Category Archives: Reading List

My 2016 Reading List

Hello Readers,

Firstly, I would like to wish all of my fellow blogger friends a happy and creative 2016. Let’s hope it is a successful one for us!

In 2015, I read 13 books out of a planned 36 books, which wasn’t a huge achievement, and is certainly something that I aim to make up for in 2016.

The low reading number was mostly due to other life commitments, and also due to a year of meeting and staying with ‘bad books’. By ‘bad books’, I mean those books that spark your interest several chapters in, but then curve-off in interest, thereafter. For me, the ‘curve-off’ has been mostly due to the plot either become boring, or me not caring enough about the developments or outcome of the main character. In these ‘curve-off’ moments, I have found my mind wandering over to grocery lists or gliding through social media newsfeeds. But even so, I forced myself to stay with the books. A regret. But certainly a learning curve.

*Please note that I use the term ‘bad books’ for personal use only. I am aware that although I might not enjoy the books, it doesn’t necessarily make them ‘bad books’ in the wider universe.

But this bad book situation we all find ourselves in from time to time, creates a tricky dilemma for us as readers. Should we abandon a book, or should we stay with it? I guess the best way to answer this, is to ask ourselves, ‘Are we reading for the pleasure, or are we reading in order to develop our writing skills?’ If we are reading for the pleasure, then I’d advise abandoning a bad book. But for honing our writing skills, then I’d advise staying with it. They can colour your world and shape your skills as a writer.

For me, there have been many reasons for staying with a bad book. The first reason has partly been for achievement purposes – for getting my book count in. I felt that after investing time in several chapters of a book, that it would be a waste not to capture that time spent reading. This is plain awful.

Sometimes the reason has been due to wanting to know if the character makes it through, or finding out whodunnit? This is a great example of when an author has created a marvellous main character, but has lagged on the plot. But as a writer, this also tells me that creating great, rounded, characters for readers is a highly important aspect of writing. It means that a reader (including myself) is willing to stay with a book even with a lousy plot.

Sometimes, I have decided to stay with a bad book long after that ‘curve-off’ moment, in order to identify the elements that I dislike in the book; so that I don’t adopt them in my own work.

I have always been aware of, and believe in, the concept, ‘bad books can teach you as much as the good books, when it comes to developing writing skills.’ But I do believe that the ‘reading for writing’ direction can really put a damper on reading books for pure pleasure. So this year I am going to read for the pleasure! I am going to crush my curiosity over character outcomes, and I will remind myself, that spending time on ‘bad books’ is time lost on ‘good books’. But hopefully, I will still identify little ‘dislikes’ even in those good books. Because my favourite saying is, ‘the sweet ain’t as sweet without the sour.’

I will be writing reviews on every good book that I read this year. How will I develop these reviews? Well rather than analyse writing continually as I read (as I have done in the past), this year I am going to capture those magical moments and natural realisations whilst reading, and jot them down in my notebook.

Moments such as when you stumble on a perfectly constructed sentence, a beautiful word, stunning symbolism, or a descriptive setting that has the power to transport you there. This year, I am going to let my heart take the lead and allow my analytical mind to rest.

Here is the list of 13 books that I read in 2015…

Life Expectancy – Dean Koontz, Instructions for a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell, The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton, The Book of You – Claire Kendal, Daughter – Jane Shemilt, The Little Old Lady Who Broke all the Rules – Carolina Ingelman-Sunberg, Never Tell – Claire Seeber, The Hobbit – J.R.R.Tolkien, Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie, Fiction Writer’s Handbook – Nancy Smith, The Memory Game – Nicci French, A Place of Secrets – Rachel Hore, The Scold’s Bridle – Minette Walters.

