It’s been a crazy year in the world and on a personal scale, but I’ve always come back to books. I read 76 this year, lots of proofs (thank you publishers), lots newly published, and I discovered many books and authors that I somehow missed reading years ago. This is a list of my favourite books I read this year, and it was a very difficult list to make, so difficult that unlike last year’s list, I found it impossible to do a top three.
And after my top ten is Tim’s (my librarian husband) top 10. He still doesn’t have his own website, so just like last year, he’s invited himself onto mine. Although we read many of the same books, we only cross-over on three.
The link in the book’s title will take you to my full review on GoodReads.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. One of only three books published this year that made it onto my list. I loved this story of secrets and step families brought together.
Where you Once Belonged by Kent Haruf. I’ve read a lot of his work now – all of them about small-town America and the down-to-earth people who inhabit those places – and this one has really stuck with me.
The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon. This is a collection of short stories and I’ve been going on about it to anyone who will listen, all year. Every story a gem.
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. I’m so behind on Hollinghurst, having only discovered him, and The Swimming Pool Library last year. This seems to be a bit of a marmite book, but I loved it.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. Another book I’ve been telling everyone to read this year. So sad, so beautifully written.
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. This isn’t published until 16th February in the UK (January 3rd in the US). It’s the only proof copy and the only debut on my list. This is going to be big, or it really ought to be big. It’s a wonderful, mesmerizing novel.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Again, another catch-up. I also read My Name is Lucy Barton this year, which I loved, but I enjoyed Olive Kitteridge’s difficult personality better.
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. Why did no one tell me about Barbara Pym before, or if you did, why didn’t I listen? Tim has bought me No Fond Return of Love for Christmas, so the good thing is I have her whole back catalogue to read.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. More catching-up with a book everyone else has already read. What was I reading when everyone was reading this? Loved it.
The Silence in the Garden by William Trevor. I’d tried Love and Summer a long time ago, but I wasn’t struck by it. I picked this up, probably (sadly) because Trevor died this year, and my goodness it was amazing. The writing, the atmosphere, the characters. I’m definitely going to go back and read more of his.
That’s my list. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these and if you have, whether they would have made your top ten books.
Tim doesn’t do reviews, so you’ll have to believe him when he says he loved all of these. We agreed on Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, Where you Once Belonged by Kent Haruf, and Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift, even though I’ve read all the books on his list, apart from The End of Vandalism. Here’s his list if you can’t read the titles in the picture:
The Girls by Emma Cline
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury
The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage
Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen
Where you Once Belonged by Kent Haruf
The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated by Jamie Bulloch