It’s a fair cop. I haven’t read many books this year. The blame for this we can lay squarely at the door of the New Yorker, which continues to hog my reading time. In fact, how I managed to read anything else this year remains a mystery. Word magazine commissioned me to review a couple of novels – prequels to Trainspotting and The Godfather, by Irvine Welsh and Ed Falco, respectively, neither of which was up to much – and I fear that without Kate Mossman slinging a paperback my way, 2013 may see even less in my book pile. (I did promise not to buy any new books in 2012 until I’d finished reading all of my unread books, and I broke that resolution three times.)
The 9/11 Wars Jason Burke (Allen Lane) This came out in hardback in 2010, but I used a voucher to buy it in early 2011, and I confess I’m still reading it, but after Burke’s definitive Al-Qaeda, I knew I’d love it, and I do.
Pity The Billionaire Thomas Franks (Harvill Secker)
Driving Jarvis Ham Jim Bob (The Friday Project)
The History of the NME Pat Long (Portico)
How Soon is Now?: The Madmen and Mavericks who made Independent Music 1975-2005 Richard King (Faber)
Keynes: Return of The Master Robert Skidelsky (Penguin) This came out in 2010, and I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s a great primer for the economist whose name has been most quoted since the crash, sometimes in vain, sometimes not.
The Road to Serfdom Friedrich Hayek (Routledge) And this came out in 1944, but I was moved to pick up a lovely old secondhand copy in order to try to understand right-wing thinkers. (Hayek is named as often as Friedman and Rand by free marketeers.) It’s hard going, and again, I can’t say I’ve finished it yet, but I’m afraid right-wing thinkers are still alien to me.
The Great Unwashed Gary and Warren Pleece (Escape Books)
That’s nine books. Must try harder. Well, I would try harder, but that would involve cancelling my subscription to the New Yorker. It’s not as if I’ve been playing computer games instead of reading. And I must mention the redesigned BFI Film Classics, which came out in August, and the BFI very kindly sent me. They now look as good as they read.
My favourite book of 2013, so far:
Bedsit Disco Queen Tracey Thorn (Virago) I’ll write about this honest, evocative memoir in February, when it’s actually published.