/10.
  • Magician by Raymond E. Feist - starts off quite compelling, but this is overly long (may be explained by the fact that I've got the author's preferred text edition), fades towards the end. 5/10.
  • Overclocked : stories of the future present by Cory Doctorow - doesn't disappoint. 7/10.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - for some reason I want to compare this to A Handmaid's Tale. I guess the settings have similarities. Worth the read. 7/10.
  • The death of grass by John Christopher - lovely stuff. Classic and very British. 9/10.
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bibliophily pt. XXIII

I managed to read over 50 books last year! This is everything since May.
  • Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson - great stuff. 7/10.
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera - just doesn’t grip me sufficiently. 6/10.
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith - very bad ending. 8/10.
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie - LONG. 5/10.
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - too similar to American Gods. 7/10.
  • The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon - Pynchon is king of the run-on sentence... almost impossible to read. 7/10.
  • Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist - scary scary. My contribution to the ‘vampire fiction’ shelf in our house. 8/10.
  • Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks - pretty good. 7/10.
  • In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck - Steinbeck, Steinbeck, Steinbeck... 7/10.
  • Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck - love it. 10/10.
  • Unseen Academicals by Terry Prachett - I preferred his earlier work? 7/10.
  • Nymphomation by Jeff Noon - various people have been telling me to read this for ages. I did and it didn’t disappoint! Very out there and very British. 10/10.
  • Cobweb by Neal Stephenson - loved this! Didn’t want it to end, genuinely hooked 10/10.
  • Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson - fantasy. Interesting take on it though. Jumps around quite a bit, can be hard to follow. 9/10.
  • Adolf Hitler, my part in his downfall by Spike Milligan - highly enjoyable. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t pick up the whole set of these when I had the chance some time ago. 8/10.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood - 7/10.
  • White Mughals by William Dalrymple (non-fiction) - interesting delve into Anglo-Indian history. 6/10.
  • A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin - it continues... the usual twists and turns. 9/10.
  • Brighton Rock by Graham Green - didn’t really grab me. 5/10.
  • Our man in Havana by Graham Greene - I much preferred this to the above, very good. 8/10.
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman - an easy read, I liked it though :) 7/10.
  • Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper - seems like it’s just a small variation on How to Talk to a Widower, still funny though. 7/10.
  • The Green Mile by Stephen King - interesting. 7/10.
  • Dead Air by Iain Banks - a little dated now I think. 8/10.
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - I don’t think I quite got this. 6/10.
  • Generation A by Douglas Coupland - highly enjoyable, one of my favourite Couplands. Bees! :D 8/10.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - pretty good. Apparently there are two versions of this; I’m not sure which one I read. 7/10.
  • Staying Alive by Matt Beaumont - lent to me by someone at work. Very enjoyable, very funny! 8/10.
  • Paper Towns by John Green, and Let it Snow: three holiday romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle - EA was attempting to turn me into a teenage girl by lending me these. She succeeded. 8/10.
  • Spook Country by William Gibson - Pattern Recognition was possibly slightly better.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks - I think World War Z, the “sequel” to this which tells the story of a global zombie epidemic, is better written than this, but it’s fun nonetheless. 6/10.
  • The Inspirational Moustache by Ziggy Hanaor
  • - a present from Polly. Informative and practical! 8/10

Also acquired a variety of comics this year:
  • The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure by Hergé - I didn’t end up going to see the film, but bought these in anticipation of doing so. Good stuff, of course! 8/10
  • Never Learn Anything From History by Kate Beaton - one of my favourites, Kate’s comics are brill. 8/10
  • My Cardboard Life by Philippa Rice
  • Big Cat Parade! by Lizz Lunney - a Christmas present from Polly. Funny :) 8/10
  • Solipsistic Pop 4: Maps - a comics anthology; beautifully presented, and with a lot of good content :)
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bibliophily pt. XXII