Here is the list of the 44 books that I plan to read in 2016. I have taken some books from previous lists, and some books are brand new and in the book charts. As the year goes on, some books may be added or replaced with new releases or old classics. Also, Richard & Judy are always an inspiration with the development of my reading lists, so I highly recommend you visit their book club.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller

The Quality of Silence – Rosamund Lupton

The Girl in the Red Coat – Kate Hamer

Disclaimer – Renee Knight

The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett

Revolution – Russell Brand

On Writing Horror – Mort Castle

Writing – The Horror Movie – Marc Blake and Sara Bailey

The Girl in the Photograph – Kate Riordan

Vanish – Tess Gerritsen

Eyes of a Child – Richard North Patterson

The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

Us – David Nicholls

Velocity – Dean Koontz

The Husband – Dean Koontz

I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh

The Year I Met You – Cecelia Ahern

Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

Cilla – 1943 – 2015

Edie – An American Biography – Jean Stein

The Skeleton Cupboard – Tanya Byron

Want You Dead – Peter James

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

The Doll Maker – Richard Montanari

The Killing Room – Richard Montanari

We Need to talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

Never Knowing – Chevy Stevens

Trafficked – Sophie Hayes

Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty

A Kind of Intimacy – Jenn Ashworth

Everything’s Eventual – Stephen King

Songbird – Josephine Cox

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Richard Carison

Tapping The Source – William Gladstone

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

The Orphan – Christopher Ransom

No Time For Goodbye – Linwood Barclay

The Dice Man – Luke Rhinehart

Nightmares and Dreamscapes – Stephen King

The Host – Stephanie Meyer

Black Eyed Susans – Julia Heaberlin

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

So there it is! I really am going to push myself very hard to read these books, this year. Several of these books have been sitting on my book shelf for years. At some point, some where, they had triggered my interest in buying them, and there is a definite sadness in letting the years go by, where they collect dust. It’s time to open those pages and bring the characters to life!

Until next time, I say goodbye.

Best Wishes,

Donna x

@alittlebirdtweets2016

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My 2015 Reading List!

Hello Readers,

I have finally researched and compiled my 2015 Reading List!

There is a total of 150 books on the list; which I doubt very much I will be able to complete in 2015 – but at least it will act as a guide – and for those that I do not get round to reading, they can always be added to my 2016 reading list!

I am going to attempt a different reading approach this year. I generally read at a medium speed, and by doing this I am averaging around 15 books a year. So it is time to speed up and do some scan reading in the places in a book that I see fit! Places like action scenes and scenes that tend to drag on in description will be great places to start. I also have a habit of re-reading certain paragraphs or scenes that are written beautifully or tend to take my breath away, and although this is ‘nice’, I must remember that this is taking away the time that could be spent on other books. If I were to do this even a few times on every book then the time certainly accumulates.

On the list, I have included Classics, Biographies, Teach yourself books, Poetry and a wide range of fiction genres, plus some real-life stories thrown in for good measure! This year I needed include other books that are away from the usual genre areas with which I am familiar. I think that by expanding my literary horizons, I will be colouring my experience as a writer.

Here is the list. I hope you enjoy!

