Reading Review of the Year

My reading statistics for 2008.

183 books read in total, which averages around 3.5 books a week.

I’ve read books written by authors whose surnames start with every letter of the alphabet from Debi Alper to Richard Zimler.

Favourite books of the year were (in reading order):

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
The Year of Living Magically by Joan Didion
Miracles of Life by J.G. Ballard
Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie
Underfoot in Showbusiness by Helene Hanff
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
The Duchess of Bloomsbury by Helene Hanff
Apple of My Eye by Helene Hanff
Q’s Legacy by Helene Hanff
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
Letter from New York by Helene Hanff
To Dream of the Dead by Phil Rickman
The Weirdstone of Brisingham by Alan Garner
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Many of these, the Agatha Christies, some of the Helene Hanffs and of course the Alan Garner and Philippa Pearce were re-reads, but I was pleased to note that time had not diminished the power of the writing and the narrative. If you like life/travel writing do read Helene Hanff, she is an exuberant companion and you won’t be bored!

But there is one book that has stood head and shoulders above the others, and as I actually read it in December 2007 shouldn’t really be mentioned in a reading review of 2008, but its the book that has stayed with me since I first read it, when I blogged about it back then I headed up the blog with ‘You Must Read this Book’ and I still feel the same about this over twelve months. I’ve read other books in the Zarco series as well as Search for Sana and they are each superb and compelling reads, but haven’t haunted me in the way that this one has. Read it.

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, my worst book of the year was The King and Mrs. Simpson: The True Story of the Commoner Who Captured the Heart of a King by Erin Frances Shulz. This was a book that came to me through the excellent Library Thing Early Reviewers programme and was fortunately very short, but oh dear. I’ve just realised that I was extremely generous when I rated this book on Library Thing and doubled my rating as this book sadly only managed to be ranked at 2 points out of 10 on my system. I’ve just looked at it again to see if I was too hard, as the book is intended as a ‘snapshot of history’ and to attract readers who wouldn’t normally pick up a history book, which is not me, but sadly I was right. As I wrote in my Library Thing review, ‘this is sadly not a book I can recommend to newcomers to the story, as the inaccuracies combined with the simplistic prose make what should be an epic and engaging read, flat and uninspiring.’

Oh yes, and if you are considering joining Library Thing Early Reviewers, do, unlike other review programmes (cough cough Amazon) they don’t penalise you for bad reviews and I can confirm that as I snagged another Early Review copy after posting this review.

This entry was posted in Books, Library Thing Early Reviewers, Richard Zimler. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Reading Review of the Year

  1. Debi says:

    Come on then! Which book did you read whose author’s name began with X???Happy new year to you, Riv. Authors depend on readers and there can be few more prolific than you …

  2. riverwillow says:

    Qiu Xiaolong – wasn’t sure if his name had been anglicised or not, but according to Library Thing it has – and I had Karen Quinn as my Q before you ask…As for being prolific Bruhilde, for one, reads more than me honestly and I need to be if I’m going to reduce the 393 books currently languishing on Mount TBR and blocking my hall :0). But there will always be room for the new Debi Alper…

  3. Hannah Furst says:

    I recently saw your post about reading Suite Française and I wanted to let you know about an exciting new exhibition about Irène Némirovsky’s life, work, and legacy that opened on September 24, 2008 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, which will run through the middle of March, will include powerful rare artifacts — the actual handwritten manuscript for Suite Française, the valise in which it was found, and many personal papers and family photos. The majority of these documents and artifacts have never been outside of France. For fans of her work, this exhibition is an opportunity to really “get to know” Irene. And for those who can’t visit, there will be a special website that will live on the Museum’s site The Museum will host several public programs over the course of the exhibition’s run that will put Némirovsky’s work and life into historical and literary context. Book clubs and groups are invited to the Museum for tours and discussions in the exhibition’s adjacent Salon (by appointment). It is the Museum’s hope that the exhibit will engage visitors and promote dialogue about this extraordinary writer and the complex time in which she lived and died. To book a group tour, please contact Tracy Bradshaw at 646.437.4304 or Please visit our website at for up-to-date information about upcoming public programs or to join our e-bulletin list. Thanks for sharing this info with your readers. If you need any more, please do not hesitate to contact me at

  4. sexy says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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