It’s the last few days of 2019. Soon, we’ll say goodbye to the 2010s and embark on the 2020s, starting a brand new decade. After doing a double take at the calendar, it got me to thinking about what I’ve read over the last ten years, along with the reasons why I choose the books that I do. I started to look back at the books and see if I could spot any themes or insights. How could I remember all those books, you may wonder? Well, in the summer of 2008, I began to make a list of everything I’d read so I thought it might be fun to take a look back.
Now, for many titles, I won’t be able to tell you much about them – I am rubbish at remembering the contents of a book and it’s a rare few that stick with me but I will do my best to bring you my thoughts now on what I was reading then.
Spoiler alert: I read a wide variety of different books and I am not ashamed of anything that I’ve read. It’s interesting to look back and see the types of books I was reading – what the reading experience was and it’s led me to think about why I choose the books I do. I use reading as a distraction and an escape and some of the titles to come will certainly have enabled me to do that! I also read non-fiction and again, there are certain topics that I became immersed in over the decade and some that I return to over and over again when a new book is published.
I’ve tried to mention books that we have in Warwickshire as much as possible so if any of the titles take your fancy, you can request them and give them a go. Not all though are still around – some titles are older and I probably picked them up in a charity shop rather than getting them from the library (shocking I know!) So sit back, relax and join me on a journey back through my reading decade!
(TL:DR – I read a lot and I plan to carry on doing so in the 2020s!)
A quick glance through the books I was reading in 2010 tells me that I was very much going along with the craze for vampire books. That’s not surprising really as I’d read ‘Twilight’ when it came out in 2005, and its sequels. I still enjoy the saga today and hope to revisit it in 2020 as it was recently listed on the BBC ‘100 Novels That Shaped Our World‘ list. Back in 2010, I was also working my way through ‘Mr Darcy, Vampyre’ by Amanda Grange (yes, that’s exactly what you think it is – Pride and Prejudice and vampires!) and ‘The Passage’ by Justin Cronin. I was also into zombies (‘Patient Zero‘ by Jonathan Maberry, ‘Warm Bodies‘ by Isaac Marion), werewolves (‘Shiver’ by Maggie Stiefvater) and time travelling adventures (the ‘Time Riders‘ series by Alex Scarrow).
One I definitely remember reading and being immensely frustrated with was Stephen King’s ‘Under The Dome’, particularly its ending. I loved the premise of an invisible dome suddenly appearing around a town and what happens next (and if you’ve read it, what happened to the poor cow!). I was enthralled by how the society in the town changes and how individuals deal with events but the ending just made me roll my eyes so far back into my head that they almost got stuck! I couldn’t bring myself to watch the TV series a few years back for fear of further eye rolling!
I was also reading a lot of what could be called ‘chick lit’ (I have a love/hate relationship with that term), particularly in the summer months. I read most of the above titles in the first and last couple of months of the year – when the nights draw in, I obviously tend to look for darker stories, while the summer months make me want to read different types of books! My favourite author, Adriana Trigiani gets a few mentions (‘Queen of the Big Time‘) and books by Trisha Ashley feature (‘Chocolate Wishes‘, ‘Wedding Tiers‘ and ‘Twelve Days of Christmas‘), as do ‘My Single Friend’ by Jane Costello, ‘Ten Things I Love About You’ by Julia Quinn and ‘A Perfect Proposal’ by Katie Fforde. I couldn’t tell you what happens in any of those novels but I would imagine I picked them because they provided a light-hearted read, perfect for summer! I also read ‘Little Women’ in 2010 and must admit that it’s not a story that’s stayed with me – another to revisit, perhaps?
2011 was the year that I was involved with a reading group and consequently, there are a number of titles listed throughout the year that are definitely not my usual reading material (and were picked from titles that were in our Reading Group Collection at the time – you can find out what current titles we have here). I read C.J Sansom’s ‘Revelation’, the fourth in the Shardlake series – I remember enjoying this one but I haven’t carried on reading this popular series as I think the size of the novels puts me off. I also tried to read Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’, though I didn’t get on too well with it and according to my list, I also read ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Sarah Dunant and ‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill (which I do remember, although more so from the film than the book).
I read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls and, despite the buzz about the book and then the film, I remember being very nonplussed by it. Likewise, in this year, I read ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Stieg Larsson, another that underwhelmed me and I have not finished the series, nor seen the film.
I read quite a few thrillers – Tess Gerritsen’s ‘The Killing Place’, ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S J Watson to name just two and more Stephen King. Despite my experience with ‘Under The Dome’, when King bought out a book featuring the Kennedy assassination – ‘11.22.63‘ – a topic I am obsessed with, I couldn’t not read it! It’s also interesting to look back at the celebrity biographies I read – Lee Evans, Peter Kay, Louie Spence, Jane Lynch and Tina Fey – quite a broad range of autobiographies I feel!
