Notes on reading books

In order to try and better understand the world around me, I will read more books. In our age of maxi communication we are bombarded with information, most of it useless and / or with a very short shelf life. Pay too much attention and before you know it you’re hooked to the 24 hour news cycle and too sated to form an intelligent opinion on anything except the latest feeding frenzy. This is one reason why its so difficult for everyone to think strategically, and to separate what is important from what feels important.

So, no more browsing the BBC website, except in extremis, no more Evening Standard on the train home (London micro campaigns shouted through a megaphone; property gorging; celebrity gorging / poking; London-centric anything; downcast economic analysis; random opeds by the Russian proprietor). Instead of watching the ‘Ten’, I shall lie in bed reading books. And I shall keep a list as I go along. Here’s what I can remember reading in the last 12 months.


Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (Picador, 2009) – page 298 and counting

Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens (Atlantic Books, 2010)

NW, Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, 2012)


The File, Timothy Garton Ash (Atlantic Books, 2009)

Boomerang, Michael Lewis (Penguin, 2011)

Snow, Orhan Pamuk (faber and faber, 2005)

Joseph Anton – A Memoir, Salman Rushdie (Jonathan Cape, 2012)

Touching the Void, Joe Simpson (Vintage, 1997)

Stasiland, Anna Funder (Granta, 2003)

The Blair Years, Alastair Campbell (Arrow Books, 2008)

Words of Mercury, Patrick Leigh Fermour (John Murray, 2003)

A Journey, Tony Blair (Hutchison, 2010)

The Road, Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006) – second time

Frontline – The True Story of the British Mavericks Who Changed the Face of War Reporting, David Loyn (Michael Joseph, 2005)

Stamboul Train, Graham Greene (Vintage, 2004)

No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy (Picador, 2005)

Snow Drops, A.D. Miller (Atlantic Books, 2011)

2 thoughts on “Notes on reading books

  1. incamedia

    This is a list of some of the books I’ve read over the past year. Looking back it is the non-fictions that stand out: Into the silence is a fascinating and detailed account of a time of nationalism, heroism and adventure that would soon be gone forever; Emperor’s Malady an interesting and, considering it was written by a practioner, objective account of a disease that affects us all, directly or indirectly; Hare with the amber eyes, what a family story, beautifully written and sweeping across modern European history.

    Of the fictions, Yacoubian Building, Tony Hogan, Lifeboat and Bring Up the Bodies stand out, for different reasons.

    Into the silence: the Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest – Wade Davis

    Long song – Andrea Levy

    Bring up the bodies – Hilary Mantell

    The Yacoubian Building – Alaa Al Aswany

    A Case of Exploding Mangoes – Mohammed Hanif

    Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman,

    Tony Hogan bought me an ice cream float before he stole my ma – Kerry Hudson

    Where the god of love hangs out – Amy Bloom

    All that I am – Funder, Anna

    Siege – Ismail Kadare

    Stranger’s child – Alan Hollinghurst

    Secret scripture – Sebastian Barry

    Brazzaville beach – William Boyd

    The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer – Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Chavs: the demonization of the working class – Owen Jones

    Submission – Amy Waldman

    Reluctant fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid

    Friend of my youth – Alice Munro

    Verge – Z. Egloff

    Pure – Andrew Miller

    Religion for atheists: a non-believer’s guide – Alain De Botton

    Map of a nation: a biography of the Ordnance Survey – Rachel Hewitt
    Hewitt, Rachel

    Clothes on their backs – Linda Grant

    Lifeboat – Charlotte Rogan

    Big bang: the most important scientific discovery of all time and why you need to know about it – Simon Singh

    Island of wings – Karin Altenberg

    Hare with amber eyes: a hidden inheritance – Edmund De Waal

    We had it so good – Linda Grant

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