Tuesday, January 01, 2019

booklist 2018

Here it is- the full list of books finished for the first time in 2018, with favourites starred:

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
*Mirror Sydney: An Atlas of Reflections by Vanessa Berry
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
*Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Goose by Dawn O'Porter
Autumn by Ali Smith
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York by Luc Sante
A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch
The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton
*Nevermoor: The Tales of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
*My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Snotgirl Vol. 1: Green Hair, Don't Care by Bryan Lee O'Malley
*To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
*Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
*Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
*Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
This Water: Five Tales by Beverly Farmer
*The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
*How to be Second Best by Jessica Dettmann
*Any Ordinary Day: What Happens after the Worst Day of Your Life? by Leigh Sales


I think having children has put a long-lasting dent in the number of books I can read in a year. But looking back I see that most of the books I read this year were good onese. I know that I went through several reading lulls, where I had nothing on the go, but then would pick something up and be completely immersed. Like everyone else I read Lincoln in the Bardo and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and enjoyed them. I was a bit behind the hype on Bossypants but very much liked it too. Possibly my hyped read of the year was My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. This was just beautiful, with a great mix of sadness and hopefulness that just seems particularly truthful. I am very keen to read Anything is Possible now.

I think all my non-fiction reads were good ones, though in very different ways. I love Vanessa Berry's writing about the forgotten and overlooked corners of Sydney, and Mirror Sydney is a beautiful book to boot. Perfect for me as I love Sydney, history and a good wander. Low Life was another book about a city- but focusing on the underworld of turn of the century New York. It's a fascinating read, though it did seem to get a bit bogged down in a roll-call of gangsters in the middle there. I read The Midwife after binge watching Call the Midwife and it didn't disappoint- though a lot of the stories are lifted straight across. My final book of the year was Leigh Sales' Any Ordinary Day, which looks at how people react to sudden tragedy. In one way it was nothing startling- people tend to catastrophise, they look for meaning in disaster, people don't always react well, etc. But the specifics of what that looks like and what it means, the insight into various people and how they have dealt with disaster, and the general call to empathy made this a rewarding book.

Not as many graphic novels this year, and neither of them particularly exciting. Awkward was nice but not great, and Snotgirl was very disappointing, I actively disliked it. But I should mention my favourite comic of the year, Giant Days. It's not on the list because I've been reading it mostly issue by issue and am not sure how to list it, but it's my favourite comic series (by John Allison, whose comics I've been enjoying for many years) so I wanted to mention it in some way. Also eBook versions of comics are great for reading while feeding a newborn in the middle of the night.

The title of most disappointing book of the year probably has to go to This Water: Five Tales by Beverly Farmer. It was so promising, being a collection of fairy tale inspired short stories by a prominent female Australian author (who I hadn't really heard of before, but nevertheless). But it was a real slog to get through these- this might be one of those wrong reader at the wrong time things, but the writing is very slow, very descriptive and somewhat distancing. The first story is long and rambling- it's more of an impressionistic picture of an old woman's life than a story with an actual narrative thread, and the hints at connections to the legend of the selkie didn't seem to come to anything. Some of the other stories were more traditionally fairytale-esque, but the characters felt distant, the stylistic repeating of phrases felt, well, repetitive and I didn't engage. The last tale- a Bluebeard(?) type story set in an ice palace was well done, and there was also an interesting take on Clytemnestra, but overall this was not my cup of tea.

And finally, my favourite books of the year would be To Say Nothing of the Dog and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Two time travel stories set in the same universe, with time-travelling historians dealing with all the dilemmas of time travel, along with academic bureaucracyy and an irritable costume department. Its future Oxford is a well realised world, and a delight to visit, but I really love that these two books are so clearly part of a series and yet so different in tone. Doomsday Book involves travelling back to the Medieval era and is tense, slow paced and in the end quite sad. But To Say Nothing of the Dog (my favourite) is a Victorian comedy, in the best British comic traditions (though the author is American). It's also a romance. Anyway, the race for favourite book is close this year but I really enjoyed these.

Some more honourable mentions: Nevermoor (a really enjoyable YA fantasy, I'm excited to read the next in the series), Incendiaries (a super timely and quite confronting, pacy and thought-provoking read) and How to Be Second Best (I guess this is chick-lit? It's by a blogger whose writing I've always liked. Funny and human, and about parenting as well).


