Friday, 28 December 2012

Most Memorable Books of My Year - Part 1


How are you all doing, in the middle of the week between Christmas and New Year? It's a very sleepy house here... and I'm thinking about compiling my list of favourite books of the year - just as I've done for the past two or three years here on my blog. This year I'll call them my most *memorable* books. Because that's what I'm trying to do - summoning up how well and clearly I remember them, at the end of the year.

In past years I've drawn up two lists - a top ten of brand new and a top ten of older books. But this time I think they're not evenly matched, so i'll give you an overall top twenty favourite books for this year. I hope you'll agree with some, or check out some of these you might have missed...

So, out of approx. 130 books read in 2012, here are the twenty that stand out sharply in my memory at the end of the year. They're presented in no other order than, more or less, the order in which I read them...

JULIE AND JULIA - BY JULIE POWELL
A cookery memoir and a published blog - which seems straightforward at first glimpse. It's so much more than that, of course. Subtle and delicious and about taking a daring leap into doing the thing you most want to do, now that you've discovered what it is.

STARBRIDGE -  BY A.C CRISPIN
The first volume in a vintage science fiction series about first contact with alien races. Exactly the kind of science fiction I enjoy - with lovely, real, larger-then-life characters jostling about in the universe on a wildly zig-zagging quest, with lots of explore and insurmountable odds.

NETHERWOOD - BY JANE SANDERSON
First of two (so far) in this series about a mining town in Derbyshire in the early part of the twentieth century. It's all about culture clashes and unexpected calamities - and quite a lot of baking. Looking forward to the next.

THE DAEMON PARALLEL - BY ROY GILL
Confident fantasy debut set in a transformed contemporary Edinburgh. Reportedly only the first in a series. Scary and exciting and brimming with imagination.

A HUMBLE COMPANION - BY LAURIE GRAHAM
One of my favourite writers goes back into history, and the time of George the Third for a gossipy and slightly giddy novel of court intrigue - as tart and droll as I'd expect from Ms Graham.

EVERY VOW YOU BREAK - BY JULIA CROUCH
Breaking my own rule in letting the same author be in my best-of list two years in a row. But I can't leave out this second thriller from Julia Crouch. A tale of actors and stalkers and a woman beset by two terrible men. Her books are outrageously gripping.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST - BY GILL PAUL
Wasn't expecting much of a period drama about the Titanic I bought on the platform at Stockport, round about the time of the anniversary. ITV / Julian Fellowes's rotten Titanic had tanked expensively, so I *did* want to read something *good* about the disaster. Much of Gill Paul's novel is about the aftermath and the waifs and strays washed up in New York - and I adored it.

THE LADY OF THE RIVERS - BY PHILIPPA GREGORY
Christmas week 2011 I was obsessed with 'The Other Boleyn Girl', which my friend Jamie had *made* me read. This was his present to me that week - and my second Gregory proved just as absorbing. This time with a little added dark enchantment, too. Even though it's from the middle of a sequence, this watery tale was easy to dip into. Need to read more of her, I think.

THE J.M BARRIE'S LADIES' SWIMMING SOCIETY - BY BARBARA J. ZITWER
Soooo transparent in its heart-string tugging, its debt to the Guernsey Literary Society and its determination to become a lightly romantic ensemble cast movie...  it was still lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

ALL FALL DOWN - JAMES LEO HERLIHY
Digging through ancient Puffins this summer brought to light this 1960s Catcher-in-the-Rye alternative - even more dark and resonant than Salinger, I thought. One of my best 'rescuings' from the secondhand shelves this year.

OK - that's my first ten. Ten more coming up later! Anyone else read any of these this year..?


6 comments:

  1. Ooh I used to love Laurie Graham's column in the paper in the 80s, I forgot she writes novels too. I'm also dying to read Julie and Julia from that summary you've given it! See you in a couple of days? (leaf-pile will check when's good) x

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    1. i think you'd love Julie and Julia! hope to see you this weekend! x

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  2. Well, among the most memory evoking moments of this year was this afternoon's trip through Aycliffe. Does that count?

    I'm living in Durham. Any chance of you making a trip to God's own county in the foreseeable? Love as always to you both, Marina xxx

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    1. What a lovely surprise! you're back in the uk and working at Durham?! that's brilliant news! x

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    2. Yes, a county with which my only prior acquaintance happened in the pages of your early novels, hence the unshakable if possibly unusual literariness of a spin through Newton Aycliffe. Haven't got yr current email or would have told you less . . , Indirectly. M x

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    3. ooh! email is pmagrs@gmail.com Do tell all! x

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