When I was younger I suffered quite ridiculously with eyestrain.

This meant that reading anything for more than five minutes gave me a headache. I think because I suffered from migraines a lot when I was younger also put me off the whole reading experience. Yes I did have glasses, but they were not only the national health ones that were spring-loaded behind the ears, but more than five minutes with them on and again my head would build up to an explosion level.

So the offshoot of all that meant that I was severely under-read and up to my thirties I had only ever read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Danny the Champion of the World, both books taking me many months of determination to read and nothing else from then on – until that faithful day when I was thinking about my late Nana and wanted to write some of the things I knew about her down.

Since that time, when that night I wrote the first three pages of my first novel, I have become a prolific reader of sorts. I now wear glasses that don’t give me headaches unless I am wearing them continuous for long periods of time, which does give me the chance to read; however, any time that I feel I have time to read, I’d much rather be writing.

Three years ago now, I joined up with a company called, which is now part of the Amazon group. This company sells audio books, which can be burned to compact disk’s for my car or downloaded straight onto my iPods. They have quite literally been a life changer for me. Now, every day driving to work is done in another world and often I have returned back home wanting to listen to the next instalment, or just as often hoping there is a crash on the way so that I can stop the agony – Yes, good or bad, once I start an audio book I always have to finish it, even if I’m sharpening up the blades to cut my wrists. For an example of the very bad, The Passage has to be very high on the list, God did that story drone on, and on, and on!

I do try to listen as well as read some of the classics as well as modern literature. Although up to recently I have missed out on some of the World’s best stories, I am trying to educate myself as to why the classics are such labelled.

Right, so here’s a list of some of the works I’ve either read or listened to, and what I thought of them - They are not in any particular order, so don't try and find one:


1.     The Stand (Extended) – Stephen King : Every minute I was hooked. OK so it’s classic Stephen King so I shouldn’t have expected much less, but this extended version was so much better and in my opinion as good as you’ll get.

2.     Moby Dick - Herman Melville : An absolute masterpiece, although very long. Come on, just ask me anything about whales?

3.     Charlotte Street - Danny Wallace : A surprise here, and just as much for myself as you. This story most certainly isn’t exciting, but there is definitely something quite catching about it, and it wasn’t until the end that I found out what it is. The story was relatively boring, almost totally predicable but it hit home, and what Jason Priestly does at the end of the book is almost exactly the kind of act that I would have done in real life.

4.     One Day - David Nicholls : A reasonable listen and if you know the story then you know of the shocker, which I didn’t expect.

5.     Room - Emma Donoghue : Absolutely brilliant, I’d recommend this as a read or even better a listen to. The narrator is superb and really catches the listener as being the boy in the story.

6.     Infected - Scott Sigler : A really fun story, I very much liked this one by a relatively unknown writer. It got a bit silly, well it’s a silly story, but it was one I’ve taken long-cuts home in my car so I could find out what happens next – Thoroughly recommended if you are into that genre.

7.     City of the Dead - Brian Keene : Boring

8.     Dead of Night - Jonathan Maberry : Nearly fourteen hours of boring

9.     Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton : Superb in every way. When the Tyrannosaur is swimming after the heroes, all I could think was why would they leave such an amazing thing out of the films.

10. The Lost World – Michael Crichton : Superb sequel. Again it got a bit silly with camouflaged Raptors that changed colour, but I was at the edge of my Van seat both on the way upcountry as well as the drive home. You've got to love dinosaurs, as Adam would say, 'Dinosaurs solve everything!'

11. Star Trek, The Return- William Shatner : Okay’ish. Written and narrated by William Shatner, it didn’t capture me as much as the TV series.

12. Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling : I have both the editions read by Jim Dale as well as Stephen Fry and both of them I listen to them quite often. The last instalment with the battle of Hogwarts is worth all the reads up to then. Great story for really long drives.

13. Plague Ship - Clive Cussler : An excellent story and I enjoyed it very much. It didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat, but at no point did I want to switch it off.

14. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll : What a load of old tripe. I can see that it was written while high on drugs. Repetitive, bad English and just plain boring.

15.   The Passage - Justin Cronin : Now this is a story that obviously did very well in the best sellers list, but for the life of me I can’t understand why. I was bored within an hour of listening to it, and it just gets worse from then on. There is apparently a sequel due to it's success - I'm afraid I can only express my opinion.

16. Aliens 3 - Alan Dean Foster : Short but excellent, just as good as the film.

17. Standing in Another Man’s Grave – Ian Rankin : This was the first of the crime thrillers that I’ve read, and only because I saw a documentary on the author. I quite enjoyed this book but felt that a crowbar was used to complete the story. The author admitted to not knowing who the perpetraitor of the crimes until the end of the novel, and it clearly shows. Good old yarn neither the less, and I quite enjoyed finding out why the author is so popular.

18. The Casual Vacancy – J. K. Rowling : I didn’t like that audio book at all. I think I lost interest quite early on and from then I couldn’t get into it at all, in fact I was soooo glad when it was over that I whooped!

