2017 – A Year’s Reading

My first full year of ideal reading conditions in Spain, and I’ve upped my reading rate considerably. Three-hour daily walks are soundtracked by audiobooks, and there’s plenty of reading time either side of my afternoon siesta. I’ve finally been able to tackle some of the glaring omissions in my reading list.

Lincoln in the Bardo was my most anticipated book, and was well worth the wait. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen was my audiobook of the year: imagine walking beside the Mediterranean with the man himself, listening to him reminisce about his life and career – it was like that.

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I loved Austerlitz by WG Sebald, and the first two volumes of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard. The next three are lined up for 2018.

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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith introduced me to one of the most personable narrative voices I’ve ever read. Latterly I’ve caught up with Ali Smith’s Seasonal sequence. I enjoyed Autumn and Winter equally.

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Muriel Spark was a revelation – I read The Ballad of Peckham Rye after finding it in Javea’s Charity Library. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and I soon found myself zipping through five more novels, her collected short stories, and a biography by Martin Stannard.

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I owe many reading choices to books I’ve haphazardly found in the local charity shops (especially Cancer Care) and at Polly’s Bookshop. I also owe a debt to Andy Miller and to Backlisted Podcast for stimulating me to pick up many books I’d otherwise have overlooked, including my book of the year, Alma Cogan by Gordon Burn.

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AB – Audiobook

R – Reread



  1. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd (AB)
  2. Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
  3. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (AB) R
  4. Fludd by Hilary Mantel
  5. Austerlitz by WG Sebald
  6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (AB) R
  7. A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar
  8. The Feud by Alex Beam
  9. Stoner by John Williams (AB)
  10. The Carpenter’s Pencil by Manuel Rivas
  11. The Invention of Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon
  12. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (AB)


  1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (AB)
  2. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (AB)
  4. Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge
  5. Vertigo by WG Sebald
  6. The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin (AB)
  7. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (AB) R
  8. My Struggle Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard (AB)
  9. The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato
  10. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (AB)
  11. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  12. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders


  1. Zero K by Don DeLillo (AB)
  2. The Man of Feeling by Javier Marias
  3. Kingdom Come by JG Ballard (AB)
  4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (AB)
  5. My Struggle Book 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  6. The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (AB)
  7. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (AB)
  8. Dusk and Other Stories by James Salter
  9. Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy (AB)
  10. The Innocent by David Szalay
  11. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone (AB)
  12. Black Vodka by Deborah Levy
  13. Pastoralia by George Saunders
  14. The Vegetarian by Han Kang (AB)
  15. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (AB)
  16. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell


  1. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter (AB)
  2. A Heart So White by Javier Marias
  3. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (AB)
  4. The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare
  5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (AB)
  6. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (AB)
  7. The Tree of Man by Patrick White
  8. The Forensic Records Society by Magnus Mills
  9. The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan (AB)
  10. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov (AB)
  11. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
  12. The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark
  13. Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner (AB)
  14. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  15. A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark (AB)


  1. The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary
  2. The Dubliners by James Joyce
  3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (AB)
  4. The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower
  5. The Innocent by Ian McEwan (AB)
  6. Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
  7. Runaway by Alice Munro (AB)
  8. Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald
  9. The Gift by Vladimir Nabokov (AB)
  10. Summertime by JM Coetzee
  11. The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs by Damon Galgut
  12. Disgrace by JM Coetzee (AB)
  13. Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson (AB)
  14. Patrick White Letters, Ed by David Marr


  1. Muriel Spark: The Biography by Martin Stannard
  2. The Complete Short Stories by Muriel Spark (AB)
  3. Three Stories by JM Coetzee
  4. Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark (AB)
  5. A Whisper in the Reeds by Justin Taylor
  6. Battle on the Lomba by David Mannall
  7. The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry (AB)
  8. 19 with a Bullet by Granger Korff
  9. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (AB)
  10. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (AB)
  11. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (AB)
  12. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
  13. Travels with my Aunt by Graham Greene (AB)
  14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (translated by Lydia Davis)
  15. A Burnt-Out Case by Graham Greene (AB)
  16. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (AB)


  1. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (AB)
  2. Reunion by Fred Uhlman
  3. Moonraker by Ian Fleming (AB)
  4. Speedboat by Renata Adler
  5. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (AB)
  6. The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
  7. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (AB)
  8. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  9. The Human Stain by Philip Roth (AB)
  10. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  11. Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin, Ed by E Chatwin & N Shakespeare
  12. Great Soul of Siberia by Sooyong Park
  13. With Chatwin by Susannah Clapp
  14. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
  15. Selected Essays by Osip Mandelstam


  1. The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
  3. The Magus by John Fowles (AB)
  4. Any Old Iron by Anthony Burgess
  5. The Collector by John Fowles (AB)
  6. Smith’s Gazelle by Lionel Davidson
  7. Letters by Kurt Vonnegut
  8. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  9. The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark
  10. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (AB)
  11. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent


  1. The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
  2. The Bell by Iris Murdoch (AB)
  3. Love by Angela Carter
  4. The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
  5. Tigerman by Nick Harkaway (AB)
  6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (AB)
  7. Look at Me by Anita Brookner
  8. Exit Ghost by Philip Roth (AB)
  9. Something to Answer For by PH Newby
  10. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (AB)


  1. A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre (AB)
  2. A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch (AB)
  3. The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst
  4. I Married a Communist by Philip Roth (AB)
  5. The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (AB)
  6. The Serengeti Rules by Sean B Carroll
  7. The Sea by John Banville (AB)
  8. The Relive Box and Other Stories by TC Boyle
  9. The Untouchable by John Banville
  10. What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell (AB)
  11. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (AB)
  12. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


  1. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (AB)
  2. Mrs Osmond by John Banville
  3. Everyman by Philip Roth (AB)
  4. The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle (AB)
  5. Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner
  6. Don’t Look Now & Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier (AB)
  7. Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
  8. Cathedral of the Wild by Boyd Varty (AB)
  9. Animal Farm by George Orwell (AB)
  10. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (AB)
  11. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
  12. How to be Both by Ali Smith (AB)
  13. Autumn by Ali Smith (AB)


  1. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (AB)
  2. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in the World by Maya Jasanoff
  3. Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne (AB)
  4. Alma Cogan by Gordon Burn
  5. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (AB)
  6. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (AB)
  7. Munich by Robert Harris
  8. Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn (AB)
  9. Bad News by Edward St Aubyn (AB)
  10. Winter by Ali Smith (AB)
  11. Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
  12. Some Hope by Edward St Aubyn (AB)
  13. Incidents in the Rue Laugier by Anita Brookner
  14. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (AB)
  15. Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton