Book List 2012 - Part One
As some of you know, last year I set myself a challenge to read 52 books in the year. I fell short by 15 and managed a total of 37. Something not to be sniffed at but also quite a bit short. The Songs of Ice and Fire series completely crippled my reading tempo. Trying to read a 1000page paperback in a week and also work is pretty much impossible.
Anyway for 2012 I thought I’d give it a go again, knowing that it was unlikely but also knowing that I have now fallen in love with reading and reading less than 30 books in 2012 will be pretty bad. Rather than update the blog with each blog post I’m going to do a short blog summarising the books in groups of tens.
So here are the first 10
Book List 2011 - Round UP
Mega mega late but I thought I’d just chuck this up as a round up. I’m going to sort 2012 out now :)
(Books I didn’t write about as I forgot)
32. Conn Iggulden - Lord of the Bow
33. George R.R. Martin - A Dance With Dragons
Book List 2011 - Book 30
As you might have guessed, I’m doing a backlog of blogs as I’ve really been slacking on the blogging front. Does anybody actually read it, well whether they do or not it’s good for keeping count of how many books I’ve read this year so far and I’ve hit a nice milestone in 30!
Henning Mankel - The Man From Beijing.
This was recommended to me by Mol’s Dad who is a big fan of the Wallander series that is also written by Mankel. The book start off in Sweden and then follows through different centuries and continents until everything is seamlessly linked. The description of every scene was described really well and the relationship between the characters felt unique and well crafted. Mankel is obviously a great writer otherwise he wouldn’t have had such wide success but I did feel that the story was a little unoriginal although it did take us to a wide variety of places the plot line in brief is simple, although I won’t explain due to spoilers.
Book List 2011 - Book 29
George R.R. Martin - A Feast For Crows
This has been my least favorite book so far from the series, as always I was completely immersed in the book when reading but the omission of many of the lead characters made me not really care about lots of the other people that were being described. I won’t ruin the book for anyone that is going to read it as I’m told it’s still really important to continue with the book even though it may drain you a little as the next book relies heavily on the knowledge you gain from this book.
I look forward to reading the next installment but at the moment I’m waiting for it to come down in price. I wouldn’t pay £25 for a CD let alone a book and also it must weigh nearly 3 Kgs, the thing is HUGE!
Book List 2011 - Book 28
George R.R Martin - A Storm of Swords 2 Blood and Gold
Book 3 of the series part 2. Continuing from where it left of, this was probably the best installment yet. The action came thick and fast and we are given a wider insight into the different kingdoms that have previously been unexplained. Obviously my favorite characters are the Starks but I also like Daenaerys a lot too. In the TV show I didn’t really warm to her, I know it’s hard to compare as that was only book one but as the books go on I’ve started to enjoy her character a lot more.
Book List 2011: Book 26 - 27
George R.R. Martin - A Clash of Kings
George R.R. Martin - A Storm of Swords 1:Steel and Sorrow
So i’ve got these books in the bag… I’m averaging one a week at the moment and if I carry that on I should get somewhere close to 52 books for the year.
I don’t want to go too much in to detail but the whole series has totally engrossed me and I thoroughly recommend them, although only if you have the time because there so gripping.
Book List 2011: Book 23
Jack Higgins - Luciano’s Luck
I picked this book up at a warehouse clearance in Bristol last year and never got round to it. The book is based during the Second World War and based in Sicily. I had just finished playing Mafia 2 and it has a similar open story.
The Americans are planning an attack on Italy via Sicily and they need the Mafias help to have a successful operation. By securing the Mafia’s co-operation, the peasants will assist the American landing and show no resistance, uniting with the allied forces to push through Sicily and drive the Germans out. The main problem is that Don Luca, the most important man in the Sicilian Mafia, hates Americans. His brother was sent to the electric chair. This is where Luciano comes in. Luciano is the most important Mafia member in America and hold a large influence on Don Luca, the only problem is that he’s in jail. The president of the United States pardons Luciano and Luciano goes to Sicily, via Liverpool to get Don Luca’s granddaughter, who moved away from home when her mother was killed by a car bomb.
