It’s that time of year again – where I look at the list of books that I’ve read this year and reflect on what my favourites have been.
At time of writing, I’ve given 39 books 5 stars on Goodreads* this year – here are my favourite five.
The Rosie Project – I read this right back at the start of the year on my birthday holiday in Rome. I’ve since lent it to my sister, my parents and now my best friend from school. I can’t see how anyone could fail to fall in love with Don – and his quest to find love and help Rosie is truly laugh out loud funny. Certainly everyone that I’ve lent the book to so far has loved it. The sequel, The Rosie Effect, doesn’t quite scale the heights of the original, but it is hard to compete with genius.
A Hundred Pieces of Me – I may have been a weeping wreck by the end, but I loved Lucy Dillon’s story about Gina. I was very careful in my Goodreads review not to give too much of the plot away – because it really would spoil it – but this is well worth your time. In fact, this was one of the very first books I read this year (book 5 to be precise) and it’s stuck with me right until the end. Curl up in front of the fire – with a box of tissues – and a nice hot drink and enjoy.
Unfinished Symphony of You and Me – Lucy Robinson’s latest book nearly had me in tears on the train at several points – some tears of laughter and some… not. Sally’s journey to become an opera singer is unputtdownable – and Barry-the-mad-housemate is a hoot. Read my ravings about this from August here. Since reading this, I’ve read one of Lucy Robinson’s other books (also brilliant) and have her other previous book waiting on the shelf. I’m also really looking forward to reading her next book (The Day We Disappeared) when that comes out in March.
A Place For Us – This was another recipient of my overly emotional/sleep deprived ravings (find them here, here and here), but I seriously did love this book in its serialised form – the whole thing is due out in the New Year (January 15th) – and I really hope that it does fabulously well. The Winters are a flawed but fascinating family – and Harriet Evans does such a great job of making you care about all of them – even the ones who seem initially less appealing. This beat the final Cazalet book into this list – partly because it felt to me like a sort of modern successor to them.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys – Viv Albertine’s autobiography has really stuck in my mind since I read it. She is so honest about herself and her motivations – in a way that you often don’t get in memoirs. I picked it up because I don’t know much about the punk scene – but ended up being more interested in her post-punk life as she tried to work out what she wanted to do next and how she could balance her ideas and ideology with what society expected her to be doing. Women like her opened up so many opportunities for those of us who have followed – but this book wears that very lightly. Sad and difficult in places, it was fascinating and compelling.
Honourable mentions to Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, What Would Mary Berry Do?, Fanny and Stella, The Grand Duchess of Nowhere and It’s Not Me, It’s You all of whom could so easily have been on this list.
Today’s links are mostly Foyles – because these are books you want to have actual copies of that you can lend – but you can also find my five top picks (and some of my other favourite books, new and old) over on my My Independent Bookshop page where you can buy and support local indies.
* That works out to somewhere around 14 percent of what I’ve read this year getting top rating.