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Disembodied Father Christmas head, nailed to the door of my room in the Starfire Hotel, Lagos. A terrifying warning to others?

Oh my lord, where has this month gone; where has this year, decade, century gone? As a child I remember being enormous alarmed when my parents explained to me that as I got older, I would experience time moving faster and faster, and I am equally alarmed now that I am an adult to find that they were absolutely right. On one hand I am only 36 and (barring incident, accident, misfortune or stupidity) likely to have a good many years in front of me; on the other hand they are flashing by like lightning and I WILL SOON BE DEAD and what does it matter anyway, as soon after that (in the great scheme of things) our earth will be nothing but a cinder orbiting the burned-out void of what used to be our sun? &c. &c.

On that cheery note, happy new year! 2014 has been a wonderful year for me personally, and an absolutely calamitous one globally (and for many of the people I hold dear). I hope that 2015 will be kinder to all of us.


Fancy Christmas tree in fancy waterfront Muscat restaurant where I unexpectedly spent Christmas night

For the record, here is my complete list of books read – and where I read them – in 2014. Those marked with an asterisk have been my favourites, though that’s not to say that many of the others weren’t also excellent.


  1. Doctor Sleep, Stephen King* (Cairo)
  2. Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas (Cairo)
  3. [Unpublished work, beta-read for a magnificent writer friend (Cairo)
  4. Everything’s Eventual, Stephen King (Cairo)
  5. Skeleton Crew, Stephen King (Cairo)
  6. The Gunslinger, Stephen King* (Doha)
  7. The Drawing of the Three, Stephen King (Doha – Cairo)
  8. The Wastelands, Stephen King (Cairo)
  9. Wizard and Glass, Stephen King (Cairo)
  10. Wolves of the Calla, Stephen King (Cairo)
  11. Song of Susannah, Stephen King (Cairo)


  1. The Dark Tower, Stephen King (Cairo)
  2. David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell (Cairo)
  3. Drive, James Sallis (Cairo)
  4. Night Shift, Stephen King (Cairo – Whitebrook)
  5. Hearts in Atlantis, Stephen King (Whitebrook)
  6. Duma Key, Stephen King (Whitebrook)
  7. [A then-unpublished work, beta-read for a different magnificent writer friend]* (Whitebrook)
  8. The Wind through the Keyhole, Stephen King* (Whitebrook)
  9. Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie (Glasgow – London)
  10. Cloudstreet, Tim Winton* (Whitebrook – Glasgow – London) M
  11. Cujo, Stephen King (Juba – Torit)


  1. Pet Sematary, Stephen King (Torit)
  2. The Dark Half, Stephen King (Torit)
  3. Stitches, Anne Lamott (Torit)
  4. A Change of Climate, Hilary Mantel* (Torit – Ikotos)
  5. The Dead Zone, Stephen King (Torit)
  6. Levels of Life, Julian Barnes (Torit – Juba)
  7. An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks (Juba – Wau)
  8. The Weekend, Bernhard Schlink (Wau)
  9. Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett* (Wau)
  10. Rose Madder, Stephen King (Wau)
  11. Under the Dome, Stephen King* (Wau – Juba)
  12. The Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Bulgakov (Juba)
  13. Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman (Juba)
  14. Firestarter, Stephen King (Juba)
  15. Bag of Bones, Stephen King (Juba)


  1. The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner (Juba – Kuajok)
  2. 11/22/63, Stephen King (Kuajok – Wau – Kuajok)
  3. The Marbury Lens, Andrew Smith (Kuajok)
  4. Life after Life, Kate Atkinson* (Kuajok)
  5. The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories, ed. Peter Haining (Cairo – Kuajok)
  6. Just Send Me Word, Orlando Figes (Juba – Kuajok – Wau)
  7. The Bread We Eat in Dreams, Catherynne Valente* (Juba)
  8. Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala (Juba)
  9. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie* (Juba – Nairobi – Zanzibar)
  10. My Age of Anxiety, Scott Stossel (Zanzibar)
  11. Arctic Summer, Damon Galgut* (Zanzibar – Nairobi)
  12. The Prince’s Boy, Paul Bailey (Nairobi)


  1. Exile, Denise Mina (Nairobi – Juba)
  2. Resolution, Denise Mina (Juba)
  3. The Eye of the Dragon, Stephen King (Nairobi)
  4. Mongol, Uuganaa Ramsay (Mogadishu)
  5. The Last Demon, Isaac Bashevis Singer (in transit)
  6. The Collective, Stephen King (in transit)
  7. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel* (Glasgow)
  8. Time to Let Go, Lurlene McDaniel (Basel – Liechtenstein)
  9. Never Love a Cowboy, Jesse DuKore (Liechtenstein)
  10. No Strings Attached, Eileen Hehl (Liechtenstein)
  11. Her Secret Self, Rhondi Vilott (Liechtenstein)
  12. Kelly Blake: Teen Model #4, Yvonne Green (Liechtenstein)
  13. How Do You Say Goodbye, Margaret Burman (Liechtenstein)
  14. First Kiss: The Perfect Couple, Helen Santon (Liechtenstein)
  15. Party Girl: Supermodels of the World, BB Calhoun (Liechtenstein)
  16. This Time for Real, Susan Gorman (Liechtenstein)
  17. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green and David Levithan (Whitebrook)
  18. Looking for Alaska, John Green* (Whitebrook)
  19. An Abundance of Katherines, John Green (Whitebrook)
  20. Paper Towns, John Green (Whitebrook)