During 2012, I read a number of young adult books. It was the year I finally got around to ‘The Hunger Games‘ by Suzanne Collins and its sequels and I also entered the world of ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’ by Rick Riordan for the first time. I read ‘The Carrie Diaries’ by Candace Bushnell, exploring the early years of Carrie Bradshaw (Bushnell recently bought out a new book reflecting on life and love now she is in her 60s) and ‘Between the Lines’ by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer. I remember loving ‘Between the Lines’ – it was a fabulous story in which the characters of the book being read by the main character come to life and the hardback was beautifully illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert & Scott M. Fischer. I also read a fair few novels by Debbie Macomber, making my way through her Cedar Cove series and it would appear I dived into the middle of the Jack Reacher books, randomly reading ‘Worth Dying For’ and ‘A Wanted Man’.
Looking through my list, ‘Goodbye For Now’ stands out as one I remember being moved by – it poses big questions about life and death and what would we do if death wasn’t the end. I also remember being spooked by ‘The Greatcoat’ by Helen Dunmore and loving ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’ by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – a Young Adult novel set in New York that sees main characters Dash and Lily go on a treasure hunt through the book shops and sights of the city.
It was another year of celebrity biographies too – I sampled Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez’s ‘Along the Way’, Frank Skinner’s ‘Dispatches from the Sofa’ and ‘From This Moment On’ by Shania Twain (unfortunately no longer available in Warwickshire). 2012 was also the year I read E L James and got to know a certain Christian Grey for the first time (though I only read the first two – I own all of them but I’ve not got around to reading the last one for some reason). Whatever your opinion of these novels, they got a lot of people reading, talking about books and bought erotic fiction into the limelight (and made publishers and James a lot of money!).
2013 was a year of thriller reading according to my list, with the odd sci-fi novel thrown in and some Debbie Macomber to balance things out. In January, I read Liane Moriarty who would later gain popularity with her best-selling ‘Big Little Lies’ which became a TV series. I started with ‘What Alice Forgot’ and, despite that title, I do remember being very impressed with the writing and looking for more books by her. At that time, there weren’t many available (she’s Australian and not all her novels had been published in the UK at that point) but she’s an author I have kept my eye on and do get excited about when I see she has a new title out. I really enjoy the suspenseful atmosphere she creates and I like a novel that has me guessing what’s coming next – the sign of a good thriller as far as I’m concerned. I also read ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn (meh! Didn’t really like it as much as the hype suggested I would), kept up with the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs, reading ‘Bones of the Lost’ in October along with ‘Watch You Die’ by Katia Lief.
This was also the year that the mysterious Robert Galbraith appeared in the book world. For a while, no one knew the shadowy origins of this author whose first book, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ received rave reviews and flew off our shelves. Then, however, the secret was revealed – the author was none other than J K Rowling and her Comoran Strike series would grow, be adapted for television and continue to be popular amongst library users.
I mentioned that I’d also read some sci-fi in this year – ‘Wool’ by Hugh Howey starts a trilogy of novels that I do remember really enjoying. Set in a future in which environmental disaster has made the outside world a barren and dangerous place, those surviving inside a giant underground silo must work together to prevent the outside from coming in. It was a book that myself and my colleagues really enjoyed so if this is one that passed you by, it’s worth a read.
There was no Stephen King for me in 2013, but I did read titles by his son, Joe Hill. I love Joe Hill’s books – like his father, his writing is creepy and includes characters that will stay with you after you’ve turned the last page. As part of my Christmas reading in 2013, I read ‘NOS4R2‘, also recently made into a TV series, and it doesn’t get creepier than haunted cars, serial killers and a place called Christmasland that isn’t as fun-filled as its name would suggest. If you get a bit sick of the usual fluffy, romantic Christmas novels around at this time of year, ‘NOS4R2’ will definitely give you a different reading experience!
Despite having been in print for nearly a decade, it was only in 2014 that I read ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak (I am hanging my head in librarian shame for that one). An absolute modern classic, the story of Liesel and the horrors of Nazi Germany have stuck with me since then and I regularly revisit this story. One to make you think and ponder about books and how they can impact. Staying with the wartime theme, I also read ‘Look Who’s Back’ by Timur Vermes. If you’ve not come across this one before, it has a striking cover (see below) and ponders what would happen if Hitler suddenly woke up in 2011 in Germany. While in some ways, it’s a difficult read and you wonder just how much persuading had to be done to get the book published bearing in mind its subject, it also poses quite a few interesting points and is entertaining.
One book that I do remember from this year because it was one that I loved with every bit of me was ‘The Collected Works of A J Fikry’ by Gabrielle Zevin. This had it all – a wonderful story about family and finding yourself, set in a bookshop, with characters that made me both laugh and cry. I love books about books, about bookshops, libraries, reading etc and whenever I see this on the shelves, I smile and say ‘hello’ to it, like an old friend (I also do this to ‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’ by Katarina Bivald which I read in 2015 and which rocketed into my top ten all-time favourite books!). Very few other books from this year stand out to me when I’ve reviewed my list so this one is a little on the short side!
Halfway through the decade and it’s been quite cathartic to look back over what I was reading nearly ten years ago. I can guess my mood in some months by the choices I made and can see where I got into a reading habit of choosing similar books one after another and also when I must have felt sick of the same sort of reading experience and changed to something completely different. I am also aware that I am a sucker for a book that’s gets a lot of buzz in the media, though am not always swayed by this and oftentimes, the “big” books leave me wishing I had chosen something else instead.
I hope there are plenty of suggestions in there if you’re looking for books you might have missed and see you in the next post for the second half of my reading decade.