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corblimey has got too many books



  • If you have hit so many poor modern books - go for a classic and break the cycle.

    Oh and I agree with you completely on Cormac McCarthy - I read The Road and it will be the first and last of his books I will ever read. It was god damn awful.

  • E At Home (Bryson). Bill Bryson takes us on a tour of his 19th century home and along the way, uses each room to spin off into a social history of Britain and (at times) the US. Mr Bryson's Mother Tongue gets a bit of a lashing (see what I did there?) on Amazon for untruths and such, so I would take a lot of his writing with a large sprinkle of salt (note: there's been no specific accusations made against this book by the scholars on Amazon). But most chapters had something interesting in them, and again, I learned quite a bit about a century when practically everything changed in the home and work and in between.

  • 29 Deal Breaker (Coben). My last Myron Bolitar book wasn't great, but this was back on form (or since I'm reading them in a random order, he's either getting worse or getting better :)). Well structured plot with a nice few twists and turns and a satisfying ending, I fairly nipped through it aswell which is always a good sign.

  • 30 The Most Dangerous Game (Connell). This was in my Amazon basket for a loooong time, did I really want to spend 4 pounds on a <50 page "book", but I eventually bought it and I'm glad I did. The story is nice and compact, and considering its age, must have been an eye opener in its day. While there's no real surprises in it - it's too short and the theme is well worn by now - it's a very well written book. I liken it to hearing old radio comedies from the 40s and 50s - the plot and narrative is a cliche these days because the original has been referenced in countless media since then.

  • F Top of the Rock (Littlefield). A compelling account of NBC's "Must See TV" strand of the late 80s and 90s. The concept is basically vox pops of the actors, directors, writers, executives, etc behind that era's most successful TV shows (and Will and Grace). It gets a little bitter towards the end considering the outcome, and it does tend towards 'it was always meant to be' when it comes to casting and writing decisions which I believe is probably stretching it a little bit. It's easy to be fatalistic in hindsight. But it's still a fantastic account of that era, and packed with people I've even heard of.

    After 6 months of my new year's resolution (do I win a prize for keeping it going so long?), I've read 36 books, about 30 more than I'd have read last year. I'm on track for a 70 book year, which really should clear my bookshelves almost entirely. Have to start looking for more to read!

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  • 31 Adventures in English (Bragg). Quite a dry history of the English language charting its rise and fall, rebirth and eventual its worldwide domination. I lost it a little during chapters devoted to Chaucer and Shakespeare, and in places it's just lists of words, but if you've any interest in this sort of thing, I can see it as being satisfying, just not for me.

  • G Back Story (Mitchell). I like David Mitchell (not that one) when he's on the likes of Have I Got News For You? and Would I Lie to You? but this autobiography is a bit too much of him, if I'm honest. He needs a foil to make his mock pretension look absurd, and without it, it's just 300 pages of someone walking and talking about life as a Cambridge thesp, really. A couple of places made me smile, but not even close to the laugh fest I expect when a comedian writes a book.

  • 32 One False Move (Coben). Another Myron Bolitar novel and another fairly ridiculous plot although there's a nice surprising ending (hope that's not a spoiler). The nice weather recently has stopped me reading at the pace I was (can't read while BBQing) but I'm trying to maintain a decent pace.

  • H. Road to Rouen (Hatch). Odd sort of book, I was expecting a travelogue filled with all sorts of hilarity, what I got was an angsty middle-class blog of someone driving around France with his wife and kids. Perhaps I'm not able to empathise cos I have niether, but it just wasn't very interesting, and in no way funny (unless you enjoy other people's inside jokes).

  • 33. Azincourt (Cornwell). Ironically, my day book was set in much the same area of France as Road to Rouen, but couldn't be more different. A rip roaring adventure, as they say, the descriptions of everyday life, the battles and even getting dressed for battle are astounding, and for me with so little knowledge of English history (up to the point where I read Adventures in English), it was a great read. Also, how can you not like a book with olde Englishe swearing, you cabbage-sh*tting rat-humping turds :)

    I've added another Cornwell to my shopping list (not a Sharpe novel) based on this, we might have a new favourite author.