  • The Forever War by Joe Haldeman - I got something out of this, but looking back it’s not as good as I thought. 7/10.
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven - I really enjoyed this, some little twists make it good and the scale of the setting makes it great. 8/10.
  • The Helliconia trilogy by Brian Aldiss - epic is the only way to describe this, it spans several thousand years. VERY impressive. Couldn’t stop reading. 8/10.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy - as grim as the film, or grimmer. Good to read, though. 8/10.
Borrowed from EA:
  • The Short Novels of John Steinbeck - I’d read half of these already separately. The rest were good, too. Love me some Steinbeck. 8/10.
  • The Game by Neil Strauss - Hilarious and bizarre. Once you’ve read it, it’s difficult to not go around doing things the way they do in the book. 7/10.
  • The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi - an interesting one, I think the first half of the book is much better than the second, where it loses its way a little. 8/10.
  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - Compelling page turner, but very difficult to read at the same time. 6/10.
Currently reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.
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bibliophily pt. XXI

  • The Evolutionary Void - a Christmas present from pixielaura, finishing off the Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton. Great sci-fi as always :-) 8/10
  • World War Z by Max Brooks - xmas present from my parents; I read it and got scared about zombie attacks. My mum said “funny, wasn’t it?”; I asked her why she’d bought me this but not the Zombie Survival Guide, which would tell me how to defend myself! 7/10
  • The Rediscovery of Man by Cordwainer Smith - bizarre science fiction that was also pretty compelling and certainly a lot more interesting than much sci-fi I’ve read - and more enjoyable too. 8/10.
  • The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood - you really need to have read Oryx and Crake before this (although reading them the other way around might make sense too). It was so satisfying to connect up all the little dots left over from the previous book, while following a different set of characters, worrying over them, hoping for them and wondering if the ambiguous ending of Oryx would be resolved - if you have read Oryx, you really must read this. 8/10

These I borrowed from EA:
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams - having already seen the sequel, I knew what to expect. It is beginning to feel a little dated, though. 7/10.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - about time I read this. Clearly a masterpiece, much better than the film, too. 9/10.
  • The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving - tragic, humorous, downright strange, I loved this! 8/10
  • Waterland by Graham Swift - really interesting, gives a real sense of history and place, and I like the sense of myths developing over time. 7/10
  • The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell - though it reads like outdated socialist propaganda at times (being a century or so old now), the characters and setting are exceedingly real and the action is certainly emotional at times. The repetition throughout the novel worked very well for me, despite so many other people complaining about it. A must read. 8/10
  • Coming up for Air by George Orwell - I read this straight after the above, which provided an interesting comparison! It’s interesting stuff, doesn’t take too long to read either. 7/10
  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck - awesome, characters are so real, the writing so compelling. Loved the setting, too. 10/10

If you haven’t guessed I’m working my way through my housemate’s books: reading some more Steinbeck at the moment, then I’m going for a little Iain Banks. Also started building up my own to read pile just recently: Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, and Ringworld by Larry Niven.
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bibliophily pt. XX