Book Author
The Red House Mystery A.A. Milne
Naked, Drunk and Writing Adair Lara
Hausfrau: A Novel Jill Alexander Essbaum
The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty Amanda Filipacchi
All Fur Coat Andrew Holmes
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes Anna McPartlin
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Anne Lamott
The Hound of the Baskervilles Arthur Conan Doyle
From A to Biba: The Autobiography of Barbara Hulanicki Barbara Hulanicki
West End Girls: The Real Lives, Loves and Friendships of 1940s Soho and its Working Girls Barbara Tate
Bare Necessity (Original Title: A Compromising Position) Carole Matthews
The Little Old Lady Who Broke all the Rules Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
Love, Rosie (Original Title: Where Rainbow’s End) Cecelia Ahern
Great Expectations Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
Never Knowing Chevy Stevens
The Double Bind Chris Bohjalian
The Orphan Christopher Ransom
The Book of You Claire Kendal
Never Tell Claire Seeber
Brooklyn Colm Toibin
Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano Dana Thomas
Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
Life Expectancy Dean Koontz
Innocence Dean Koontz
The Unloved Deborah Levy
Swimming Home Deborah Levy
Writing From the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within Dennis Palumbo
The Zookeeper’s Wife Diane Ackerman
My Little Friend Donna Tartt
The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
Teach Yourself: Understanding Psychology Dr. Nicky Hayes
The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle
The Raven Edgar Allan Poe
The House of Mirth Edith Whalton
After Birth Elisa Albert
Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True Elizabeth Berg
Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
Room Emma Donoghue
Elizabeth’s Missing Emma Healey
Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway
Scoop Evelyn Waugh
Middlemarch George Eliot
1984 George Orwell
Animal Farm George Orwell
Life: A User’s Manual George Perec
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
Dark Places Gillian Flynn
The War of the Worlds H.G.Wells
The Time Machine H.G.Wells
A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara
The People in the Tree’s Hanya Yanagihara
Alys, Always Harriet Lane
Put Your Heart on the Paper: Staying Connected In A Loose-Ends World Henriette Klauser
Moby Dick Herman Melville
The Black Book Ian Rankin
The Hobbit J.R.R.Tolkien
The Call of the Wild Jack London
The Poser Jacob Rubin
Ulysses James Joyce
Write Great Fiction: Revision and Self-editing James Scott Bell
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Emma Jane Austen
Daughter Jane Shemilt
Take Joy: A Book for Writers Jane Yolen
The Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger
Into the Forest Jean Hegland
The Glass Castle Jeanette Walls
Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome
The Executor Jesse Kellerman
The Miniaturist Jessie Burton
Blue-Eyed Boy Joanne Harris
A Kind of Intimacy John Ashworth
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris John Baxter
On Becoming a Novelist John C Gardner
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writer’s John Gardner
The Wild Life: A Year of Living on Wild Food John Lewis-Stempel
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
Songbird Josephine Cox
The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron
Chanel – The Legend and the Life Justine Picardie
Teach Yourself: Get Your Book Published Katherine Lapworth
The Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro
Get in Trouble; Stories Kelly Link
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini
Find Me Laura Van Den Berg
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
Leonard Cohen: Poems 1956-1968 Leonard Cohen
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
Little Women Louisa May Alcott
Apple Tree Yard Louise Doughty
The Dice Man Luke Rhinehart
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell
Improve your Written English Marion Field
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
London Fields Martin Amis
Runaway Martina Cole
Quant by Quant: The Autobiography Mary Quant
Frankenstein Mary Shelley
The Scold’s Bride Minette Walters
Brick Lane Monica Ali
Writing Down the Bones Natalie Goldberg
The Scarlett Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times Neil Astley
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Neil Gaiman
Land of the Living Nicci French
The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
The Price of Salt Patricia Highsmith
Amnesia Peter Carey
Want You Dead Peter James
The Courage to Write: How Writer’s Transcend Fear Ralph Keyes
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Ransom Riggs
Zen in the Art of Writing Ray Bradbury
The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Richard Carlson
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and other Short Stories Robert Louis Stevenson
Story; Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting Robert McKee
Why we Run: A Story of Obsession Robin Harvie
Serena Ron Rash
Revolution Russell Brand
Clarissa Samuel Richardson
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Seth Grahame-Smith
Trafficked Sophie Hayes
The Host Stephanie Meyer
Everything’s Eventual Stephen King
The Stand Stephen King
The Shining Stephen King
The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
Dying for Christmas Tammy Cohen
Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction Thaisa Frank
Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
The Murder Bag Tony Parsons
Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew Ursula K. Le Guin
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Victor Hugo
Les Miserables Victor Hugo
Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolfe
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Novel Shortcuts – Ten Techniques That Ensure a Great First Draft Whitcomb
The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone Wilkie Collins
Lord of the Flies William Golding
The Elements of Style William Strunk Jr and E.B. White
The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Novel Writing Writer’s Digest
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