Looking forward to reading everyone's reading round-ups for the year!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Belated 2017 Booklist

A very late write up of a year that I can see contained a lot of graphic novels/comics, some fantasy and only two non-fiction books (A Burglar's Guide to the City and The Book that Made Me).
From a year or so on, the ones that I think were my favourites are The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

I loved Sarah Moss' Night Waking a few years ago and The Tidal Zone has many of the elements that I enjoyed- a somewhat wry narrative voice, an interest in the way we relate to the past from the present and the inclusion of history, as well as some interesting family dynamics. The Tidal Zone deals with the way people reconstruct life after a catastrophe, in the reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral and the recovery of the protagonist's daughter from a sudden collapse.

A Gentleman in Moscow is a fairly gentle and charming book about a member of the Russian aristocracy who gets stuck living in a fancy hotel at the advent of the revolution. Something of a comfort read, one that I liked very much.

Like everyone else I loved A Brilliant Friend, but I still haven't read the sequels. I found Toni Morrison's Jazz a bit disappointing- I think it's one of those things where it was the wrong book for my mood, and I struggled with the repetition and circling structure. I read the Crazy Rich Asians books because of the hype and loved them- some fun escapism.

So as per tradition, all books finished for the first time in 2017:

Berlin, Vol. 1: City of Stones by Jason Lutes
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Running by Cara Hoffman
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Anders
Archie Vol 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid
The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John
Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra
Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey
Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London: Night Witch by Ben Aaronovitch
The Trespasser by Tana French
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Book That Made Me by Judith Ridge (ed)
The Good People by Hannah Kent
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
Jazz by Toni Morrison
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Monday, January 16, 2017

booklist 2016

It turns out that having a baby had a very large impact on my reading (and I didn't even manage to write up my annual booklist for 2015 until now!). Apparently I read 63 books in 2015, and 21 in 2016. As someone who thinks of herself as a reader, it was a disorienting year, and one in which I went for large periods of time without even a book on the go. I think not commuting was maybe as big a factor as the actual baby. Whatever the case, 2016 was a lean year for books, and one in which murder mysteries and graphic novels are strongly represented. It wasn't even a strong year in terms of the books themselves, but there were good ones as always.

Snow by Orhan Pamuk was probably my favourite, it was refreshing to get stuck into it and be reminded of the power of books. It was also transporting and an interesting insight into Turkey and its religious tensions. Although I have to say that maybe three quarters of the way in it started to drag a bit, and lose some direction to my mind. It didn't fully recover by the end, but was still worth finishing and was definitely thought-provoking with some engaging characters.

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillop was also very good. She writes this sort of oblique fantasy, for want of a better word, I mean it is straighforwardly fantasy but her stories and their plots alsways feel kind of sideways. It feels refreshing though, and the worlds are beautiful. This story of a kingdom and its shadow world was one of my best reads of the year.

Lucy Knisley's graphic memoirs are always a fun read, very reflective, very Gen Y I think but I like that (it's my generation after all). I wanted to read her book about getting married recently and her reflections on her relationship and wedding traditions, so first I ended up reading her books about travelling and youth and family, which were also good. 

Goodwood was a book I picked up on impulse at the library after feeling like I'd seen it around a lot, and it was actually a great choice. It's an Australian mystery/coming of age story set in a small country town, and I think she pulled it off really well. 

I enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See as well, although I always feel like there can't be any good WWII books left to write. 

The Robert Galbraith mysteries and Ben Aaronovitch fantasy police procedurals are always good fun.

So there you have it, I complained about this year but there were a lot of good books after all! Here's the full list:


Career of Evil- Robert Galbraith
Ombria in Shadow- Patricia A. McKillip
How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And other adventures in parenting- Mei-Ling Hopgood
Sweet Danger- Margery Allingham
Slade House- David Mitchell
The Simple Act of Reading- Debra Adelaide (ed.)
Deep Secret- Diana Wynne Jones
Stoner- John Williams
Roadside Picnic- Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky
All the Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doerr
Displacement: A Travelogue- Lucy Knisley
An Age of License: A Travelogue- Lucy Knisley
The Case of the Gilded Fly- Edmund Crispin
The Dead in their Vaulted Arches- Alan Bradley
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust- Alan Bradley
Sea Lovers: Selected stories- Valerie Martin
Snow- Orhan Pamuk
Something New: Tales from a makeshift bride- Lucy Knisley
The Shepherd's Crown- Terry Pratchett
Goodwood- Holly Throsby
The Hanging Tree- Ben Aaronovitch

