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The other books I read in 2016 to restore sanity and try and help me be nice

 books 2016

Part Two Fiction

39.  The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

and

40.  An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

“Ah! The strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analysed, women… merely adored.”

These two are both plays. I probably preferred ‘An Ideal Husband’ because the female characters had a bit more substance to them, but both plays made me giggle and were a gentle, light relief.

41.  Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

The third play I read was Pygmalion, which is better known perhaps as My Fair Lady. I particularly like My Fair Lady. I found the afterword ever so entertaining.

42.  Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

I needed fiction, and this was a short literary book that studied the lives of some less than lucky folk living on the Thames. It gave me what I needed, a glimpse into someone else’s life, a perspective on worries that were not my own. It won the Man Booker Prize in 1979, but whilst it was nice, I didn’t feel it moved me enough to be worthy of being considered great.

43.  The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I wrote an entire blog post on this one book, which touched me more than I expected.

44.  The Call of the Wild by Jack London

I remember reading White Fang when I was quite small, late at night at my grandparents’ house. I read a lot of books there, but White Fang stood out because it was more gory and violent than the others. In the first stories I wrote as a child, the characters were dogs, and I think Jack London was probably a great influence on this.

The Call of the Wild however felt like more than just a tale of a rather big dog being drawn by his instincts into the wilderness. It’s about a psychological battle. Fitting in, belonging, being responsible for those around you, versus being something that feels a little reckless. Or maybe, that’s just how I interpreted it.

45.  The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Disappointing.

46.  Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe

“These lovers parleyed by the touch of hands;

True love is mute, and oft amazed stands.”

I enjoyed this more than I imagined.

47.  I, Claudius by Robert Graves

Ok. Perhaps it’s based on rumours, propaganda and creative scandalous claims. And perhaps it uses its licence as fiction to streamline a few characters into caricatures. But it’s an excellent book, a compelling read, and fascinating all the same. For a giggle read this excellent blog post on Caligula.

48.  Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García-Márquez

This is a murder mystery. It’s also a beautiful book. Elegantly sad; poetic but compelling.

49.  The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

and

50.  Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

The Lacuna is still my favourite of the books by Barbara Kingsolver that I’ve read, but I enjoyed these two immensely. Flight Behaviour was more like the Prodigal Summer with ecological themes, it centred on monarch butterflies and a broken family. Whereas The Bean Trees was a much shorter read, and centred on ideas of home, belonging and motherhood.

51.  Truckers: The First Book of the Nomes by Terry Pratchett

There is too little Terry Pratchett on this list. I shall have to remedy this.

52.  Mortal Designs by Reem Bassiouney

In Cairo, there is a rather lovely little bookshop on a triangular square, a short walk from Tahrir Square where I decided to buy and read two books written by Egyptian women. This is the first of the two, and it centres around characters from across the social spectrum. It made a good read.

53.  Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

This book was hilarious and often had me laughing. In some ways, I’m reminded of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop.

54.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Considered in another blog post. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is downloaded on my ebook reader.

55.  The Symposium by Plato

I hesitated before classifying this as fiction. It’s really philosophy, but the line between philosophy and story is rather blurred, and I read it as fiction that could instruct me through empathy rather than self-help with instruction through bullet point lists and sound bites. Plus, it’s funny.

“…let me recommend you to hold your breath, and if after you have done so for some time the hiccough is no better, then gargle with a little water; and if it still continues, tickle your nose with something and sneeze; and if you sneeze once or twice, even the most violent hiccough is soon to go.”

56.  The Lion and The Rose by Kate Quinn

Sometimes you need to be lost in a fantasy, another world, with fancy dresses, exotic perfumes and a giddy, excited compelling plot. Kate Quinn always delivers.

57.  The Wedding Officer: A Novel of Culinary Seduction by Anthony Capella

Like with The Lion and The Rose I wanted something light to read, and this book delivered. There were some scenes that were excellent. There were some that felt like they’d been put in afterwards to hang the whole thing. I would have started it later, finished it sooner, and accepted it as a shorter book.

That said, I’ve never read historical fiction set in Naples or in World War Two. And I’m glad I now have because it’s opened my mind up to a whole new set of questions to ask.

58.  Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien

This tiny book was recommended and leant to me by DeepThought. It generated deep thoughts.

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