Books I Read in December 2018

I’m back from a month-long blogging break after moving house this month. Thankfully, everything has gone smoothly and I managed to fit in some reading (albeit at a much slower pace than normal) with non-fiction being the order of the day in the run up to Christmas.

Kings of the Yukon Adam Weymouth Kings of the Yukon: An Alaskan River Journey by Adam Weymouth won this year’s Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award earlier this month and documents Weymouth’s 2,000 mile journey by canoe along the Yukon river through Canada and Alaska to the Bering Sea in a highly original and ecologically aware travel memoir. The remotest areas of the world tend to be where the effects of climate change, globalisation and industrial fishing are felt most keenly and the far north-west of North America is no exception. Local communities relying on King salmon (also known as chinook) for their livelihoods now face huge uncertainty with rapidly dwindling numbers of fish now spawning there. Fishing quotas might not sound like the most fascinating topic but the lyrical descriptions of the landscape alongside tales of the people he meets along the way, help put the worrying statistics into context. I doubt I would have come across ‘Kings of the Yukon if it hadn’t been shortlisted for the Young Writer of the Year Award and I hope that the extra exposure from winning the prize will see Weymouth’s audience expand much further. 

Lost at Sea Jon RonsonLost at Sea by Jon Ronson is a collection of his essays and other pieces of journalism for various magazines and newspapers from 2005 to 2012. As those familiar with Ronson’s writing will know, he has a knack for bringing out humour when investigating genuinely disturbing subjects as he did so memorably in ‘The Psychopath Test’ and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. ‘Lost at Sea’ includes a frivolous account of what goes on behind the scenes of Channel 4’s Deal or No Deal, a look through Stanley Kubrick’s archives and an investigation into the staggering number of people who go missing from cruise ships every year. One of the best chapters in this book is ‘Who Killed Richard Cullen?’ which is a chilling piece of reportage about the methods used by credit card companies to target vulnerable people, even before the age of social media ubiquity. Inevitably, the eclecticism means some parts are hit and miss but I found this was an ideal book to dip in and out of in the middle of the chaos of moving house.

The Joy of Quiz Alan ConnorFinally, I couldn’t resist sneaking a read of The Joy of Quiz by Alan Connor last week before passing it on as a Christmas gift to my sister and brother-in-law who are both keen quizzers. Connor is the question editor of the fiendish BBC 2 quiz show ‘Only Connect’ presented by Victoria Coren Mitchell and this history of quizzing covers all aspects of the popular past-time with a focus on British and American radio and television shows. From the highs of winning to the lows of losing, quizzes have also been the subject of a number of controversies from the legal challenges faced by the creators of Trivial Pursuit to the very public downfall of Major Charles Ingram after his now notorious appearance on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ and the subsequent trial which followed. With around 300 quiz questions seamlessly woven into the narrative, ‘The Joy of Quiz’ is a quick, fun and nostalgic read for anyone who loves trivia.

What have you been reading this month?

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Books I Read in December 2018

  1. Glad the move went well. I read and enjoyed Kings of the Yukon too – no coincidence! I’ve not read Jon Ronson, but ought to give him a go. The Quiz book is on my shelf. I also read a lot of NF in December,

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  2. I read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed this summer and really enjoyed it. I like Ronson’s style of writing, so I think I would enjoy the essay collection.

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  3. A handmade Christmas left little time for reading, though while knitting jumpers and binding notebooks for all the family, I listened to an unabridged reading of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies (before giving the CDs to one family for Christmas) and it the fond and earnest hope that the final volume of the trilogy will come out soon. Since then I have read Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry a quasi-Gothic tale set in a Boston insane asylum in the 1830s; though at first we meet the principal characters at sea (literally and metaphorically). I also read The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason, a novel of the First World War but in an unfamiliar theatre of war, the Polish/Hungary/Russian sector, where the fighting went back and forth across the same ground; so a very different scenario than the trench warfare of Belgium and France. In both books one of the main characters is a doctor, newly qualified.
    From there I leapt upon a Christmas present: Thomas Cromwell A Life by Diarmaid Macculloch, which I knew I was getting and could hardly wait. Wrappings ripped aside, I plunged right in. And what a life! And what a death and what an encyclopaedic book!

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  4. I think I would like reading The Joy of Quiz. I’m going to look for it at our library. Thanks for posting about it! Happy New Year!

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  5. Glad your move went smoothly 🙂 I still hope to read Kings of the Yukon.

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  6. Pingback: My Books of the Year 2018 | A Little Blog of Books

  7. I really liked So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, so I’d definitely like to read more by him. Sounds like you had a good December! I’m glad the move went well 🙂

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