19. UR – Stephen King : Brilliant, short and yet really good fun. I very much enjoyed this short story from the master.

20. Eaters of the Dead – Michael Crichton : Not a patch on his other books, but then it’s not supposed to be. Based on some older writings and a legend, it was luckily quite short.

21. Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James : I needed to read this to try and figure out what all the fuss was about, and it didn’t take long to know exactly why so many women are talking about it. Basically, this is a book for any woman who wants to change a man. It was written badly (who am I to talk I hear you say!) but really, its impossible to blush (or flush) as often as poor Anestasia, and if she was to say that he looked as though he was hiding something once more then I would have sworn she had just copied and pasted it in to get her allocated wordcount. This book is like reading lines that someone has been made to do after school. Story wasn’t too bad, pity it wasn’t as good as it could have so easily have been. One thing I will add though, despite what I've said; I've never spanked anyone before, but now the idea seems quite erotic.

22. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Reichlin : Right you’ve caught me in a lie, I don’t finish every book I start. Couldn’t get into this one at all and switched it off for something better. I don’t think this a very good book to listen to when you’re driving or having to concentrate on the World around you. Would probably have been better if I was reading it instead of listening to it, in the quietness of my bedroom without any other thoughts to distract me.

23. Avatar - Paul Bryers : Nothing like the film, thank the Lord. No inter-galactic spaceships, no aliens and not one person in blue! Oh I see! hehe! But really, an excellent read about a kidnap, the remote castle of demons and a machine that transports the victims into a sadistic computer game - great fantasy fun.

24. The Watchman - Chris Ryan : SAS operatives, M15 members being murdered and only one person who can save the world. Another very good and quite interesting book.

25. Wild Strawberries - Emma Blair : A story about some local women living down in Coverack during the war. It's nice to have a local novel in this list, but alas, although its worth reading it won't enthral you.

26. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathon Swift : A classic, but I'm not sure why it got the popularity that it did.

27. Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson : The title is far better than what's inside. I was totally bored with this one, a story that never actually kicks in.

28. Micro - Michael Crichton : Another of Michael's ones, and a fun read. No dinosaurs so nothing solved, but a good old yarn.

29. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon : Read this one... Read this one! Brilliant, imaginative and written so very well.

30. Boom - Mark Haddon : Nothing like the book preceeding it. It was okay of sorts but really quite rubbish in comparision with his masterpeice.

31. Remember Me - Sophie Kinsella : Yes thats right, I read chicklits as well. Actually a great story about a young lady tripping over her high heels... she wakes up three years later a millionairess and all of her friends are giving her the cold shoulder. Well worth a look.

32. The Lovely Bones - Alyssa Bresnahan : Don't spoil this great book by going out and watching the film, it didn't do it any justice at all.

33. The Life of Pi - Yann Martel : I am hoping that on screen this will be a much better story than that in the written form. A bit of hard work every now and then, and I got the impression while reading it that the writer padded a bit too much.

34. Steve Jobs, The Exclusive Biography - Walter Issacson : I was enthrauled with this book. Already knowing a lot about Steve Jobs since seeing the film 'The Pirates of Silicon Valley', I was keen to read how he was going to be protrayed. I don't think Steve and I would have got on, in fact I think I would have disliked him intently, I don't think of him as the Picasso of our time and certainly didn't like his ethics; However this morning, I was woken up by my iPhone, I checked my emails on my iPad before I had risen out of bed, I went to the shops listening to an audiobook on an iPod and now I'm writing this on my iMac - Come on, there's something that has got to be said for that, I use Apple stuff more than any other in my life. The other thing is I still cannot understand why learnered people are still using PC's when there are Apple products around when they are clearly far superior in almost every way, I understand that they are more expensive, but you definately get what you pay for... I can only surmise that it is similar, in my opinion to learnered people who still believe in religion.

35. Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus - John Gray : I kind of get this, and while reading it I could identify times in my life, as well as times with partners that we acted identically to the written word. A good learning tool with a bit of humour mixed in, I liked.

36. The Cell - Stephen King : A bit disappointing, especially for such a long read. After the first bit, which seemed to go on more than I would have liked, it kind of fizzled out. It was a typical Zombie senario and there wasn't anything different other than the virus was caused by mobile phone signals.

37. Warm Bodies - Issac Marion : Positively brilliant. I enjoyed every bit of this book, which I didn't put down because I want to see the film version. The trailers look amazing and what I've seen on the trailer does look exactly how I imagined when going through the novel.


Well I'm sure that's enough for right now... or should I say I can't remember any others right now - I'll be updating this as I recall others, or when I've read them.


editI have included this section because I enjoy reading almost half as much as I enjoy writing, and I believe that what books I read will obviously have an impact on my own writing. However, keeping that in mind, its true to be said that before I got into writing my own stuff, I was not well read at all.

“Pick up your feet... got to move to the trick of the beat”

Fred Deakin
Design Engineer / Author