So two of the four resolutions were pretty much on target, which is all good. The third resolution though… eek. The idea was to read two books a month, so 24 in the year. I managed five, so I think we will call this one a miss…
In no particular order, the five books I read in 2019 were:
Red Sky at Night by Jane Struthers
I picked this up on a whim in Waterstones from one of their display tables, after the book cover totally hooked me in. The tagline is “The Book of List Countryside Wisdom”, and that is 100% what the book is. The topics include animals, weather, superstitions, food, celebrations and other traditions of the British countryside. I really enjoyed it, and it certainly inspired me to look for a flat with some outdoor space when we moved in March. I achieved that goal, even though I have done absolutely nothing with the wilderness which is now under my care… whoops. 8/10.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harris
Very late to the party on this one, as it was a bestseller and the talk of the town a few years ago. It charts the history of humankind from the first hominids on the African plains through to the modern age and looks briefly at what might happen in the near future. It’s a great book, everything everyone says about it is correct. It also made me look again at human behaviour, and how much of it is shaped by the evolutionary pressures in our pre-history. 10/10.
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
Big fan of Sir Ishiguro, having read Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day and The Buried Giant. This is his first novel, published in 1982. It is a decidedly odd book. I think the theme is on memory, and how we cannot take the narrators view as the absolute truth. Certainly, the end just leaves many more questions than it answers. But overall I liked it; his books, like Haruki Murakami, are always a bit ‘etherial’, not concrete with everything spelt out in a formulaic and predictable fashion. 7/10.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
I bought this after I went to Nepal in 2014, and I read about a third in the months after I returned. I reached the point where it is all starting to go wrong, and I was so frustrated with how stupid everyone had been that I put it down. I decided to give it another go, and on second reading found it much less frustrating, with the main actors in the tragic events on Everest more human and fallible. As the drama unfolded, I was more and more drawn into the book, finally finishing it at about 1.30am after a 6-hour binge. 9/10.
Namma by Kate Karko
Go this in a charity shop a couple of years ago, mainly because it was 50p. A kind of travel auto-biography, the narrator in the book is Kate herself, telling the story of how she met her Tibetan husband and their 6-month stay with his family. I liked it; it isn’t the best-written book in the world, but she certainly painted a vivid picture of Tibet for someone like me who has never been there. 6/10.