Friday, 23 December 2011

The Best of 2011

So what has stayed in my head after a year of reading?

Of the fiction I read, I'm still thinking about Sue Gee's 'The Mysteries of Glass'  and Maggie O'Farrell's 'The Hand that First Held Mine' - both fabulous novels.    'Sex and Stravinsky' by Barbara Trapido is up there too with Michael Ondaatje's 'Divisadero' (though I'm still mulling that one over).

The most memorable of the light romantic reads is Linda Gillard's 'House of Silence', though it's certainly more than romantic fiction and Avril Joy's 'The Orchid House' runs it a close second. My favourite short stories were the Raymond Carver collection 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love'.

I've read a lot of poetry this year and the ones that have 'stuck' are Selected Poems by Carol Ann Duffy and the collected poems of Tomas Transtromer.  Of the new collections that have come my way this year I've loved Isobel Dixon's 'The Tempest Prognosticator' and Tim Jones' 'Men Briefly Explained'.  Both would have to be up for the 'Title of the Year' prize!

Top of the list for crime fiction has to be 'Snowdrops' by A.D. Miller, the Montalbano novels of Andrea Camilleri, the latest Anne Zouroudi and, of course, Kate Atkinson.  It's been a good year for crime novels.

Best non-fiction has to be Matthew Hollis's biography of Edward Thomas (though it never went deep enough for me), and the wonderful biography of Raymond Carver, A Writer's Life, by Carol Sklenicka.

The most disappointing book of the year, for me, had to be John le Carre's 'Our Kind of Traitor', which was so structurally flawed I was consciously re-arranging it in my head as I was reading.  He's a wonderful writer, but this was way below par.  

Unfinished Reads:    I haven't managed to finish The Crimson Petal and the White, so that's my main aim for 2012.  This year has been so busy, long books have been at a disadvantage. 

Looking forward to seeing what's on my Christmas Kindle (I have a wish-list 3 pages long on Amazon!)  -  and hoping for a hardcopy of Julia Blackburn's Thin Paths in Italy.  She lives just over the border from me in Liguria, but in the same mountains and I can't wait to see what she has to say about this area.

Tanti Auguri for Christmas and New Year to everyone!   And happy reading!

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