It’s been a year of excessive reading. Define excess? I suspect 189 books (even if a handful of those were graphic novels) fit the criteria. This has not always been reflected in the amount of reviewing I’ve done. Perhaps I used reading as therapy, to blunt the senses, stop thinking too deeply – always safer to divert your thinking to fictional problems or other people’s plight. It also keeps you snug and warm, away from writing and exposing your clumsy way with words and your fear of failing … yet again.
But I am grateful for all the books that kept me sane and balanced this year. Here are my top reads by category (not all of them were published in 2014, needless to say):
Mihaela Moscaliuc: Father Dirt – for teaching me to push boundaries and be truly fearless in my writing
Andrew Solomon: Far from the Tree – for redefining parenting and commitment to the family
3) Crime fiction:
I’m going to cheat a bit in this category and refer you to my Top 5 Crime Picks from Crime Fiction Lover. One additional book that would make the list, but which I read too late to include there was Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters.
4) Short Story Collection:
Vienna Tales – selected and translated by Deborah Holmes – for sheer variety, its unbeatable location and nostalgia value
With thanks to Tony Malone for challenging me to turn to my old love of Japanese literature once more:
Murakami Haruki: Kafka on the Shore – dream-like sequences, a library, a coming of age story and talking cats – need I say more?
Enchi Fumiko: The Waiting Years – almost unbearable depiction of the lack of choice of Japanese women during the years of modernisation and opening up to the West
6) Non-Crime Novels:
What do two sweeping, panoramic, ambitious novels, trying to encompass a multitude of voices and experiences, and a much more intimate love story between desperate people from different cultures have in common? Unforgettable voices and characters.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah
Kerry Hudson: Thirst
Tore Renberg: See You Tomorrow
I also owe you a few reviews of books which I’ve only recently read :
- ‘Euphoria’ by Lily King – a story of anthropologists doing fieldwork in the 1920s; I want to write a longer review, comparing fiction to reality to Margaret Mead’s own account of events in ‘Blackberry Winter’
- Pascal Garnier’s ‘The Islanders’ – the anti-Christmas family gathering
- Tove Jansson books I gifted myself for Christmas – comparing biography to her own memoirs
but I’ve run out of year to…