2017: A year of reading and writing

There is no more valuable a gift than a book that makes you laugh, cry or think 

It has been an interesting year of books. For (almost) the first time, I’ve read several novels by people I know. Either in person or virtually (although some of those virtual relationships are as strong as friendships in real life). I find it nerve-racking, those first few moment with the first few pages, sussing out whether it is going to be a book I’ll love or one that will do nothing for me. I feel a responsibility to enjoy the work of the people I like. Which doesn’t always happen. But when it does, it is wonderful.

Like Maria Donovan’s Chicken Soup Murders. Aside from the fabulous title, it was obvious from the opening that it was beautifully written. I read it immediately after Joanna Cannon’s fabulous The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and it compares very well. Or Chris McQueer’s Hings which had me laughing, cringing and spurting my tea out of my nose (often at the same time). It is great to read so many fellow Unbound authors too. It feels wrong to pick out faves as we are all pretty close but among them there was a particularly preposterous, grandiloquent, delinquent antihero named Moffat who greatly appealed to my Gothic sensibilities (Gibbous House).

There were some books that I’ve read this year that stayed with me long after I’d put them down. Books that deeply affected me. Tony Hogan… (Kerry Hudson), My Name is Leon (Kit de Waal) and The Door (Magda Sazbo) were three brilliantly devastating books. The character of Ryan in Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies haunted me for a long time after the last page was finished. Poverty Safari (Darren Loki McGarvey) made me rethink some of my ideas about poverty and politics. Joseph Knight (James Robertson) made me look again at my surroundings and my version of history. Everything I read by Rebecca Solnit makes me determined somehow to be more of an activist. I have to find the courage of my convictions.

The last book of this year was The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway. It is disturbing and brilliant. It was first published in 1989 but it is only now that I have dared to read it.

As far as my writing is concerned, 2017 has been a great year for making connections and meeting people. I’ve written for The F Word, spoken at The Brontë Festival of Women Writers, and done a couple of events to promote The Backstreets of PurgatoryI’ve made some great connections through the Women Writers Network and elsewhere. Next year is a serious one for novel number 2. I want to get a first draft completed in the first half of the year. The website will probably get a revamp and I need to work out how to balance blogging and writing.

Finally, I’ve done all my bits for The Backstreets of Purgatory. It is waiting in line for a proofreader and to be printed. It will be published in 2018. I’m extremely excited but anxious too. All I’ve ever wanted to do with my writing is affect people in the way that other people’s writing has affected me. For me, there is no more valuable a gift than a book that makes you laugh, cry or think.

 

READING LIST*

  1. The Course of Love Alain de Botton
  2. Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space Janna Levin
  3. Hope in the Dark Rebecca Solnit
  4. When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanthi
  5. Men Explain Things to Me Rebecca Solnit
  6. What is the What Dave Eggers
  7. Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind Emily Reynolds
  8. Joseph Knight James Robertson
  9. Narcissism for Beginners Martine McDonagh
  10. A Murder of Crows Ian Skewis
  11. The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry
  12. My Name is Leon Kit de Waal
  13. Gibbous House Ewan Lawrie
  14. The Power Naomi Alderman
  15. The Door Magda Sazbo
  16. Nervous Conditions Tsitsi Dangarembga
  17. Blindefellows Chronicle Auriel Roe
  18. Fear of Dying Erica Jong
  19. The Blind Side Jennie Ensor
  20. The Glorious Heresies Lisa McInerney
  21. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep Joanna Cannon
  22. The Chicken Soup Murders Maria Donovan
  23. We Should All Be Feminists Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  24. You Won’t Remember This: Travel with Babies Sandy Bennet Harber (ed)
  25. Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma Kerry Hudson
  26. Native Tongues Carl Hiaasen
  27. Hings Chris McQueer
  28. Poverty Safari Darren McGarvey
  29. Speak Giganticular Irenosen Okojie
  30. The Trick is to Keep Breathing Janice Galloway

 

*several out on loan which is why they didn’t make the photo

Author: Helen M Taylor

Author of The Backstreets of Purgatory

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