52 Books in a Year – Books #24 – #31

June and July have  been a pretty mixed bag with my reading, from drug addiction, to alien invasion, to misguided spiritual seeking, to prank emailing, to love poetry. Here’s a brief summery of what I’ve read:

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Book #24 – ‘Requiem for a Dream’ by Hubert Selby, Jr.

Loved this book. It’s very cleverly written with the different strands of each character’s addiction intertwining and getting more and more intense, desperate, and hellish as it climaxes. It leaves you slightly out of breath but wanting more.

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Book #25 – ‘The War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells

As I’m not a huge science-fiction fan, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be into this, but wanted to give it a go anyway. The second part of the book was more entertaining than the first part for me, although overall I’ve came away not really knowing what happened, apart from the fact that Earth was attacked my martians.

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Book #26 – ‘Franny and Zooey’ by J.D. Salinger

The second J.D. Salinger book I’ve read this year, and in total so far. Not dissimilar to ‘Catcher in the Rye’ in its style, this book comprises a short story about Franny descending into a depression, and a novella which tells of the aftermath, joined together to make a short novel. Salinger’s writing feels so understated generally. I’m really enjoying his work and will definitely be reading more.

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Book #27 – ‘Parnsips, Buttered’ by Joe Lycett

Ridiculous, nonsensical, and clever. This was a pleasant break from the literary quest I’ve been on this year. Joe Lycett’s parking fine exploits have gone viral, and they’re reprinted in this book, along with various other humorous and mischievous plans and ploys to deal with modern day problems. Laugh out loud funny. Highly recommended.

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Book #28 – ‘Oscar Wilde: The Story of An Unhappy Friendship’ by Robert H. Sherard

A fascinating, enlightening, and candid insight into Oscar Wilde’s life around the time he was unfairly convicted for homosexuality, from one of his few friends that stuck by him throughout. Not a biography, but a reflection from someone who was there when it was happening, perhaps a love letter even. A must read for any connoisseur of Oscar Wilde’s repertoire and legend.

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Book #29 – ‘New York Insomnia & Other Poems’ by Philip Callow

I really enjoyed the poems in both ‘New York Insomnia’ and ‘Born Unborn’, the other pamphlet included here, for the most part. I felt the first few poems were a bit weak and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it, but then he suddenly started getting more interesting with his language and imagery. The odd poem in both parts of this book completely lost me, admittedly. Every other poem was a hit.

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Book #30 – ‘Love Poems’ by Michael Horovitz

Combining surrealism and romanticism to conjure stunning dream-like imagery and language to express the many infatuations and phases of love – I love these love poems, and want to read more Horovitz. The opening poem ‘EpithaLAY-ME-UM – um – um’ which can be sung to the tune of Habanera in ‘Carmen’ is genius.

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Book #31 – ‘Better Than God’ by Peter Porter

I bought this about eight years ago on a whim when I was starting to take writing poetry seriously. I gave up pretty quickly. It’s been hidden in my bookcase ever since. I thought I’d give it another go, being a bit older, and a bit more poetified. Apart from a handful of poems, I still wasn’t really a fan of this one. Most of the poems felt like trying to chew on concrete. I did make it to the end this time though.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Leave your comments below.

Follow my blog to stay updated with my ’52 Books in a Year’ journey.

Looking for something to read? My book ‘Zygote Poems’ about the charms and anxieties of new fatherhood is available here. You can read a sample poem right about here too.

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