My Year of Books 2015


We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo

Ghostwritten – David Mitchell (Similar in style to Cloud Atlas, but written before it. Like I said previously about Cloud Atlas, while reading it I had so many varying emotions towards the book, wild frustration because the stories didn’t fully come to resolutions, but also awe at how well David can write. I think I preferred this to CA, a bit, but not fully sure about how I feel about either of them! Love them, and also didn’t get on with them. Hmm.)
The Safe Word – Karen Long
Rock Your Plot – Cathy Yardley
The Golem and the Djinni – Helene Wecker

Monsoon Midnights – Bangkok Women Writers
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Mindfullness in plain English – Bhante Gunaratana
Jigs and Reels – Joanne Harris (I fell in love with Joanne Harris when I first read Chocolat. This book is full of short stories, and is seriously good. The stories all have a slightly different feel to them. Reading this showed me that she’s an even better writer than I thought she was.)

Shooting an Elephant – George Orwell (A book everyone should read. Essays about his opinions and anecdotes from Burma.)
Runestones – Joanne Harris (I wasn’t in love with this, but it was pretty good. I really like the concept – she brings alive Norse legends.)

And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hossini (The first book of his I’d read, and…. wow. He’s shot right up to one of my favourite authors. I really liked this book. It’s set between Afghanistan, America and France.)
Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay (Jews in France in the second world war. Heartbreaking.)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Mary Angelou
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding (I can’t help but really like the movies as well as the books. I indulged myself :D)

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson-Burnett
The Art of Letting Go – Chloe Banks (A nicely well-rounded first novel.)

I Am a Cat – Soseki Natsume – started then postponed
The Wind up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami (Waaa… frustrating. Started out ok and then characters that he introduced in the beginning were never mentioned again, but other ones who fulfilled the same purpose of the previous characters were introduced instead. And the story kind of petered out to nowhere and I’m not sure where it finished up, or even what it was really about. I like Murakami, I’ve read almost all of his books, but he can definitely hit or miss for me. This one felt like the kind of book I write during NaNoWriMo with no planning whatsoever. I know he writes magical realism, and I enjoy that, but I feel like this time he ran out of steam half way through and then just wrote whatever and gets away with it because it’s ‘magical realism’. Yeah. Not my favourite of his.)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler (Ahh you need to read this one. Completely changed my way of thinking. A genius story, and well written. Up there as one of my favourite books.)
Life of Pi – Yann Martel (Wonderful too, as is the film.)

Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder (Wasn’t 100% sure about this book. It’s good, and interesting, but took a lot of effort to read it. It’s quite long. I’ve seen people rave about this book, I wasn’t so convinced.)

Nothing – I was writing my NaNoWriMo!

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini (Fantastic.)
The Time Machine – HG Wells
Sycamore Row – John Grisham (Law fiction. Good but I preferred the first in the series. This was the second.)


My Year of Books 2014

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Nothing to Envy – Barbara Demick (Stories from people she’s interviewed who defected from North Korea.)
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell (Frustrated me, and also wowed me. Reading it was full of ups and downs as I tried to decide if I was enjoying it or not. In any case, David Mitchell is pretty amazing at writing with different voices.)
A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Les Misérables – Victor Hugo (Brilliant, long but brilliant. The historical chapters are tough going and I have to admit I didn’t always read them in much detail.)

Better Than Fiction – Various Authors

Elephant Moon – John Sweeney (I loved this book!)
War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
Bangkok in the Balance – Tatsuya Hata

Monsoon County – Pira Sudham (My first book by this Thai author, who spent his higher education in Australia and has only written books in English. The story was alright; I would read another of his novels.. but I wasn’t amazed by this book. It’s loosely about a boy who hails from a poor village in Isaan in Thailand who manages to go to university in London.)
Trains and Lovers – Alexander McCall-Smith
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde (I love this play :))

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (I really really like the way Sylvia Plath writes prose.)
The Solitaire Mystery – Jostein Gaarder
A Time to Kill – John Grisham (Gripping!)

Backstory – David Mitchell (Comedian)
Goodbye Tsugumi – Banana Yoshimoto (I love Banana Yoshimoto. Her books are not always particularly long, but lovely.)

I am a Cat (Volume 1) – Soseki Natsume (So pleased I found this in the library in the International Centre in Nagoya. I will get around to reading the other 2 volumes at some point. It’s a satirical look at Japanese customs/culture of the early 1900s from the point of view of a cat. Classic Japanese literature.)

Deathnote 1-12 (Shonen Jump) – Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

Lizard – Banana Yoshimoto
The Tiger’s Wife – Téa Obreht (I’m very interested to read more of her work.)

I’d love to know if anyone else read any of these books and what they thought! Also book recommendations are always appreciated :)

Tone Deaf in Bangkok (and other places)

I want to share a book recommendation…

Tone Deaf in Bangkok (and other places) – by Janet Brown

It’s just brilliant. While I have been feeling a little uninspired by Bangkok recently for various reasons, Janet’s writing seems to open it up and make me realise how awesome a city it is again.

Her stories are anecdotes of her periods of living in Bangkok and travelling in Thailand, as a single farang woman. I greatly appreciated this, as having scoured shelves previously for books on Bangkok, a lot of them seem to be written by men, which I find a little harder to relate to, being a single farang woman myself.

She reinforced for me, the idea that nothing ever just comes to you – just because you go and visit a country doesn’t mean it is obliged to pamper you and show you a good time. To enjoy Bangkok (or anywhere) you have to get out there and do things, and learn the language, and talk to people, and get stuck in. Sometimes it might go right, and sometimes, of course, it might go wrong.

But the most important thing is you’ll have a multitude of stories to tell at the end of it…..