52 Weeks:52 Books – August & September

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Months 8 and 9 of the 52 books challenge are getting rolled together, which frankly is going to make September look a lot better than it actually was. In reality I’ve read one book during September and, at the time of writing I haven’t technically quite finished that one, but I very nearly almost have so I’m counting it, which means that the books I can now tick off the To Read list are:

Book 22: Alan Cumming – Not My Father’s Son

Book 23: Emily Barr – The First Wife

Book 24: Danny Wallace – Who is Tom Ditto?

Book 25: Jo Thomas – The Oyster Catcher

Which means that I’m only one book off the halfway point, and it’s only 3/4 of the way through the year. Hmmm. Ah well, maybe 52 weeks: 33 Books would have been more realistic but not such a good title, so what can you do? I guess at this stage the best thing is to just embrace inevitable failure, keep reading and then try the whole endeavour again in 2016.

As for the books I’ve read recently, they were a good bunch. Alan Cumming’s memoir was probably the standout. It’s not a standard celebrity autobiography. It’s a memoir of an abusive childhood, interwoven with the story of his grandfather which came to light when Cumming went on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and the story of a personal shock he was dealing with in the here and now while filming the episode. It’s incredibly well-written, with real warmth and self-awareness.

As for the others, The Oyster Catcher has a great hero – great enough that I can just about forgive it for beating Sweet Nothing to the Joan Hessayon Award in 2014. Emily Barr is always awesome, and The First Wife is probably one of my favourites of hers that I’ve read so far. And I also enjoyed Who Is Tom Ditto? I wasn’t 100% sold on Danny Wallace’s first novel, Charlotte Street; the premise felt a bit contrived and a bit thin to support the weight of the story, but Who Is Tom Ditto? is richer and more intriguing.

The idea of throwing myself headlong into reading this year was originally all about the idea that reading makes writers better. I have no doubt that that’s true, but what is even more true, for me at least, is that writing makes readers worse. I still suffer from seeing the technique over and above the story. So how do any other writers out there fare? Does writing affect how or what you read?

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