To Read Challenge - 2019

I'm looking for my passport and I can't find it anywhere. The last place I saw it was Stansted Airport. I would have needed it to get through the security scanners. But where was it? Did I put it straight into my bag or my sister's? A while later I found it in my coat pocket. I had forgotten coats even existed, such was the climate-change-inducted-heatwave that saw outside temperatures hit to 38C - in England! 

Having found it in a fairly obvious place; I then had to survey the carnage that was the room. I'd pulled all the books from my two bookcases on the vague chance that I'd placed it their like a book. And now they all had to go back. My desperation to not miss my work registration meant that the room resembled those from Neil Buchanan's 'Finders Keepers'. The wonder that was 90s kid's TV - Whoops!

The thing about seeing all my books on the floor, and the ringing door bell to deliver a couple of Booker Prize nominees I was desperate to read made me realise I had too many books. Some I loved and had read numerous times before. Others, I had thought would change my life, but I'd never even opened the dust cover. And there was hundred of them: some bought for uni, some gifts, a lot second hand.

I needed to par down this collection, but I couldn't get rid of the unread. I also needed to select carefully those books that needed to move on to new homes. I very much regretted getting rid of a terribly battered and second hand copies of Jeanette Winterson's The Passion, Yann Martel's The Life of Pi and Carlos Castenedas's The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Sometimes we might not feel as if we will ever read a book again, but, given time a siren's call might raise its head if book was good. I used to think that there was no point reading a book more than once. Even though as a child I would delve into my favourite books time and time again. Now, I know re-reading is a way of enriching your life. That fewer texts don't necessarily mean you are any poorer. After all, what's one close friend, over a few people you barely know?

Below is the list of all the books I've got to read before I buy more (although, I can accept presents). This list doesn't include large reference books or magazines, but does include non-fiction. I've also made sure that I wasn't re-reading. After all, this was an exercise in parring down my collection so I can re-read from a library of well chosen favourites.

At first, when making the list, I got very excited at all the amazing books I'd collected over the last 15 years. Then...I felt a little daunted. Then I wondered in horror as to how much I've spent on books! The books I used to own I sold - so there's no money loss there! But is it more than Netflix? There is a great bookshop in Horncastle where they sell three books for £1 - and whilst I usually just bought a load of out of date reference books for collages, there are some lovely paperback classics in there. In total, that might account for 15% of my bookshelf. Then there are those that I picked up in National Trust bookshops - the cheapest book I ever bought from there was 10p and it was Micheal Creighton's Jurassic Park. Some I bought new, occasionally from Waterstones - but more likely from Toppings in Ely (a book shop open till 7 on a Sunday evening, over 4 floors) and a little bookshop in Stanford. I'll confess - others I got on Amazon. Like today's lovely order. Some of these books aren't mine - they've been lent to me.

I love books - but not just their physical properties (although I've tried Kindle and its not stuck) - but the stories, the voices, and sometimes just the very words themselves. Looking below - if I'm very dedicated, this challenge is going to take about 2 years to complete. Realistically, anyway. I will update the list ev 


  1. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe (1719) (NEW)

  2. The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009) (NEW)

  3. Things We Lost in the Fire - Mariana Enrique (2016) (NEW)

  4. Ibitsu - Haruto Ryo (2013)

  5. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

  6. The Wild Places - Robert Macfarlane (2008) (NEW)

  7. The Road to Little Dribbling - Bill Bryson (2015) (NEW)

  8. The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler (1939) (NEW)

  9. The Book of Hidden Things - Francesco Dimitri (2018) (NEW)

  10. Circe - Madeline Miller (2018) (NEW)

  11. Washington Black - Esi Edugyan (2018) (NEW)

  12. Alice Isn't Dead - Joseph Fink (2018)

  13. Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders (2017) (NEW)

  14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - Simon Stephens (Play) (2012)

  15. Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris (SECOND HAND)

  16. Club Dead- Charlaine Harris (SECOND HAND)

  17. My Sister the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite (NEW)

  18. Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov (NEW)

