This year my reading included:
- autobiographies of: Amanda Holden (very eye opening, what a woman), Lynda Bellingham (heart-breaking, what a woman), Mary Portas (beautiful pen portraits of her challenging childhood and what made her the woman she is today, what a woman), Lisa Maxwell (who knew she'd voiced the female gelfling in The Dark Crystal, a workaholic actor ,what a woman), and Will Young (charming, if slightly too self-satisfied in places but he's such a charmer and it was so beautifully written he got away with it)
- Glitzy bonkbusters: Rock Star by Jackie Collins (a brilliant romp with plenty of 'you can't tell me that's based on the truth' moments), Guilty Pleasures by Tasmina Perry (simply a glitzy guilty pleasure with so much going on it was like my very own soap opera, mega rich characters with intrigue and glamour on every page, slick glamorous and bitchy), Perfect Strangers by Tasmina Perry (Car chases, abduction, double bluffs, chasing all over the globe. So. Much. Fun.)
- some more literary fiction: We Are All Made Of Glue by Marina Lewycka (moving, amusing, perfectly observed portrait of caring for an elderly person and the bureaucracy and idiocy one is faced with), The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennett is a genius),
- Inspirational autobiographies: Late Fragments by Kate Gross (very sad, but also life-affirming), Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (life-affirming and vital if you suffer from dark periods, as I do), Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (the best autobiographies I have ever read, so much to learn from it, I rarely make notes from autobiographies, but this one I made pages and pages of her wise words and often cherish them close to my heart. If you haven't read this, do so forthwith. Oh, and there's a film with Julia Roberts, which as far as I'm concerned makes this beyond perfect)
- Some popular fiction: The Rector's Wife (my first Joanna Trollope, and I loved it. Such a perfect portrait of a woman's struggle for her own place in her own life, while it's gradually chipped away at. An expert storyteller, so much more than 'a writer of Aga sagas' as I'd been lead to believe), Us by David Nicholls (an expert portrayal of a relationship at its end, and how it started, at the same time. A perfect illustration of how to show the emotions and character traits and not tell them)
- Some older modern fiction: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Sparks is a genius in minimalist use of words, making each word do the work that other writers make 10 words do), The Witches Of Eastwick (John Updike's story is wonderfully magical and gruesome in places), The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (gradual revealing of the full horror, master class in a short story and use of words), Flowers In The Attic by VC Andrews (I couldn't stop reading this. Andrews said in 1986, "I think I tell a whopping good story. And I don't drift away from it a great deal into descriptive material". That was certainly the case with this story. The full horror was what I'd expected, but it was gradually revealed as the narrator found it out too).
Eat Pray Love, The Stepford Wives, The Rector's Wife, Guilty Pleasures, We Are All Made Of Glue. Flowers In The Attic, Mary Portas – Shop Girl.
How was your 2015 of writing? Any must-read books you'd like to recommend?
I'd love to hear from you.
Liam Livings xx