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My Book List With All My Favourite Books

Updated on November 10, 2014
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A Record Of My Best Books 2013

My best books 2013 is an on-line diary of all the books that I've read and enjoyed this year - my very own best books 2013. I've always loved reading and now I wish that I'd kept a record - a book diary - of all the marvelous books I've read. It's never too late - as they say and in the auspicious year of 2013 I begin to list the lovely books that come my way.

Since I moved to rural France I can no longer take for granted the fact that I can put out my hand, or trip to the nearest Library and pluck whatever book from a shelf. Well - I could do that here if I could read French. Alas - I have a reading age in French of about ten.

Solution? Buy books from Amazon. Quick, easy and they've never let me down. But how to choose which books to read? Personal recommendation is always the best so I joined a group of literary ladies who know how to enjoy themselves and over sumptuous lunches we swap our favourite books and exchange our good reads. It occurred to me that it would be nice to share these little gems with other like-minded readers who can't be here to join us.

Fingersmith: Buy from Amazon.co.uk

My Latest Good Read

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - By Marina Lewycka

I've just finished this book and loved it. How could so much be packed into one smallish novel? It's a biography, a cautionary tale, a commentary on politics, a history of a beleaguered nation, an hilarious story of an old man who marries a ruthless would-be immigrant and, last but not least, a history of the tractor. What more could you want?

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A light read but with much weighty comment seamlessly slipped in. , Much is drawn from real life. You'll laugh and cry ....

 

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Books I've Read and Loved This Year

Fingersmith - By Sarah Waters

If you long for the meaty fiction of the past, for Dickens or the Bronte sisters, for satisfying plots, vivid imagery and beautiful language then this book is for you. It is the same old baby-switch scenario but deliciously told and with twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very last minute.

The story revolves around two young orphan girls, Maud and Sue, a den of petty thieves in the heart of London, a crumbling country mansion, a villainous, handsome hero and a rich, wicked uncle. Sarah Waters throws into this mix a good handful of pornography - poison, and a rush of lesbian erotica. It is an absolute delight.

Fingersmith
Fingersmith

Victorian-inspired crime fiction Released October 1, 2002 this book was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and for the Man Booker Prize. Winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Dagger for Historical Crime Fiction

The New York Times Book Review has called Sarah Waters a writer of "startling power" and The Seattle Times has praised her work as "gripping, astute fiction that feeds the mind and the senses." Fingersmith marks a major leap forward in this young and brilliant career.

Fingersmith: Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Tipping the Velvet

By Sarah Waters

I loved Fingersmith so much that I bought 'Tipping the Velvet' and thoroughly enjoyed that too.

This story follows a young oyster girl, Nancy, from her home town through to the music halls of the 1890's where she falls head over heels in love with a male impersonator or 'masher' called Kitty. There follows a journey from starlet to prostitute and finally to .... well, I'm not going to spoil the ending - read it yourself! A wonderful lesbian romp with all the color of London in the naughty nineties.

Tipping the Velvet - Official trailer

Lovely costumes, beautiful women and a lovely atmosphere. Please note - some nudity and scenes of love-making

The Hare With Amber Eyes - A Hidden Inheritance - By Edmund de Waal

This is a family history which traces the story through a collection of little carved Japanese objects - netsuke. But it is so much more than a history of a Jewish family that made a vast fortune - and lost it.

The Hare With Amber Eyes tells of the arts and politics of the turn of the 19th century over Europe. The role that members of the Ephrussi family played as patrons of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. It follows the family footsteps from Odessa in Russia all over the world, but best of all, it is a thrilling adventure, with a nail-biting escape from Hitler's Vienna. It is complete with the death-defying bravery of a heroine, with sex (very lightly touched upon) and a new start after the horrors of the Second World War.

I can't wait for the film of the book!

The Hare with Amber Eyes
The Hare with Amber Eyes

Edmund de Waal is a potter and writer. He inherited the netsuke collection with it's remarkable story.

The book is illustrated with pictures of his family and their palaces.

The Hare With Amber Eyes: Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

The Intimate Adventures Of A London Call Girl - Belle de Jour is Brooke Magnanti

Finished this wonderfully witty and funny - if shocking - book by Brooke Magnanti written under the pen name of Belle de Jour. The book is well-written in an easy journalistic style - Brooke Magnanti now has articles all over the net on a wealth of subject matter, and she has recently written and presented her own BBC Radio 4 series.

The Intimate Adventures Of A London Call Girl is drawn from real life. I love a true story. Brooke Magnanti worked as a high-class call girl in London for a year or so 2003 - 2004 to pay her way through a science doctorate. Of course she was looking to a brilliant career in the scientific field and, despite writing about her life on a successful blog and subsequently becoming a published author, she guarded that anonymity for quite some time.

Despite being a little dubious about some of the lurid practices that goes on in the trade, the book is much more than an erotic journey - not even an erotic journey. Yes, there's plenty of sex, and much of it I found most unpleasant, but Magnanti also describes the joy she took in her work, her professional pride and throughout the book the humanity of the situation shines through.

