Category Archives: 2017

New Year’s Eve 2017

And here we are again at the end of another year. Only 26 books this year (some of them were long). Boo to work and life getting in the way of reading time, I say. Also boo to the distractability of modern social media. Hopefully in 2018, all those external contraints will be more manageable and better managed.

Top five books in the past year (excluding much loved re-reads)?

  • Things Fall Apart
  • The Plot Against America
  • A Room of One’s Own
  • City on Fire
  • David Copperfield



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Book 26 – David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

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I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read David Copperfield before or not. I might have done, many years ago, but I also might just have picked up the basic storyline from watching a film or TV adaptation. It’s a long old read, but a cracking novel and provided a real Christmas treat. I know some people struggle with Dickens, but am not entirely sure why. He’s not a hard read (bit wordy maybe), the plot and (many) subplots race along with cliffhangers galore and the characters sparkle on every page.

And Dickens is the master of description. As an example, here is the introduction to Miss Murdstone, David Copperfield’s cruel step-aunt:

“It was Miss Murdstone who arrive, and a gloomy-looking lady she was; dark, like her brother, whom she greatly resembled in face and voice; and with very heavy eyebrows, nearly meeting over her large nose, as if, being disabled by the wrongs of her sex from wearing whiskers, she had carried them to that account. She brought with her two uncompromising hard black boxes, with her initials on the lids in hard brass nails. When she paid the coachman she took her money out of a hard steel purse, and she kept the purse in a very jail of a bag which hung upon her arm by a heavy chain, and shut up like a bite. I had never, at that time, seen such a metallic lady altogether as Miss Murdstone was”.

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Book 25 – Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

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Hardly know where to start to describe the terrible, sad beauty of this book. Just read it.

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Filed under 2017, Non Fiction

Book 24 – Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene

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I don’t think I ever read this before, which is odd. Anyhow, it’s vintage (as opposed to Vintage) Greene, very funny and rather poignant. It’s made doubly interesting by having been published pretty much on the eve of the Cuban revolution. Greene acknowledges the intense superpower interest in the country, but only describes the pre-revolutionary world.


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Book 23 – The Scarlet and the Black by J.P.Gallagher

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True story of heroism and derring-do in wartime Rome, about an Irish priest who used the peculiar diplomatic status of the Vatican to create an underground railroad for escaped Allied servicemen.

(The actual Father O’Flaherty looked nothing like Gregory Peck.)


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Filed under 2017, Christianity, Non Fiction

Book 22 – Deep by Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing

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Interesting book, if a tad rambly in places, this is a personal exploration of what it means to pursue “Deep Church”. In this context I think that means being serious about mission, engagement and evangelism.

I found all the anecdotes and globetrotting stories a bit irritating, but was very taken with their concept of Total Saturation. I.also thought the Bible study in the appendix on the Parable of the Sower was quite helpful.

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Filed under 2017, Christianity

Book 21 – No Fear or Favour by Henry Cecil

28_11_2017 16_25 Office Lens

A bizarre little courtroom story, published in 1968. It really shows its age.

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Filed under 2017, Mystery / Crime