Colin’s 2017 reading list

Our recent newsletter featured a column of recommendations for things to do in December from the CN&CO team. I put forward my top three books for 2017 – but that was just the tip of the iceberg. At the beginning of the year I made a decision to read more.

“Hmmm… more than what?” I asked myself.

And so I decided to record each book as I finished reading it. I’ve been really surprised by the number of books I’ve read so far this year. I am currently reading numbers 23, 24 and 25 – and that’s not counting the books I abandoned (for whatever reason).

Here are the first 22, in the order that I finished them. My top three are marked with *s:

A Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman

A novelised account of the early life of Camille Pissaro growing up in the Caribbean. I enjoyed it immensely, but not as much as I enjoyed Hoffman’s novel The Dovekeepers, set in the build-up to the siege of Masada.

*A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

A hectic storyline, but beautifully told. Harrowing and beautiful at the same time. I cried more than once while reading it (and two of those times were in public!)

Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

His brilliant autobiography, filled with more “this-shit-HAPPENED?” moments than I can count.

Six Scary Stories, selected by Stephen King

A quick read. A little bit scary in parts, but not as scary as Stephen King does it.

Free Association, Steven ‘Boykie’ Sidley

I loved this book, and was inspired by Boykie’s visit to CN&CO.

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

I finally read – and thoroughly enjoyed – an entire Neil Gaiman book. Don’t bother with the TV series.

The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls

Engrossing autobiography. Extremely evocative, beautifully told – loved it.

The Persimmon Tree, Bryce Courtenay

Fluffy and improbable love story set during the Japanese occupation of Java during WWII.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

I started and abandoned this book a few years ago. This time I finished it. If you haven’t read any Gaiman, don’t start with this one. Rather choose American Gods or Neverwhere

Tangled Weeds, Sarah Key

This is a great local crime story written by a good friend. It was her debut novel, launched a couple of years ago on Amazon and then this year in print. She’s just published number five and is working on number six. My new year’s reading resolution is to include at least two more of Sarah’s books on my list.

Mrs Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

Good, but not as good as the movie. I blame Tim Burton and Eva Green for this disparity, rather than Ransom Riggs.

David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell

I have always said that when I grow up I want to be Malcolm Gladwell. Do you listen to his podcast, Revisionist History? This one, A Good Walk Spoiled – about why golf is such a terrible sport – is my absolute favourite.

Shoe Dog, Phil Knight

A memoir by the creator of the Nike brand. Very interesting and (surprisingly) well written.

*Hum if You Don’t Know the Words, Bianca Marais

Another debut novel by another good friend. This book is a must read for all South Africans. I loved every word, every character, every scene — everything!

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way, Bill Bryson

This book thrilled my grammar-nerd heart, but became a bit dated towards the end. It was written in 1998, so… not really a surprise.

Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman

I really have taken to this author! Better late than never, I suppose. This is a good starter-book if you’d like to get into Neil Gaiman. It’s based on a TV series, which is rather unusual (I thought).

Before the Fall, Noah Hawley

This book was touted on Amazon as one of the top 10 page-turners of 2017 – but we’ve learnt not to believe everything we read on the internet, right? It’s easy to read, but falls rather flat in the plot department #imho.

*My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, Fredrik Backman

This book was pure delight, from start to finish. I loved every moment of it. It was recommended by a friend of a friend. I didn’t ask questions; I just started reading it. And that’s what I recommend you do. 🙂

Camino Island, John Grisham

It’s John Grisham. And it’s exactly what you think it’s going to be.

The Moth Presents All These Wonders

Fabulous storytelling by a variety of people, each chapter no more than five or six pages. Highly recommended. This book would have made it into my top five, had I elected to go for a top five rather than a top three.

The President’s Keepers, Jacques Pauw

It’s like a series of crime novels, but it’s true. And it’s still happening! Made my blood boil.

The Rooster Bar – another John Grisham novel

This one was pretty mindless and easy to read. It’s really nothing amazing, but once I’d started I just kept going. After The President’s Keepers I needed to let go a bit. It’s like going downhill on your bike and discovering that your brakes don’t work. The book ending doesn’t hurt quite as much, though.

I am currently reading:

Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari

This book needs to be read in short bursts. It’s really interesting and well argued. Nuff said.

Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and (surprise, surprise) Neil Gaiman

I need to be in a particular frame of mind to enjoy Terry Pratchett, which I haven’t been of late. So I’ll probably pause on this one for a month or two.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer

Hmmmm…. I find Amy Schumer to be a bit vulgar at times (actually, most of the time). The book has some non-vulgar moments, which are really good. But I’m not sure they make up for all the uncalled-for bits about her vagina.

Colin is our resident wordsmith. He can write absolutely anything and loves to read, too. He even has his own book club.