Read it for sex tips, read it for an insight into the life of a top-notch working girl, read it for a good laugh, a bit of a cry perhaps - read it for all of these. My verdict - a jolly good read.

I Couldn't Resist Ordering the BBC Secret Diary of a Call Girl - DVD Complete series box set starring Billie Piper. And I'm really enjoying it! If you're looking for some horrid, porny film - this is not going to do the trick - but it is pretty frank and having watched a bit my husband and I decided not to allow our 15 year old son to see it - we think over 18 only.

Why? Because it treads the line between describing the exact realities of being a call girl, and the wide variety of services her clients demand, alongside a funny, witty, humane and touching storyline and dialogue.

As always, the BBC have cracked it. Billie Piper (ex-Dr Who companion) plays her role wonderfully, flipping between her girl-next-door life as Hannah and her call girl self Belle. Dr Who (alias Matt Smith) is in it too!

Secret Diary of a Call Girl - Series 1-4 Complete [DVD]: Buy from Amazon.co.uk

Instances of the Number 3 - By Sally Vickers (Paperback)

Salley Vickers is the author of Miss Garnet's Angel and it was this book that I first heard of, however a friend had Instance of the Number 3 - so in I launched and so far so good. I love the language - it isn't the easiest, and I find myself re-reading passages. The sentence structure seems to hark back to the last century.

The story though, is fairly simple.It begins with a death. Peter dies, his wife is not inconsolable and his mistress befriends his wife. Then the young and beautiful boy appears. I'm looking forward to seeing how all this unfolds.

Salley Vickers's Numbers

Salley Vickers acknowledges her debt to Rupert Kingfisher and his play The Prisoner's Dilemma. She says it what this that first alerted her to the 'creative possibilities' of the number three.

In her Preface she tells us about the belief amongst the ancient schools that the number 3 is unstable. She points out that in many cases 3 is very stable indeed - stools with three legs, the Holy Trinity. However, she maintains that 'three is a protean number - with a tendency to collapse into 2 or expand towards 4 ...

The plot revolves around a 'menage trois' which is revealed upon the death of Peter. Peter's widow and mistress form an alliance which is, in turn, disturbed by the arrival of a third. Comic and farsical in a dry-humoured kind of way, I didn't exactly find it a bundle of laughs. It's fun, though, to turn the numbers around - Vickers suggests that religion in Ireland stemmed from the magic that reingned before Saint Patrick set foot there. The number 21 is famous, apparently 'for its power to charm.' The painting of the holy family by Leonardo da Vinci which shows the Virgin seated on the lap of Saint Anne clutching the baby Jesus is also a recurrent image (see below), and the Holy Trinity is compared to 'a Neapolitan ice ... stawberry, pistachio and chocolate... each an essential part of the whole ...'

I'm not sure about this book. I do think it might be a much improved experience if you brush up your John Donne and Hamlet in particular, and Shakespear in general. I think my basic education is much too hazy to enjoy the nuances of the plot.

Instances of the Number 3
Instances of the Number 3

The reviews are positive: salley Vickers 'writes like a haunted agnel' - The Times. Others find it crisp, witty, exquisite, pungent ....

 

Pure - By Andrew Miller

This is one of the sorts of books I love best - a fictionalised account of a real event. I feel that I get to learn something the easy way. Set in Paris, 1785 a youngish man is given the job of demolishing the Paris graveyard. vibrant, visual, poetic, this is an easy read with a deceptively simple story that, nevertheless, suruptitiously not only tackles a great city in a great historical moment but also the biggest guestions of life and death: reason and insanity, love and violence, gooness and evil, purity and decay, innocence and guilt.

I couldln't put this book down.

Pure
Pure

First published by Sceptre in 2011 and Winner of the 2011 Costa Book of the Year

 

My Booklist Continues To Grow

Home: A Novel
Home: A Novel

Two siblings move back home in middle age to care for their failing father. Glory has an unhappy adulthood, and Jack, the black sheep of the family, disappeared twenty years ago. Where has he been? Why did he go? How has the prodigal son been received and what is the relationship between predestination and redemption? All these questions are covered in this evocative, beautifully written book. A book to read slowly so that the language can be savoured and so that the slow and slightly tedious passage of time in the family home can be felt in the same way as Glory and Jack felt time ticking by.

 
Miss Garnet's Angel
Miss Garnet's Angel

Miss Garnet is a spinsterish teacher who loses her best friend. In response she moves to Venice, discovers herself and finds her guardian angel.

I loved this book, despite the fact that I don't really think it's great literature. You'll learn a lot about Venice, a bit about Angels and a great deal about the bible story of Tobias and the Angel.

 
Disgrace: A Novel
Disgrace: A Novel

J M Coetzee the Booker prize for the second time with Disgrace - and he's the one and only novelist to have achieved this. The first time around he won the prize with The Life and Times of Michael K.

In Disgrace, Coetzee paints a bleak vision of post-apartheid South Africa, of relationships between women and men. The story begins with a University lecturer who relieves his sexual appetite with acquaintances, prostitutes and then, fatally, with one of his own, young students. He then, in disgrace, goes to live with his lesbian daughter on her smallholding in the countryside. Here he has time to reflect on his life.

Reading this after 'home', I'm struck with the similarity between the two books. In the first middle aged children come back together into the family home, in this it is the middle-aged father who moves into the home of his daughter. In both books the newcomers find that they do not fit into their new homes, but they don't fit the lifestyle of their family members either.

 
The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy

this is not really a masterpiece of literature but, like the Harry Potter series it's a jolly good read. J K Rowling explores the relationships and politics in a small English town. The underlying tensions come to the fore when one of the councilors drops down dead leaving a Casual Vacancy to be filled.

 

I Don't Know What to Say About These Books - Either I didn't like them too much or I didn't understand what the heck they were about!

The Carrier
The Carrier

I've just finished this book by the Sudanese/British writer Jamal Mahjoub. I struggled with it but don't really know why. The story is about a Rashid al-Kenzy, 'the carrier,' who begins a journey in Algiers at the start of the 17th century to find a telescope. The journey takes him far into the cold lands of the north.

 

Don't Have A Kindle Yet? - The Latest Kindle Fire HDX is out now

What are you waiting for??? My choice was the Kindle Paperwhite - I didn't want to splash too much cash, but I did want to be able to read in bed without disturbing my partner. I wanted to be able to get English books quickly and easily and I wanted to be able to save money by taking advantage of FREE books - all the classics - despite a lifetime of reading there are still many fab books to read. Having said that there is not much difference now in price between the Paperwhite and the older versions of Kindle Fire.

More reasons for buying a Kindle:

- Light to hold - great if you're older and find it hard to support large books

- You can read the text size that suits you - again, good if, like me, you can't see as well as you'd like

- Light, small and slim - slip it into your handbag

- Pay a bit more and get more Internet access

Which Kindle is for you?

Kindle Fire HDX 7", HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation - 3rd)
Kindle Fire HDX 7", HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation - 3rd)

With the latest Kindle you can read books but you can do a whole lot more. Click here to find out about the fabulous Kindle Fire HDX

 

What are your best books for 2013?

Books I've Read but Haven't Enjoyed - But they're generally held to be good books - so you might like them

These are the books that I've found, been given or recommended that I hoped I'd enjoy but didn't - for one reason or another. The list only includes books that I think I SHOULD have enjoyed. Other people think they're great or they are great books for one reason and another - so you might still like to give them a try.

Some I finished, but others I couldn't make ti to the end.

One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude

I started this but couldn't finish it. Set in a village in the swamps of south America there is a magical village run by the founding father. Not really sure what it's about really. I chose it because I loved 'Love in The Time of Cholera' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which I can absolutely recommend.

 

Where in the World Are We? - In Limousin, a hidden corner of South West France

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Are You a Bookworm Too? - Do leave a message - I'd love to hear from you

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    • johnny-knox profile image

      johnny-knox 4 years ago

      Super lens... so many book choices and so nicely presented!

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @TCB dan: Thanks for visiting TCB-dan. The joy of a book club is that I can get reccommendations and don't waste time with books that are not worthwhile.

    • TCB dan profile image

      TCB dan 4 years ago

      I still have a whole bunch of books in my "to be read pile" but after they're through, I'm revisiting your lens... thanks!

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @Linda BookLady: Thanks for leaving your book ideas, LindaJM. I've read The Millennium Trilogy and found it so powerful - and sad in so many ways. Loved the films as well. I haven't read SS's autobiography, but still remember going to see her in Carrie in my youth! I tried to put links to the books on Amazon on the plexo but failed to get anything other than a gobbledygook link so must take advice! (Hope Candida Cure works).

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @FanfrelucheHubs: Lusciously good read all round! Let me know what you think if you read it.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @PlethoraReader: I must read the other Ken Follets. Saw the film of Worl Without End and loved it. Thank you so much for the blessing.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I love to read about books other people found valuable. So far this year I've read Sissy Spacek's autobiography and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" . . . now am reading a book on the candida diet "The Candida Cure."

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 4 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Fingersmith sounds interesting, lesbian erotica kinda is appealing. Never heard about that book before, thanks for sharing.

    • PlethoraReader profile image

      Matthew 4 years ago from Silicon Valley

      Also am a bikg fan of the Ken Follet books for Fiction stories. Good luck this year. Blessed

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @AlleyCatLane: Me too AlleyCatLane. I loved it. Tipping the Velvet next on the Sarah Waters list.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @MaggiePowell: It's so nice to find people who like what you like to recommend their favourite books, which is where a group of readers comes in handy. Thanks for dropping by Maggie.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @jhubelcanilanza1: So do I - would be lost without my books.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Thanks for this list. i have been trying to find a good book, and Fingersmith sounds like just what I hunger for.

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 4 years ago

      I love to read... anything and everything.... thanks for the list, I will put some of these on my 'to read' list.

    • jhubelcanilanza1 profile image

      jhubelcanilanza1 4 years ago

      I like novels.. :)