asking for trouble

Books, Comics & Zines I Read in 2024

I’ll be updating this page throughout the year, hoping to meet my reading challenge of 40 books (eligible books are numbered below) as well as a few other reading goals. You can follow me on Goodreads or read about what I read in 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 & 2017.

kindle unread books

After some thought, I am now only using the star rating on Goodreads for 5 star books as otherwise it seems unfair without the review text (which I am never going to post on such a drama-filled site!). Instead I will be marking those 5 star reads below with a single star.


21. Ripley’s Game by Patricia Highsmith
I have now watched the Netflix show (v.good) and then the third book got a price drop right after. I enjoyed this one but they are all kind of similar really. Will be interested to see how the show adapts these if it continues (I hope it does and makes some changes). The fourth book got a price drop after I finished this so I will be carrying on soon.


20. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch ⭐️
So fun! I love a heist story, especially when it’s a ragtag group of friends up against the world. Great worldbuilding, strong characters, very funny and lots of unexpected twists and gut punches. The rest of the series is on my wish list now.


19. Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
I didn’t love Ninth House but I do love Leigh Bardugo and I was interested enough in the story/characters to look out for a 99p deal. The sequel is essentially a heist (to hell!) and has enough layers/twists to keep it exciting but I was never that invested in what would happen to anyone. It’s all a bit too grim really – where is Nikolai from the Grishaverse when you need for some light relief?

18. Hell of a Journey: On Foot Through the Scottish Highlands in Winter by Mike Cawthorne
I can’t remember why I bought this as I’ve had it for ages but randomly started it. The author quits his job as a teacher to make a journey across Scotland, climbing every mountain over a certain height (I forget what), almost entirely solo and unsupported, during the winter – something that had never been attempted before. It’s impossible to relate to this in any way but there’s some great writing and anecdotes about nature, conservation and the people he meets. And a lot of terrible weather.

Pet Shop Boys, Annually
Another great edition with lots of interesting stuff to read, mainly focusing on their latest album. There’s a long diary of the recording and a really fun day in the life of them having photos taken, plus the always-entertaining Q&A with fan questions.

Dracula by Bram Stoker ⭐️
For one of my 2024 goals: reading Dracula in the format it was actually intended to be read. This was great timing as I got to the final section of the book just as Dracula Daily was starting up again (it’s not too late to join in!). There’s not really any big differences in how the story unfolds, but the action definitely cracks on faster without the real time delays. I think Dracula Daily is still the perfect way to read Dracula (the part where you and the gang are both anxiously waiting for updates about THE BOAT for like a week is so good).


17. Abroad in Japan: Ten Years In The Land Of The Rising Sun by Chris Broad
I was a little apprehensive from the “hilarous!” reviews that this was going to be a cliche-filled ‘lol weird Japan’ type book but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Chris moved to the countryside to teach English on the JET programme and while there is a lot of awkward mishaps he cares a lot about learning the language, making local friends, being part of the community etc. Even when he leaves to focus on his Youtube channel, he stays in the same area. The latter half of the book is less interesting as he kind of skims through the highlights of being a popular Youtuber, which generally happens through viral content, which I find boring. Definitely worth reading though.

16. Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep: The Tale of the First Tour de France by Peter Cossins
Birthday present that I mostly read on the plane to Berlin! Very readable account of the very first TdF in 1903 and the characters involved in organising and racing it. There’s a lot of backstabbing, favouritism and cheating going on that makes it highly entertaining but it’s also incredible that anyone even finished, what with riding through the night with no lights, help or suitable clothing/food/safety precautions. In some ways it’s extremely different from the current race and in other ways, it has barely changed at all.

15. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Quite a frustrating book, especially in the first half where it jumps around a lot with not very memorable characters. They do all eventually connect in a ponzi scheme and that part is probably the best but it’s also hard to sympathise with anyone. Still a lot of great writing and it was never obvious where the story would go next.

14. Ripley Under Ground by Patricia Highsmith
I’ve had this for a while but the new TV show (which I haven’t watched) was a reminder to read it. Good fun with Ripley now married and living in France but still involved in various schemes that all fall apart and require more schemes and murders to keep ahead. The suspense is agonising at times and things are occasionally very far-fetched but I will read the rest at some point.

13. Fingers Crossed: How Music Saved Me From Success by Miki Berenyi
I liked Lush a lot and this is an interesting and very honest memoir, though the fame years are a little cliched and it’s sad how much animosity there is between her and Lush co-founder Emma. There’s a lot about her childhood which is not an easy read, but she manages not to dwell on the bad stuff too much and bring in some humour. The best stuff is some major takedowns of Britpop, sexism, the media, major labels etc. and she probably has a great essay collection in her. Definitely digging out the Lush records soon.


I spent about six weeks re-reading all of Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell books, which was fine when I read the first 2 in a couple of weeks while traveling a lot but The Mirror and the Light is soooo long and also so full of dread that it took me another month to get through. Still love them all so much (also still ahead on my reading challenge!).

Plant Daddy by Neil Watson-Slorance
Lovely heartfelt comic about grief and gardening that will make you want to grow things.


12. Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo & Dani Pendergast
I was surprised to find this in the library and it must have just arrived as I’m the first person to borrow it! Graphic novel prequel to the Grishaverse novels about The Darkling as a child. It’s a good read and the illustrations are beautiful but it;s quite short and doesn’t tell us anything much we didn’t know from the books so glad I didn’t buy it.

11. Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan
Library book. Cosy nostalgic memoir of a reader who is around the same age as me so there are a lot of books in common. It was nice to read about those, and learn some interesting facts about the authors but it’s generally boring to read about books you haven’t read (especially old children’s books that I’m unlikely to go looking for) so I ended up skimming a bunch of those.

