Reading

A list of the books I’ve read over the last decade or so, cunningly arranged in the order I read them.

Starred titles are those I highly recommend ☆

2021

Call For The Dead by John le Carré ☆ — After John le Carré’s death in late 2020 I thought I’d read his Smiley books in order, having enjoyed Tinker  Tailor Soldier Spy and the Tailor Of Panama. Call For The Dead is le Carré’s first novel and introduces us to the unlikely protagonist George Smiley. Brilliantly written Call For The Dead vividly conveys post-war London and early Cold War Europe in a tense game of cat and mouse with an unlikely foe.

Craft: An Argument by Pete Brown — I’m a big fan of Pete Brown’s writing, about beer and beyond. This is probably Pete’s most niche book to date, focussing on what Craft is and what Craft means in relation to Craft Beer. More about Craft than Beer so not just for beer geeks like me.

The Apple Orchard – Pete Brown ☆ — A departure for Pete Brown and for me into the worked of apples, orchards and cider. I always thought of apples as being quintessentially English but they originate from much further afield. A fascinating tale of history, horticulture and society.

The Wind At My Back – Paul Maunder ☆ — I’m not sure how I came across this book but I’m so pleased I did. About cycling, writing and the English countryside this book is a delightful journey in many different ways.

Need For The Bike – Paul Fournell ☆ — Written by French poet and philosopher Paul Fournell this is a series of short essays on meditations on cycling in France and its traditions and culture. Delightful.

Neuromancer – William Gibson ☆ — Re-reading for the nth time as part of ‘Cyberpunk Book Club’ with my good friend Blacknotebook. This is possibly the most influential book published in the late 20th Century; coining the terms cyberspace and Microsoft and influencing everything from the Matrix to Inception and beyond. It feels both utterly contemporary and slightly dated at the same time. William Gibson says of Neuromancer that his one regret is that he didn’t see the rise and prevalence of mobile phones, although that lack of mobiles gives us one of the most memorable moments in the book where an AI makes every payphone ring, just once, as the protagonist passes them walking across the lobby of a hotel.

Pattern Recognition – William Gibson ☆ — Following on from Gibson’s first novel I decided to read one of his later works. Pattern Recognition is the first part of the ‘Blue Ant Trilogy’ which I feel is possibly his best work. Set in modern day London, part of its appeal for me, Pattern Recognition follows ‘Cool Hunter’ Cayce Pollard as she tracks down the maker of the footage – seemly random yet connected video clips being released online. It was interesting reading it again, and right after Neuromancer, the writing is so much more fluid and mature yet still full of amazingly prescient ideas and themes.

2020

The Great Alone by Tim Voors ☆ — A Christmas present from my son, The Great Alone describes Voors’ six month journey as he walks the 2650 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Campo on the Mexican Border to Manning Park on the border with Canada. An extraordinary story beautifully told and illustrated by Voors.

10% Happier by Dan Harris ☆ — Dan Harris was an almost stereotypical American news anchor until he had a panic attack live on air. In 10% Happier Harris describes his journey from war zones to silent mediation retreats via that panic attack and some of the more ‘colourful’ religious experiences the USA has to offer. A very genuine and accessible introduction to meditation and the benefits it can bring.

Ghost Rider by Neal Peart ☆ — Peart’s moving memoir following the loss of his daughter and wife within ten months of each other. Following this awful loss Peart took to the road on his motorcycle, ultimately covering 55,000 miles from Canada, through America and Mexico to Belize. Beautifully written, at times heart rending, but ultimately uplifting.

Longitude by Dava Sobel — Describes the decades long competition to create a tool or technique to accurately determine longitude. Perhaps unsurprisingly this is a little dry, but intriguing nonetheless.

Raw Spirit by Iain Banks ☆ — Yes that Iain Banks. I stumbled across this in a bookshop in Horsham a few summers ago, a perfect demonstration of why books shops will always be wonderful places for serendipitous discoveries. A beautifully written travelogue and journal of Banks’ travels around Scotland in search of the perfect dram.

Pie Fidelity by Pete Brown ☆ — I’m a big fan of Pete Brown’s beer writing and his first foray into food writing doesn’t disappoint. Pie Fidelity sings the praises of British Food, an often unfairly maligned cuisine, and makes a brilliant case that historically we have not done enough to protect our national dishes and food heritage in the way the French have for example. Pete weaves in fascinating stories throughout the book, and describes the link between family and food wonderfully. You’ll never think about a bacon roll in the same way again.

