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Saturday 14 December 2013

Book list-1965

For many years now, I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve read.  In the 1980s, I used to review books for the British Science Fiction Association, and in the 1990s also for my semi-pro magazine Auguries. Then when I discovered the Internet, I continued to write reviews on Amazon. Looking back, it seems I started in 1965.

Then, I simply listed the book. Now, I show the book, the author and the date read.

I won’t present a full list, which might become tedious, but show a few selected titles, just for interest.


Fittingly, I read Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End in October, 1965 on the fourteen-hour train journey to join the Royal Navy. That same year, I also read Len Deighton’s Horse Under Water, which began at HMS Vernon, the naval diving school. My first draft in the following year after training was to HMS St. Vincent, in Gosport, across the water from Vernon.
I enjoyed E.V. Cunningham’s Sylvia, actually written by Howard Fast, an excellent suspense novel that deserves to be reprinted; it was the first in an unconnected series, save that all the books had women’s names, such as Shirley, Phyllis, Lydia etc.
Winston Graham’s Marnie was much better than the Hitchcock film; his characters are always believable. Since then, I’ve read most of the Poldark novels and many of his suspense novels; he never disappoints.

I read a few true wartime exploit books too – The White Rabbit (Bruce Marshall, writing the exploits of Yeo-Thomas), Boldness be my Friend (Richard Pape) and The Colditz Story (P.R. Reid) – all excellent books about real heroes.

Some years earlier I’d read quite a few similar titles, such as Odette, Carve Her Name With Pride, the Cockleshell Heroes, the Dambusters et al. Richard Pape wrote an espionage novel Arm Me Audacity, which reads as though it was true, not fiction. Of additional interest is this thread:

I particularly enjoyed Ray Bradbury’s The Silver Locusts, alternatively titled The Martian Chronicles; a visionary and a poet at work. I still possess all his paperbacks, most of them the 1960s Corgi versions.

I was – and still am – a fan of Victor Canning, and his The Limbo Line didn’t disappoint. In those days I bought and read a lot of espionage thrillers – there seemed to be a great many around. One series I enjoyed featured Commander Shaw, by Philip McCutcheon, and in this year I read his Bluebolt 1 adventure.
For a few years prior to this, I’d discovered Dennis Wheatley, first his Duke de Richleau series (a few years earlier, my first foray was, prophetically, Vendetta in Spain), then Gregory Sallust; in this year, I read The Forbidden Territory and The Devil Rides Out, both landmark books for Wheatley.

The Forbidden Territory was Wheatley’s first published novel (1933) and introduced his modern trinity of musketeers in the epicurean Duke de Richleau, financier Simon Aron, and the wealthy young American, Rex Van Ryn. Happily, Bloomsbury is reprinting all of Wheatley’s books –

The Devil Rides Out (1934) was his second Richleau tale and his first black magic novel, which has become a classic of its kind (the recently released Kindle version is currently #1 in Horror and Occult categories, and #2 for Fiction Classics).

Wheatley’s point of view was generally omniscient when it suited the scene or third person when emotional conflict was necessary; though when the story called for it, he used first person narrative too (notably The Haunting of Toby Jugg). These books are two of his best adventures. The emphasis is on ‘adventure’; he wrote no-nonsense yet thoroughly researched thrillers with heaps of tension.

Another time, I’ll take a look at some books I read in 1966 – almost half a century ago!

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