Novels and biographies read in 2020

A strange year of reading. For long periods I found it very hard to concentrate on reading that wasn’t immediately useful for a writing project or other work task (and even then…). Novels were a particular struggle. I found reading diaries, memoirs and autobiographies a bit easier, and so there are quite a few of those in here. Perhaps this was in part to see how creative work had been done in the past in difficult circumstances.

  • John le Carré, A Legacy of Spies
  • Natalie Haynes, The Children of Jocasta
  • Gillian Rose, Love’s Work (memoir)
  • Michael Joyce, Foucault in Winter, in the Linnaeus Garden
  • Stephen Fry, Mythos
  • Susan Cain, Quiet (non-fiction)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
  • Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of all Things
  • Sven-Erik Liedman, A World to Win: The Life and Works of Karl Marx
  • Rüdiger Safranski, Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography
  • Christine Leunens, Caging Skies
  • Hermann Broch, The Death of Virgil
  • Alice Jardine, At the Risk of Thinking: An Intellectual Biography of Julia Kristeva
  • Amy Sackville, Painter to the King
  • Michael Scammell, Arthur Koestler: The Indispensable Intellectual
  • Italo Calvino, The Castle of Crossed Destinies
  • Mircea Eliade, Journal I: 1945-1955
  • Mircea Eliade, No Souvenirs: Journal 1957-69
  • Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology
  • Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda (again)
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People
  • Marina Lewycka, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
  • Honoré de Balzac, Eugénie Grandet 
  • Mircea Eliade, The Portugal Journal
  • Howard Eiland and Michael W Jennings, Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life
  • Hilary Mantel, Fludd
  • Philip K Dick, The Man in the High Castle
  • Sue Prideaux, Strindberg – A Life
  • Alastair Davidson, Antonio Gramsci: Towards an Intellectual Biography
  • Mircea Eliade, Ordeal by Labyrinth: Conversations with Claude-Henri Rocquet
  • Maya Jasanoff, The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World
  • Sid Smith, In the Court of King Crimson: An Observation over 50 Years
  • Julia Kristeva, Hannah Arendt (biography)
  • Jeff Love, The Black Circle: A Life of Alexandre Kojève
  • David Lagercrantz, The Girl who Takes an Eye for an Eye
  • Ahmed Othmani, Beyond Prison (memoir/non-fiction)
  • Peter Salmon, An Event, Perhaps: A Biography of Jacques Derrida
  • Philip Roth, The Plot Against America
  • Claude Lévi-Strauss, Conversations with Didier Eribon
  • Edna O’Brien, The Little Red Chairs
  • Patrick Wilcken, Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory (biography)
  • Michael Palin, North Korea Journal
  • John Schad, The Late Walter Benjamin

When I’ve posted these lists before, I often get questions. Here’s what I’ve said in reply before.

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