The Little History of Cornwall by Paul Wreyford — Cornwall is one of my favourite places, so thought I’d learn a little more about the County I love. This book is a collection of short, sometimes very short, passages about aspects of Cornwall’s history. Initially fun and accessible, but often I was left wanting more detail. It did however further cement my love of Cornwall and strengthen my pride in my Celtic roots.

The Swordfish And The Star by Gavin Knight — Continuing my literary exploration of Cornwall, The Swordfish and The Star – named after two Newlyn pubs favoured by the local fishermen – describes life on the rugged Penwith Peninsula and the sea around it. Much of the book appears to be transcriptions of interviews with fishermen and artists, which is a shame as the passages of Knight’s prose read very well, or maybe it’s just their contrast to the choppy text from the interviews. Initially fascinating, but the final quarter of the books seems to lose its structure and flow and becomes difficult to follow a times.

A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin — The new Rebus novel has become an annual tradition over the last few years as Rankin tracks Rebus’ life and career in real time. Rebus is now retired but Rankin still managed to create an investigation for him. A little slow to start but builds momentum into acts 2 and 3.

Knots And Crosses by Ian Rankin — Having enjoyed the new Rebus I thought it was time to re-read them all. I discovered Rebus when I first started commuting into London in 2003. A colleague at Amex introduced me and we bought and shared all the available books. Re-reading Knots and Crosses has brought back lots of good memories.

Hide And Seek by Ian Rankin — I have a bad memory, but apparently not as bad as I thought, which is presenting a problem with re-reading the Rebus books. Not far into Hide And Seek I started to remember the plot and sadly ‘whodunnit’. I kept reading as it was interesting to revisit early Rebus, it was also interesting that my mental images of characters and locations was exactly the same as the first time I read it. I’ll wait a while longer before I read any more Rebus I think.

Serpentine by Philip Pullman — A short story originally written in 2004 for a National Theatre fund-raising event, Serpentine is spookily prescient of developments in the The Secret Commonwealth. All too brief but good to be reacquainted with Lyra Silvertongue and The North.

The Spy And The Traitor By Ben Macintyre ☆ — I started this in the summer, got about half way through but then stoped reading it for some reason. Today I picked it back up and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. A brilliantly written account of the life and incredible escape from the USSR of KGB double agent Oleg Gordievsky. As tense and well written as a Le Carré thriller.

2019

2018

2017

  • And On That Bombshell by Richard Porter
  • The Revenge of Analog by David Sax ☆
  • The Dead Pig Collector by Warren Ellis ☆
  • Do Breathe by Michael Townsend Williams
  • Do Purpose by David Hieatt
  • The Visitor by Lee Child
  • James Bond, Vol. 1: VARGR by Warren Ellis, Jason Masters
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Night Witch by Ben Aaronovitch
  • The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
  • James Bond, Vol. 2: EIDOLON by Warren Ellis, Jason Masters
  • Last Drink To LA by John Sutherland
  • Do Design by Alan Moore
  • Black Mould by Ben Aaronovitch
  • The Secret Life of the Pencil by Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney ☆

2016

  • Cabin Porn by Zach Klein ☆
  • Out of Office by Chris Ward ☆
  • Grounded by Chris Ward
  • Gutenberg The Geek by Jeff Jarvis
  • River Cottage Bread by Daniel Stevens
  • Dark Entries by Ian Rankin ☆
  • Second Variety by Philip K Dick
  • The Golden Man by Philip K Dick
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • Normal by Warren Ellis ☆
  • Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life Volume 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley ☆
  • Adjustment Team by Philip K Dick
  • Etape by Richard Moore
  • The Travelling Companion by Ian Rankin ☆
  • In the Nick of Time by Ian Ranking & Peter James
  • Racing Through The Dark by David Millar
  • The Art of Travel by Alain de Boton ☆
  • A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell ☆
  • Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
  • Hyde and Seek by Ian Rankin
  • Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin
  • A Place of My Own by Michael Pollen ☆
  • Bags of Energy Now by Nicholas Bates

