In 2016 I finally managed to keep a reading list, this a project I have attempted many times before. There's something about designing and updating an excel spreadsheet that doesn't work for me, but I have been convinced by the arguments of James Clear that there is value in measuring what you deem to be important to your life. I can't remember not reading - my favourite place to read has always been in bed. A place to escape, to find refuge, to live alternate lives, to explore other worlds, to discover ways of thinking. So I made it simple with a 1-5 rating followed by a sentence or two to refresh my memory. Out of 56 books read, 21 have been rewarded with the top rating. If you're looking for a good book (and your values are the same as mine), the list below could be useful. Happy Reading!
An American Jew by Steven Pressfield - Steven uses the experience of writing The Lions Gate to explore his place in the world and how he feels about being Jewish.
The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton - Loved it because she has the same themes I'd like to write about - vulnerability, a woman's identity, being an outsider, faith in long term relationships, how men must honour their women, the vice of greed and respect for nature. Used the style of two viewpoints 10 year old Ruby (deaf) and her mother Yasmin, though Adeeb also briefly has his view recorded.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - Set in a town close to Naples in the early sixties, it explores the developing friendship between two girls from the age of 4 through to 16.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon - Gorgeous exposition of the secrets of a neighbourhood looking though the eyes of a young girl. A woman goes missing so Gracie and Tillie decide to look for God in their neighbourhood so he can keep everyone safe.
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran - I love her straight up style, that her female character loves sex, that it explores how we can change our lives to be truer to ourselves rather than fitting in to get along with others.
The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - Fabulous treatise on privilege and understanding the opportunities that are given to us enough to make meaningful use of them. Looks at the synchronicity of ideas and the freedom we all have to engage in thoughtful work/study once our basic needs are met.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem - Such a wonderful history of organising for social change - learnt the value of talking circles and lots of history of the feminist movement in USA. Glorious!
The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith - Great to read near How to be Both - common theme of women in art, the struggle with patriarchal societies. Effortlessly flips through three different time frames 1630s in Amsterdam, 1950s in New York and 2000 in Sydney featuring three main characters Hollander- Sara de Vos, American - Marty de Groot and Australian - Ellie Shipley.
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld - Life on death row through the eyes of a few - an inmate, the warden and the lady investigator. Fascinating insights into the mind and human condition.
The Mermaids Singing by Val Mc Dermid - Unputdownable, kept reading until it was finished. Have read many of Val's books over the years, but this is the one that introduces us to Tony Hill and the fascinating business of profiling in serial murder investigations.
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante - Book two in the series - I think the urge to keep reading comes from the thrill of ordinary lives made magical by the writing or perhaps it's the compulsion Elena has for the magnetism of Lila. Maybe we all remember a time when we were completely in thrall to another or it could be a reflection of those intense teenage friendships when the hormones are surging and the brain is frantically trying to make sense of the world while the spirit is struggling for independence from family and drudgery.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell - Fabulously interesting, fabulously informative. Malcolm busts the notion that success is a result of a single individuals relentless determination and work, instead he gives us research that leads us to realise that opportunity and legacy also have a big part to play. This is the first of his books I have read, the language he uses is so accessible that I can easily re-explain the concepts he develops.
The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer - An argument for Effective Altruism made in a logical, reasonable way, illustrated with real life stories and practical recommendations. Made me commit to being vegetarian.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf - Short sweet story about the rewards that come with age and no longer giving a fuck about how others judge you. Hated the ending though when she lets her son blackmail her into living her life the ways he wants her to, because the little controlling arsehole hasn't found the resilience to overcome his childhood trauma. But that's motherlove for you.
Bruno Chief Of Police by Martin Walker - A French version of the Andrea Camilleri detective novels.
David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell - Exploring the reasons why the seemingly powerless can overcome giants.
The Known World by Edward P. Jones - Jones weaves a tapestry of slavery and race identity in the United States while cleverly jumping back and forth in time.
The Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - Amazing story of waiting for a death sentence in Iceland in the 1880s.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - Explains the nature of epidemics - Mavens, Connectors and Salespeople combined with The Stickiness Factor, The Power of Context and Content.
Beside Myself by Ann Morgan - Compelling read , what will these twin sisters do to each other next, will they reconcile, will they find success or love or answers?
Black Rock, White City by A.S. Patric - Brilliant tale of a Serb couple's adjustment to immigrant life in Melbourne. A look at how people don't dare probe too deeply into another's world fearing the depth of sorrow they may find.