Blast from the Past – Best Books of 2011 (Part 1)

I am greatly enjoying writing these ‘Blast of the Past’ posts. At the start of June, I showcased my Best Books of 2010.

Now it’s time to focus on the next year. As I was perusing the novels I read in 2011, I realized what a super bumper year it was in terms of the number of amazing novels I read. Quite a few have already become firm all-time favourites.

I was introduced to many superb writers for the first time. I discovered the wonders of NYRB Classics. And I also read quite a few novels set in the boarding house.

I eventually wound up with a list of 22 books that I wanted to highlight. Not wanting to tone this down any further, I was not keen on dedicating one post to all of them either.

So I have broken the Best of 2011 list in two parts. This is Part One where I will focus on 11 books.

Best of 2011 (Part 1)

Amongst Women – John McGahern

Ireland is never short of incredible writers. And John McGahern that year was an absolute find. I started off with his most well-known and acclaimed novel, Amongst Women.

Amongst Women is a drama centred on patriarch and IRA veteran Moran and his dominance over his family. Here’s how it begins:

As he weakened, Moran became afraid of his daughters.

When the novel begins, Moran’s family has gathered together to bolster his spirit in his twilight years. His family consists of his saintly wife, and three daughters, plus a son who is estranged. Steadily but surely, the novel rewinds to the past fleshing out the characters and events leading upto this moment. It quickly becomes apparent to the reader that Moran is a moody, unpredictable man, a tyrant in other words. But his relationship with his family is increasingly complex. On one hand, his oppressive actions take an emotional toll on them, and yet, they share a bond that is hard to dismiss.

Amongst Women is a quiet masterpiece. McGahern’s writing is eloquent and understated and yet the tension simmers in the dynamics between the cast.

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne – Brian Moore

Brian Moore is remarkable in his portrayal of women at moments of a crisis. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is a prime example of this.

Judith Hearne is an unmarried woman of a certain age who has come down in society. With barely enough income, she is compelled to stay in a boarding house, stuck in a rut with people who are judgmental. The one outing she looks forward to every week is a tea invitation to the O’ Neills’ house every Sunday, in order to break the tedium of the other days. But while she enjoys the cakes and sherry, she is silently the object of ridicule in that home painted in scenes that are truly heartbreaking. To add to it all, Judith has a dark secret which will prove to be her undoing.

Judith Hearne is a marvelous book. It is a compelling depiction of the plight of women in their middle age who had neither the financials means nor the skills required to live a healthy, independent life. Moore’s writing is incredibly sensitive and astute, which ensures that the book is not a bleak, miserable read despite Judith’s heartbreaking plight.

Fifth Business – Robertson Davies

Fifth Business is the first book in the Deptford Trilogy, and it is a wonderfully absorbing read making me wonder why I never got around to reading the next two books in the trilogy. I need to correct that.

The story begins when Dunstan Ramsay is ten years old and living in Deptford. He and his best friend (and worst enemy) Percy Boyd Staunton have been sledding and have quarreled. On the way back to town Percy throws a snowball at Dunstan, who jumps aside. The snowball strikes passerby Mary Dempster, the pregnant wife of the town’s Baptist minister. The shock of the snowball hitting her head causes her to go into labour and deliver prematurely: the baby boy is Paul Dempster. It also means that the incident affects Mary Dempster’s mental faculties.

It is an accident that affects Ramsay greatly and he is tortured with feelings of guilt in subsequent years that refuse to go away. More importantly, it develops into an obsession prompting Ramsay to become an expert hagiologist (study of saints), take an interest in psychology and become enamoured by Mrs Dempster.

And I have barely scratched the surface of the novel here.

This is a rich novel boasting of an incredibly layered narrative and multiple plot points well executed. We are given a glimpse of rural Deptford, the high society life of Percy Boyd Staunton, the world of illusion and conjuring tricks (a theme that will continue in the subsequent books), and sprinklings of Jung and Freud. There is a lot of depth in character development making Fifth Business an absorbing and immersive read.

Light Years – James Salter

Light Years made me fall in love with James Salter’s writing. I have devoured most of his work since then barring his last novel All That Is.

