And here it is – the last post in my 26-part blog series, started on April 7th 2019 and continued – roughly – every month ever since. It’s an adaptation of something I saw on Twitter – people were posting 26 books in 26 days, each title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. Each month I posted a newish book I’ve enjoyed, plus a children’s book and an older book.
So here we go, for the last time, and like ‘X’ and ‘Y’, ‘Z’ is slightly tricky. I decided when I started that I wouldn’t read books especially for the series. I wanted it to be my own personal A-Z, and reading books in order to include them here would make the whole thing artificial. So this week, one of the titles more or less begins with ‘Z’ while the other two have a ‘Z’ somewhere within.
The ‘Z’ books:
Today is Daniel Lizard’s twenty-first birthday and he has just completed his autobiography. Now, he plans on killing himself, leaving behind possibly the longest suicide note ever committed to paper.
Daniel creates soap operas in his head – a game that he plays on his paper-round. Rather than a phase, this is just the beginning of a fantasy that becomes more and more elaborate as the people around Daniel become his unwitting co-stars.
Daniel begins to realise that, in life, you cannot write all of the scripts, there is no-one there to shout cut or hit rewind and, inevitably, all manipulations have their repercussions.
This was one of the first books I read after my debut novel was published – at that time, James Higgerson and I shared a publisher. It’s a fascinating book with a very different and oddly likeable main character.
The ultimate children’s classic – long summer days filled with adventure.
John, Susan, Titty and Roger sail their boat, Swallow, to a deserted island for a summer camping trip. Exploring and playing sailors is an adventure in itself but the island holds more excitement in store. Two fierce Amazon pirates, Nancy and Peggy, challenge them to war and a summer of battles and alliances ensues.
This is one of my all-time favourites, and one of the first books I remember being given as a birthday present when I was seven or eight. I’d already seen and loved the TV series, and I remember to this day how pleased I was when I opened the parcel from Aunt Pam – and there was the book.
“For many years I had wanted to start a zoo . . . any reasonable person smitten with an ambition of this sort would have secured the zoo first and obtained the animals afterwards. but throughout my life I have rarely if ever achieved what I wanted by tackling it in a logical fashion.”
A Zoo in My Luggage is Gerald Durrell’s account of his attempt to set up his own zoo, after years spent gathering animals for other zoos. Journeying to Cameroon, he and his wife collected numerous mammals, birds and reptiles, including Cholmondely the chimpanzee and Bug-eye the bush-baby.
But their problems really began when they attempted to return with their exotic menagerie. Not only had they to get them safely home to Britain but they also had to find somewhere able and – most of all – willing to house them.
Told with wit and a zest for all things furry and feathered, Gerald Durrell’s A Zoo in My Luggage is a brilliant account of how a pioneer of wildlife preservation came to found a new type of zoo.
The wonderful Gerald Durrell, and what better book to end the A-Z? One day I’d like to go to Jersey and visit his zoo there, but that’s another plan for another year.
Thank you all for reading the A-Z posts – it was a very self-indulgent series, but I really enjoyed doing it!