I haven't written a book post since March so instead of my usual The Year in Books entry I'm going to do a summary of my reading year in the way they do in newspapers. I've been inspired to do this because I've signed up to a blogging workshop next Sunday run by Simon Savidge who writes a book review blog called Savidge Reads.
So here's the list. I've decided to give each a mark out of 10, according to how much I enjoyed them..
The Light Years: Book 1 of The Cazalet Chronicles Elizabeth Jane Howard 9
Hard Times Charles Dickens (Reread) 6
Thomas and Mary -A Love Story Tim Parks 6
History of the Rain Niall Williams (Reread) 9
O Come Ye Back to Ireland (NF) Niall Williams 8
A Spot of Bother Mark Haddon 7
Four Letters of Love Niall Williams 6 (My choice)
The End of the Affair Graham Greene 5
The Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead 9
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman 9
Good Me, Bad Me Ali Land 7
From library/school/own bookshelves:
Bad Dreams Tessa Hadley (Short Stories) 7
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled Ruby Wax 5
On Writing Stephen King 9
The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini (Reread) 9
The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry 8
The Road Cormac McCarthy 8
Waverton Good Reads
The Things We Thought We Knew Mahauda Snaith 7
I've recently been taking part in The Waverton Good Read. Every year since 2003 the residents of Waverton, a village not far from Chester read novels published in the last 12 months and make an award for to the one they judge to be the best. I don't live in Waverton, but have been allowed to take part. It's great as I get to read new hardback books for free.
Listing the books like this reveals quite a lot to me about my preferences. My favourite kind of book is a family saga with strong characters I can identify with and a good plot. If I was to nominate my top read for the year in terms of sheer enjoyment it would be The Light Years - The Cazalet Chronilces. I'm looking forward to reading the other four books in the series. Eleanor Oliphant made me laugh out loud. I'd like to think that other Eleanors in the world would have a similarly happy ending but I suspect they won't, which is why the ending is a little unconvincing hence 9 out of 10 rather than full marks. I do enjoy a book with humour and Eleanor's observations about office life are hilarious.
The 'best' books here are The Underground Railroad and The Road, both of which were very powerful but actually not great bedtime reading because of the horrors they relate. You can read the Simon Savidge review of The Underground Railroad here. I read The Road because we are using it as a coursework text for A Level. It is a bleak account of the attempts of a father and son to survive in a world destroyed by the effects of climate change. Very powerful but not easy to read with only glimmers of hope through the portrayal of the father/son relationship. I suppose these are the 'best' books because they are ultimately more memorable and have something to say.
I'm now reading another Waverton Book 'The Pinocchio Brief' which is a kind detective/court drama, not my usual kind of thing. Bookclub book of the month is 'Surfacing' by Margaret Atwood. I'm looking forward to this as I've read quite a few Margaret Atwood books and always enjoy them. I also would like to try a Stephen King novel as I read his book 'On Writing' and found it fascinating. I reserved a copy of 'The Stand' through the library but it's an expanded edition which is over 1000pages so I think I'll return it and read the original.