Sunday, January 15, 2017

very belated booklist for 2015

The Bookshop Book- Jen Campbell
Lila-  Marilynne Robinson
The Wise Man's Fear- Patrick Rothfuss
The Sleeper and the Spindle- Neil Gaiman
The Strange Library- Haruki Murakami
Atlas Shrugged- Ayn Rand
The Hare with the Amber Eyes- Edmund de Waal
The Age of Magic- Ben Okri
Unmade- Sarah Rees Brennan
Station Eleven- Emily St John Mandel
The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making- Catherynne M. Valente
Still Alice- Lisa Genova
Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo- Ntozake Shange
The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam- Ann Marie Fleming
A Month in the Country- J.L. Carr
Lagoon- Nnedi Okorafor
Connecting with Law- Michelle Sanson
On Histories and Stories: Selected Essays- AS Byatt
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night- Heather O'Neill
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There- Catherynne M. Valente
Lucky Us- Amy Bloom
At Home: A Short History of Private Life- Bill Bryson
The Ape Who Guards the Balance- Elizabeth Peters
Some Kind of Fairytale- Graham Joyce
The Grand Duchess of Nowhere- Laurie Graham
Fledgling- Octavia Butler
The Falcon at the Portal- Elizabeth Peters
Ragtime- E.L. Doctorow
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves- Karen Joy Fowler
Shortcomings- Adrian Tomine
Oranges are not the Only Fruit- Jeanette Winterson
A Fairly Honourable Defeat- Iris Murdoch
Shy: A Memoir- Sian Prior
The Crossing Places- Elly Griffiths
A Girl's Guide To Modern European Philosophy- Charlotte Grieg
Who Fears Death- Nnedi Okorafor
Damsels in Distress- Joan Hess
Moondogs- Alexander Yates
He Shall Thunder in the Sky- Elizabeth Peters
The L-Shaped Room- Lynne Reid Banks
The Three-Body Problem- Cixin Liu
A God in Ruins- Kate Atkinson
Lord of the Silent- Elizabeth Peters
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know- Emily Oster
Heat and Light- Ellen van Neerven
Some Luck- Jane Smiley
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic- Alison Bechdel
Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History- Eduardo Galeano
Cairo- Willow G. Wilson
Reluctantly Charmed- Ellie O'Neil
Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction- Craig Edward (ed)
Alif the Unseen- Willow G. Wilson
Looking for Alaska- John Green
The Wife Drought- Annabel Crabb
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and two not-so-great ones) changed my life- Andy Miller
The Golden One- Elizabeth Peters
Early Warning- Jane Smiley
Foxglove Summer- Ben Aaronovitch
Eustace- S.J. Harris
American Gods- Neil Gaiman
Sidney Chambers and the Perils of Night- James Runcie
My Real Children- Jo Walton
Shades of Milk and Honey- Mary Robinette Kowal

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

book list 2014

Just because my blog has been pretty quiet this year doesn't mean you won't get my annual list of books finished for the first time this year! All 78 of them. This year I think I read more non-fiction than usual (and later I might check the stats to see if that's true). There was an interesting selection, with everything from deciphering Linear B, the history of the crossword, pop music in the 20th century, memoirs of people who fled Nazi Germany and books about Sydney (personal and historical). The other theme is really recent books- so many books I read this year seem to have been written in 2013 or 2014. I think I might try to balance that with some older books next year. Other than that, my top picks of the year:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I reviewed in detail earlier, but suffice to say it was one of the first books I read this year and still a favourite. In short: it's a great book about the way the world is today, and race and gender and globalisation and all that stuff that is pretty crucial to who we are.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which I reviewed on another blog was just a beautifully structured and written story. It sucks you in with wanting to know what happened, and then it makes you feel it. Really well worth reading.

Fantasy

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. One of the last books I read this year, and a really terrific one. I'm really loving urban fantasy at the moment, and this is a great example of the genre. Set in a run-down urban suburb of Johannesburg, with a noir feel and magical animals, it was exciting and sad and unputdownable. Highly recommend.

Crime

It's so hard to pick just one- the Robert Galbraith books surprised me a bit by being really good. They have some fun characters and it's nice to see a traditional private eye in a modern setting, somehow that seems rare? But it would be remiss of me not to mention the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters, which I've started reading my way through. Following a female Egyptologist in the late 19th century, who seems to get herself and her family involved in a large number of mysteries that need to be solved, these are just a lot of fun. A bit silly maybe, but definitely fun.

And the full list (linked if I've written about it, short review included for some)...


