In step with my new tradition of attempting to plough through at least fifty books a year, this year I have managed it with a week to spare. I thought I would compile the list (mainly because I am amazed that I have found the time) but also highlight the ones that were well worth it, in my humble opinion.
Full, exhaustive list:
- The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
- Oranges in No Man’s Land, Elizabeth Laird
- Allegiant, Veronica Roth
- Second Star to the Right, Deborah Hautzig
- How I Paid for College, Marc Acito
- Oops, Hywel Roberts
- Strange Meeting, Susan Hill
- The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
- Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
- Revolver, Marcus Sedgewick
- The Bailey Game, Celia Rees
- The Daydreamer, Ian McEwan
- Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgewick
- The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook, Jim Smith
- What’s Left of Me, Kat Zhang
- the Wish House, Celia Rees
- The Iron Man, Ted Hughes
- The Photograph, Penelope Lively
- Fearless, Tim Lott
- Floodland, Marcus Sedgewick
- Blood Money, Anne Cassidy
- The Willow Man, Sue Purkiss
- The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriaty
- The Wells Bequest, Polly Shulman
- Pimp Your Lesson, Isabella Wallace
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capone
- The Bunker Diary, Kevin Brooks
- Edge of Nowhere, John E Smelcer
- The Dark Horse, Marcus Sedgewick
- Malarky, Keith Gray
- All The Truth that’s in Me, Julie Berry
- Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys
- Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill
- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
- The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness
- The Butterfly Lion, Michael Morpurgo
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
- Wonder, RJ Palacio
- The Tulip Touch, Anne Fine
- Gone, Michael Grant
- The Book of Dead Days, Marcus Sedgewick
- Paper Faces, Rachel Anderson
- Paper Towns, John Green
- Hunger, Michael Grant
- Lies, Michael Grant
- Plague, Michael Grant
- The Quantity Theory Of Insanity, Will Self
- Exchange, Paul Magrs
- Witch Hill, Marcus Sedgewick
- On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
I think we can safely say that a) I have discovered (a little late in the game) an unfounded and complete love of Marcus Sedgewick, thanks to the librarian at my old school. Midwinterblood was like nothing else, and so beautifully written. The same llibrarian was also the lovely human being to force the Carnegie finalists into my hands- up to that stage, my only experience of Kevin Brooks was what I believed to be a weak plotline in IBoy. Bunker was both bleak and raw, but had what I love about fiction; the presence of humanity in the most unimaginable of circumstances.
Hill’s Strange Meeting is definitely one for the teacher out there- I used an extract from this book to read to year 10 when teaching Wilfred Owen. The graphic and stark description of the character’s portrayal of the front line portrays his numbing experience perfectly.
I was pleasantly surprised by Celia Rees; I find it quite accomplished of both her and Sedgewick to be able to twist several different stories in such a way that it never felt like I was reading a particular ‘style’ that you sometimes come across with writers- my ideal author is someone who does not fit a pattern, or writes consistently in the same way. The unpredictability and skill of being able to write with eloquence but unlike that of a previous book is the ideal!
Exchange is one for any book lover- the Exchange is a book shop set up by a man that simply asks for books in exchange of other books- an extension of the free book shops that are now popping up, the concept extends from an exchange of reading to an exchange of the different aspects of the character’s lives and experiences between one another.
Joe Hill was a recommendation and quite possibly next to The Road, one of the most dark and terrifying books that I have ever read. I have strayed from the supernatural in quite some time and this conjured up a nasty, realistic twist on the idea of the dead remaining unsettled. The main character Judas makes quite the sceptical lead, and his cynicism bonds the entire story together.
I think the underlying theme of dystopia throughout my fifty books is pretty clear! Zhang’s What’s Left of Me is one of a trilogy which I have still yet to track down the remaining two of, and once again gave a sense of realism to the way that the world could work out. Both this, Michael Grant’s series (still unfinished) and Patrick Ness’ KONLG touch upon elements of the world that we know and play out the possibilities, and consequences of what could be, but also reinforce the fact that as humans, the small comforts and necessary compassion that we hold for one another still remains.
I was going to close with my all time favourite, but in true book worm style, that is impossible. I am however incredibly happy that I finally made time for the Book Thief, after being told by so many people about its beauty. The narration of Death makes it all the more poignant, and his encounters with Liesel are both heartbreaking and eye opening.
What next? I need to get my teeth into all the grown up stuff that Neil Gaiman has done that my eyes have yet to see! I quite enjoy recommendations rather than seeking books out. The perks of having so many English teachers on your Twitter timeline!