Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Full List!

Okay – here’s my complete Advent list – all the windows hanging open! The best 24 books I read this year. Or, put better, the books I had the best time reading this year. That’s a much better way of saying it. There’s nothing absolute and final about these judgements. We can only say how books actually worked out for us, as we read them… But these were the real treats of 2014 for me:

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair – Nina Sankovitch
The Dr Who Annual 1980
Fan Girl – Rainbow Rowell
Adventures with the Wife in Space – Neil Perryman
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
The Beach Reading Series – Mark Abramson
Man on the Run – Tom Doyle
The New Arrival – Sarah Beeson
Doctor Who: Engines of War – George Mann
The Collected Works of A.J Fikry – Gabrielle Levin
The Little Beach Street Bakery – Jenny Colgan
Until the End of Time – Danielle Steel
The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult
IQ84 Books 1&2 – Haruki Murakami
Love, Nina – Nina Stibbe
The Unpredictable Consequences of Love – Jill Mansell
The Voices – F.R Tallis
One Night in Italy – Lucy Diamond
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
Jaunt! – Andy Davidson
The End of Your Life Book Club – Will Schwalbe
There’s Something I’ve Been Dying to Tell You – Lynda Bellingham
The Hare with the Amber Eyes – Edmund De Waal

So… there’s my list of 24. Interesting to see that…

Nine are non-fiction,
Just over half are by women,
And only seven were read as actual books. That’s fewer than usual. The rest were all e-books, and one was on audio.

Memoirs and rom-coms won the day for me this year… though with Murakami, Tartt, Levin and Fowler I was scoring stuff I’d be inclined (if forced to) call ‘literary’ pretty highly. Fantasy / horror / sf were really quite low down on my list this year – with only George’s Daleks and Tallis’ ghostly voices creeping into my list.  Very little children’s fiction – old or new – stood out this year – except for two great Teen novels that made it into my list.

What’s most apparent is the fact that I took a decision early in the year to read mostly brand new books. It’s been a very illuminating business. There are some very readable blockbusters out there, and some of them are so marked down in price it would be rude to say no. While some are stonking reads… others are just piles of piss stacked as high as they can get.

Choose wisely what you read and what you spend your time with. Every one of the books on my ‘best’ list (out of more than 150 I’ve read in total this year) are the ones that I chose most advisedly – listening to that quiet, insistent inner voice that, if I’m lucky, guides me magically, intuitively, to the books that I know will be worth my time. I keep trying to listen to that voice – over and above the shouting of the dross.

Next year – and I mean it this time – I hope to make a go of really exploring the books from the Beach House, and the accumulated books that will return from storage when our house is rebuilt and redecorated at last…

Happy Christmas again – and I hope you get some time to devote to your reading!

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