What I read in 2023

So here it is, Merry Christmas, every book I’ve read bar one*. This is the sixth time I’ve kept a ‘what I read this year’ list and once again I commend it to everybody as a marvellous reminder of just what went past the eyes over the previous 12 months.

Normally I do not include the books I’ve read/consulted for research - which this year has been a large roomful as I’ve worked on four titles: The Book Lover’s Almanac which is out now; 100 Words for Rain out next spring; Studios of Their Own out next autumn; and A Year of Reading Welshly out in 2025. But I’ve included all the ones about Wales and Welsh life as they’ve been central to my year in books and might be of interest to others (marked with a W) - other than the Kingsley Amis, I’d give them all the thumbs up.

A not very close analysis of the overall total reveals:

  • 44: 23 male-female split (very similar ratio to last year)

  • 41 novels/short story collections

  • 16 non-fiction titles (history, memoir, travel)

  • 7 poetry collections

  • 1 graphic novel/cartoon

  • 2 that I didn’t finish (not just skipped a bit, properly gave up on)

  • 1 in a non-English language

  • 1 audiobook

As in previous years, I’ve put an asterisk by the ones I really enjoyed.

Winter Tales by George Mackay Brown

The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin

The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers

Welsh (Plural): Essays on the future of Wales ed. Darren Chetty (W)

The Battle to the Weak by Hilda Vaughan (W)

In Parenthesis by David Jones (W)

* The Harpole Report by JL Carr

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (W)

I Bought a Mountain by Thomas Fairbank (W)

Raiders’ Dawn by Alun Lewis (W)

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie

Poems by Lynette Roberts (W)

On Savage Shores by Charlotte Dodds Pennock

Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas (W)

Journals 1987-1989 by Anthony Powell

Deep Pockets by Brendan Cooper

The Awakening by Kate Roberts (W)

Singin’ in the Rain by Peter Wollen

A Toy Epic by Emyr Humphreys (W)

Border Country by Raymond Williams (W)

Jampot Smith by Jeremy Brookes (W)

The Shop in the Mountain by Showell Styles (W)

* One Moonlit Night by Caradog Prichard (W)

The Small Mine by Menna Gallie (W)

The Twelve Dancers by William Mayne (W)

Tudor Children by Nicolas Orme

Tide-Race by Brenda Chamberlain (W)

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (W)

* Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

* Boom Town by Garrison Keillor

The Owl Service by Alan Garner (W)

Travels with a Duchess by Menna Gallie (W)

So Long Hector Bebb by Ron Berry (W)

Place of Stones by Ruth Janette Ruck (W)

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden (W)

The Sundial by Gillian Clarke (W)

The Volunteers by Raymond Williams (W)

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin (W)

Brothers by Bernice Reubens (W)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (trans: Keith Harrison)

* Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

* Winters in the World by Eleanor Parker

Shadowlands by Matthew Green

* Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser

Yellowface by RF Kuang

The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis (W)

Eucalyptus by Menna Elfyn (W)

Travels in an Old Tongue: Touring the World Speaking Welsh by Pamela Petro (W)

* Five Pubs, Two Bars and a Nightclub Paperback by John Williams (W)

Learning Springsteen on my language app by Sarah Salway

Skirrid Hill by Owen Sheers (W)

Grits by Niall Griffiths (W)

* The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

Die Weisse Iris (Asterix) by Fabcaro and Didier Conrad

The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi (W)

Aberystwyth, Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce (W)

Tree of Crows by Lewis Davies (W)

Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce (W)

Music to Eat Cake By by Lev Parikian

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (audiobook)

Martha, Jack & Shanco by Caryl Lewis (W)

Infants of Spring by Anthony Powell

* Messengers of Day by Anthony Powell

Sweet Apples by Rachel Trezise (W)

Christmas Carols: From Village Green to Church Choir by Andrew Gant

Running for the Hills by Horatio Clare (W)

The Box of Delights by John Masefield

* A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (not yet reread, a Christmas Eve treat)