  • Scott Pilgrim, volume 6, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. A sufficient conclusion to the series. 6/10,
  • Fatherland, by Robert Harris. A good read, but not mind-blowing. 6/10.
  • How to Talk to a Widower, by Jonathan Tropper - very, very funny, and also moving; not what I expected at all. Definitely worth reading. 9/10.
  • Great Tales of Fantasy and Science Fiction, can’t give this a rating as it’s an anthology, but I haven’t put it up for swapping, which indicates some of the stories are good..
  • The Bitterbynde Trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton - pixielaura lent these to me, compelling page turning fantasy, 7/10.
  • The Various by Steve Augarde, a children’s fantasy novel, I found it quite interesting - 7/10.
  • Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton - one of his earlier works, sci-fi with an interesting narrative structure. I genuinely didn’t realise what was going to happen until right at the end, which is unusual! 8/10
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid - surprised me in its content. It’s not about fundamentalism at all. 5/10.
  • The Adventures of Tintin - The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun - got the former as a gift, so I had to buy the latter (it’s a two-parter). Also bought Land of Black Gold, and thus finally understand what’s going on with the Thompson twins in Destination Moon & Explorers on the Moon (which I read as a child). 10/10 (of course!).
  • Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain - good ole adventures stories, I enjoyed them a lot :-) 7/10.
  • All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland - very very funny, if you’ve liked any of Coupland’s you should give this a read. 8/10.
  • The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland - this was ok, but definitely not his best. I’d give it a miss unless you’re a big fan. 5/10.
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Horrific, depressing, ultimately worth it. 8/10.
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin - excellent portrayal of a ‘uptopian’ society. Highly recommended. 10/10.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling - borrowed from EA. An ok read, I whizzed through it (definitely a page-turner!). 5/10.
  • Steinbeck: A Life in Letters - took me about six months to get through this, maybe longer; a long slog, but actually pretty interesting, a kind of biography (Steinbeck’s one of my favourite authors). 8/10.

Think that’s it, might have missed a couple.
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bibliophily pt. XIX

I’ve been racing through a lot of books lately: it’s very pleasing. My to-read shoebox has just four books in it at the moment!
  • Scott Pilgrim, volumes 4 & 5, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Love these. The film looks like it’s going to be ridiculously awesome. 9/10
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy - an odd read. Lots of violence. Good. 8/10
  • Dawnthief by James Barclay - fantasy. Some bits were quite interesting, but overall I didn’t rate it. 4/10
  • Touching the Void by Joe Simpson - climbing accident/survival story. Meh. 3/10.
  • Cities in Flight by James Blish - omnibus edition of all four books in the sci-fi series by Blish. Great stuff, some of it does go on a bit though! 8/10
  • The Year 1000: An Englishman’s Year by Rober Lacey - pretty interesting, quick read 7/10
  • Tank Girl: Odyssey by Peter Milligan and Jamie Hewlett - possibly would have made more sense if I’d read the actual Odyssey. And, you know, some Tank Girl, too. Fun nonetheless. 7/10
  • Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - fantastic! Very dark, some bits were actually frightening. Brilliantly imaginative yet somehow grounded in reality, too. 9/10
  • Orcs omnibus by Stan Nicholls - meh. Action, action, action. Not much substance. 2/10.
  • The Alien Years by Robert Silverberg. Interesting bit of sci-fi, charting a family over the course of an alien occupation. I enjoyed it. 6/10.
  • Coalescent by Stephen Baxter - very interesting! Slightly freaky. I liked the concepts here. 8/10
  • Software by Rudy Rucker - old school sci-fi! :D 6/10.
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper - classic adventure, a right good yarn :-) 8/10
  • A Time to Kill by John Grisham - absolutely enthralling, well worth reading. Can’t believe I had it lying around for so long before reading. 9/10
  • Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner - interesting memoir. Not something I’d normally read, but interesting. 6/10.
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey - a children’s book, very funny :-) 6/10
  • The Dictionary of Proper Names by Amélie Nothomb - Typical Nothomb, very strange. 7/10.
  • The Tesseract by Alex Garland - a thriller. Good enough, wouldn’t read again. 6/10.
  • Why Europe will run the 21st century by Mark Leonard - non-fiction! Wow! Some pro-europe propaganda. 5/10.
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bibliophily pt. XVIII

