Tag Archive | reading list

The Need to Read

ex libris

These are the book on my 2014 hope-to-read list. They are mostly biography and non-fiction. Novels have to be exceptionally intriguing to get me past the first 2o pages, but the ones on my list I think will pass the test.

I read a lot of poetry and children’s books too, but I usually just trip over those works rather than actively look for them. People often ask why I read these, for the beauty of course. Children’s books always have interesting illustrations and poetry is the peacock of the literary world, at least to me.


  1. Breakfast at Sotheby’s by Philip Hook (Particular). About the art world.
  2.  Falling Upwards (Harper Collins), Richard Holmes’ history of ballooning
  3.  Mark Cocker’s  Birds and People (Jonathan Cape). What the title says!
  4. A Sting in the Tale Dave Goulson, (Jonathan Cape), about bees.
  5. Patrick Leigh Fermor   The Broken Road (John Murray) Part 3 of a triliogy. You probably want to read, Between the Woods and the Water, and A Time of Gifts too. It’s about walking through Europe in the 1930s. The author died two years ago.


  1.  Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig (Jonathan Cape)  About artist Lucian Freud.
  2. Sex and Rockets by John Carter. About JPL founder Jack Parsons.
  3.  Laird M Easton (tr.),  Journey to the Abyss The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler (Vintage)
  4. The Poets’ Daughters by Katie Waldegrave (Hutchinson) biography of Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge
  5. Nina Stibbe’s Love, Nina, letters to her sister from the 1980s, about being a nanny.
  6. Hermione Lee’s Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life. About the author.
  7. An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (Hutchinson). About the Dreyfuss affair.
  8. Woody Guthrie’s Wardy Forty: Greystone Park State Hospital Revisited by Phillip Buehler (Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc) about the 5 years Guthrie spent in a mental hospital.


  1. Adam Phillips’ One Way and Another: New and Selected Essays (Hamish Hamilton) & Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life
  2. Italo Calvino’s Collection of Sand: Essays (Penguin Modern Classics)


  1. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (Sourcebooks Landmark) WWII thriller about an architect who designs hiding places for Jews.
  2.  Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (Jonathan Cape)  Mystery pre-the internet
  3. Nikolai Leskov’s The Enchanted Wanderer the new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
  4. Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard (Faber) psychological mystery/courtroom drama
  5. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s The Mirror of BeautyHamish Hamilton) 19th century India,
  6.  The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker (Blue Door),
  7. Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (Granta)
  8.  JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S. (Canongate) weird little tech novel that’s more about pushing publishing boundaries than the actual story, but still, something writers ought to check out.
  9. Jane Gardam’s trilogy: Old Filth, The Man in the Wooden Hat, and  Last Friends (Little, Brown).