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.

April

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.

March

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.

February

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.

January

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.

marceline

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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