  19. Rat Queens Vol. 1 (Sass & Sorcery) - Kurtis J Wiebe (LEND)

  20. Web - John Wyndham (LEND)

  21. Slade House - David Mitchell (SECOND HAND)

  22. Hannibal - Thomas Harris (SECOND HAND)

  23. The End of Mr Y - Scarlett Thomas (SECOND HAND)

  24. Ian McEwan - The Day Dreamer (LEND)

  25. Convenience Store Woman - Sayaka Murata (NEW)

  26. Face - Benjamin Zephaniah & Richard Conlon (Play) (LEND)

  27. Five Go Gluten Free - Vincent Bruno

  28. Our Day Out - Willie Russell (Play) (LEND)

  29. Lost Japan - Alex Kerr (NEW)

  30. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks (SECOND HAND)

  31. Gangsta Granny - David Williams (LEND)

  32. The Silence of the Girls - Pat Barker (NEW)

  33. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters - Julian Barnes (SECOND HAND)

  34. The Shadows in the Street - Susan Hill (LEND)

  35. Art in the Blood - Bonnie Macbird (LEND)

  36. The If Game - Catherine Storr (SECOND HAND)

  37. The Hand of the Devil - Dean Vincent Carter (LEND)

  38. A Summer Bird Cage - Margaret Drabble (SECOND HAND)

  39. Mr McGodley's Phantom - Mel Peet (NEW)

  40. Red Dragon - Thomas Harris (SECOND HAND)

  41. A Study in Scarlet - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (LEND)

  42. Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare (NEW FOR WORK)

  43. Macbeth - William Shakespeare (NEW FOR WORK)

  44. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy (NEW)

  45. Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve - Dannie Abse (SECOND HAND FOR WORK)

  46. Dracul - Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker (NEW)

  47. Twelfth Night - William Shakespeare (SECOND HAND FOR WORK)

  48. The Crucible - Arthur Miller (LEND)

  49. Imperial Earth - Arthur C Clarke (SECOND HAND)

  50. Talking to Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell (FREE AUDIBLE)

  51. Henry V - William Shakespeare (NEW FOR WORK)

  52. Barmy British Army (Horrible Histories) - Teary Deary (LEND)

  53. Bad Science - Ben Goldacre (LEND)

  54. Lumberjanes: Up All Night (Vol 1) - Noelle Stevenson (LEND)

  55. The Walking Dead Vol 1 - Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore et al (LEND)


  1. Rosie of The River - Catherine Cookson

  2. Paddy Clarke - Ha, Ha, Ha - Roddy Doyle

  3. Magic Terror - Peter Straub

  4. The Last Concubine - Lesley Downer

  5. The Dubliners - James Joyce

  6. Neuromancer - William Gibson

  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

  8. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

  9. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

  10. Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

  11. The Prince and the Pauper - Mark Twain

  12. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood

  13. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolfe

  14. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer

  15. The Man Who Was Thursday - G.K. Chesterton

  16. Selected Tales of Edgar Allan Poe

  17. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce

  18. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

  19. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

  20. Pigeon English - Stephen Kelman

  21. Eleven Minutes - Paulo Coelho

  22. The Mackerel Plaza - Peter De Vries

  23. Rocannon's World - Ursula K Le Guin

  24. The Magic Barrel and other Stories - Bernard Malamud

  25. Anita and Me - Meera Syal

  26. Wise Children - Angela Carter

  27. How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

  28. First the Killed My Father - Loung Ung

  29. I Search of Lost Time Volume 1: Swann's Way - Marcel Proust

  30. The Magnificentt Meaulness - Alain Fournier

  31. Babel Tower - A.S. Byatt

  32. The Magus - John Fowles

  33. The Scar - China Mieville

  34. The Liar - Stephen Fry

  35. Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway

  36. The Tempest and other Stories - Joseph Conrad

  37. Dante - The Inferno

  38. The Cabaret of Plants - Richard Mabey

  39. The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann Wyss

  40. Very Good, Jeeves! - PG Wodehouse

  41. Stardust - Neil Gaiman

  42. Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott

  43. Mrs Mcginty's Dead - Agatha Christie

  44. Resistance - Owen Sheers

  45. Mrs Fry's Diary - Stephen Fry

  46. Vernon Little God - DBC Pierre

  47. Mrs Mohr Goes Missing - Maryla Szymiczkowa