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….