This year for the first time, I’ve split my best of list in two. Having read around 130 books this year, there are too many to feature in just one post and there is an obvious split – today’s first part will feature those books that I’ve reviewed over at Shiny New Books.
Forgive me for continually banging the drum, but I’m inordinately proud of Shiny and I am immensely grateful to all the lovely bloggers, friends, authors, translators, publishers who have written reviews and features for us. Special thanks to my three co-editors: Victoria, Simon and Harriet.
Tomorrow’s list will feature my favourite books this year reviewed on this blog, which includes many titles not published this year.
But first over to the Shiny Edit! The links will take you over to my full reviews:
Bedsit Disco Queen: How I grew up and tried to be a pop star by Tracey Thorn.
Tracey writes beautifully about life, love and the music business but does it quietly with warmth, wit and wonder at the good luck she’s had along the way. I loved this book so much, that sharing a maiden surname, I wish I was related to her!
Best YA Read for Adults Too
Picture me Gone by Meg Rosoff
This novel about a girl and her father who go on holiday to visit his best friend only to find him missing is an understated novel, with a teenager as its reliable narrator who discovers that it’s the adults who are unreliable. Gently told, there are no big shocks but it reveals a lot about how we learn to see the world in shades of grey rather than black and white.
Best Coming of Age
American Sycamore by Karen Fielding.
A tale of siblings growing up by the banks of the Suequehanna river in north-eastern USA. Billy Sycamore’s life may start off as a modern day Huck Finn but something terrible happens that affects his whole life and family. Narrated by his young sister, it is both funny and sad, and has some transcendant turns of phrase. Loved it.
She was beautiful, our mother; an extrovert yet flammable, a walking can of gasoline just waiting for a match.
Into the Trees by Robert Williams
Forests play a huge part in mythology, yet can a modern family find their own enchanted life living in one? The very first paragraph of this novel tells us that the forest may be a safe sanctuary one moment, a dangerous and lonely wild place the next. This is a powerful drama of families, finding a life-work balance, true friendship … and trees.
Best Totally Un-PC Book
Don’t Point That Thing At Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli
Imagine a 1970s Jeeves and Wooster crossed with James Bond, an upped double-entendres quotient and totally un-PC and you’ve got the Charlie Mortdecai books, of which this is the first. Written in the late 1970s, these capers narrated by the art-dealing aristo are great fun.
A Quick Mention for These Two
Mother Island by Bethan Roberts and Tigerman by Nick Harkaway.
The former a drama about child abduction and growing up on Anglesey in Wales, the latter an eco-thriller set on an island paradise that is ‘full of win’. Totally different, but both fab.
… And Finally, My ‘Shiny’ Book of the Year
by Emily St.John Mandel.
I loved this elegant dystopian novel that takes place in the aftermath of a flu pandemic and following the links from former lives that persist between some of its survivors.
Awful things happen, yet seen through the journey of the Travelling Symphony – a collective of musicians and actors who struggle to keep the canon alive – there is positivity instead of despair for the fate of mankind.
Speculative fiction is possibly my favourite sub-genre of reading and this book is superb.
Read my review at SNBks.