2022 in Review Part 1: Books what I read (part 2)

More? More books? But no one cares! Anyway, here’s another 8 books I’ve read this year.

Imaginary Friends by Philip Pullman

A nice, short essay to start the list off. Philip Pullman, of ‘all those books he wrote’ fame, posits that the imagination and creativity of children is something that should be nurtured and developed, rather than stripped out. Pointing to the lack of fun and games in the lives of most grown ups, something backed up by both anecdotal and scientific evidence, it’s a desperate plea to let children be children and fun with their imaginary friends, made up stories, and slightly weird creative brains. It’s only a few dozen pages long, but it’s something I’d ask everyone to read once.

This gets the Adam seal of recommendation!

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

Yeah, not all the books I read this year are ones I hadn’t ready before! Oddly though, this is probably the H2G2 book I have read the least, which is very surprising when you think about how ‘un-hitchhikers guide’ book 4 is. During some of the harder parts of the year I went back to read some of my comfort books and this is definitely one of them, although how much of that comfort is from hearing the voices of the radio series in my head while I read is yet to be determined. The Trilogy of Five is probably my favourite book series with one continuous plot, and it’s like a word-based blanket for me. It’s got even more of the Adams-isms we came to expect following on from the first H2G2 novel, with ‘the book’ doing even more whimsical infodumps.

This gets the Adam seal of recommendation!

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Someone once described this book to me as ‘Jeeves and Wooster without the social poise and added cynicism’. This is another of my cosy blanket books and I will read it maybe once every few years, because the rhythm of the prose tickles a part of my brain that seems to exclusively react to writing from the early 20th century. It’s a story as old as time – three men, all of whom are slightly at a loss at what to do, bored of their jobs, bored of London society, and generally bored of being bored, decide to hire a boat and go for a punt up the Thames. What follows is a proto-farce, with delicately written prose full of of delicious similes and metaphor, stupid people making stupid decisions, and the slow realisation that this was an awful idea. If you like P.G. Wodehouse, you’ll like this.

This gets the Adam seal of recommendation!

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

See, not everything I read is good? A perfect opposite to Three Men in a Boat, where the dialogue and prose gleefully skip along, singing little ditties and offering sweets to all the good children, Atlas Shrugged is the fucking worst. Characters talk to each other like they’re giving speeches at the local libertarian conference, with no humanity or humour, and the characters themselves are thinly veiled political stereotypes, spouting extreme strawmen arguments if Ayn Rand can’t use them to promote her terrible philosophy and holier than though, perfect people if they represent her social ideals. In short, it’s a story about a rich person who doesn’t like being told his ideas are dangerous and risk people’s lives, so goes to create their own society with no restrictions. If you can pay to do something, do it. Got a scientific idea that requires human experimentation? Sure. But in Rand’s utopia it all works fine because everyone is a good person and they have no flaws, and there’s no way anyone could ruin this brilliant new world. It’s a drudge to read, it’s terribly written, and it’s just an excuse for Ayn Rand to rant about government regulation for 1200 pages. I do like the cover and the font is nice.

If you find a copy, throw it in a canal.

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Recommended to me by my Brother, this is the baby version of Ayn Rand’s philosophy; heavy handed, unimaginative, and a waste of paper. If you have to read one Ayn Rand novel the is definitely the only one you’ll ever need to, unless you happen to be reincarnated as an arsehole. Even the cover is crap.

I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand. I hate Ayn Rand.

This gets the Adam award for most annoying book of the year

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

800 pages long, three layers deep, utterly bewildering to read, and the layout is as much a part of the storytelling as the words – House of Leaves is a feat. Ultimately, it’s the story of a young family moving into a house that doesn’t make sense – a cupboard grows while they’re not looking, a door mysteriously appears, and their expedition into the new world behind it is the bulk of this novel. As a story on it’s own, it’s excellent, suspenseful and at times genuinely disturbing. However, that’s just the beginning. We are shown this story through an academic analysis of a documentary film made about the house, The Navidson Film, shot by the family living there, the eponymous Navidsons. This academic tome also gives us an insight into that author, an old reclusive man who died in his dark, squalid apartment, who apparently made this whole event up, this factitious non-fiction, complete with pages and pages of references, notes, footnotes and addendums. And THEN, on top of all of that, we’re getting footnotes and memos from the man who found this manuscript, detailing his own slipping sanity and health as his life is taken over by trying to understand everything he’s reading.

So there’s a definite cult around this book, and I am one of the many who drank the Kool-Aide and never looked back. This book makes you feel smart and then stupid and then smart again, as it forces you to work as you read it. It’s unorthodox in every single way and I love it. I will likely never read it again.

This gets the Adam seal of recommendationmy book of the year!

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

When Billy Connolly tells you to read a book, you read the book. The Big Yin said it was one of the funniest things he’d ever read, and within but a few pages I was laughing out loud at the ridiculous life, arrogance, and ignorance of Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of this tragicomic tale, an overweight and unemployed thirty-year-old with a degree in Medieval History. Following a day in a bar, during which we learn that Ignatius hates literally everyone, society, and the downfall of mankind as he’s sees it, his mother crashes her car whilst drunk. After having to walk home (which causes him such verbose distress that I was giggling with tears in my eyes), he has to work for the first time in his life to raise the money required to fix the family car. It’s a simple story of someone going through job to job, adventure to adventure, but what makes this is the interactions between the colourful and, more often than not, flawed characters of New Orleans.

This gets the Adam seal of recommendation! Buy it now.

And that’s my run down of the best and worst of the books I’ve read this year. I’ve missed out another 9 but they’re mostly either histories, novellas, not particularly interesting or a mix of all three. I read 27 books in 2022, an increase of 22 on 2021’s measly 5. What will 2023 behold I wonder? All I know for sure, I missed reading.

If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

Published by Adam Unwin

Yeah, I write stuff occasionally, make things up on stage, and like saying words other people have written in a dramatic way.

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