Reading Challenge 2019: All the Books I Read

As well you know if you’re a returning reader of this blog, I make a note of every book I read. It’s a hallowed, time-honoured tradition that I started last year eons ago. When I first started, I found that watching that list get longer and longer inspired me to read more books, to increase the size of my tally. It became something of a reading challenge.

I also found I read more widely. I tried a few non-horror fantasies and dramas, and I liked broadening my reading-range and picking up some ideas along the way. I’ve actually started something this year; every payday I stroll to the bookshop* and get myself a new book – usually by someone I’ve not heard of, and purely based on the title, cover and blurb. Cos if you don’t judge a book by its cover, you’re lying.

Ever competitive, I’d like the record to state that last year I read 41 books (of novel length). 11 of those were young adult books (that old chestnut; I mean books from my childhood). This year’s reading challenge tally comes to 46, plus change. I’m happy with that.

I’ll keep making a note of the books I read, and not just because my sister got me a book diary for Christmas this year. Over the past months I’ve read widely and taken lots of inspiration from different writers and genres. I’ve also got a better view of current trends by reading contemporary books rather than sticking too heavily to older, trusted authors.

If you’ve any recommendations for 2020, throw them my way! It’s been a great year, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into a new decade. Good luck on your own reading challenge, and Happy New Year!

Here’s the list of books I read in 2019:

Folk Horror Revival – Field Studies

James Herbert – The Rats

Mark Forsyth – The Elements of Eloquence

Mervyn Peake – Titus Groan

Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders

Ransom Riggs – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Danny Wallace – Awkward Situations for Men

William Gibson – Neuromancer

C J Tudor – The Chalk Man

Agatha Christie – Murder at the Vicarage

Belinda Bauer – Snap

Terry Pratchett – The Light Fantastic

Stuart MacBride – The Blood Road

John Cleland – Fanny Hill

English Heritage – Eight Ghosts

Clive Barker – The Damnation Game

Henry James – The Turn of the Screw

Richard Matheson  – Hell House

Dana Stabenow – A Cold Day for Murder

Dean Kootz – Intensity

Sheridan le Fanu – Carmilla

J R R Tolkein – The Silmarillion

Tracy Borman – The King’s Witch

George Orwell – 1984

Bill Bryson –  A Walk in the Woods

C J Tudor – The Taking of Annie Thorne

Simon Zec – Death of the Suburb

Peter Robinson – The Hanging Valley

Michael MacDowell – The Elementals

Stephen King – 11.22.63

Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions

Val McDermid – The Mermaids Singing

Steve Cavanaugh – Twisted

Stuart Turton – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Robert Galbraith – The Cuckoo’s Calling

Ben Aaronovitch – Rivers of London

Robert Jordan – The Eye of the World

Tana French – The Wych Elm

Laura Purcell – The Corset

Rosalind Kerven – English Fairy Tales and Legends

Neil Gaiman – Smoke and Mirrors

Michelle Paver – Dark Matter

Lina Moriarty – Big Little Lies

Agatha Christie – Death in the Clouds

Adam Kay – ‘Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas

Mo Hayder – Skin

I also read a few short stories this year:

Oliver Ferguson – Dreams of a Demon Machine

O. Henry – The Gift of the Magi

M R James – Various

R L Stine – Various

Me – The Witching Hours

Me – Harvest House

*the bookshop in question is now Steyning Bookshop. I was popping to Waterstones in Worthing but Steyning Bookshop has stolen my cold cold heart with its consistent stocking of gothic thrillers and its friendly service. There’s something pleasingly pub-like about ducking in, saying hello to the owners and asking what they’d recommend.

Liam Smith

Writing twisted gothic tales and drumming whilst I think up more.

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