2017 – A Year of Reading


While I have done reasonable well this year, managing to read fifty books, I haven’t yet achieved my goal of a book a week. Once again, the fiction is mainly historical with a few classic works as well as a handful of books of poetry and of non-fiction.

My top reads for the year are
The Muse by Jessie Burton
The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull
Mothering Sunday : A Romance by Graham Swift
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Wintercombe by Pamela Belle
All are historical and all books where the reader can effortlessly slip into the world created by the author within a few paragraphs, if not sentences.

The other books I have read in 2017 (in no particular order) are
Wild Island by Jennifer Livett
The Forgotten Highlander by Alister Urquhart
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Miss Nobody by Ethel Carnie
The Victorian Chaise-longue by Marghanita Laski
The Bertie Project by Alexander McCall Smith (many spoilers)
One Woman’s War and Peace : A Nurse’s Journey Through the Royal Australian Air Force by Sharon Bown
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
Typewriter Music by David Malouf
Into the Water : A Novel by Paula Hawkins
Shakespeare’s Restless World by Neil MacGregor
The Lodger Shakespeare by Charles Nicholl
Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier
Doc by Mary Doria Russell
Epitaph by Mary Russell Doria
The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molyneux
Crimson and Bone by Marina Fiorato
A Glimpse of Happiness by Jean Fullerton
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and her Work by Bernadette Brennan
Days Without End: A Novel by Sebastian Barry
New Boy : Othello Retold by Tracy Chevalier
Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge
The Golden Age by Joan London
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho
Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Porter
The first stone : some questions about sex and power by Helen Garner
La Princesse de Clèves  by Madame de Lafayette
Deadly intent by Anna Sweeney
The Three Miss Kings by Ada Cambridge
A time of love and tartan : A 44 Scotland Street novel by Alexander McCall Smith
Percy Grainger by John Bird
Tomaree by Debbie Robson
The Last Hours by Minette Walters
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
Blue Horses : Poems by Mary Oliver
Sumerford’s Autumn by Barbara Denvil Gaskell
The Secret Library : a Book-lovers’ Journey through Curiosities of History by Oliver Tearl
First Person by Richard Flanagan
Jane the Quene by Janet Wertheim
The Castle of Dreams by Elise McCune
Whipbird by Robert Drewe
When a Marquis Chooses a Bride by Ella Quinn

I have been fortunate this year in managing to finish nearly all the books I started. There are only two that I failed to finish or barely started. Part of the reason may have been that I was in the wrong mood. I was particularly disappointed by Tomorrow by Graham Swift. I had such high hopes after Mothering Sunday but Tomorrow is contemporary fiction and didn’t even seem to have a spell to cast. And, I am sad to say, I just couldn’t get into Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs. I loved her Country Girls books so much when I was younger.

I was probably helped in having so few unfinished because I gave the Man Booker list a miss this year. Reading the blurbs, I thought they were all a bit too worthy and ponderous. I like punctuation so was immediately put off Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones which is supposed to be a single sentence. Perhaps when I am feeling stronger! Solar Bones brought to mind memories of my struggles with Umbrella by Will Self and The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (still waiting for the audio book of that one). The winner of the Man Booker was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders which has 166 different characters, another off-put, but after hearing so many people rave about it, I peeped inside and as it is properly punctuated and there is a fair bit of white space on the page, I have now placed a reservation for it at the local library. We shall see.

So a new year of reading awaits. I currently have on my bedside table (physical and virtual)
Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell
Fortune’s Wheel by Caroline Hughes
The Watchers : A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford
Herald of Joy by Pamela Belle
God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England by Jessie Childs
Plenty to keep me going.



5 thoughts on “2017 – A Year of Reading

  1. What a splendid reading list, Catherine – I am full of admiration that you can read so many books! I am also delighted to see that you have Fortune’s Wheel awaiting you – I do hope you enjoy it. (The second of the Meonbridge Chronicles, A Woman’s Lot, should be available before too long…)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Catherine, my instant reaction to your impressive year of reading and reviewing was astonishment, as I haven’t read a single book on your list – but I did read 34 different books in 2017. In the past I have read some of your authors, but different titles. The world is just so full of books, isn’t it, and full of authors trying to get readers to focus on their book baby. I love your comment about liking punctuation. Your ‘top reads’ have been added to my ‘to-be-read’ list. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you enjoy them. They are all books that I lost myself in. Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday was amazing in that what was left unsaid slowly revealed itself the more I thought about the book in the days after I had finished it. The prose was beautiful, not a word out of place.


  3. Pingback: As the minutes ticked down to midnight… – Carolyn Hughes Author

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