From the blurb – “Nedra and Viri are a couple whose enviable life is centred on civilized pleasures, their children, a variety of friends, and days lived to the utmost, be it skating on a frozen river or summers by the sea. It is a world solidly built on matrimony, and its details – the one moment, one hour, one day – recapture everything. But fine cracks are beginning to spread through the shimmering surface…”

A marriage disintegrating is a theme that has been covered endlessly in literature. But Salter’s prose takes it to a whole new level. His writing is unique, lush and poetic. He crafts exquisite phrases that are second to none. It’s his ability to conjure up the essence of his characters and their situations in just a few sentences that really stand out.

The Shawl – Cynthia Ozick

The Shawl comprises a short story and a novella. The short story also called ‘The Shawl’ is barely eight pages. The rest of the book is the novella called ‘Rosa’.

‘The Shawl’ is a harrowing but powerful read based in a Nazi concentration camp. It begins with the mother Rosa walking with her baby Magda at her breast, and with her elder fourteen-year old daughter Stella. It is deathlessly cold. Rosa is using her shawl to cover Magda, a shawl which Stella longs for because she is freezing too. All are hungry and in great despair. And then a terrible incident occurs.

In ‘Rosa’, the mother of the same name, appears thirty years later, ‘a madwoman and a scavenger’ in a Miami hotel.

In both the stories, the shawl is a recurring motif that highlights the horror of the Holocaust and the unfillable emptiness of its aftermath. Powerful stuff.

Asylum – Patrick McGrath

What a wonderful novel by Patrick McGrath this turned out to be.

The deliciously named Stella Raphael is elegant, headstrong, and intelligent. She is married to Max Raphael, a psychiatrist, but quite staid and unimaginative. But then Max takes up a position in a maximum security mental hospital in the English countryside. There Stella becomes dangerously attracted to Edgar Stark who has been confined for murdering his wife.

To what extent will this impact Stella’s sanity and how will this affect those around her?

Asylum is superb and has everything – intense and hypnotic storytelling, great characters and an unreliable narrator. It’s claustrophobic but gripping and very well-written.

Stoner – John Williams

The re-issue of Stoner has become a hit with the result that it is well reviewed novel now.

This is the story of an ordinary, quiet and private man born in a simple rural family. Harbouring a passion for literature and language, he refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps choosing a life of professorship and study instead. This, then, is an account of both his personal and professional life.

Professionally, we learn of the crippling politics that mar university life and how Stoner is not spared from it either. Of his personal life, we are given a glimpse of his marriage to Edith, the subsequent unhappiness in this union accentuated by lack of communication, an awkwardness also present in his relationship with his daughter Grace. And then comes along a passionate affair which has ramifications for Stoner both professionally and personally.

I absolutely loved this novel and it remains one of my all-time favourites. John Williams’ writing is gorgeous and sensitive ultimately making the story of this ordinary man quite extraordinary. Recently, different viewpoints have emerged related to elements of misogyny in Stoner. But this is not something I noticed when reading the novel, and in no way marred my enjoyment of it.

The True Deceiver – Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson is reputed for her Moomin stories, but her novels are brilliant as well. The True Deceiver, in particular, won the Best Translated Book Award in 2011 and deservedly so.

As can be gauged from the title, deception – the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others – is the focal point of this novel. Things are not necessarily what they seem.

Katri Kling is an outcast, and her only love and ambition is for her simpleminded younger brother left in her care. She does not care much for the white lies that sometimes form the foundation of social interaction.

Anna Aemalin is a successful illustrator of children’s books and lives alone in a large house. Even if aloof, she is well respected in the village.

Prompted by her ambition to ensure her brother’s security, Katri fakes a robbery of Anna’s house in order to make her afraid to live alone. In the process, she pushes her way into Anna’s service and confidence. But Anna is not necessarily the pushover that she is projected to be.

This is a marvelous, dark novel with enough tension to make it unpredictable and riveting. Another strong offering from the NYRB stable and a reminder that I must read more Tove Janssen.

The Slaves of Solitude – Patrick Hamilton

This is another brilliant boarding house novel.

The backdrop is England in the middle of World War II, a war that seems to show no signs of ending.

Meanwhile, the main setting is the boarding house located in the suburban town of Thames Lockdon. The central character is Miss Roach, a middle aged woman, who is renting a room in this boarding house run by Mrs Payne. Here on a daily basis she has to deal with mind numbing boredom and the bullying at the dinner table by the nasty Mr Thwaites.

