Books Read in 2013

  • I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • Brighton Rock- Graham Greene
  • Looking for Alaska – John Green
  • The Chaos Walking Trilogy – Patrick Ness
  • Starter for Ten – David Nicholls
  • Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
  • Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
  • A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams
  • Tender Is The Night- F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Cement Garden- Ian McEwan
  • The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
  • The Road- Cormac McCarthy
  • The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee
  • We Need To Talk About Kevin- Lionel Shriver
  • Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Stasiland – Anna Funder
  • Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

The BBC Top 100 Books

(red = read)

  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

  • The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

  • Harry Potter series, JK Rowling

  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

  • The Bible

  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

  • His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

  • Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

  • Little Women, Louisa M Alcott

  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

  • Catch-22, Joseph Heller

  • Complete Works of Shakespeare

  • Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier

  • The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

  • Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

  • Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

  • The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

  • Middlemarch, George Eliot

  • Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell

  • The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

  • Bleak House, Charles Dickens

  • War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

  • The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

  • Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

  • Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

  • Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

  • The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

  • Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

  • David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

  • Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis

  • Emma, Jane Austen

  • Persuasion, Jane Austen

  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis

  • The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières

  • Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

  • Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

  • Animal Farm, George Orwell

  • The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  • A Prayer for Owen Meaney, John Irving

  • The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

  • Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery

  • Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

  • Lord of the Flies, William Golding

  • Atonement, Ian McEwan

  • Life of Pi, Yann Martel

  • Dune, Frank Herbert

  • Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

  • Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

  • A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth

  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

  • A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon

  • Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

  • The Secret History, Donna Tartt

  • The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

  • Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

  • On The Road, Jack Kerouac

  • Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy

  • Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

  • Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville

  • Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

  • Dracula, Bram Stoker

  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • Notes From A Small Island, Bill Bryson

  • Ulysses, James Joyce

  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

  • Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome

  • Germinal, Emile Zola

  • Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray

  • Possession, AS Byatt

  • A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

  • Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker

  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

  • Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

  • A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

  • Charlotte’s Web, EB White

  • The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom

  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The Faraway Tree Collection, Enid Blyton

  • Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

  • The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks

  • Watership Down, Richard Adams

  • A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

  • A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute

  • The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas

  • Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

  • Les Misérebles, Victor Hugo.

‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan

atonement

‘It is about understanding and responding to the need for atonement. Set in three time periods of pre/present/post-World War II England/France, it covers a young upper-class girl’s half-innocent mistake that ruins lives, and her adulthood in its shadow, which leads her into a reflection on the nature of writing.’ -Wikipedia

Review: ★★★☆☆

Basically, I thought this book was entirely overrated. Before reading it, I had built up so many high hopes for it and then I felt it never really got started. Don’t get me wrong, Ian McEwan is a beautiful writer and it is really skillfully written, but I felt he needed to focus on solidifying the plot a bit more. Firstly, I never really understood exactly WHAT mistake Briony Tallis makes that is so awfully bad and requires all this ‘atonement’. It is very hinted at and you have to read between the lines, even up to the end of the book. Secondly it is extremely dense, with pages of prose extending with no proper dialogue. It’s all well and good being able to describe the feeling of the wind on your face perfectly but if the reader doesn’t even know whats happening, you tend to get lost in McEwans twirly and extravagant descriptions. Thirdly, the characters are extremely unlikeable. I felt that although only part of the book is set when Briony is a child, even when she is a woman working in the hospital I still thought of her as a child, she was pretty annoying to be honest. Cecilia was boring and even more annoying, and to be honest I didn’t really care about Robbie’s horny-teenager character at all. It’s meant to be one of the greatest love stories, but he hardly focuses on the romance of Cecilia and Robbie, leaving me feeling completely detached from the plot and their feelings.

Read this book if you like prose and description, not for a page-turning addiction.

‘Sharp Objects’ by Gillian Flynn

sharp objects

Summary:

Murder mystery novel set in Missouri, narrated by 30-year old reporter Camille Preaker. Camille is sent to report on a mystery of two missing girls in her home town of Wind Gap, and as she uncovers more and more things about these girls, she also discovers the chilling truths of the family she left behind there.

Star rating:  ★★★★★

Most people only know the author Gillian Flynn for her book ‘Gone Girl’. ‘Sharp Objects’ was her first novel and in my opinion deserves just as much recognition because I absolutely loved this book. Not only does it have all the twist and turns of a good murder mystery novels, and they’re bloody good ones at that, it has an extra layer of disturbing family-related drama. Its crazy, scary and felt sickening to read, but in the best way. Its not too long, it doesn’t go off on random tangents and always sticks to the plot.

Camille has recently returned to her second-rate Chicago newspaper from a psychiatric hospital, for cutting. Not only is this your average case of self-harm, she carves words into her own flesh whenever she feels stressed or depressed. These result in the once-pretty-and-popular-if-not-slightly-slutty school girl growing up to be an alcoholic recluse, reluctant to visit the town of her childhood, in which lies possibly the most unhealthy mother-daughter relationship there ever was. At times, Camille seems a bit of a loser to me, but then again, with what happens to her, can you blame her? Personally, I think her sinister 13-year old sister Amma is the best character. Flynn encapsulates perfectly the idea of ‘growing up too fast’ in her promiscuous, drug-induced, secret mummy’s girl character.

I thought the first major twist at the end was sufficient enough to get 5-stars but then another one is sprung on you almost from nowhere, adding yet another shock factor to the book. I literally was reading it open-mouthed, and I can’t say that about every book.  Flynn captures the feel of small-town boredom perfectly, and what an environment like that can do to a person. A sinister story that the ending will leave you with eyes wide open and a little bit despaired.

Other books by Gillian Flynn:

Gone Girl

Dark Places