Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Books Read in November:
The Heist by Daniel Silva
Deadline by John Sandford
Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason
Sitcom by Saul Austerlitz
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
I Must Say by Martin Short
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
The Lily and the Lion by Maurice Druon
Mad River by John Sandford

Books Read in December:
Doctor Who: A History by Alan Kistler
Lullaby by Ace Atkins
1984 by George Orwell
Light of the World by James Lee Burke
Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse

Books Read in January:
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s by Tom Doyle
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty
A Shed of One's Own: Midlife Without the Crisis by Marcus Berkmann
Armchair Nation by Joe Moran
Something Red by Douglas Nicholas

So my experiment in keeping note of the books that I've read during the year comes to a kind of close — except, of course, that it doesn't, as I'm going to continue recording the titles, and may even continue to bother other people by talking about them, in this blog or elsewhere.

A friend of mine named Bob Gulyas sent an email this morning to tell me that he'd begun recording his reading for the first time. Bob has quite a few years on me, and admitted that if, when younger, he'd started entering in a notebook the titles of all the books he'd read, he'd have a shelf filled with notebooks by now. Still, it's never too late to start, and he's off and running now.

As I think I've mentioned before, I probably read more books than ever this year simply because I had committed to keeping a record of them. Writing their names down was a little like wearing a literary Fitbit: whereas in the past I might sometimes have been inclined to put my feet up in front of the television instead of reading, my desire to get in as many books as possible in any given month meant that television — and other distractions, such as watching movies on planes — fell by the wayside. There were books to be read, dammit! I had to keep up my average.

The issue of difficult books did occasionally arise, though, as longer — or more literary — titles simply took up more reading time than others. Someone suggested that a way around this might be to categorize a book as having an average length — say 300 pages — so a 600-page book would count as two books, a 900-page book three, and so on until I could consider picking up Roberto Bolano's undeniably hefty 2666 (898 pages, 2.6 lbs in hardback) without fear of mucking up my book score. But that felt like cheating, and I never did get around to 2666. (I've since been warned off it by a couple of people, so it's unlikely that I ever will read it unless I'm jailed for a considerable length of time — although one of the people who told me not to read it is, in fact, in jail, and even he couldn't get through it.

The elephant in the room where the matter of big books is concerned is Dickens, and my list of books read in 2014 — more than 80 — would be one title longer if it weren't for The Old Curiosity Shop, which I started at Christmas and finished on January 1st. I try to read one Dickens a year. I've now read pretty much all of the entertaining ones, with the exception of A Tale of Two Cities, and now must resign myself to tackling Barnaby Rudge, and Martin Chuzzlewit; splendid stuff, I'm sure (well, maybe not Barnaby Rudge, which tends to be ominously disguised as one of his "less popular" works), but probably lacking the ease of The Pickwick Papers, or the greatness of Bleak House.

Anyway, The Old Curiosity Shop scuppered me at the last. I blame Little Nell, who as everyone knows (and spoiler alert if you're the only one who doesn't), is doomed from the off, and looks increasingly peakéd as the book progresses. It's one of those novels that really only gets interesting when the supposed heroine and her aged relative are offstage, yielding to the villainous Quilp in particular. Still, there's a certain satisfaction in having read it, and instead of being the last book read in 2014 it became the first book finished in 2015.

Onwards we go . . .


Mich said...

I'm so glad you post these; I desperately need books to read, and you find some very good books.

AFB said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that squints a little at 2666. It's the perfect height as a stand for my bedside lamp at the moment.

Ingo Wischmann said...

Dear Mr. Connolly,

i am a great Fan of the Charlie Parker Series . Will your books be available in the future again?

Ingo Wischmann said...

in German Language i forgot

Bernard E said...

Mr Connolly (John) we met briefly at Coles book shop in Bicester on 14 Apr 15 and I just wanted to thank you for the time you gave in engaging me in a very interesting conversation. Like always I thought of more things to mention afterwards but that is usually the result of a good conversation. Once again thank you I am most grateful for the time you gave graciously.


P.S. That is assuming thT you see this.

Hailey Wagar said...

I read "The Book of Lost Things" years ago, and I loved it. I recently reread it because I am going through some stuff and wanted to reread a book that I remembered I liked. Maybe it's because I'm a little older now (31 instead of 23 or 24), but it had a profound effect on me. After I finished reading, I couldn't read another book for a week because my brain was still processing that world, and living in it. Thank you for your book. It has touched me deeply.

Elaine Donnelly said...

I just finished A Song of Shadows. I love all your Charlie Parker books and where you have taken him over the years. The relationship between Charlie and his dead daughter brings me to tears. And now Samantha another one to watch over him and keep him safe. I wish you could write faster or I read slower. It's hard to finish the book knowing another one will not be available for a while. I went back to Wolf in Winter to read the last chapters to refresh my memory. A lot of old enemies have been put to rest. Thank you for all the hours that I have spent lost in your books and trying not to read the end before I get to it. No tv, so cell phone, no interruptions because they are too good to get distracted.
My two most favorite book characters are Charlie Parker and Jack Reacher. And this month I had the great pleasure of reading the both of them!
E Donnelly

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asianbooblover said...

Mr. Connolly.

I just discovered your Charlie Parker series with "A Song of Shadows", and enjoyed it very much-especially the supernatural element. My only complaint is that unfortunately, you have fallen into the trap of recent movie, tv and novel writers. Specifically, of perpetuating the cult of the by now tired and overused "don't fuck with me, I'm tough as any man female character. Don't get me wrong, it's you series and you can do anything you like with it. It's just that this representation of the scary female character who makes every mann tremble in his boots, has been done to death. It is now a cliché. For verification, watch any action movie trailer and try to find one that does not feature at least one scene a woman punching out a man, Im am no misogynist by any means, and love and respect women... but there comes a point where a powerful female character can be authoritative but human, and not scary or threatening.

Dave Kapsiak

Sue Kabler said...

Starting a new Charlie Parker novel is like taking the first taste of the most
scrumptious chocolate dessert ever imagined. And it never loses the flavor.

I love your books.

Sue Kabler

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Francis Kingz said...
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Francis Kingz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Francis Kingz said...

Lets see if I can spell the words correctly this time.
Thank you very much for A Time of Torment. It was excellent. Unfortunately, as usual, it took me less than a day to read. It was that good. Your Parker series and your other adult books have been among my all time favorites from the first time I came across a Parker novel. You, James Lee Burke, Robert Crais, John Sandford and Michael Connelly are the top 5 fiction writers as far as I am concerned.
I do wonder though why A Time of Torment was released in the UK so far ahead of the US. I always buy your books in the US as hardcovers when they eventually become available but I look forward to them so much I don't have the patience to wait months to read them if they can be found elsewhere.

Maritza Van Rensburg said...

Andre van Rensburg would like to make contact, please send e-mail to vanrensburga@vergelegen.co.za. We hope to see John Connolly on his South African Book Launch/holiday at least with a Dinner at Vergelegen Wine with copious amounts of our wine. Regards Andre van Rensburg, Vergelegen Winemaker

Ruth Williams said...

Dear Mr. Connolly,
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE COME TO AUSTRALIA for another book tour! Of Course Adelaide must be one of the cities you visit LOL Though admittedly I would fly to another state just to get the opportunity to meet you :) It would be a true honour and one of the biggest highlights of my life!! I know you must hear it from everyone but I am truly your biggest fan! I read Every Dead Thing at 16 and instantly fell in love with you as an author. I love that not only are your books absolutely captivating & impossible to put down once I start reading them but I also enjoy that you touch on issues of empathy, sorrow, morality, reparation and salvation. Charlie Parker is truly the most interesting yet complex character I have ever followed (and I have read a lot and a lot of books LOL) You are a genius! I missed your last book tour in Adelaide :( I will admit, I shed some tears when I found out I missed you :( Please consider visiting Australia again. You have a massive fan base over here and I know you would have a fantastic turn out and watch out for me as I am on the hunt for a selfie with you
:) You are like an idol to me. I literally get chills all over when reading your books! :)
Some people idolise movie stars, for me it's a one-of-a-kind author and that is YOU!!
Kind regards, Ruth Williams

Ruth Williams said...

