Sunday, July 26, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Books

I was glancing at my TBR pile and discovered that it has crept up on me somewhat: instead of having one or two books ‘in reserve’, I’ve currently got quite a collection of ‘em. So I thought, apropos of not much at all, I’d share with you the books on my list… I plan to read all of them, but if you think any of them are worthy of being boosted to the top of the list, do let me know.

Stuart Maconie’s Cider with Roadies

This one is actually on my ‘currently reading’ pile and I’m quite a way through it, it being an automusicography of Stuart’s life (as in, like an autobiography but mostly just focussing on the bits which related to music).

Charles Maclean’s Home Before Dark

It’s a serial killer thriller; that much I picked up from the blurb on the back. That is as far as it goes for now, though: don’t know much else about it.

Jared Diamond’s Collapse

This one is non-fiction, with the sub title ‘how societies choose to fail or survive’, and flicking through the contents, will look at societies such as the Maya, Norse Greenland and so on. Also it includes the poem Ozymandias which is obviously hugely appropriate to the subject matter, as well as being a cracking poem.

Chris Cleave’s The Other Hand

This one has been recommended to me, and while I know what it’s vaguely about, the blurb says:

We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil itblurb for ‘The Other Hand’

…which, despite thinking it sounds somewhat self-important, I’ll follow their request and not talk about the subject matter.

Richard Fortey’s Dry Store Room No. 1

Sub-titled ‘The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum’, telling, as I understand it, the history of the Natural History Museum, the figures who have been involved and apparently the ‘scandals and skullduggery that unfolded’.

John Boyne’s Mutiny on the Bounty

Although obviously based on a real event, this book is a work of fiction by the author of ‘The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’ (which I’ve not read either). However, this book does have an unusual disclaimer:

This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidentalDisclaimer for ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’

I’m really not sure how that is supposed to work — “it’s fiction, except where it isn’t” (or maybe “it’s fiction Jim, but not as we know it…”) — unless he’s gone to the trouble of ruining the narrative by adding “this bit is fiction” and “this bit is historical fact” at various points in the text…

Nicholas Rankin’s Churchill’s Wizards

Subtitled ‘The British Genius for Deception, 1914-1945′ (must every work of non-fiction have a subtitle?) this looks at the trickery, false intelligence and misdirection used by the British to try and help them in World Wars I and II. It’s also a rather weighty looking tome also containing source notes and an index.

Marc Morris’ A Great and Terrible King

Another work of non-fiction, so inevitably another subtitle: in this case ‘Edward I and the Forging of Britain’, this is very obviously the story of Edward I responsible for both forging Britain into one unit and managing to hack out huge divisions at the same time.

Henry Allingham’s Kitchener’s Last Volunteer

This is an autobiography of Henry Allingham (I presume ‘in conversation with’ the other listed contributor, Dennis Goodwin) and therefore obviously is a work of non-fiction. So… yes, you’ve guessed it: ‘The Life of Henry Allingham, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Great War’. Sadly, this subtitle is no longer accurate, as he died on the 18th of July 2009 (followed a week later by Harry Patch, the last to-then survivor of the trenches).

Shalom Auslander’s Foreskin’s Lament

How can you not like a book with a title like this? It’s listed as ‘a memoir’, which means that it could be fact or it could be Frey. However, the fact that ‘a memoir’ is listed as a subtitle seems to push it into the non-fiction category, even if you have to acknowledge that:

Throughout this book, the names of some places as well as individuals and their personal details have been changedForeskin’s Lament Disclaimer

…it’s the story of a Jew who seems somewhat conflicted about religion. I’m currently reading this one too, and currently feel it is probably worthy of a review post in its own right at some point.

Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

…is another detective thriller sort of a book. This has been recommended to me by some time by Lynn, but I only finally got round to picking it up a few days ago. And until today, I’d not actually realised it was part of a trilogy, and nor had I realised that the author had died shortly after handing over the manuscripts for the three novels over to the publisher.

Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire

…is the second book in Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millenium’ trilogy, but I’d not looked closely enough at it until after I’d bought Dragon Tattoo to realise that they were both part of the same series. I am tempted to put both of these on hold until the third and final part of the trilogy is also available in paperback (given the number of books I read, I simply don’t buy hardbacks), but on the other hand as the hardback for the third one isn’t out until November, we’re probably talking July 2010 for the paperback. So I’m not sure.

If of course anyone from Stieg’s publishing house is passing and is willing to send me an advance copy of the hardback in exchange for a review, I’m sure that would tip the balance, however :-)

Jack Kelly’s Gunpowder

The History of the Explosive That Changed the World! Which is probably a fair point although of course I’m now beginning to wonder whether ’tis mandatory that all non-fiction books have a subtitle. Maybe to many people the history of a substance isn’t particularly interesting, but I encountered The Shocking History of Phosphorus several years ago and enjoyed that, so I’d thought I’d give it a go.

Giles Milton’s Paradise Lost

Note that this is Giles Milton, who writes about historic events, as opposed to John Milton who wrote the epic 17th Century Poem “Paradise Lost”. You can see where confusion might arise. Fortunately, being non-fiction, Giles’ book has a subtitle: “Smyrna 1922 — The Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance” which pretty much sums up what the book is about: Greek military forces advanced into Turkey between 1919 and 1922, and as the Greeks were finally forced out of Smyrna, there was a great fire which destroyed much of the city. I’m guessing Giles — as well as setting the background as normal — fills in his thoughts on the what, where, when, who, how and why…

And then finally we reach the end of the TBR pile…

Jeffrey Deaver’s The Broken Window

This is another one of Jeffrey’s stories about the quadriplegic crime scene expert Lincoln Rhyme (probably most famously known from his first appearance in The Bone Collector). As I’d enjoyed the other ones in this series (and other stuff by Jeffrey — I’d particularly recommend The Blue Nowhere), it was only natural that when I saw this one it would jump into my hand.

So, which ones should I jump to the top of my list? Cider with Roadies will probably be finished today, and then, unless there’s a very good reason not to, I’ll pick up Foreskin’s Lament again. But where should I go after that?

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5 Comments to TBR

  1. Sarah Lay says:

    July 26th, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Stuart Maconie’s books are always a joy! I’d also recommend Pies and Prejudice. The latest one – Adventures on the High Teas wasn’t quite as good because the focus seemed a bit shaky but he’s got a good voice and eye for observation. I do admit to being a Maconie fan girl. You might also want to check out Mark Radcliffe’s automusicography ‘Showbusiness: The Diary of a Rock N Roll Nobody’ and his novel about a folk club ‘Northern Sky’.
    Not read any of the other ones on your list but have cribbed them for my wish list – particularly interested in Dry Store Room Number 1 and Churchill’s Wizards :)
    With the summer off from uni studies (or at least less to do) it’s the only time I get to read for me rather than work/study at the moment!

  2. JackP says:

    July 26th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    …I’ve already read Pies & Prejudice (and adventures on the high teas) and I have to admit it was Pies which set me on the Maconie path, as it was simply a joy to read. I would also agree with your comparison of the two.

  3. Michael says:

    July 26th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Magnus Mills is an author I would recommend, if you like quirky fiction. He used to be a bus driver, and then one day decided to write a book, the result being the hilarious “The Restraint of Beasts”. It is sort of Flann O’Brien in its surrealism. The rest of his books are, if anything, even stranger. Thanks for posting your list. I am always looking for something new to read.

  4. Steve Pugh says:

    July 26th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Collapse is excellent, and very sobering.

    Dry Store Room No. 1 is a joy. Not sure that there’s actually much “scandals and skullduggery” though.

    I may have mentioned this last time you mentioned him in a post but but Chris Cleave was the year above me at college. I’ve not read any of his books yet but friends who have recommend them.

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