So finally I can look over the past year and see what kinds of books I’ve read, re-read, loved and hated.
One thing I was particularly interested to find out was how many books I was reading for a second, third or even fourth time. These include: Perfume, Xenocide, The Stone Gods, Before I Go To Sleep, Children of the Mind, and finally Pigs Might Fly. Six out of 47 – not quite as much as I thought it would be. The reasons for rereading are generally just because the books are so good. The timescale between the original reading and rereading differs a bit as well, from over a decade with Pigs Might Fly to less than a year with The Stone Gods – it’s never too late, or too early to revisit something brilliant.
Three non-fiction books, plus a couple of biographies (only the best – Caitlin Moran etc.). Exactly what I imagined here to be honest, fiction rules every time. The rate of reading is fairly interesting as well, most books read in November and December, due to holidays, and least in April, August and October.
Best book of 2012 is going to be pretty difficult, so I’m going to put together a shortlist first and then decide. To make things easier (i.e. take The Stone Gods out of the running) I’m going to only include books read for the first time this year.
Shortlist: Annabel, The Day of the Triffids, The Handmaid’s Tale, Under the Skin, Eat Pray Love, IQ84, The Flood, The Snow Child.
Hmm. That was going quite well until the end of the year, when I seem to have read more brilliant books. I’m also cheating and including all three parts of IQ84 in one. Okay so Annabel was quite different, and good characters. Day of the Triffids was great, absolutely great, but by this point I had read most of Wyndham’s other stuff, so it wasn’t quite as brilliant as The Midwich Cuckoos, The Trouble with Lichen, or the one about disfigurement. The Handmaid’s Tale I loved, but wanted far more explanation about how the new regime was set up. Some would argue that this could spoil the story, just as a magician never reveals the secrets behind his tricks. However, I found it exceedingly interesting and simply wanted to know more. An unsatisfying ending. Under the Skin – I’m just going to say it now, this is probably the winner, hands down. I shall return to it. Eat Pray Love I read at the perfect time in my life – I was travelling (read: on my first city break) on my own, I’ve been expanding my palate, particularly in pasta, this year, and I’d jsut started meditation and yoga, embarking on my very own mini-spiritual adventure. So it resonated pretty well and Elizabeth Gilbert really is a good writer, it made me laugh and smile and I enjoyed it so much I started rereading it as soon as I’d finished. IQ84 is one of the most fantastical, original, how-the-hell-did-he-think-of-that plots I’ve ever read. The Flood was a really good portrait of climate change devastation (because I haven’t read enough scifi this year…) and The Snow Child is that magical combination of fairytale and just great fiction. It’s the sort of book I will remember, and I knew I would love it before I’d ever even picked it up. Sometimes you do just know (I believe in love at first sight with books).
So after that summing up, I’ve picked the three best and will now bestow upon them my imaginary awards. In third place (drum roll please) comes IQ84 for sheer brilliance. Second is Eat Pray Love, probably not everyone’s cup of tea but one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read and certainly inspired me. And in first place, it simply had to be Under the Skin. By Michael Faber, I was recommended this book and read it after a dearth of good fiction – I’d been starting books and not finishing them, or reading books which I disliked, or felt I should appreciate. It’s such a good idea, I do love a story with morals and this remains with you long after the final page has been turned. And the writing is beautiful, it’s dark and creepy and the reader cannot help but be intrigued. I recommend you all go out and read it immediately.
My reading resolutions for 2013 will include Life of Pi (preferably before seeing the film), AMoL (Final installment in Wheel of Time) and I would like to reread You Don’t Know Me.