52 books in 52 weeks – Challenge Complete!

Earlier this year when I realised I was spending more time than ever with my head in a book, I set myself the challenge of reading 52 books in 52 weeks in 2015.

Challenge complete!

Among the new titles, the following fiction stood out for me; Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl, Vesna Goldsworthy’s Gorsky and As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by my absolute favourite, Alan Bradley (not the one who got hit by a tram in Corrie!)

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However,  I found the year’s non-fiction to be even better; the collected lyrics and notes of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, So This Is Permanence, is a thing of heart-breaking beauty to be treasured forever. Gut by Giulia Enders has already been passed around several members of family and friends – a brilliantly interesting, funny and accessible explanation of the behaviour of our bowels!

so this is permancenc

And I have to mention the Welsh singer and a man personally adored by me, Tom Jones, who has written the most excellent and hilarious autobiography Over The Top and Back. A brick of a book which took me almost a month to read though not just due to its doorstep size but also due to re-reading such unrivalled anecdotes (not all about Elvis either!) and collapsing in fits of laughter. Do not read if bad language offends you – this is a man who loves the C word!

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But overall I tried to vary style, length, age and the classic with the contemporary. I loved every minute. Here’s what I got through, starting with my most recommended titles: Continue reading

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Penguin Little Black Classic No.13: The Eve of St Agnes

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THE EVE OF ST AGNES BY JOHN KEATS

I read this in a couple of hours on the train coming back from seeing Morrissey in Cardiff. Moz would be proud! I have only ever read the odd line and letter by Keats and have vowed this year to fully discover the Romantic poet’s best work. This seemed an easy place to start. Sort of. Due to the age of the language in these selected poems published in 1820, I had some difficulty following the plot and had to do a bit of online research to aid my comprehension.

The Eve of St Agnes is a 42 stanza poem based on the superstition that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rituals on the Eve of St. Agnes. This meant going to bed without any supper, laying on her bed completely naked with her hands under the pillow and looking up to the heavens. The proposed husband would then appear in her dream, kiss her, and feast with her. In Keats’ poem the girl is Madeline who pines for the love of Porphyro.

Although I stumbled on the plot, I just loved reading the beautiful words, so lyrical and sensual.

But no – already had his deathbell rung, the joys of all his life were said and sung Continue reading

And the award goes to…

Well that’s it for 2014. What another fantastic year for books!

Here are my winners, carefully chosen from all the fabulous books that I have read this year (not necessarily published in 2014)

See you in 2015 bookworms!

THE SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM BEST FICTION PRIZE:

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1. Speaking From Among The Bones by Alan Bradley

2. Man at The Helm by Nina Stibbe

3. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

THE SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM BEST NON-FICTION PRIZE:

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1. Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

2. The Richard Burton Diaries by Richard Burton

3. Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein