I saw this on Cleo’s blog and think it’s a good way of looking back at what I’ve read over the year so far. Here’s my version. Some of my choices could go in more than one square, and for some squares I could have chosen lots of books!
I think this is the best way of tackling a Reading Bingo card – read the books you want to read and then see where they fit into the squares.
A Book With More Than 500 Pages
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens – This is a sentimental tale but it’s also full of weird, grotesque and comic characters, a mix of everyday people and characters of fantasy. It has elements of folklore and myth, as Nell and her grandfather, go on an epic journey, fleeing from the terrifying dwarf, Daniel Quilp and travelling through a variety of scenes, meeting different groups of people on their journey.
A Forgotten Classic
The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins – A dying woman, Mrs Treverton commands her maid, Sarah Leeson, to give her husband a letter confessing a great secret. I don’t think The Dead Secret is in quite the same league as The Moonstone or The Woman in White, but it has all the elements of a good mystery story, drawing out the secret in tense anticipation of its revelation.
A Book That Became a Movie
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum – This was first published in 1900, made into a Broadway Musical in 1902 and a film in 1939. I’d seen the film and also a stage version in a local amateur dramatic society production some years ago, but not read the book. It’s pure escapism, which I would have loved as a child.
A Book Published This Year
The Ghosts of Altona – an outstanding book, one of the best I’ve read this year. It won this year’s Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the Year. Jan Fabel, the head of Hamburg’s Murder Commission, has a near-death experience when he is shot by a suspected child killer, which has a profound effect on his life and the way he views death. Two years later his first case as a detective is resurrected. It’s very cleverly plotted, multi-layered and complex and I loved it.
A Book With A Number In The Title
Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie – This is one of Agatha Christie’s earlier books and is full of baffling clues, conjuring tricks, clues concealed in conversations, with larger than life personalities, and above all with puzzles to be solved. Poirot plays a secondary role, and it is Mr Satterthwaite and Sir Charles Cartwright who investigate the deaths.
A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty
I think most of the authors I read this year are over 30, but some may be under! I don’t know!
A Book With Non Human Characters
Dreamwalker by James Oswald – Inspired by Welsh folklore this is a magical tale of the young dragon, Benfro and the young boy, Errol, born on the same day.
A Funny Book
I haven’t read any funny books as such this year! But Watching War Films With My Dad: a Memoir by comedian Al Murray (AKA The Pub Landlord) comes closest. It’s very funny in parts.
A Book By A Female Author
I’m spoilt for choice, but have chosen The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. I loved everything about it – the descriptive passages, the mystery, the secrets and the people involved. Another contender for the best book I’ve read this year. It moves between time periods from 2011, back to the 1960s and also to the 1940s, cleverly written and so well plotted – I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!
A Book With A Mystery
Again I’m spoilt for choice and have picked The Burning by Jane Casey, the first in the DC Maeve Kerrigan series. Four young women have been brutally murdered, beaten to death and their bodies burnt in secluded areas of London’s parks. When a fifth body is discovered it appears to be the work of The Burning Man – but is it, there are slight differences? Is it a copy-cat killing?
A Book With A One Word Title
Wreckage by Emily Bleeker – well written, full of suspense, tension and drama as well as love, loss and longing. This is the story of Lillian Linden and Dave Hall, who were being interviewed following their rescue from a deserted island in the South Pacific where they had spent two years after their plane crashed into the sea. The thing is their interviews are full of lies – they are desperate to keep what really happened a secret from their families.
A Book of Short Stories
Bliss and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield, a collection of fourteen short stories originally published in 1920. As with all short story collections I liked some more than others. These are about the relationships between men and women, about childhood, growing up and loneliness.
For this I’ve chosen a book that once I started reading it I didn’t want to stop – The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley. It’s the story of Tom and Alice beginning in 1928 in Hertfordshire and moving backwards and forwards in time and place to 1986, from Paris, to London, Corsica and New York; a love story, as well as a story of loss, discovery and grief as the decisions we make impact not just on our own lives but on those of others too.
A Book Set On A Different Continent
Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie Mallowan. In 1929 and 1930 Agatha Christie travelled on the Orient Express to Istanbul and then on to Damascus and Baghdad. The emphasis in the book is on her everyday life on a dig excavating the ancient sites at Chagar Bazar, Tell Brak and other sites in the Habur and Jaghjagha region in what was then north western Syria.
A Book of Non-Fiction
Spilling the Beans by Clarissa Dickson Wright, who was an English celebrity chef – one of the Two Fat Ladies, a television personality, writer, businesswoman, and former barrister. Despite all her difficulties and her alcoholism this is an upbeat autobiography, ending on a positive note: “Believe me on one thing: I have a splendidly enjoyable life”. And believe me this is a ‘splendidly enjoyable’ autobiography.
The First Book By A Favourite Author
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, a beautifully written book, describing the countryside around and in Nagasaki after the Second World War, referring to life before the war, and how not only the landscape but also the people and traditions were altered in the aftermath of the atomic bomb.
A Book I Heard About Online
The Golden Age of Murder:The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story by Martin Edwards. I read about this on Martin Edwards’ blog. This is the story of the writers who formed the Detection Club between the two World Wars. Edwards sets the authors and their works in context – that period when Britain was recovering from the horrors of the First World War, living through an age of austerity as unemployment grew, the cost of living soared leading to the General Strike whilst the rich partied and saw the beginnings of the end of the British Empire.
A Best Selling Book
Even Dogs In the Wild by Ian Rankin – the latest Rebus book. Rankin, as usual, successfully combines all the elements of the crime mystery with the personal lives of the main characters and at the same time highlighting various current political and social issues, such as the involvement of public figures in child abuse cases and the effect this has on the individuals concerned and their families.
A Book Based Upon A True Story
Catching the Eagle by Karen Charlton – a novel set in Northumberland in the early 1800s and based on the true story of her husband’s ancestors. Jamie Charlton was accused of robbery and was transported as a convicted felon to New South Wales. Did he or did he not steal the money?
A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile
An Autobiography by Anthony Trollope – I’d almost forgotten about this book because I’d had it for so long that the pages had yellowed and it’s a bit worn and damaged from moving house. I found it fascinating because it is not only his life story – his unhappy childhood, his work in the Post Office, including his work in Ireland and abroad, his marriage and family life and his love of hunting, but Trollope also writes a lot about his writing, criticises his own books and discusses his fellow writers.
A Book Your Friend Loves
Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police by Carmen Bugan, recommended by a friend at my local book group, this is a childhood memoir of political oppression and persecution during Romania’s Ceausescu years. I struggled a bit at first with the style of writing in the historic present tense, but then I often have problems reading the present tense.
A Book That Scares You
A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton, a Lacey Flint murder mystery that is such a terrifying novel, particularly if like me, you have a fear of drowning, a grim tale with a great sense of foreboding and mystery.
A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old
Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon by Jane Austen. Three stories not published in Jane Austen’s lifetime, written between 1793 and 1817. They are so different from each other, probably reflecting the different periods of her life when they were written. And I can’t decide between Lady Susan and Sanditon which one I like best.
The Second Book In A Series
Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers – this is the second of her books featuring Harriet Vane, a crime fiction writer, although it’s the seventh featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. It is an example of the puzzle type of crime fiction – incredibly complicated and seemingly impossible to solve.
A Book With A Blue Cover
A Question of Identity by Susan Hill, the 7th Simon Serrailler book. The main theme in this book, as the title indicates is ‘identity’ and its importance, how it is concealed, whether a personality can be changed convincingly and completely, or whether eventually the façade will crack and the real character reassert itself. It’s full of tension and suspense.