Book of the Year

It’s that time of year when people compile their favourites lists. As far as my reading is concerned it’s been a rich and varied year. It began with a wonderful trip down memory lane, and the delightfully funny and wistful The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 by Shulz. This beautifully presented collection, the first of a series, reminded me of my student days, and a good friend who delighted in stealing every edition of the Charlie Brown stories from a well-known Glasgow city-centre bookstore. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Saul Bellow’s Mr Sammler’s Planet were by way of catching up on gems missed along the way, as was probably Any Human Heart by William Boyd (no relation sadly). None of them disappointed. Michael Ondaatje’s Divisidero was as beautifully poetic as any of his prose. If you haven’t read anything by the author of The English Patient I suggest you do so now! The Writing on the Wall by Will Hutton was enlightening, and exploded a few myths about the imminent takeover of the world by the Chinese, while The Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron restored some of the magic and incense to that particular part of the world. If there’s a better travel writer out there I’d like to hear about them. Finally, I recently caught up with The Play Ethic by Pat Kane, a thoroughly convincing polemic on the insignificance of the old work ethic in the 21st Century. But I’m sure you will have found something I missed. Please contribute!


9 thoughts on “Book of the Year

  1. For me, the book that has given me most to think about for a whole host of reasons is: The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink. Entertaining, thought-provoking, relevant, and told in an original way…

    Yes, the actual ideas are thin given the size of the book, but there is plenty of space to think. Oh, and Diana is rather cute! ;o)

    The other absolute joy for me was Peter Barton’s Passchendaele. Perhaps ‘delight’ is the wrong word, but it is a brilliant, scholarly analysis of the 1917 Ypres campaign told by one of the leading miitary historians in the world. Stunning!

  2. My favourites this year:
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, The Testament of the Reverend Gideon Mack by James Robertson – both featuring Christian preachers funnily enough.
    My non-fiction choices might be Proust and the Squid by Marianne Wolf and The Baby in the Mirror by Charles Fernyhough. I loved David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous. I enjoyed Charles Leadbeater’s We-Think too, and am looking forward to reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky.
    Oh, so many. I’ll probably change my mind as soon as I press Send!
    Actually, truth be told, Noisy Nora by Rosemay Wells was very popular. It hit the spot for my small grand-daughter who had an even smaller sibling this year!

    • Interesting selection Hilery, most of which are new to me, although having read reviews of Proust and the Squid, and dropped a few hints, I’m kind of hoping that Santa might have a copy of it for me.

  3. Yes, Any Human Heart is definitely William Boyd’s best; a fabulous achievement!

    Published this year my favourite was Revelations by CJ Sansom – not perhaps the strongest of the Matthew Shardlake mysteries but as a whole the series sheds brilliant light on the issues of our time – weapons of mass destruction, military occupation and rebellion, religious fundamentalism and personal alienation – though the prism of the Reformation. As well as being a well -written and deeply- informed introduction to medieval law and medicine.

    Highly recommended!

    • Lucy,
      Thanks for the contribution. I must admit anything attached to the genre called “mystery” would not normally even catch my attention but the way you have described it makes it very tempting.

  4. Forgot to even mention what was possibly my read of the year, “The Discovery of France” by Graham Robb, the result of a long bicycle trip through France by an English professor which paints a picture of France completely unlike that which most of us have in our heads.

  5. Hi Bill
    Just to tell you that I’ve tagged you in an end of year game.
    Best wishes

    PS Thanks for the tip about Robb’s book. I’m a fair weather cyclist but have had fantastic holidays in France and Portugal on bikes. Definitely the best way to see a country and meet people.

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