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  • 34. It's Not Rocket Science (Miller). The one out of Miller & Armstrong who isn't doing a gameshow on daytime TV tries his hand at explaining science. He cavorts from atoms to planets to fossils to DNA and beyond. It's too short a book to cover the wide range of extremely difficult subjects in any sort of comprehensive manner, so each chapter starts off pretty easy and then suddenly becomes unwieldy without crossing the divide. It basically goes from "here's Mr Goat" to "the superhelix is a topoisomer of the circular DNA where all base pairs are in place" in a matter of sentences.

  • 35. Cork's St Patrick's Street A History (O'Callagahan). I find myself buying books with old photos in them quite a lot - I like comparing the photos to how things are today - but I generally keep them as coffee table books to impress young ladies look at from time to time. This is one I wanted to read as the construction of the street itself was always of interest to me. It deals with the way Cork was constructed and the development of the street down through the years, couched in what was happening in Cork, in Ireland and sometimes worldwide to give some context. Fascinating potted history.

  • 36. Sassenach's Scotland (Rushton). I was never a big fan of Willie Rushton, never really warmed to his unique comedy "stylings", but I won this in a competition years ago, so thought I'd give it a shot. Luckily, it's pretty short because I lost patience with it on about p40, and just decided to knock off the remaining 40 pages anyway. Not good.

  • I. The Top Gear Years (Clarkson). I like Top Gear, but generally fast forward when they start talking about cars, so it is with this collection of columns written by Jeremy Clarkson for Top Gear magazine from 1993 to 2011 - I steered clear of the ones that were about particular cars and concentrated on the rest. I was expecting a lot more objectionable material to be honest, so either I'm now inured to political incorrectness or I'm a terrible terrible person (or more likely, I managed to skip those particular pieces of prose - they must be in there, though, he makes mention of 'different times' in his introduction). Not great, but certainly not bad.

  • 37. Day of the Triffids (Wyndham). Not a huge fan of sci-fi, but it says Classic right on the cover, so I gave it a go. The ending is disappointing and leaves too many questions, but the story as a whole is compelling, albeit a little dated (it was written in the 50s, so that explains that). I'm glad I read it, but I won't be keeping it on my shelf for a reread.

  • 38. A Wanted Man (Child). Another Jack Reacher novel, another adventure in the empty spaces of middle America. There's a couple of decent twists, but the endgame feels very rushed, and the ending is just sort of... and then he went back to doing what he was doing before this all started. Odd. I've been reading Reacher for years, and while the later stuff will never be as good as the early days, it's still just as good as anything else I'm reading these days.

  • J. Case Histories (Atkinson). Terrible terrible book. 3 'incidents' are described in excruciating detail, then there's 300 pages of filler and then the 3 incidents are 'resolved'. And that's it. I'm not even sure what happened in 1 of the incidents, and despite assurances on the back that 'everything is connected', these apparently aren't. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention because the author has the most annoying habit of adding things in brackets (unnecessarily), for example "Good morning, my name is John," he said (cordially). Why in brackets? Was he cordial? Was he not? Am I supposed to read something into the brackets? Who knows? Every single page had at least one of these needless devices; sometimes whole conversations were put in brackets. I was hopeful the Jackson Brodie novels would be a new stream for me, but no.


  • 39. Ready Player One (Cline). Hmm. Not sure about this one. There's a lot of exposition and explanation up front that I don't care for, and the last 100 pages are a wet dream for teenage gamers, of which I'm neither. I assumed after reading it that it's actually a novel for young adults, so I'm not going to say it's rubbish, but it isn't listed as such on Amazon, so I'm not sure. I've left it with the young adults in my life to see if they enjoy it, but it really wasn't for me.


  • 40. Fat Ollie's Book (McBain). Not great. The main story does feature some solid police detective work, but the story within the story is truly awful, and I ignored it after the first few pages. Also, the titular Fat Ollie character is a dreadful character with some strangely anachronistic views of people - I originally thought this was another book written in the 50s by McBain and so could forgive the political incorrectness but no, it was written in 2002, so I don't know.


