Books of the Year (not necessarily published this year, either)

Malcolm Redfellow

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One of the many aspects of the "festive season" (Bah! Humbug!) that I sincerely, utterly, quiveringly loath is the lists of "best books of the year".

The New York Times one is up already, so I know what will puff out the "Culture" pages of the weekend papers and magazines.

My reasons for this dyspepsia are:
  • the lists prove what an illiterate, narrow-minded swine I am;
  • are usually full of stuff I see as detritus;
  • induce guilt that I didn't read the one or two worthy items on the list;
  • and I've not caught up with the last century, let alone the last twelve months.
Taking the NYT as an example, I see just the one there that I intend to read: Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railway.

My own list?

Well, it would have to include:
  • Ian Rankin's latest, and 21st, Rebus: published on 3rd November, arrived, courtesy of Amazon Prime, a day early, read and shelved within a couple of days. One of the very few "newly-published" novels I've bought this year, along with the latest Donna Leon and Philip Kerr.
  • Under "military history", Trevor Royle's Culloden. Royle did a synopsis for The Scotsman, and that sold it to me.
  • A weekend in Belfast coincided with the Linen Hall Library pop-up second-hand shop, filled with cart-loads of rubbish. Still, I rescued a (apparently unopened) biography of Joseph Walshe and a couple of other items. Nolan on Walshe is a decent effort, not without faults, but it helps to join the dots. Across Fountain Street, a couple of doors down from the Linen Hall itself, is Waterstones. Any large "provincial" Waterstones is always worth a rummage, to see what the locals are keeping to themselves: there, three years late, I found Roger Courtney's Dissenting Voices.
  • My expensive habit of buying exhibition catalogues means I now own You Say You Want a Revolution, Records and Rebels 1966-1970 from the Victoria and Albert. The whole exhibition seems to spring from the record collection of the late John Peel, padded out with ephemera. If you remember the '60s, you weren't there, of course. I was, and I do. Nice to meet old friends (and sing along with Country Joe).
  • Theatre: as age affects the hearing (and the Siemens earpieces help only a little) I tend to buy play-scripts. Confession time: I had never tackled Fletcher and Bill Shagsper's Two Noble Kinsmen until a weekend in Stratford. Yeah, but nowhere near the exuberance and sheer fun of Aphra Benn's The Rover in the afternoon matinee (my copy of that script goes back to the RSC production of 1986).
  • Oh, and two real goodies, thieved from one of those pubs which decorate with aged and crumbling books. Also always worth a rummage: there are treasures among the Farmers' Handbooks for 1922 and the discarded law manuals. One was Anthony Hope's wry, charming The Dolly Dialogues (a first edition, "reprinted from the Westminster Gazette", 1896) and RLS's St Ives.
Eccentric. Eclectic. Pompous. Guilty as charged (even of those last two slight volumes).

Only then do I start to wonder what I've missed.

Anyone else got a list?
 
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between the bridges

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Being Jordan by Katie Price...
 

McSlaggart

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I am stuck in the middle of Wolf hall, great but its so long.

Sneaked in some Ray Bradbury short stories and they are still great....
 

former wesleyan

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Whatever I can find for free to download on or for Kindle....
They've started to put up 0.99 teasers, which are supposed to entice you onto the dearer stuff of the same same genre or author. But I don't bite.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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They've started to put up 0.99 teasers, which are supposed to entice you onto the dearer stuff of the same same genre or author. But I don't bite.
Ahem! At the risk of teaching Granny egg-sucking ...

Allow me to point out:
  • the Usenet and options such as alt.binaries.e-book. Of course the Usenet has a cloacal reputation (well-deserved); but we're all discriminating adults; and can pick-and-choose.
  • then there's IRC (Internet Relay Chat):
    [*]Get a bit of client software (I use Colloquy on my Mac) to access an IRC server (for an obvious example, us.undernet.org).
    [*]Then check into Chat Room #bookz (not mis-spelling).
    [*]Download one of the server's lists (@vadi, @pondering, etc) — some can provide hundreds of thousands of options. Again, Himalayas of dross; but vast amounts of decent fiction.
    [*]The download you receive will always be a .rar file , though this may not be immediately obvious. Add .rar to the download, and use WinZip (on PCs) or The Unarchiver (on Macs) to open the compressed file.​
In both cases, there is the small matter of copyright. We are all law-abiding types here, so we'd never dream of accessing such material, right?

So it's Project Gutenberg for out-of-copyright texts.
 
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One Nation under God - How Corporate America Invented Christian America - Kevin M. Kruse

Tower of Basel - A Shadowy History Of The Secret Bank That Runs The World - Adam Lebor

God's Bankers - A History of Money and Power at the Vatican -Gerald Posner

The Laundrymen - Inside Money Laundering - Jeffrey Robinson

Treasure Islands - Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens - Nicholas Shaxson

Free Will - Sam Harris

The Denial of Death - Ernest Becker
 


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