Miss Roach is savvy and sensible but to escape from her drab surroundings, she starts going out drinking with a wayward American lieutenant, a relationship based on rather shaky grounds. And then comes along Miss Roach’s friend Vicki Kugelmann, whose presence makes the proceedings in the boarding house only livelier.

Hamilton is great at portraying London at the time of war, the great uncertainty permeating daily living, and the drab and dull existence of its inhabitants. And his depiction of the claustrophobic confines of a boarding house – the politics, the nastiness, the excruciating boredom – is spot on. In addition to this, there are also some wonderful comic scenes in the novel, all of which make The Slaves of Solitude a heady cocktail not to be missed.

Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson is such a wonderful and assured writer. I have read just two – The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Both are great and an excellent entry point into her oeuvre.

Sexing the Cherry is a dazzling and inventive novel that brims with fairy tales and history, dancing princesses and singing toads, at the centre of which is the mother Dog Woman and her boy Jordan.

Here’s the snippet from Wikipedia – Set in 17th century London, Sexing the Cherry is about the journeys of a mother, known as The Dog Woman, and her protégé, Jordan. They journey in a space-time flux: across the seas to find exotic fruits such as bananas and pineapples; and across time, with glimpses of “the present” and references to Charles I of England and Oliver Cromwell. The mother’s physical appearance is somewhat “grotesque”. She is a giant, wrapped in a skirt big enough to serve as a ship’s sail and strong enough to fling an elephant. Her son, however, is proud of her, as no other mother can hold a good dozen oranges in her mouth all at once. Ultimately, their journey is a journey in search of The Self.

I am not sure I can add more to this other than to urge you to read it.

Of Love and Hunger – Julian Maclaren-Ross

This is another one of my all-time favourites.

The central character is Richard Fanshawe who is struggling to lead a decent life. He has managed to secure a dreary job selling vaccum cleaners during the day. The nights he has to spend in a tedious boarding house under the watchful eyes of the landlady, Mrs Fellows.

Until one day, his friend Roper asks him to look after his wife Sukie when Roper has to go go away for three months to the sea. Fanshawe is unsure at first but as he interacts with her more, he finds himself falling in love with her.

In real life, Julian Maclaren Ross was considered to be quite the raconteur and even appeared as a character in Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time series. His story telling abilities are well in display in this novel; his writing is lyrical, slangy and crisp.

To quote from the blurb – Of Love and Hunger conjures up his world of smoky pubs, prying landladies, unpaid debts and seedy love-nests with brilliant wit and acuity.

That’s it as far as the first part is concerned. I will put up a Best of 2011 (Part 2) post in the coming days. Stay tuned!

The Wind That Lays Waste – Selva Almada (tr. Chris Andrews)

I am beginning to rely on Charco Press for interesting literature from Latin America. Already this year, I have read and loved two wonderful books – The German Room by Carla Maliandi and Fish Soup by Margarita Garcia Robayo.

Thus, when The Wind That Lays Waste was recently released, I was very eager to delve right into it. And I also thought that the cover was the most gorgeous of their books so far.

Wind that lays waste

The Wind That Lays Waste is set over the course of a day in a remote town in Argentina, somewhere in the Chaco region.

The novella (it’s slim at 114 pages) is centred on four characters – Reverend Pearson, a forceful Evangelical preacher who strongly believes in Christ, his sixteen year old sceptical daughter Leni, Gringo Brauer, a garage mechanic and his young assistant Tapioca, who is the same age as Leni.

Reverend Pearson and Leni are on their way to Pastor Zack’s home when their car breaks down. They have no choice but to take it to Gringo Brauer’s garage and wait while the car is getting fixed.

Gradually, the personalities of the four characters are revealed to us.

Reverend Pearson is passionate about his calling as a priest and is renowned for the power of his sermons. His mother and even his church mentor for that matter view his gift for preaching as a means to secure funds for the church, but for Reverend Pearson it is all about winning souls for Christ to purify.

Once again, he felt that he was an arrow burning with the flame of Christ. And the bow that is drawn to shoot that arrow as far as possible, straight to the spot where the flame will ignite a raging fire. And the wind that spreads the fire that will lay waste to the world with the love of Jesus.

Leni’s relationship with the Reverend is complicated. She resents that her father’s affection for her is not total; there is always Christ between them. She is also disdainful of her father’s belief in divine intervention at a time when having a practical view makes more sense. And yet despite these feelings, she admires and respects his charismatic preaching.