Oh and sorry I also just wanted to thank you for the reading list suggestions!

I have tried so so many different authors and none have measured up to you :) I have actually read all your books at least 4 times over LOL because I can't find any other authors I like haha)
So I have read a little about the authors above and the books you suggested and they sound great, just the type of style of writing I enjoy.
I do like Michael Connelly and John Grisham. But tried Patterson, Kellerman etc. and I just couldn't get into them. I tried lol
Thanks again and I really hope I get the chance to meet you one day not too far into the future
Kind regards, Ruth

Brian Oldham said...

My thoughts as I finish A Song of Shadows -38. The Song of Shadows by John Connolly - November 2016 – 5 Strong Stars –

The quality of John Connolly’s writing is never in question. He is an artist and a very good technician. His theme has remained Dark Angels and the Evil that exists in the world. He is always much more connected to that struggle with evil and the huge effort and ugliness of the effort to survive the constant attacks we all feel and fear. He deals with the fear very chillingly. His protagonist has paid a high price for his continued life. He continues to dedicate all his time and energy to the struggle for himself and those around him. When he sees something wrong he takes it very seriously, more so that those around him. His friends Angel and Louis are outsiders as is Charlie Parker himself. Their outside-ness may be what gives them the strength to fight what is really a supernatural force so effectively. Parker and friends operate just on the edge of the law or outside it, but law enforcement is portrayed as supporting them by ignoring them. Law enforcement today is constrained unreasonably to deal with the obvious evil they encounter. The odds always seem stacked in the favor of darkness. The over arching theme of the struggle against the dark evil of this world is filled out with stories that include specific facets of that evil. This one deals with the horror of the Nazi war that continues through the hunt for survivors of the enemy we think we have defeated. It also deals with family, love and hope but in an almost hopeless way. I asked Mr. Connolly once how he got so dark, he is the only truly dark U.S. writer I know currently working, and his answer was “I’m Catholic?” This entire series should be read from the beginning but each book is a masterpiece. Connolly’s writing is so good that you don’t notice you are reading. The subject of his writing is important and true and he has apparently seen and experienced it at a different level than we have.

Pamela Olson said...

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of A Game of Ghost from Dublin - signed thank you very much! I'm re-reading A Time of Torment as a warm-up. JC-you must, must, must write faster. Noun, verb, noun, verb . . . bang on man! Seriously, Connolly's books are the best thriller fiction out there. Speaking of reading lists, I think I've read over 100 books this year only because I am now semi-retired (or out of work, however you want to look at it) - everything Lee Child wrote, Crais, Baldacci, you name it. I get so bored reading them sometimes. I've read all Connolly's books 3 times already - never bored. I am always finding something else to mull about in them. Good & evil, hope & despair ... speaking of despair, I'm going to check the mail for my book. Maybe, maybe . . .

Harry Zee said...
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Harry Zee said...

Thank you not only for Charlie Parker and "friends" but also your SciFi series and anthologies. Very much looking forward to "he".

Have been hooked on Charlie Parker from the outset when Terry Gross (Fresh Air) interviewed you for NPR in 1999. Made a beeline for my local library the next day, got them to order it and have "never looked back" since! I thank you in advance for such a consistently well written "ride" over the years.

A couple of years ago you mentioned on the web site an estimate of how many more Parker yarns were to come to end the series. Can we get an update on when that may be and how many more tomes you feel are still to come? Along with legions of your followers, I would like the Parker series to continue ad infinitum but you are clearly building towards a fixed finale. I, for one, fully respect that no matter how difficult the withdrawal process will be for me and many, many others.

I will close with a re-request that I made to you several years ago. Please consider finding some way to revive the shade of Joe Dupree and bring him into the final volume to somehow assist Charlie, Louis, and Angel at some critical juncture. Maybe Charlie's daughter could encounter his shade in some of her dimensional wanderings and sense his spirit to be one of great value in her father's battles against universal evil. Just a thought!

You have done well John and it is so very deeply appreciated!

Harry Zee