I’ve read 58 books this year and listened to two audiobooks (a new thing for me and something I’d like to continue). I’ve found that in a year when the world has at times seemed mad and scary, books and my garden have been a place to retreat and I’m not ashamed to admit that often the two overlapped. It’s also been a good year for those who love thrillers, a genre I am often sent to review.
Next year, I am hoping to do a bit more with the blog. For starters, I’m going state where each of the books I read is from- I’ve seen so many tweets by people claiming that they can’t afford to write a book blog. When I did a tally of the books I read this year, 50% were library books. I’m a huge believer in libraries and it’s a great way to read widely. I’m also making a conscious decision to rely less on Amazon and will continue to highlight bricks and mortar bookshops, as well as indie bookshops where I can. Finally, I’m going to stop being lazy and actually actively link my Pinterest ‘what I’m reading’ board to the relevant posts on here. Good intentions, etc.
Anyway, I also want to highlight some of my favourite books this year. They might not have been published this year, but they are books that I have enjoyed, or that have made me think, or (gasp!) both.
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson is the book that’s had the greatest effect on me this year. I read it just as I was at the start of my garden adventure and it completely changed the way I saw the world- and my part within in. I don’t think a book has ever prompted me to stop mid-sentence and join an organisation before. Honestly, even if you’ve never read a ‘science’ book before, this is well worth a read. Funny, important and vital.
I discovered Madeline Miller this year and it has been an utter revelation; I devoured The Song of Achilles and wondered why I’d left it so long (and then held off on reading Circe as long as I could- I’m currently reading it now and am torn between slowing down so it’s not over too quickly and racing to find out what happens next.) It is amazing how a writer can make familiar characters from 2000 years ago feel so modern.
Ma’am Darling is one of those books that deserves both its hype and its reputation as a work of eccentric genius. I galloped through it and became obsessed with a princess who is portrayed as a beautiful monster, limited by the gilded cage which she could never quite escape. It’s also the rare royal biography that made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Brilliant.
What would you do if you knew the date of your death? Would you run from it, or hurtle towards it? This is the question posed to the siblings in The Immortalists, a moving novel that will make even the most cynical reader take pause and consider what their answer would be.
I have been aware of Kate Davies as a knitting designer, but I’m almost finished reading this and I’m struck at how much I’ve learnt from it. A collection of essays that explore how Kate’s life and her creative process changed after a stroke at the age of 36, it has made me pause and consider my own creativity and how it is effected by my mental health. A review is coming soon, but I can’t recommend it highly enough.
There are so many more books I’ve enjoyed this year- it’s been a great year for ghostly stories (Anna Mazzola’s The Story Keeper and Katherine Clements’ The Coffin Path are excellent- the latter set in my native West Yorkshire) and I’ve loved some interesting detective novels, especially Barbara Nadel’s Incorruptible, the latest in her Istanbul-set Inspector Ikmen series and Nicolás Obregón’s Blue Light Yokahama.
Here’s to a year of great reading in 2019 (it feels like we’re going to need it…)