The Glass God- Kate Griffin I love all Kate Griffin's London urban fantasy books, and this is no exception
The Riddle of the Labyrinth- Margalit Fox Fascinating account of the decoding of Minoan writing
Murder and Mendelssohn- Kerry Greenwood Can't go wrong with a Phryne Fisher, and this one is a bit of a return to form after some less good ones
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared- Jonas Jonasson
Cluetopia- David Astle A book about the crossword and its history by noted crossword maker DA
Paths of Glory- Jeffrey Archer Bought it as sort of a lucky dip, dragged in places- about the climbing of Everest
Travesties- Tom Stoppard
The View from Castle Rock- Alice Munro
Untold- Sarah Rees Brennan Really enjoy this fantasy series
The Enchanted April- Elizabeth von Armin I think Stuck in a Book reviewed this highly- and it is a lovely story about women who holiday in Italy and are deeply affected by it
A Presumption of Death- Jill Paton Walsh A continuation of Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey books
The Attenbury Emeralds- Jill Paton Walsh
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna- Umberto Eco
Salvage- Keren David
Old School- Tobias Wolff
The Man Within- Graham Greene Not Graham Greene's best I think, but apparently his earliest
The Imperfectionists- Tom Rachman
Crocodile on the Sandbank- Elizabeth Peters
The Curse of the Pharaohs- Elizabeth Peters
The Drowner- Robert Drewe Good to read some Australian fiction- I thought this was a bit overwrought in places, perhaps, but overall interesting
All the Birds, Singing- Evie Wyld
Faulks on Fiction- Sebastian Faulks A book of essays on British fiction that I found myself wildly disagreeing with a lot
Jackdaws- Ken Follett Another lucky dip book! About a team of British women sent into occupied France as saboteurs in WWII
The Magic Toyshop- Angela Carter Read for book group. I love Angela Carter but she can be hard, this has all the pain and fairytale magic and darkness you might expect
The Mummy Case- Elizabeth Peters
Skios- Michael Frayn Recovering from some dark reading with something funny, but this also turned out to be a bit dark, or at least somewhat pessimistic about humanity
The Goldfinch- Donna Tartt Read for book group. Enjoyed it, but felt it dragged in the middle.
The Deeds of the Disturber- Elizabeth Peters
Unnatural Causes- PD James
Trafficking in Old Books- Anthony Marshall A collection of columns that makes for a charming memoir of second-hand bookselling in Melbourne
Bluebeard's Egg- Margaret Atwood
The Silkworm- Robert Galbraith
The Diary of Mary Berg- Mary Berg A diary of a young Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto in WWII
The Last Camel Died at Noon- Elizabeth Peters
Not Meeting Mr Right- Anita Heiss A bit bland for chick-lit I thought- but would still be interested in reading more by her
The Sittaford Mystery-Agatha Christie
Love and Vertigo- Hsu-Ming Teo
The World of Yesterday- Stefan Zweig
Murder on the Eiffel Tower- Claude Izner
The Visitors- Sally Beauman Picked this up because the surname was the same as the book I was looking for. Fitted right in with my Egyptology at the turn of the century reading
Glow- Ned Beauman Really recommend this one- very compelling thriller involving drugs, seperatist groups, evil corporations and non-24 sleep syndrome. And good writing
The Snake, The Crocodile and the DogElizabeth Peters
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop- Bob Stanley To add to my knowledge of pop music after my blog obsession (talked about here)
Questions of Travel- Michelle de Kretser Controversial book group book- I thought it was fine, most hated it
Bone Clocks- David Mitchell I love David Mitchell, and this is perhaps the most David-Mitchell book yet
On Such a Full Sea- Chang-Rae Lee
Razorhurst-  Justine Larbalestier
That Deadman Dance- Kim Scott Well worth reading- Indigenous writer writing about European settlement and first contact in Western Australia
Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami
The Secret Place- Tana French
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes- Anita Loos
The Hippopotamus Pool- Elizabeth Peters
Amsterdam- Ian McEwan
The Thin Man- Dashiell Hammett
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- Betty Smith
A Tale for the Time Being- Ruth Ozeki
Seeing a Large Cat- Elizabeth Peters
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return- Marjane Satrapi
Seconds- Bryan Lee O'Malley
Rynnosseros- Terry Dowling
Girl Defective- Simmone Howell
The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden- Jonas Jonasson
The Beacon- Susan Hill
Strawberry Hills Forever- Vanessa Berry
It's Not You, Geography, It's Me- Kristy Chambers
Zoo City- Lauren Beukes
The Name of the Wind- Patrick Rothfuss
Leviathan- John Birmingham

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

absences

No blog post at all for August is a pretty poor effort (and now September as well! eek!) but I have a good excuse, honest! I was away on holidays for a couple of weeks, and between planning and packing and traveling and unpacking I've been kept pretty busy. So what did I do on my holidays you ask?
View from the Empire State Building


Well, I travelled to North America for the first time, and I got to see New York, Vancouver and Whistler (as well as a friend who I rarely get to see- which was a treat). I stayed in New York with a couple of friends from uni, and met up with my school friend in Canada (where she now lives).
On a mountain in Whistler

It's a bit hard to sum up travel quickly, as I've discovered anew after getting back and trying to answer the inevitable question: "how was your trip?" It was great, New York was very big, Canada had lots of mountains, you know the deal. And in any case I feel like I've shared so many photos on social media that no-one really wants to hear any more about it.

