Category Archives: John Buchan

1000 Novels Everyone Must Read… So Far

So The Guardian (and Observer) are treating us to the ‘1000 Novels Everyone Must Read’ over seven days. I wasn’t sure how this would work it being that 1000 divided by seven means 142.85714 books per day. However what they have done is to theme each issue in the series. So far we have had Love and Crime. Though personally I didn’t exactly think that To Kill A Mockingbird or Jurassic Park was crime, or The Virgin Suicides a love story but I shouldn’t be picky. I was shocked The Time Travellers Wife wasn’t in love actually. I haven’t thought of ones I would put in their yet! That could be another blog for another time.


I don’t know about you but I go through the list and look at which ones I have read and then the ones that I should read in the future and these two issues so far have given me lots to read. What had I read?

Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary E Braddon
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Murder At The Vicarage – Agatha Christie
The Woman In White – Wilkie Collins
Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
The Hound Of The Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis
A Quiet Belief In Angels – RJ Ellory (I was shocked this was in here – hated it)
Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
A Room With A View – E.M. Forster
The End Of The Affair – Graham Greene
Red Dragon – Thomas Harris (which I am going to re-read this year)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Pursuit Of Love – Nancy Mitford
Dissolution – CJ Sansom
The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
Perfume – Patrick Suskind
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (well am reading it in the background)
Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler
The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

Hmmm… 25/1000 so far… must try harder! If you have missed this so far then have a look here http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/1000novels

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Bernhard Schink, Brett Easton Ellis, Daphne Du Maurier, Emily Bronte, Harper Lee, Ian Fleming, Ian McEwan, John Buchan, Leo Tolstoy, Nancy Mitford, Sarah Waters

Not ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’

I don’t know if anyone else didn’t watch the BBC’s version of ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ a few hours ago? It’s just I tuned in at the right time earlier tonight and appear to have watched something completely different with the same title and same named lead character of Richard Hannay. Is this just me?


I read the book earlier in the year because I knew this would be on at Christmas and really like to read the novel before I see the TV version/film. After having loved the book so much I was really excited by the prospect of some great Christmas television, especially after how good the Beeb’s versions of ‘Bleak House’ and ‘Cranford’ have been.

Well I don’t know what happened here, I mean it started off the same and then suddenly they brought in this suffragette strumpet called ‘Victoria’ who not only didn’t exist in the book, completely took over and then also completely changed the plot from then on. Richard Hannay didn’t play second fiddle to anyone in the book and yet here he was being ordered about and getting domineered by someone who didn’t exist in the world of John Buchan. I fear the author might have been turning in his grave during the last few hours. I was so cross I didn’t watch the show about him on BBC4.

I really wish I had just watched ITV’s adaptation of ‘Affinity’ by Sarah Waters now!

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Books To Film, John Buchan, Sarah Waters

As We Get To The End Of The Year…

So naturally I have started to go through what I think are the best books of the year which I will announce on the 30th of December, in the lead up and looking at other people blogs everyone is working out how many books they have read and by male or female authors like Simon Stuck in a Book. I liked this idea of as well as blogging your favourites of the year you do something a bit different too. However I thought of a few extra questions I would ask people, so here we go…

How many books read in 2008?
I think the one I am reading now will be the last one of the year as after that am reading Anna Karenina and don’t think could read that in less than three days and finish this one so “When Will There Be Good News” will be my 102nd book of the year beating last years 69.

How many fiction and non fiction?
In total 94 fictions and 8 non fictions.

Male/Female author ratio?

50 male and 52 female which really shocked me as I thought I had read much more books by women than men, odd.

Favourite book of 2008?
I have a pretty sneaky suspicion but you’ll have to wait until the end of the year!

Least favourite?
Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy was incredibly boring though I finished it, I didn’t finish Iain Pears ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’. I also thought that ‘Son of a Witch’ by Gregory Maguire was poor; I don’t think anything he has done has been as good as ‘Wicked’ though. I refuse to mention Abby Lee. I was also underwhelmed by Emily Bronte sadly.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why?
I didn’t finish the aforementioned ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’ just because after realising that I was going to have to read the same boring storyline four times from different people I gave up during the second. My Gran read this and struggled on through but said she wished she’d given up. The other was ‘Company of Liars’ by Karen Maitland which I really wanted to read but just wasn’t in the right mind frame for, maybe in 2009!

Oldest book read?
Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ which I thought didn’t live up to expectations at all.

Newest?
I have read a fair few new ones of which isn’t out until January, so a few pre-publication.

Longest book title?
I read quite a lot of long titled books such as any of the M.C. Beaton ‘Agatha Raisin’ novels but it was Mary Ann Shaffer’s ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ is officially the longest.

Longest and shortest books?
Nicola Barker’s ‘Darkmans’ was easily the longest; shortest I think is ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K. Rowling.

How many books from the library?
None, which is shameful isn’t it!?

Any translated books?
‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink, ‘Strangers’ by Taichi Yamada and ‘In The Miso Soup’ by Ryu Murakami.

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author?
Stella Duffy, I managed to devour three of her books this year!

Any re-reads?
Not this year.

Favourite character of the year?
Julie Ashton the narrator of ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ just completely and utterly stole my heart this year, either her or Atticus from Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading?
England and America through the ages, Italy, China, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France, Africa, Afghanistan, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, Guernsey, Mexico, post apocalyptic somewhere, and of course the land of Oz.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?
‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink.

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?
Five classics; Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, Henry James ‘Turn of the Screw’ and John Buchan’s ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’.

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Filed under Bernhard Schink, Emily Bronte, Gregory Maguire, Harper Lee, Henry James, Iain Pears, John Buchan, M.C. Beaton, Mary Ann Shaffer, Nicola Barker, Ryu Murakami

The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan

Just like I mentioned with Twilight not only do I like to read things before they come out at the cinema, or I get the DVD, I also like to read them before they come on the television. One of the adaptations for the forthcoming festive season that the Beeb are doing this year is ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’ having had it on my TBR pile for almost two years it gave me the final push I had been needing to read it.

I really, really enjoyed it. I can completely understand why it has become on of the great modern classic (is that a contradiction in terms) thrillers of all time. Richard Hannay has just come back from a long stay in Africa. He finds everything back in London mundane and boring. That is of course until he becomes involved in a plot to precipitate a pan-European war.

After befriending and hiding a neighbour who says he knows of this plot he comes home one day to find his neighbour dead in his flat. From then on he not only has to flee the men who killed his neighbour, he also has to flee the police who want him for suspected murder. What follows is a fantastic chase and man hunt through the highlands of Scotland. Gripping train rides, plane chases, captures and escapes ensue with mighty foe’s following him as he tries to uncover the truth and find ‘The Thirty Nine-Steps’.

Like the book, I shall keep this review short. The book is short at only 160 pages and could be read in an afternoon curled up on the sofa. I took a few days over it to relish it and also to not get to confused in all the chases and the many plots and twists along the way and also to savour the adventure. I haven’t read an adventure novel in ages and it took me back to my youth and endless reading of Arthur Conan Doyle. I am going to definitely track down the rest of the Hannay adventures which I never knew existed until I looked him up on Wikipedia.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and definitely worth a few hours of any readers time, well we all like a good old fashioned adventure now and again don’t we?

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Filed under Books of 2008, Books To Film, John Buchan, Penguin Classics, Review