But that’s not all. Leni cannot forget that Pearson one day abandoned her mother and took Leni with him. It is something they have never spoken about since then but it hangs like a Damocles sword.

Her childhood was very recent, but her memory of it was empty. Thanks to her father, the Reverend Pearson, and his holy mission, all she could remember was the inside of the same old car, crummy rooms in hundreds of indistinguishable hotels, the features of dozens of children she never spent long enough with to miss when the time came to move on, and a mother whose face she could hardly recall.

Gringo Brauer is the opposite of Reverend Pearson. He is getting old and cynical and believes in the power of nature, in the power of the present. He has not much use for religion.

He had no time for lofty thoughts. Religion was for the women and the weak. Good and evil were everyday things, things in the world you could reach out and touch. Religion, in his view, was just a way of ignoring responsibilities. Hiding behind God, waiting to be saved, or blaming the Devil for the bad things you do.

He had taught Tapioca to respect the natural world. He believed in the forces of nature. But he had never mentioned God. He could see no reason to talk about something he thought irrelevant.

And then there is Tapioca. When he was a child his mother visited Gringo one day and left the child with him, claiming that Tapioca is Gringo’s son.

Tapioca, meanwhile, is an eager assistant; vulnerable, innocent and ripe for being influenced and molded by whomever takes him under their wing. Tapioca feels uncomfortable around revered Pearson but at the same time is fascinated and mesmerized by the preacher’s talk on Christ.

Eventually, as the weather worsens, and a storm is approaching, tensions between these four (or more precisely the two men) reach boiling point.

The Wind That Lays Waste is an intense and beautiful novella that can be read over the course of an afternoon. Almada’s storytelling is straightforward and spare. And her writing is languid and lyrical.

Her descriptive powers, when it comes to either nature or man-made surroundings, stand out. She is particularly great at evoking the stark landscape of Argentina.

She couldn’t remember a storm like this. Blue cracks flashed the sky, giving the landscape a ghostly look.

Five hundred yards away, in a field, lightning struck a tree, and the orange flames held out against the rain for a good long while.

It was a beautiful spectacle. Sometimes the curtain of water was so dense they couldn’t see the old petrol pump, although it was just a few yards away.

The one thing I was not sure about when beginning this novel was the extent of religious overtones. I am averse to books where religion is the focal point, but thankfully Almada manages to not make this novel preachy. All the characters’ viewpoints are presented and there is no indication that Almada prefers one view over the other. It is left for the reader to decide.

‘Are you a believer, Mr Brauer?’

The Gringo poured himself some more wine and lit another cigarette.

‘I don’t have time for that stuff.’

The Reverend smiled and held his gaze.

‘Well, I don’t have time for anything else.’

‘To each his own,’ said Brauer, getting up.

Overall, another strong offering from Charco Press!

Fish Soup – Margarita Garcia Robayo (tr. Charlotte Coombe)

Charco Press books have been the highlights of my reading so far this year. I had already loved and written about The German Room by Carla Maliandi.

And now it is Fish Soup by the Colombian author Margarita Garcia Robayo, another equally wonderful offering, from the same publisher.

Fish Soup

Fish Soup comprises two novellas ‘Waiting for a Hurricane’, and ‘Sexual Education’ as well a collection of seven tales titled ‘Worse Things’.

The opening lines of ‘Waiting for a Hurricane’ hit you right in the gut.

Living by the sea is both good and bad for exactly the same reason: the world ends at the horizon. That is, the world never ends. And you always expect too much. At first, you hope everything you’re waiting for will arrive one day on a boat; then you realize nothing’s going to arrive and you’ll have to go looking for it instead. I hated my city because it was both really beautiful and really ugly, and I was somewhere in the middle. The middle was the worst place to be: hardly anyone made it out of the middle.

Our narrator is a woman, tired and self-aware, obsessed with escaping both her life and her country (Colombia).

She is emotionally detached from her family with not much respect for them. Her dad “was a pretty useless man. He spent his days trying to resolve trivial matters that he thought were of the utmost importance in order for the world to keep on turning.” Her mother “every day was involved in some family bust up.”

Stories of travel offer our narrator glimpses of hope, of running away and not coming back. There’s Gustavo, the local fisherman living in a shack by the sea, who enthralls her with his stories of travel. She keeps coming back to him even though “he stroked her down there with two fingers” when she was a young girl.

