*(books I READ in 2013)
1) Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
David Bayles and Ted Orland
A beautiful little book full of rich insights that demythologises the creative process helping to remove the hinderances to making stuff
2) Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
Finally shedding some of my evangelical prejudices and clearing up my confusion between Don Miller and Doug Coupland I found BLJ to be a warm and engaging book about faith where for once the writer is not the hero.
3) No Country for Old Men
Hard to improve on a film with Tommy Lee Jones but the source book is even better. McCarthy’s dialogue sings and the Sheriff’s internal struggles make sense of that ending.
4) The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles
A beast of a book crammed full of insights. Not just for Beatles fans but anyone who wants a thorough grounding in pop songwriting and the related music theory.
5) All the Pretty Horses
Two of McCarthy’s most likeable characters go through a rite of passage that is brutal and beautiful in turns. Any book that can make a city boy like me interested in the art of breaking horses must be the work of a master.
6) The Road
Bleak, very bleak with occasional outbreaks of bleakness, I still haven’t mustered up the courage to watch the film. McCarthy portrays the smouldering wick of humanity in sea of evil.
7) The Sunset Limited: A Novel in Dramatic Form
A two-hand play in which a black Christian ex-con tries to talk a respectable white atheist out of killing himself.
8) Crap Lyrics
Undoubtedly snarky fun but full of useful ‘how-not-to’s for any budding songwriter
9) The Street Where I Live
Alan Jay Lerner
The genesis of My Fair Lady, Camelot and Gigi on stage, screen and record as told by the raconteur extraordinaire lyricist himself.
10) Nineteen Seventy Four
It’s grim up north. Yorkshire noir – where everyone is a bad guy.
Other books I enjoyed
A few classics – Othello – William Shakespeare, Heart Of Darkness – Joseph Conrad. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, The Beatles Phenomenon – Barry Miles (a budget version of Mark Lewisohn with great photos and sheet music). The Crossing, Cities Of The Plains and Outer Dark – Cormac McCarthy. As if I didn’t get enough C- Mac this year! Good books only let down by mystical mexicans, weird endings and characters who spend 60 pages not interacting with another living soul. The Stand (The Complete and Uncut Edition) – Stephen King. Enjoyed my 20 year check-in with SK. Epic (obviously). And Gilead – Marilynne Robinson. Such a warm book that manages to convey such drama in what essentially is a man’s 270 page letter to his son.