The relationship between the characters was brilliant but the most enjoyable thing for me was the insight behind some of the Sicilian customs, the respect and brutality shown when dealing with enemies. The relationship of the mafia and the church. The scene I remember best is Salvatore, a Sicilian mob member who is an informant for the US, kills somebody who has betrayed him. He knocks on the door, grabs the man by the neck, kisses him and then kills him. ‘The Kiss of Death’.
I won’t elaborate anymore, in case someone reads this blogpost and then wants to read the book, but I thought it was fantastic. 8.5/10
You can read more about ‘Lucky Luciano’ here
Books so far:
Book list 2011: Book 22
Gil Scott-Heron - The Vultures
Scott-Heron wrote this book during university and because of it failed to get onto the next year as he spent more time writing his novel than actually doing school work. I think it was definitely worth while. I know Scott-Heron as a musician and poet but not as a novelist and I was pleasantly surprised to see him excel in this craft too. From his writing you can tell he is a poet, the way he manipulates words to excite you.
The book is about the death of a young black male in New York and four peoples stories up to the night he was killed. The book reminded me of Babel and Scott-Heron, in his notes, says that the book would work better as a film than a book. The four characters all know each other and the background provided about them was perfect, not too long or too short. Scott-Heron manages to describe the inner-city mentality of a young black male through these characters from your corner boy drug dealer, to his understudy, to an university educated revolutionist to a free thinking intellect. He covers all the bases and I totally felt like I was part of this small part of New York.
I love his music, so I think that I would have rated anything that I read of his but this was fantastic.
Books so far:
Book List 2011: Book 21
Michael Ondaajte - Coming Through Slaughter
I was recommended this book by my good friend Mfon, he claimed it was one of the best books written about Jazz ever. I haven’t read any books on jazz so I can’t make that statement, but it was damn good. The way that New Orleans is described is so poetic, Ondaajte really puts you in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th Century. Ondaajte weaved a number or interviews and statements about Bolden’s life to give a fantastic representation about his life and struggles, including his time in a mental hospital.
Below is Amazon’s review which I thought was a pretty good review too.
Bringing to life the fabulous, colorful panorama of New Orleans in the first flush of the jazz era, this book tells the story of Buddy Bolden, the first of the great trumpet players—some say the originator of jazz—who was, in any case, the genius, the guiding spirit, and the king of that time and place.
In this fictionalized meditation, Bolden, an unrecorded father of Jazz, remains throughout a tantalizingly ungraspable phantom, the central mysteries of his life, his art, and his madness remaining felt but never quite pinned down. Ondaatje’s prose is at times startlingly lyrical, and as he chases Bolden through documents and scenes, the novel partakes of the very best sort of modern detective novel—one where the enigma is never resolved, but allowed to manifest in its fullness.
Books so far:
Book List 2011: Book 20
As I said in my previous Book List entry, I knew I’d slow down when it came to the reading and at the moment I’m in week 22 of the week and I’ve just started my 21st so the cramming in India have definitely served me well and my hope is that I get a job in London in the near future (fingers crossed) and I have 2 hours each day on the train for the commute.
Anyway…. Book 20
Phil Jackson - Sacred Hoops
For those who don’t follow my blog or know me personally, I am a HUGE basketball fan and this book is written by, debatably, the best basketball coach ever. What makes Phil Jackson so different to other coaches is his spiritual approach to the game and to teamwork. He was brought up in a very religious family to slowly break away for basketball at the end of his high school years to then embrace Native Indian spirituality as well as learn more about Zen and Buddhism. He applied all these different thoughts to basketball situations and he documents them well. He does well to stay to his ethos of Sacred Hoops rather than take the easy was out and write a book that tells us how he managed to handle Michael Jordan. It was a great insight into one of the best dynasties basketball has ever seen and had some fantastic thoughts and quotables. If you’re not interested in basketball or philosophy then it’s definitely not your thing. You could be interested in basketball alone and it be a good read but without an interest in basketball it’s probably not in depth enough about philosophy and spirituality. However I found it brilliant and extremely interesting. 8/10
Books so far:
20. Phil Jackson - Sacred Hoops