10. How I Won the Yellow Jumper: Dispatches from the Tour De France by Ned Boulting
I actually managed to walk past the library when it was open and picked up 4 books very quickly. This is an entertaining memoir by one of ITV’s long-time Tour reporters, who started off with zero knowledge of cycling and became a huge fan. It does jump around between different years and topics very randomly but that seems more realistic when you’re not basing a memoir on diaries but just your memories. There’s a lot of cabin-fever type humour that gets a little wearing but lots of fun behind the scenes stuff.

9. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho ⭐️
This has been on my Kindle for ages and I had the idea it was a serious historical novel with some fantasy stuff but I was way off as it’s great fun and more like a cross between Howl’s Moving Castle and Jane Austen, though with extra tension from the main characters being a Black ex-slave and a mixed race woman (in a world where women are discouraged from using magic due to their delicate fragile bodies). So much surprising and unexpected stuff happens and I enjoyed it all immensely. I did become increasingly suspicious that this was the first book in a series and would end things on a cliffhanger but actually it ties everything up nicely with plenty opportunities for more books, without them necessarily being direct sequels. Looking forward to reading more.


8. Selling Hitler: The Story of the Hitler Diaries by Robert Harris
I feel like my reading is this year is following a thread, this time from fictional publishing scandals to one of the biggest real ones. I recently watched a pretty great German comedy drama about the the forged Hitler diaries scandal in the 1980s (it’s on Channel 4) and since it’s only loosely based on the real story I had to know more as it has so many ‘you couldn’t make it up’ details and situations. It’s not quite as amusing in reality since almost everyone involved is either a conman, forger, Nazi sympathiser, ex-Nazi or media mogul but it’s still incredible how out of control it all got. Lots of good lessons in our current era of AI, fake news, lack of critical thinking etc. If it had happened today, it would be a very different story.

7. Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
I knew this had an unlikeable protagonist and boy, does it ever! The first bunch of chapters had me screaming internally but it is so well done and so deliciously awful that I couldn’t wait for the whole story to unfold. It’s pretty much a smart and funny take on every publishing scandal of recent years, as well as cancel culture, cultural appropriation, social media witch hunts etc. The ending was a bit rushed and didn’t feel very satisfying but great read otherwise.

6. Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper by Peter Hill
Borrowed from my dad. This is an enjoyably low key memoir by a young guy who dropped out of art school in the 70s to spend a summer as a lighthouse keeper in Scotland. He worked at 3 different lighthouses on the West Coast, all on tiny islands, with 2 or 3 other guys, all of whom are a little bit eccentric. I could maybe have done with more about the lighthouses but his own life as an art student in Dundee & Glasgow felt quite familiar to me so I did enjoy that too. It was interesting to read this at the same time as Ducks. The lighthouses are a similarly isolated male work environment with the same history of mental health issues but as a young man he never has to deal with anything more than a bit of light ribbing.

5. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton ⭐️
Every year or so I get a meagre gift voucher from Amazon for my affiliate links and always spend it on books I haven’t been able to afford. I’m so glad to have finally read this, especially as I’m part of Kate’s Patreon where she’s shared some of the process. It’s about her years working in a remote work camp in Canada as a young woman in a majority-male workforce. She still manages to find the humour and small moments of friendship in an extremely toxic workplace but it’s a a tough read. Definitely one I’ll be re-reading soon.

4. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin ⭐️
This is like a warm bath of nostalgia for Gen X gamers like me, about 2 childhood friends who meet playing Nintendo and go on to make games. It’s a real trip through the gaming eras and so fun to read. The characters are not that likeable and their personal relationship dramas are fairly tedious but it all reminded me so much of Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs so I was willing to go along with it all.

3. Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton
My dad lent me this. From the doom-filled blurb, I assumed this story of the first Belgian expedition to the Antarctic was a The Terror-style disaster and there are so many bad decisions and problems before they even get there that I would have definitely expected everyone to die horribly. Thankfully, the presence of a young Roald Amundsen – and a lot of diaries written by the crew – meant that at least one person had to survive. As the first ship to spend a winter trapped in the ice in the Antarctic, they go through all kinds of awful stuff and it really is miracle that it didn’t end up worse. It was an exciting read but also incredibly stressful and I was glad when it was over!

2. Coffee First, Then the World: One Woman’s Record-Breaking Pedal Around the Planet by Jenny Graham
I’ve watched some of Jenny’s films on GCN+ (RIP) along with fellow Scot Mark Beaumont’s film of his attempt to cycle round the world in 80 days, so this was fun to read. She follows basically the exact same route as Mark but does it solo and completely unsupported. It’s written diary style and she’s so honest about how brutal the whole experience is, and how she keeps herself motivated in the face of injuries, breakdowns, weather, sleeping outdoors in awful places etc. She’s also so friendly and excited about the small and big joys of adventures that you’re always rooting for her. Great read.

1. Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Universe by Philip Plait
A requested Christmas present that I was very excited about. Plait takes you on a tour of the universe stopping at various places and describing what you would see if you were there, in some really fun first person mini stories. As an actual astronomer, this is isn’t just a guesswork or imaginative fancy but based on known science, which is explained in great detail. I enjoyed the first half of the book most with familiar places like the Moon, Mars and Pluto – but especially the chapter on Saturn which made me legitimately sad that I’ll never get to go on a guided spaceship tour of Saturn’s rings. Cassini, we did not appreciate you enough when you were out there taking amazing photos for us! Once the book heads out further to binary stars and globular clusters and black holes, it gets a bit too much for my puny imagination but it’s still all super interesting.


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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