264–284: Just So Stories; the Divide trilogy; The Holiday Round; The Prisoner of Zenda; The Rules of Engagement; Ranger’s Apprentice; The Man With Two Left Feet, and Other Stories; and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Other Tales of Terror

I’m not really sure what to say about the Just So Stories. They’re charmingly told, and very different from, e.g., Plain Tales from the Hills. They have that distinct fairy-tale ring to them. Elizabeth Kay’s Divide books are enjoyable and imaginative, although I must admit that my ability to enjoy them this time around was … More 264–284: Just So Stories; the Divide trilogy; The Holiday Round; The Prisoner of Zenda; The Rules of Engagement; Ranger’s Apprentice; The Man With Two Left Feet, and Other Stories; and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Other Tales of Terror

258–263: Fahrenheit 451; The Secret Garden; Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town; Scoop; Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, and Other Stories; and The Quiet American

There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. Fahrenheit 451 – a society like Brave New World, on one level, with its approach to keeping people docile: fill them up with trivial information and distract them with simple entertainments, … More 258–263: Fahrenheit 451; The Secret Garden; Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town; Scoop; Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, and Other Stories; and The Quiet American

Completed labours are pleasant: 365 books, 365 days

Something attempted, something done, Has earned a night’s repose. —Longfellow, “The Village Blacksmith” After 85,276 pages (ave. 234) and over £600 spent on new books, and having tackled an ABC of authors ranging from Blyton to Woolf, I polished off work #365, Ukridge, with just under six hours to go, and I can assure you … More Completed labours are pleasant: 365 books, 365 days

247–257: The Comforters; The Darling Buds of May; A Breath of French Air; The War of the Worlds; Moonfleet; Raffles; The Gun; Some Prefer Nettles; The Twelfth; Little Women; and Love, Roger

Is the world a lunatic asylum then? Are we all courteous maniacs discreetly making allowances for everyone else’s derangements? I might have said this before, but Catholic convert authors do like to write about Catholicism (cf. Evelyn Waugh). Muriel Spark’s The Comforters has elements of that; elements of mystery; elements of metafiction; and elements of … More 247–257: The Comforters; The Darling Buds of May; A Breath of French Air; The War of the Worlds; Moonfleet; Raffles; The Gun; Some Prefer Nettles; The Twelfth; Little Women; and Love, Roger

238–244: The Incredible Crime; Before the War; Rocannon’s World; Planet of Exile; City of Illusions; Mortal Engines; and The Postmistress

Lois Austen-Leigh’s Cambridge-based mystery The Incredible Crime comes complete with an image of my own college on the front cover, so can you blame me for buying it? It’s really rather fun as well, with a particularly enjoyable flirting scene, a compelling plot, and some wry and witty writing. Worth a read. What was a … More 238–244: The Incredible Crime; Before the War; Rocannon’s World; Planet of Exile; City of Illusions; Mortal Engines; and The Postmistress

233–237: Robin of Sherwood and The Handmaid’s Tale

The next four books are novelisations of the 1980s television show Robin of Sherwood. Yes, novelisations count as novels. The reason I bought them is particularly because I have enduring memories of the second book, The Hounds of Lucifer, from my prep school days. Robin Hood is, perhaps more than anything or anyone else, our … More 233–237: Robin of Sherwood and The Handmaid’s Tale

227–232: The Lathe of Heaven; I, Robot; The Left Hand of Darkness; and the Black Magician Trilogy

Who has humanitarian dreams? I will say confidently that The Lathe of Heaven is one of the most imaginative pieces of dystopian-stroke-utopian fiction ever written. The protagonist is George Orr, an almost impossibly ordinary man – “the man in the middle of the graph” – but he is terrified of sleep because, from time to … More 227–232: The Lathe of Heaven; I, Robot; The Left Hand of Darkness; and the Black Magician Trilogy

216–226: The Prussian Officer; If I Die Before I Wake; Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang; Don’t Point That Thing at Me; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase; The Red House Mystery; Coraline & Other Stories; The Lost World; Robinson; The Call of the Wild; and White Fang

DH Lawrence’s The Prussian Officer is a strangely brutal (in places), and yet excellent, collection of short stories, from the titular tale in which the brutality of the officer in question has murderous consequences. Conflict and feeling are predominant themes. (Also, and quite irrelevantly, I will never miss an opportunity to introduce people to, or … More 216–226: The Prussian Officer; If I Die Before I Wake; Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang; Don’t Point That Thing at Me; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase; The Red House Mystery; Coraline & Other Stories; The Lost World; Robinson; The Call of the Wild; and White Fang

210–215: Striding Folly; Whose Body?; Unnatural Death; Stardust; The Postman Always Rings Twice; and The Man Who Was Number Four

Crime time, and three Lord Peter Wimsey books to get going with. The first is a collection, named Striding Folly after the first of the three stories it collects. They’re all gems, actually, looking at the titular detective from a multitude of angles. Wimsey is a detective with – ironically, perhaps, given his name – … More 210–215: Striding Folly; Whose Body?; Unnatural Death; Stardust; The Postman Always Rings Twice; and The Man Who Was Number Four