Books Read in 2018

December 17, 2018

I thought I’d list the books that I’ve read during the year. I am anything but a voracious, or a quick reader, but I do select my books with quite a bit of thought. There are some time gaps when I was cycling and not reading:

January – ‘The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock n’ Roll’ / Preston Lauterbach

         The Chitlin’ Circuit was the name given to venues in the South of the USA where black artists would play to black artists                  up until the 1960s. Often fire hazards with shady proprietors would be the scene. Early blues acts cut their teeth                                and later stars such as Little Richard.

                  ‘Fats Waller’/ Maurice Waller & Anthony Calabrese

                An innovative American jazz pianist with a unique stride style. A talented musician who played The Cotton Club and was                          often  happy playing Classical. Iconic with an immense legacy.

February – ‘The McMillan Diaries Volume 2’ / Peter Catterall

                  Harold McMillan came to be PM after Anthony Eden’s turbulent premiership crashed at Suez. He kept diaries up until the                          time he resigned the leadership in the early 1960s.Observant and engaging if not always frank!

                    ‘Fats Waller – His Life and Times / Joel Vance

                      Another biography of the great man. Another book from my late father’s library.

March – ‘The Terri Clark Journals’ / Terri Clark

                 Terri Clark is a Canadian Country Music artist. She is, or was, a major star in mainstream US Country music at the turn of the                      millennium. A lightweight read I picked up in Canada the year before.

April – ‘Going To Sea In A Sieve’/ Danny Baker

                The ubiquitous cheeky chappy has been found on TV and radio over the last 30 years. A fabulous raconteur who writes about                   his early years. Seldom have I had such an engaging read.

May – ‘David Bowie A Life’ / Dylan Jones

               There is little that I didn’t think I knew about Bowie and more pertinently wanted to learn. However I heard the author                                interviewed on ’The Word’ podcast. His methodology of putting interviews together sequentially on Bowie’s timeline with little                added information made for an honest and revealing story through the words of those who knew him.

            ‘Finding My Voice’ / Elkie Brooks

           I had the records and had seen Vinegar Joe live in 1973 but my fascination came about through having heard her calamitous                   interview with Michael Parkinson some decades ago on radio. There was a complicated story in there? There was certainly a life               with considerable highs, lows and impressive striving. Also there were some stories about a couple of fabulous solo albums I                   needed to know.

July – ‘Going Off Alarming’ / Danny Baker

           The sequel to his first book. This took us further into his career. Still a great read if not as compelling as the first book. 

August – ‘Why I’ve Stopped Talking to White People About Race’ / Reni Eddo-Lodge

                  This book still sits in the best seller lists. My Favourite Eldest Daughter suggested I should read it. (I think we might guess                          why!) Part informative, part indisputable and part self serving for a certain political stance. Frankly if someone has a                                    characteristic that you cannot experience e.g. colour or sexuality I think it’s correct to hear it and quietly think about it. I think                    we can agree the way ‘forward’ is complex.

October – ‘Éamon de Valera : A Will To Power’ / Ronan Fanning

                    After attending a course at York University of Ireland between 1823 and 1923 I was interested to pick up the history from                           there. de Valera was a player in the struggle for Irish Independence before the creation of the Free State and remained in                        power until the 1950s as it’s President. A life of austerity, controversy, conservatism, an iron will and astute political                                     manoeuvring was the picture I gained.

               – ‘A View From The Foothills – The diaries of Chris Mullin / Chris Mullin

               Mullin was a Labour MP for Sunderland South and was Left Wing and a known novelist. His early career was as a journalist                        and his pursuit of getting justice for the convicted Irish who were incarcerated for the Birmingham bombings. The diaries are                    a great read. He is tempted into Government as a very junior minister (which muzzles him) and we hear about the boring                          jobs  and ultra controlled ways of New Labour. Humorous, self deprecating and permanently conflicted between his own                          politics and that of his Party.

November – ‘Decline & Fall’ / Chris Mullin

                         In effect sacked from Blair’s Government and never likely to join Brown’s he writes from the back benches as Labour                                  implodes. He left Parliament at the end of Brown’s Government.

                    – ‘Reporting The Troubles’ / Compiled by Deric Henderson and Ivan Little

                   Decades after the end of the Northern Irish Troubles this book contains short essays from journalists who reported them                           about people, usually ordinary, they met who were caught up in the death, hate and destruction.

December – ‘Untold Stories’ / Alan Bennett

                         I’d been meaning to read one of this great playwright and actor’s books and this appeared in a charity shop and was                                suddenly mine. Over 600 pages of a diary of his life and events. A man of a certain era with clear thoughts and immense                            powers of observation and recollection. A right riveting read….

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