Best Books of 2017 – a list of lists

 

It’s that time of the year when newspapers and magazines publish their ‘Best of 2017’ lists.

I know, it’s November…

I have noticed that this year many of the lists include a Best of 2017 ‘so far’ disclaimer – do you think the publishers have finally realised that a lot of reading can happen in the last five weeks of the year?! Or perhaps it’s a loophole so that they can publish another list when I reveal the list of books that made the most Best of 2017 lists? Either way, all of these fabulous lists will probably do some serious damage to the TBR stack.

The Best of 2017 According to #ALLTHELISTS will be coming in the next week or so – stay tuned! Continue reading

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The Ice Storm by Rick Moody – a literary mixtape

I loved The Ice Storm by Rick Moody. It’s a brutal, sad story.

There’s not much to like about the characters but there’s lots to like in Moody’s words. This book was extremely visual for me – perhaps because I saw And Lee’s insanely good movie version of the story years ago, or perhaps it’s because Moody has created a distinct sense of place and time. Either way, writing a review wasn’t working so I’ve gone with an audio approach.

I Write the Songs / Barry Manilow

Once his dreams had been songs. He’d been a balladeer of promise and opportunity. Continue reading

Show-off Holiday Post: Sydney

A friend and I have been talking about a weekend in Sydney for about four years – we finally made it happen. When we last travelled to Sydney together it was 1990 and we stayed at a youth hostel, went clubbing every night and recovered during the day. And laughed for a week. We had as many laughs this time but the focus was on fabulous restaurants and cultural activities other than clubbing.

We kicked off our stay with frosè and views at Henry Deane’s. Continue reading

The Near Miss by Fran Cusworth

Fran Cusworth’s domestic-drama, The Near Miss, tells the story of three strangers, brought together by an ‘almost’ accident (hence the title).

Grace is an exhausted mother, who is plagued by a ‘…smorgasbord of worries’, from money, work, and her temperamental daughter to her husband who spends more time inventing things than focused on his job.

Continue reading

I do sometimes read non-fiction…

I’ve done more non-fiction reading this year than I have in previous years. Partly stuff associated with uni, partly stuff about dementia (particularly relevant to my family at present), and of course I continue to be a sucker for a memoir.

I’ve jotted down a few thoughts on some of the books I’ve read recently – not reviews as such, just a record. Continue reading

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

New York, 1995, and newly graduated 23-year-old Joanna Rakoff has deserted her ‘nice college boyfriend’ and has moved into a slope-floored, unheated apartment in New York with domineering Don – a Marxist, aspiring writer, and everyday arsehole.

Although she dreams of becoming a poet, Rakoff takes a job as an assistant at the literary agency that represents J. D. Salinger. The ‘Agency’ is from another era – plush wood-panelled offices complete with Dictaphones and typewriters; old-time agents doing business their way, including martini lunches and afternoon naps; and a boss (‘swathed in a whiskey mink, her eyes covered with enormous dark glasses, her head with a silk scarf in an equestrian pattern’) who keeps track of her authors on specially printed index cards. Her boss notes –

‘…agents used to be upstanding. None of these multiple submissions…no auctions, with publishers bidding against each other. It’s uncouth. That’s not the Agency way. We send things out to one editor at a time. We match writers with editors. We have morals.’ Continue reading