  • K. The Daily Show Presents America (the book) (Stewart). This is alright, not as laugh out loud as TDS tends to be, and I believe it's intended for an audience with a fairly solid understanding of the American political system so that you can appreciate the satire and irony. Unfortunately, I care for American politics just slightly less than Irish politics (which is say not at all) so a lot of it sailed clear over my head. Still some amusing parts, particularly the parts by Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert (who had actually left the show by the time this book was published)


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  • 41. Audacity of Hype (Iannucci). Armando Ianucci is a very intelligent man, and this collection of columns from the Telegraph and the Observer which ranges from short lists of fanciful ideas or long involved op-ed pieces, proves that. Sometimes surreal, sometimes philosophical, always well written and well thought through.


  • L. The Revolution Was Televised (Sepinwall). A short history of some of the more 'influential' [American] TV dramas of recent years. Each chapter is broken down by show, so it's easy to skip the ones you have no interest in (*cough*Lost*cough*) but even the ones I am interested in weren't that great. Quite dryly written, and more time is spent on what happens on screen than off. I want my TV books to be about, as Charlie Brooker puts it, the "ghastly backside of television."


  • 42. Nothing to Envy (Demick). Outstanding and eye-opening account of North Korea since the Korean war tore the country apart. It follows the lives of 6 North Koreans as they suffer through a brutal communist regime, economic deprivation, famine & starvation and onto their defections to South Korea. An amazing piece of work and really taught me so much about North Korea that I just wasn't aware of. Second best book I've read this year, and another nail in the coffin of my reading fiction - when non fiction is this good, who needs make believe?


  • M. Fade Away (Coben): Not bad, but not that good either. There's an awful lot of filler in the middle, and not much to the whodunnit either. There's a brief epilogue that dips into the hero Bolitar's personal life, which might have been an awesome reveal if I didn't already know about it from a previous book (cos I'm reading these in no particular order)


  • 43. With the Old Breed (Sledge). EB Sledge may have been a great soldier, but he's not a great writer. The book comes off as a series of disconnected vignettes all under the umbrella of 'war is hell'. Most of the vignettes were of the 'this one time, at war...' variety and not very interesting. It had one saving grace, it made me want to watch Band of Brothers again (this book was adapted to the Pacific tv show, which was a sorta sequel to BoB, so a fairly tenuous connection, but still) which I did this last weekend.


  • 44. Ship of Fools (O'Toole). Well researched and, due to its subject matter, infuriating book about the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger. Contains a (possibly one sided) account of the thievery, incompetence and corruption that we're still paying for 5 years after the tiger died and will for many years to come. I stopped paying attention to the news around the time this book came out (2009) as it was mostly about this sort of political dishonesty, but if you need a background to things like the Ansbacher affair and what exactly happened in Anglo Irish, this is a decent volume.


  • N. The Reversal (Connelly). Another Haller/Bosch combo-book, and while I enjoyed it for the most part as it tended to concentrate on courtroom shenanigans more than other books in this genre (why is the lawyer also the guy who blows the case wide open while investigating/fighting/putting his life at risk?), the ending makes absolutely no sense. I assumed it was a two parter, with the second part concentrating on Bosch's further investigations, but maybe Connelly is still writing that book as his subsequent novels seem in no way connected (and I've read most of them).


  • 45. Struwwelpeter - English Translation (Hoffmann). I bought this as Christmas present for one of my nephews, so decided to give it a read before giving it to him. When very young, I had a book that contained this and other gruesome (for my age) poetry and prose, so it was nice to delve into the nostalgia, despite not being a big fan of poetry generally. It's a short book filled with about a dozen poems of varying lengths acting as cautionary tales for mischievous children. Classic for younger readers.


  • 46. Outliers (Gladwell). Like my last Gladwell book, this one could and should have been a lot shorter. I don't necessarily agree with Gladwell's conclusions, and that soured most of the theory for me. And that's what it is, a theory; no matter how many examples he throws at it (and keeps throwing at it). Could have done without the final chapter too, quite self indulgent. Disappointing.


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  • 47. That Used to be Us (Friedman, Mandelbaum). I think I bought this this year when I spotted it on someone else's reading log. I wasn't too impressed by the last Friedman book I read, Longitudes and Attitudes, but this was much better fare, possibly because most of the issues raised can be equally applied to Ireland, and probably most first world countries that didn't take advantage of the good years to prepare for the oncoming drought years. Very easy to read style, breaking down the various issues and sometimes offering solutions. Recommended.