AKA the last seven months in books.
  • All That Is Solid Melts Into Air by Marshall Berman. Sarah lent me this, took me months to read it; I’d never read a book like this before, it’s mainly about analysing other texts notably (Marx, and Goethe). Interesting stuff though - explaining how modernity means the constant change and churn of one modern thing with the next, rather than it happening just once. 7/10
  • The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton - sci-fi :-) 7/10
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood - the most depressing book I’ve ever read. It destroyed my soul. Twice. Utterly compelling, though. 9/10
  • A Song of Ice And Fire, volumes 1-4, by George R. R. Martin - no other fantasy series has compelled me to read as much as this one. Awesome. Violence, sex, intrigue, etc, by the shedload. And a ridiculous number of intertwining threads to boot. 8/10
  • Scott Pilgrim, volumes 1-3, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. I wish I was Scott Pilgrim! I can’t believe I left off reading these for so long; they’re really, really good, normal and ridiculous and breaking the fourth wall at just the right moments. Can’t wait for the film. 8/10
  • Side B: The Music Lover’s Comic Anthology - birthday present from Sarah. Good stuff, I’ve followed up and read other things from one or two of the authors featured in here. 6/10
  • Matter by Iain M. Banks - birthday present from pixielaura. I do love a bit of Banks, this one’s very good :-) 7/10
  • The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson - finally got my hands on this after wanting to read it for ages. If anything it was better than I expected. Very original way to present alternate history. Recommended! 9/10
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka - present from Sarah Christmas 2008, I think? Only just got round to reading it: it’s okay. 5/10
  • The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson - another gift from Sarah at some point. Strange novel about atheist Scottish minister who meets the devil. Meh. 4/10
  • The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. Fantasy, pixielaura lent me these. Good reads. 7/10
  • The Founding by Dan Abnett. Page-turning Warhammer 40k stuff. It passed the time. 3/10
  • Harry Potter, books 1-4, by JK Rowling. Lent to me by pixielaura. Whizzed through them, nice enough I guess. 5/10

First Aid Kit @ Adelphi

Went to see First Aid Kit at the Adelphi last night. First surprise of the night: the gig sold out! There were a few on the door, but they went before FAK came on. Wow! Haven't seen that happen since Melt Banana.

Support bands were abysmal, I shall not mention them. FAK were very good; clear, powerful voices tinged with Swedish accents singing lovely folk-type stuff. Highly enjoyable. Middle-aged giggers were there in strength, and were rewarded with a Fleet Foxes cover. Overall 7.5/10. Several full tracks available on, give them a listen!
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bibliophily pt. XVII

It’s an incredibly long time since I did one of these posts. Lots of books. I may have missed some!
  • If I die in a combat zone by Tim O’Brien - Vietnam war story. Good read, I liked it. 7/10
  • Anathem by Neil Stephenson - expansive, almost confusing, great depth and lots and lots of logic, rationality, learning. Difficult concepts & words though. Probably about what I expected from Stephenson. Made me feel uneducated, though. 8/10
  • The Commonwealth Saga (Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained) by Peter F. Hamilton - more fantastic one-more-page sci-fi from Mr. Hamilton 8/10
  • The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton - as above. 7/10
  • Hidden Empire by Kevin J. Anderson - more sci-fi, I’ve heard bad things about Anderson but I liked this book. I thought some of the characters were pretty interesting, although there was no suspense in any of the plot, at all. Not one bit. I don’t know whether that was intentional or not. 5/10
  • The Accord by Keith Brooke - very interesting exploration of ideas surrounding using technology to achieve immortality, then mixing in some quantum to boot. I did find the protagonist a little creepy - until later in the book where he graduates to full-on creepiness, which is fine. I think it’s interesting that characters you can empathise with in part are much more creepy than those you’re completely removed from. 5/10
  • Dante’s Inferno - epic poetry is not my usual fare. I probably didn’t get as much out of this as one should; I prefer reading poetry out loud which is completely impractical for where I do a lot of my reading. Nevertheless, very interesting, with excellent and extensive notes. 6/10
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - absolute classic: concise, well written, powerful. 8/10
  • Appleseed by John Clute - sci-fi written in such a way as to make it incomprehensible gibberish to a sci-fi fan - or anyone else for that matter. Nevertheless, I appreciated it as an interesting piece of literature. If you’re bored of Iain M. Banks and Peter F. Hamilton, try reading it! 2/10
  • Empyrion by Stephen Lawhead - More sci-fi. I tore through this one. Tentatively recommended. 7/10
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