2015

  • Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald
  • Hops and Glory by Pete Brown ☆
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway ☆
  • A Man Walks Into a Pub by Pete Brown ☆
  • Three Sheets to the Wind by Pete Brown ☆
  • Elektrograd: Rusted Blood by Warren Ellis ☆
  • Small Wars by Lee Child
  • Killing Floor by Lee Childs
  • Die Trying by Lee Childs
  • Second Son by Lee Childs
  • Tripwire by Lee Childs
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck ☆
  • Mastermind – How Dave Brailsford Reinvented the Sport by Richard Moore
  • Money For Something by Matt Henderson (s)
  • Even Dogs In The Wild by Ian Rankin
  • The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel

2014

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming
  • Living Daylights/View to a Kill by Ian Fleming
  • Once Upon a Time In the North by Philip Pullman
  • The Ocean at the End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman ☆
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman ☆
  • Domestique by Charlie Wegelius
  • Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh
  • You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming
  • The Man With The Golden Gun by Ian Fleming
  • James Bond My Long And Eventful Search For His Father by Len Deighton ☆
  • How To Develop Emotional Health by Oliver James
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M R Carey ☆
  • Octopussy The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming
  • Fighter by Len Deighton ☆
  • Cruel Britannia by Ian Cobain ☆
  • The Beat Goes On by Ian Rankin
  • Inside Team Sky by David Walsh
  • Etape by Richard Moore

2013

  • How To Be Great At The Stuff You Hate by Nick Davies
  • Gun Machine by Warren Ellis ☆
  • Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis ☆
  • The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway ☆
  • To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway ☆
  • The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks ☆
  • Teach Us To Sit Still by Tim Parks
  • The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming
  • It’s All About The Bike by Rob Penn ☆
  • Put Me Back on My Bike by William Fotheringham
  • Obsessive Cycling Disorder by Dave Barter
  • MidbyLife Cyclists by Chris McHuthison & Neil Blundell
  • The Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ☆
  • Architecture a Modern View by Richard Rogers ☆
  • 137 Books In One Year by Kevin Hendricks

2012

  • Just My Type by Simon Garfield ☆
  • Drive by James Sallis ☆
  • The Manual 2
  • Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson ☆
  • Burning Chrome by William Gibson ☆
  • Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis ☆
  • Keeping It Straight by Patrick Rhone ☆
  • Enough by Patrick Rhone ☆
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke ☆
  • The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
  • From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming
  • Dr No by Ian Fleming
  • Drive by James Sallis ☆
  • Driven by James Sallis
  • A Good Year by Peter Mayle
  • Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
  • Soldier I SAS by Pete Winner
  • Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ☆
  • Money For Something by Matt Henderson
  • Standing In Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin
  • Thunderball by Ian Fleming

2011

  • Undercover UX by Cennyd Bowles
  • Life by Keith Richards
  • Fat, Forty and Fired by Nigel Marsh ☆
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • On Writing by Stephen King ☆
  • The Flood by Ian Rankin
  • The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
  • The Power Of Less by Leo Babauta
  • UX Design by Unger & Chandler
  • The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester ☆
  • The Torrents Of Spring by Hemingway ☆
  • A Moveable Feast by Hemingway ☆
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • The Rum Diaries by Hunter S Thompson ☆
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre
  • Zero History by William Gibson ☆
  • Thank You For The Days by Mark Radcliffe
  • The Manual 1
  • REAMDE by Neal Stephenson ☆

2010

  • Stirred But Not Shaken by Keith Floyd ☆
  • Bespoke by Richard Anderson ☆
  • Ripley Underground by Patricia Highsmith ☆
  • Ripley’s game by Patricia Highsmith ☆
  • Form Design by Luke Wroblewski
  • Count Zero by William Gibson ☆
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson ☆
  • Up In The Air by Walter Kirn
  • Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
  • The Art of Concentration by Harriet Griffey
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell ☆
  • The Complaints by Ian Rankin ☆
  • Escobar by Robert Escobar ☆
  • Live And Let Die by Ian Fleming
  • Moonraker by Ian Fleming
  • Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
  • Ripley Underwater by Patricia Highsmith
  • Pattern Recognition by William Gibson ☆
  • Spook Country by William Gibson ☆
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • A Cool Head by Ian Rankin
  • Zero History by William Gibson ☆
  • The Girl With Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
  • The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
  • The Profession of Violence by John Pearson

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