Tag Archives: nmb2012

Year in Review: Books of 2012

With 2013 around the corner and that Mayan nonsense finally disproven once and for all, it’s time to look back at 2012. Of course, just as my review of 2011 was hardly timely, being unable to purchase new books means this is more a list of good books you’ve probably already heard of. But you should still read them. Here’s the best of No More Books 2012 (in no particular order):

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Purchased purely because of all the fuss being made over the series and read purely so I could watch said series, I must say I did really enjoy this. I found myself tearing through it. Martin manages to create an enormous and grounded world without needing to refer to maps or requiring you to memorise a thousand place names. It’s a remarkable feat. He draws characters well, too. I found myself very attached to a number of them (although perhaps not as many as he’d hoped; there’s dozens of viewpoint characters!)

It is very dark, however. The good guys never seem able to catch a break. That said, I’m not entirely certain who the good guys are.

Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer

This is the non-fiction I dream about. This is a book so fascinating, so endlessly interesting, that for weeks after finishing it I was talking about it to anyone who would listen. Parasites seem so uncommon in the Western world yet not only is this a mistaken belief but they have also had a much greater effect on us then we’d like to believe. Zimmer even puts forward a good argument to suggest that parasites helped create sex!

It’ll make your skin itch like crazy but, if you’re at all into science, you have to read this book.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

I’m a big fan of Hobb’s Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies but I was unsure about this one. With different characters and a different setting, would I still enjoy her work?

I should never have doubted her. Hobb writes compelling characters and that’s what keeps you reading. Hero or villain, you want the characters to achieve their goals and you suffer when they don’t get them. And you suffer a lot, because Hobb seems to delight in torturing her characters. And it’s brilliantly entertaining.

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

This is a marvellous story in the same vein as The Turn of the Screw. Just like James’ novel, Woman in Black is short and without filler, offering only a building tension that doesn’t explode into cheap imagery or easy scares. Instead it leaves you unsettled, even after you’ve put it down. It stays with you for a long time; the best sign possible for a ghost story.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

I didn’t see the twist coming. There, I said it. I appear to be the only one but, even if I had predicted the ending, that wouldn’t stop me recommending this novel. Watson managed to write a touching novel that’s also a master class in the slow-build, the tension rising slowly but surely until I was tearing through the pages, desperate to get to the end.

So those are my top books of 2012. What were yours? Leave a comment and let me know.

Lessons From No More Books 2012

They said I’d never make it. Ten months without buying, borrowing or otherwise acquiring any new books? Popular opinion had me snapping and going on an Amazon binge within weeks. That or turning into a drooling fool (more so, that is).

But it’s almost here. The end of No More Books 2012. It’s not been easy. Nor has it been fun. And with my list of books to buy longer than it’s ever been, some people might be asking why I bothered. I asked myself that question many times but I believe it’s a good idea for any bookaholic. Here’s what No More Books has taught me:

1. Use Your Library.

Like most bookaholics, I buy books in the belief that I’ll read them one day. Of course, one day is only rarely today. Until that happens, you’re building up a library with only one member who never steps foot inside. But No More Books forced me to dust off that library card and wander the shelves.

2. There’s Too Many Of Them.

That said, I told myself 2013 would see the library almost exhausted. I was wrong. It won’t make a dent. And, as any character who says “there’s too many of them” is invariably caught and killed, expect my books to devour me any minute.

3. Who Needs New Books?

Why does someone with a burgeoning library of unread books need new ones anyway? No More Books has made me realise that, a lot of the time, buying books comes more from a collector’s mindset than anything else. And whilst owning books gives me pleasure, it’s a hollow joy if I’ll never have time to read them.

4. Kill The Impulse Buy.

It’s easy to rationalise impulse buying a book because society tells us that books are good. They’re educational, increase literacy and all that jazz. Society wants me to buy a book. How can I refuse?

But I’m not made of money and impulse buys can often become paperweights. No More Books stamps out the impulse to buy first and think later. Hopefully that habit will last and make me a more discerning shopper.

5. Discerning Shoppers Save Money.

In theory, anyway. I may or may not have significantly contributed to my DVD collection instead.

Think you’ll give No More Books a try? Or have these been the ravings of a madman? Let me know what you think in the comments.

No More Books 2012: Update

So I’m four months into No More Books 2012. Four months into a ten month stint in which I can neither buy nor borrow any books in an effort to read some of the ones I’ve got. I won’t lie, the first month was easy. But it’s getting harder now and giving up sounds all too tempting. Thus far I have resisted the following siren’s calls:

The Painted Man by Peter V Brett for £2. A friend of mine talks this book up no end, and I’d wanted to read it even before he started encouraging me. For £2 I’d have paid for it before I realised I’d picked it up.

Jamie’s Great Britain for £10. I’m not a big fan of celebrity chefs but I have a lot of time for Jamie Oliver, and this book is the source of the Empire Roast Chicken, which is my new favourite dish. It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and it impresses the hell out of anyone you make it for.

The Concise Human Body Book for £5. I had a flick through and it looks like the reference book I’ve been after since I began writing. Knowledge of the human body, how it works and how it can go wrong seems pretty handy when you’re writing about human bodies.

I also spent an hour in a Waterstones which was bizarrely exciting and relaxing at the same time. I’m starting to think that I may have a problem. But I haven’t bought a single book since March, so I’m probably okay. For now.