But for my blog which is mostly about books, I thought I would write a bit mostly about New York but partly about books. We went to bookshops (Strand Books was amazing!) and libraries, and saw books for sale in museum bookshops (the wonderful Tenement Museum had a lovely selection- and has made me want to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), but beyond that, it seemed that W.H. Auden was following me around.

WH Auden's (very temporary) house

I love Auden, but I was not expecting to stumble across him on our Lonely Planet walk guided walk through Brooklyn, which led us past a house which proclaimed "W.H. Auden (POET 1907-1973) lived in Brooklyn Heights from 1939 to 1940". It's a brief stay, really, that's now immortalised, but was it this house he returned to after September 1, 1939? Apparently he wrote 'New Year Letter' there, but it's not one that I've read. Which is a pity, because I don't think Auden's read enough. My friends don't seem to know him. Not even 'Funeral Blues', famous for appearing in Four Weddings and a Funeral, nor 'Death's Echo' which is one of my favourites (it is bleak but also beautiful). I recommend them all! But when I tried to explain what Auden wrote the lines that kept running around my head (though always jumbled) were the first lines from 'Lullaby':
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
They tumbled round my head until we visited the Morgan Library (a beautiful private library from the early 20th century- built for JP Morgan) and there among the rare books on display was WH Auden again. A hand corrected copy of his first printing of his first book of poems. Just a couple of traces of Auden to stumble across, but ones that made me happy.
Auden in the Morgan library

And I can't finish this post on my trip without a photo of the fabulous Metropolitan Museum of Art. Happy travels!
Just a temple taken from Egypt to America

Thursday, July 17, 2014

number ones

I've been on a bit of a kick lately of reading about pop music and number one singles. I've been finding it fascinating, so I'm sharing some links here here on the off-chance that you do, too. Down the internet rabbit-hole we go...

It all started a few years ago when I stumbled across a music column in The Vine by Tim Byron, reviewing the latest Australian number one single. Usually, the column looks at what makes a song so popular- what are it's hooks? Themes? Cultural context? And what makes the song- it's influences and so on. Tim Byron is a music writer but also apparently a psychology lecturer, and he often seems to have interesting things to say about the singles, and treats them with a certain respect. Which is one of the reasons why I was so interested when he mentioned his new podcast...

90 percent hits is a podcast (and blog- their tumblr is well worth checking out) about all the number one singles in Australia in the 1990s (the period that my generation looks on with particular nostalgia). It's made by Tim Byron, Casey Atkins, Tim Coyle and Danny Yau. They talk about the songs, and also their personal reaction to them/memories of them. I must admit I still haven't finished the podcast, but it's definitely hit 1999. The podcast (and the column) reference some other blogs that inspired them...

Like Popular by Tom Ewing, which reviews all the UK number one singles (see the chronological list/archive here). The reviews start in 1952, and as I write this go all the way to 1998 (I'm only at 1967). The posts tend to be pretty short, always including a score out of 10, but the commenters are often pretty well informed and have interesting tidbits to add. This blog seems to be the one that inspired them all (it started in 2003!) including...

No Hard Chords, a blog by Sally O'Rourke  looking at all the US number one singles from the Billboard Hot 100. I really like the writing in this blog, it gives some nice background to the hits. It's covered 1958-1967 so far, but the last post was written over a month ago so I'm a bit worried there may be no more, still the one before that was written in January, so there's still hope! 

Last is the one I haven't really gotten to yet (maybe because it would take a bit longer!) is Then Play Long, which reviews every UK number 1 ALBUM (by Marcello Carlin and Lena Friesen). I've only read the entry on U2's The Unforgettable Fire, which was linked from a round-up of music writing in The Vine (another Tim Byron column), but that was a great mix of personal essay and music writing, so I would be interested to read more.

I've still got a lot of blog reading to do, clearly, but this has inspired me to read up on my pop music history- any good book recommendations?