Even when she does fall in love with a man called Tony, there’s that cynical feeling that it’s not going to last.

Tony would cling to my back like a limpet, his arm around my waist, and whisper in my ear: one day we’ll get out of here. Me: we’ll always be here, waiting for a hurricane to come.

Escaping, leaving, getting out of the rut are feelings that permeate the consciousness of our narrator with the result that they form the focal point around which her relationships and even her profession is based.

She manages to find a job as an air hostess with an airline, even though Tony doesn’t like it. The route she is assigned to is Miami and even if it involves frequent visits to the same city, for her it is still a start.

Tony had a lot of ideas about air hostesses, but I had just one: air hostesses could leave.

An affair with the captain of the plane, not surprisingly, ends up nowhere like all her relationships. And there are moments of regret, of whether chances have passed her by and she failed to grab them or latch onto.

‘Waiting for a Hurricane’ is a beautiful novella. Despite the all-pervading cynicism, wariness and the tiredness, there is something lyrical and poetic about Robayo’s writing that makes it intense and absorbing.  It is a novella about the frailty of relationships, of missed chances and regret, of why travel may not always be the answer to everything.

The second novella that also packs quite a punch is ‘Sexual Education’. As the title suggests, this is a topic that is explored through the eyes of adolescents in a school which strictly preaches the doctrine of abstinence. However, what is taught at school is hardly what goes on outside its confines.

Here’s how it opens…

“In girls, just like in other fauna, moisture attracts all sorts of nasties.”

The characters that people this novella are part of the narrator’s inner circle of friends. There’s Dalia ‘a bad apple’ who doesn’t care about going to university, preferring to travel instead.

Others – me included – thought that backpacks and dreads and Latin American travels were an invention of poor people who liked to think they were bohemians. Dalia was not poor, but she smoked weed and that was enough to make her feel bohemian.

Then there’s Karina, a real devotee of Mary…

She had convinced everyone that the Virgin talked to her in her sleep and gave her instructions about how to behave at moments of moral conflict.

‘Sexual Education’ is essentially a novella that explores the existence of opposing forces side by side – sex and confronting desires as against celibacy and self-denial.

Between these two novellas, ‘Worse Things’ (a collection of seven short stories) is sandwiched. These stories examine frayed relationships, death and illness.

In ‘Like a Pariah’, Ines who is dying of cancer, refuses to have people fussing around her and insists to her son “I’m perfectly alright.”

In ‘Worse Things’, Titi, who suffers from a debilitating condition causing obesity, prefers staying in his room, engrossed in games.

In ‘Better than Me’, Orestes is trying to connect with his distant daughter Becky, sometime after his other daughter Rosa has committed suicide.

In ‘Fish Soup’, one of the stories, from which the overall title of the book has been taken, an old man is beset by the smell of overpowering fish soup. This is a strange tale in which the man’s dreams and reality merge making it disorienting to distinguish one from the other.

Overall, Fish Soup is a very strong collection, stimulating and refreshing despite the tiredness of the characters. Most are struggling to keep head above water and fight even if they perceive their circumstances to be bleak and meaningless.

The blurb at the back of my edition states:

Throughout the collection, Garcia Robayo’s signature style blends cynicism and beauty with a rich vein of dark humour. The prose is at once blunt and poetic as she delves into the lives of her characters, who simultaneously evoke sympathy and revulsion, challenging the reader’s loyalties throughout the remarkable universe that is Fish Soup.

Highly recommended!

 

The Juniper Tree – Barbara Comyns

Sadie Stein, in her introduction to the novel, states:

Among Comyns devotees, The Juniper Tree is divisive.

Having read only one Comyns (The Vet’s Daughter) prior to The Juniper Tree, I can’t really compare and comment.

But I loved The Juniper Tree, so I can certainly hope that her other novels will be just as good or even better.

Juniper Tree

The Juniper Tree is Barbara Comyns’ retelling of the macabre fairy tale of the same name. But of course, Comyns provides her own twist on it.

The book is narrated in the first person by the central female protagonist, Bella Winter.

