New Year’s Reading List

New year, new books: now there’s a resolution I can get behind. In my opinion, there’s no finer way to kick-start the year than by getting your teeth into a new book, whether that means taking a chance on an author you’ve never heard of or knocking a few of those Christmas gifts and holiday sale bargains off the to-be-read shelf.

With all the new beginnings in the air, I also like to spend some time on the approach to spring tackling some of those books I feel I should have read already, the Steinbeck and the Nabokov and the D. H. Lawrence—those books I buy from charity shops because they look all literary, but somehow never get round to reading at the time. Last year it was the time for To the Lighthouse and Fahrenheit 451, but I think with the way things are looking for the foreseeable future, it might be a good idea to make my reading list a little more dystopian this year…

The Sellout, Paul Beatty

Last year it took me pretty much forever to get round to reading the 2015 Man Booker winner, A Brief History of Seven Killings, so this year I’m determined not to be so sluggish with Paul Beatty’s 2016 winner The Sellout. Yes, that does mean giving it quite the bump to the top of my 80-strong to-read list—but given its satirical look at race relations in the US, and with many Americans currently re-evaluating whether racism is really as bad as everyone says (yeah, it really is), there doesn’t seem to be any more fitting time than the present to make myself acquainted with The Sellout.

img_3230His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet

Another to-be-read from last year’s Man Booker shortlist, with all the praise Graeme Macrae Burnet’s fictional murder case study has garnered I could hardly say no to giving it a spin—not to mention my love of all things Scottish wouldn’t let me pass it up if I tried.

img_32351984, George Orwell

1984 is one of those books mentioned above that caught my eye in a second-hand shop, but once brought home was consigned to wait patiently at the tail end of my to-be-reads. But, as with The Sellout, the zeitgeist is pointing me towards Orwell’s Big Brother classic; after all, we probably haven’t got much time before 1984 stops being fiction and becomes enshrined as legitimate prophecy.

img_3234The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry

One of the many books to arrive mysteriously in my stocking on Christmas morning, I fell in love with The Essex Serpent‘s thistly cover and dreamlike prologue so quickly I actually started reading it the minute I unwrapped it. Now two weeks and 150 pages in, this already looks like a pretty solid nominee for my book of the year.

img_3237Stone of Farewell, Tad Williams

I read the first volume of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, The Dragonbone Chair, back at the end of last summer, and after taking a few detours through Middle-Earth and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, I feel it’s about time I got back to Williams’ sword-and-sorcery epics. I’m hoping the series does something to pick up in Stone of Farewell: The Dragonbone Chair was plenty enjoyable but got a bit stale towards the end, and it’ll be a shame if Stone does nothing more than pick up where Chair fizzled out.


Autumn/ Winter Reading List

One of the things I love most about the winter – apart from my birthday, Christmas, and the ever-present smell of cinnamon, of course – is the books. For me, it’s the perfect time to revisit an old favourite or bundle up in a big ol’ classic, those kinds of books that will always welcome you on days when the weather is invariably grim or when you’re waiting for a heartwarming pie to finish in the oven. And then there are the murder mysteries and Gothic horrors, which are absolutely ripe now that the days are getting shorter and the nights earlier.

So whilst I’ll still be booktrotting through Central and South America over the next few months, I’ve also set aside a few reads to see me through to Christmas (when I’ll hopefully get another few dozen books to fill up my New Year’s reading list):

The Greatest Knight, Thomas Asbridgethe-greatest-knight

My resolution to read more non-fiction this year fell somewhat by the wayside when I also decided to take on the likes of Tolstoy and Joyce (and not to mention a whole Booktrotting adventure), but I’ve at least got a little time before the year is out to set that straight. I’m really looking forward to this one: William Marshal – who rose from being a prisoner of war to participate in the drafting of Magna Carta – is one of those historical figures who seems plucked straight out of fantasy, and I can’t wait to delve properly into his story.

the-strings-of-murderThe Strings of Murder, Oscar de Muriel

There’s something about Christmas and crime novels that just works – especially when those novels are set in Victorian Edinburgh. I picked up The Strings of Murder in the summer after being caught by the cover in the window of Oxfam Books but have been holding it back until now; I just hope it lives up to the long wait.

The Final Empire, Brandon Sandersonthe-final-empire

I wasn’t planning on reading any more fantasy this year after slogging through a reread of A Song of Ice and Fire in the spring, but then a friend happened to recommend Brandon Sanderson to me on the same day I was browsing a Waterstones (which, let’s face it, is every day). I’m deliberately not getting my hopes up after being stung by some truly drivellous modern fantasy recently, but I’ve heard good things about Sanderson and his Mistborn series, so with any luck this one won’t end up dumped on the same pile.

draculaDracula, Bram Stoker

It’s been a good few years since I last read this, and I can feel it calling to me once again (perhaps because I watched Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the other day as well). Considering I got given the beautiful Barnes and Noble leather-bound edition last Christmas – and considering Hallowe’en is about a month away – it feels like exactly the right time of year to reread one of my all-time favourite novels.

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoyanna-karenina

Back at the start of the year, I set aside five massive books that had been lurking on my shelves, waiting to be tackled for too long. Four of them – War and PeaceUlyssesMoby Dick and Don Quixote – have been met and dispensed with, and now only Anna Karenina remains. Seems only fitting to read it now and bookend 2016 with Tolstoy’s two most well-known novels.