  1. Mr Mercedes, Stephen King (Whitebrook – London)
  2. Foreign Babes in Beijing, Rachel deWoskin (Whitebrook)
  3. The Examined Life, Stephen Grosz* (in transit)
  4. Darkness Visible, William Styron (in transit)
  5. Half Bad, Sally Green (in transit – Nairobi)
  6. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, Liz Jensen (Nairobi – Mogadishu)
  7. The Concert Ticket, Olga Grushin* (Mogadishu – Nairobi)
  8. Chasing Misery, ed. Kelsey Hoppe* (in transit)
  9. By Blood We Live, ed. John Joseph Adams (everywhere)
  10. Attachments, Rainbow Rowell (Nairobi)


  1. Vicious, VE Schwab (Nairobi)
  2. Fairyland, Alysia Abbott (Nairobi)
  3. A Book of Horrors, ed. Stephen Jones (Nairobi – Mogadishu)
  4. End of Term, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  5. Cricket Term, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  6. Attic Term, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  7. Run Away Home, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  8. Falconer’s Lure, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  9. Peter’s Room, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  10. The Ready-Made Family, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  11. The World’s Most Dangerous Place, James Fergusson* (Mogadishu)
  12. The Marlows and the Traitor, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  13. Autumn Term, Antonia Forest (Mogadishu)
  14. Diaboliad, Mikhail Bulgakov (Mogadishu)


  1. Thirst, Andrei Gelasimov (Nairobi)
  2. Improper Stories, Saki (Mogadishu)
  3. Our Lady of the Streets, Tom Pollock (Mogadishu)
  4. Living With a Wild God, Barbara Ehrenreich* (Mogadishu)
  5. Quiet, Susan Cain (Mogadishu – Nairobi)
  6. The Returned, Jason Mott (Mogadishu – Nairobi)
  7. The Charioteer, Mary Renault* (various bits of the UK)
  8. Strange Meeting, Susan Hill (en route to Nigeria)
  9. Little Failure, Gary Shteyngart* (Abuja)


  1. Searching for Transwonderland, Noo Saro-Wiwa (Abuja – Kaduna – Lagos)
  2. We Were Liars, E. Lockhart (Lagos)
  3. The New Republic, Lionel Shriver (Lagos – Abuja – Nairobi)
  4. Born to Run: The hidden tribe, the ultra-runners, and the greatest race the world has ever seen, Christopher McDougall (Mogadishu)
  5. Make Believe, Diana Athill (Mogadishu)
  6. Instead of a Book, Diana Athill (Mogadishu)
  7. [Another unpublished novel beta-read for yet another magnificent writer friend] (Mogadishu)
  8. In the Woods, Tana French* (Mogadishu)
  9. The Likeness, Tana French (Mogadishu)
  10. Faithful Place, Tana French (Mogadishu)
  11. Broken Harbour, Tana French (Mogadishu)


  1. The Secret Place, Tana French (Mogadishu – Nairobi)
  2. Teach Us to Sit Still, Tim Parks (Nairobi – Lamu)
  3. Down the Rabbit Hole, Juan Pablo Villalobos (Lamu)
  4. [Unpublished novel beta-read for a magnificent writer friend already mentioned] (Lamu)
  5. The Children Act, Ian McEwan (Lamu)
  6. We Were All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler* (Lamu – Nairobi)
  7. A Cold Case, Philip Gourevich (Nairobi – Mogadishu)
  8. Fun Camp, Gabe Durham (Nairobi – Mogadishu)
  9. This Party’s Got to Stop, Rupert Thomson (Mogadishu)
  10. The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman (Mogadishu)
  11. Standard Operating Procedure, Philip Gourevitch* (Mogadishu – Nairobi)
  12. Under the Skin, Michael Faber (Nairobi – Yerevan)
  13. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor* (various parts of Armenia)
  14. Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor (various parts of Armenia)
  15. Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Laini Taylor (various parts of Armenia – Sharjah)
  16. Bringing Ararat, Armand Inezian (Nairobi)


  1. The Girl With All the Gifts, M. R. Carey (Nairobi)
  2. The Seven Secrets of Happiness, Gyles Brandreth (Nairobi)
  3. The Woman Who Stole My Life, Marian Keyes (Mogadishu)
  4. Columbine, Dave Cullen (Mogadishu)
  5. The Murder of Halland, Pia Juul (Mogadishu)
  6. Revival, Stephen King (Mogadishu)
  7. City of Devi, Manil Suri* (Mogadishu)
  8. White Out, Michael Clune (Mogadishu)


  1. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Mantel (Whitebrook)
  2. Lingo, Gaston Dorren (Whitebrook)
  3. London Triptych, Jonathan Kempe (London)
  4. The Long Walk Home, Judith Tebutt (London – Whitebrook)
  5. Unspeakable Things, Laurie Penny* (in transit)
  6. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, Neil Sedaris (various bits of Nigeria)
  7. The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly (Lagos)
  8. Let Down Your Hair, Fiona Price* (Lagos – Abuja)
  9. The Book of Illusions, Paul Auster* (Abuja – Glasgow)
  10. Death by Silver, Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold* (Abuja – Glasgow)
  11. A Death at the Dionysus Club, Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold (Abuja – Glasgow)
  12. Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed (Bahrain airport)
  13. The Never List, Koethi Zan (Ibri)
  14. War Crimes for the Home, Liz Jensen* (Ibri)
  15. My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, Liz Jensen (Ibri)
  16. The Auschwitz Violin, Maria Angels Anglada (Ibri)
  17. The Uninvited Guests, Sadie Jones* (Ibri)
  18. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’engle (Ibri)
  19. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson* (Ibri)

Written by Jess

December 31, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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