Here’s how it opens…

Quite soon after I left Richmond station I turned into a quiet street where the snow was almost undisturbed and, climbing higher, I came to a road that appeared to be deserted. Then I noticed a beautiful fair woman standing in the courtyard outside her house like a statue, standing there so still. As I drew nearer I saw that her hands were moving. She was paring an apple out there in the snow and as I passed, looking at her out of the sides of my eyes, the knife slipped, and suddenly there was blood on the snow.

In the subsequent pages, it will become clear that this woman is none other than Gertrude who will play a significant role in how Bella’s life shapes up.

Meanwhile, in the same chapter, we learn that Bella is on her way to a job interview. Little by little in the first few chapters itself, Bella’s past is revealed to us.

We learn of her mother’s indifference towards her in her childhood and the strained relationship that they continue to have even well into Bella’s adulthood.

Bella had been a relationship with Stephen, a ‘mean’ man especially when it comes to money. Due to an accident, which is Stephen’s fault, Bella has a scar on her face, something which she is conscious of all the time and which disconcerts her greatly. Not surprisingly, the relationship ends.

Bella carries on. As she adapts to her new surroundings as a single woman again, in one of the parties, she ends up having a one night stand with a coloured man whose name she can’t recall. Bella subsequently becomes pregnant and her daughter is born whom she names Tommy or Marlinchen.

That’s her past.

In the present, Bella manages to find work in an antiques shop and also set up residence there with her daughter. Bella is good at her job, she loves her new abode. And after her struggles of the past, finally she appears to have found her peace and more importantly her independence.

Bella seems to be happy. And yet she is still beset by feelings of loneliness.

All of these developments take place fairly early, so you know that there is more to come.

Meanwhile, as I pointed out earlier, Bella and Gertrude Forbes (the beautiful young woman she comes acorss in the opening paragraph) strike up a friendship. The Forbes are wealthy with a comfortable home and gradually Bella becomes a regular part of their life.

There was a great feeling of love and happiness in the house, and a feeling of goodness too.

As I’d thought, Gertrude was of German origin but Bernard was English. Both were tall and very handsome, Gertrude really beautiful with a kind of radiance about her.

Gertrude’s husband Bernard takes to ‘improving’ Bella by trying to teach her things.

He lent me books on subjects I’d hardly been interested in before, botany for instance, and architecture. He seemed to enjoy stretching my rather ignorant mind.

This where things surely and steadily start getting ominous.

I won’t point out what happens, but a development takes place putting Bella in a position where she has to make a decision.

Those sections of the novel are riveting and unsettling all at once.

Comyns’ storytelling here is brilliant. The prose feels like a fairytale and the tone is light and delicate deceptively and cleverly blunting the impact of Bella’s hardships earlier on and the events that are about to unfold later. She superbly lulls the reader into a false sense of security and yet with a niggling thought that something might happen to threaten this. The elements of dread and unease that are sprinkled earlier on only gain intensity as the novel progresses.

Bella herself is a wonderful creation. She is frank and honest so as a reader you can’t help but feel for her. Her independence is her strength as she finds her vocation in selling antiques. She also manages to stand up to her mother, who is intolerant of Bella’s daughter earlier on because of her mixed race. But Bella is also naïve at least in the way she ingratiates herself with the Forbes.

The Juniper Tree was published in the 1980s. But it confronts and highlights the eternal issues and struggles that women have to grapple with even today – of trying to retain a sense of independence, and finding the balance between work and family.

I loved The Juniper Tree and Barbara Comyns has quickly turned out to be a writer I want to read more of. I had immensely liked the strangeness of The Vet’s Daughter when I read it some years ago. Next on the list are Who Was Changed, and Who Was Dead and Our Spoons Came from Woolworths – both deliciously named titles, that have generally received great reviews.

Mini Milestone – 100 Books

Here’s a mini milestone on my blog since I started it a couple of years ago – 100 books discussed!

105, to be more precise.

Whether through detailed individual posts or through a couple of lines or paragraphs, it’s been a pleasure highlighting books that I have enjoyed reading all this time.

100 Books

For the most part, I have discussed one book in detail in a single post.

However, there are some which do not have dedicated entries, but are part of a post in which a group of books have been written about. The links for these group posts are as follows:

Blast from the Past – Best Books of 2010

Reading Bingo 2017

My Top 12 Books of 2017

The Best of 2016

For the dedicated book posts, scroll over to the bottom of the page to access the Archives section, authors and books classified by themes.

Happy reading!