The answer to (b) is that when you spend months hooked up to intravenous poison every Monday morning for 4 or so hours, you suddenly have quite a lot of time for reading.
(a bit of our library)
And the answer to (a) is below where I list my 43 books.
As I have said before, I found reading a bit challenging this year. I did not want to read anything life changing which would later remind me of where I was when I read it.
I also found it quite helpful to read about people battling life and death in an escapist sense because it made me feel that they were in more trouble than me (the same reason I have watched a lot of House this year. They have what disease? Just made me feel better that I had simple straightforward cancer).
And also I did occasionally feel pretty brain dead and something simple and soft was just the answer.
I have to mention the role of my Kindle in all this. Whilst I love to hold a real book in my hot little hands, the Kindle has so many advantages. Two in particular I mention: the first is that if you are stuck somewhere and don't feel like reading what you have, you can in 30 seconds download another book. The second is cost. On Kindle, most paperbacks are $5 to $7, old classics are free, and even new ones are about $11. Compared to a shop price of $29 for a new paperback that is a major saving and explains why I could do crazy things like read the balance of the Lee Child oeuvre. ( I bet not many people put 'Lee Child' and 'oeuvre' in the same sentence).
So, fully categorised and colour coded, here is the list.
This post is dedicated to Anton, the lovely silver haired man from the country I met in the oncology suite who reads military history and was always interested in what I was reading. I hope you are doing okay.
A mixed bag of fiction
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
One Day by David Nicholls
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Flaneur by Edmund White
When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (thanks Simone xo)
US loner ex military cop adventures
Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
The Visitor by Lee Child
Without Fail by Lee Child
Tripwire by Lee Child
Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
Persuader by Lee Child
I am addicted to Jack Reacher and his slightly improbable but impeccably plotted adventures in the US heartland.
Self Help and Cancer
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (first and last self help book I will ever try to read)
C: Because Cowards get Cancer too by John Diamond
Crazy Sexy Cancer by Kris Carr
The C Word by Lisa Lynch
A classic fast paced WW2 thriller
Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
(I also read 'A Dangerous Fortune', epic banking family revenge saga set in late 1800s London).
Soppy and Likely to Make You Lose Respect for Me
A Special Relationship by Douglas Kennedy
Temptation by Douglas Kennedy
State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy
The Moment by Douglas Kennedy (this is his latest book about a doomed romance set in a 1980s separated Berlin. I don't know about you but I fully loathed the main character by the end of this story - whatever you do don't read this book)
A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve (always love her work although her earlier stuff is superior I think)
Wilful Behaviour by Donna Leon
2 new US legal thrillers
Innocent by Scott Turow (this is a sequel to Presumed Innocent and is quite brilliant. His writing is so calm and powerful, and this is a marvellous depiction of a marriage in decay as well).
The Confession by John Grisham
Adventure for 12 year old girls (and me)
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
Night birds on Nantucket by Joan Aiken
The Witch of Clatteringshaws by Joan Aiken
Midwinter Nightingale by Joan Aiken
Mandy by Julie Andrews (actually I read this to my daughter but it still counts)
You may think this is a bit odd but proper children's literature can be read by adults, I think. And I may have been regressing just a bit in hospital, so I went on a bit of a Joan Aiken splurge. These books are amazing, they feature a little Cockney adventuress, Dido Twite and are set in an alternate history in the 1600s and feature a range of kinds (Good King James III and in Midwinter Nightingale a dying King Richard and a baron-werewolf bent on taking over the throne). You can read about Joan Aiken here.
Cornish and Scottish Bohemia
Wild Mountain Thyme by Rosamund Pilcher
Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher
Day of the Storm by Rosamund Pilcher
September by Rosamund Pilcher
Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher
I read The Shell Seekers 20 years ago and it is one of my favourite books ever. I bought lots of her lesser works on Kindle, some of which are okay, especially Coming Home which is an absorbing story set in Cornwall and London and Malaysia over the 1930s and in WW2.
Mixture of Non Fiction
At Home by Bill Bryson
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Love Wisdom and Motherhood by Jessica Rowe
Is there a Nutmeg in the House? by Elizabeth David
Smile or Die by Barbara Ehrenreich
Two Rock and Roll Tales
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Life by Keith Richards (still reading this one)
One of my favourite books - have read several times now
Not their best work
Need to be in the right mood for this
If you want to read something completely different...?
Finally, a very big thank you to Simone from Bottom of the Ironing Basket. You see, I won her incredibly generous 500th post giveaway of 16 yes 16 books and they have been arriving in my office in twos and threes over the last couple of weeks. Here are some of them. Thank you very much lovely S. xo