It was the year of reading for me. I don’t think I have read so much since I was younger and read a Nancy Drew Mystery every week! This year was a mix of book group choices, Booker Prize Finalists, and classics; trash that I’ll be donating straight to Oxfam and treasures that will be prominently displayed on my bookshelf. With the long commute and the short, dark days, what a perfect time to reflect on the books of the year. I have given each book and rating out of 10 and a brief description.
This saga of life in post-war Naples was fascinating and addictive. I tried to pace myself and savour each of the books by taking breaks in between, but I always ended up just reading them one right after the other. 8/10
Many men’s lives are followed for a brief point in time and throughout different stages of the lifecycle. Prep school boys on their first trip to Europe. A rich yacht owner who is suicidal. A guy cheating on his wife. Who cares? I sure didn’t. In fact, I cared so little that I read almost about 30 pages until the end and gave up. That close to the end and I gave up, because I really didn’t care. 2/10
One of the funniest, satirical, and poignant novels I have ever read. I was laughing out loud and also taking a long, hard look at myself and our society. One of the reviews on the back said, “You get smarter as you read this.” I totally concur. I attempted to read all of the Booker Prize finalists this year before the award was announced. I was crossing my fingers for this guy, and he won. First American to win ever and totally deserved. 9/10
A mother and daughter go to the South of Spain in order to seek out specialized treatment for the mother’s psychosomatic health problems. I loved every minute of this in-depth look at a unique and twisted relationship, especially the surprise at the end! 8/10
This novel is revolting, disgusting, foul, and hilarious. I would sometimes start gagging while reading it on the way to work. Good thing I had an empty stomach. I would also exclaim and twist up my face in the presence of strangers on the tube. I have to say this was some of the best writing I have read in the last five years just judging by the physical reactions I had to Eileen. She’s the character of the Booker Prize List this year and I would recommend to anyone who likes very dark humor. This was one of our book group reads and most people hated it. 8/10
I still don’t know if this book is based on a true story or not. It is presented as one man’s attempt to research his ancestry in Scotland only to find that one of his relatives murdered some people (can’t say who so as not to spoil it) and then got sentenced to death. Whether or not it is real, it is such a creative idea from the way it’s written to the order of events and the tone. Another Booker Prize Finalist well deserved.
Have you ever read Jane Eyre? I don’t think it’s what you think it is. 9/10
I thought I wasn’t going to be able to understand Tess, but actually, everything in it is relevant today. Maybe it’s me, but I felt like it was really random. Life would be going on very easy and then something really horrible would happen with no build up. 7/10
Was intrigued to read this book group pick translated from Turkish. I got really confused and nothing really happened. Unfortunately I quit about 20 pages from the end. Oops. 5/10
This is complete trash. It’s sexist, racist, and egotistical. It’s not well written This was also a book group read. One of our members wrote ten pages on why this is the worst book ever written. Unfortunately I was on a plane finishing this very book while the discussion was happening and missed one of the most controversial topics of the year. I can understand why it became a bestseller, but I can’t figure out for the life of me why it won any awards. 3/10
It has been almost a year since I read this in February and I think I’m still trying to make up my mind about this book. Kate Atkinson can sure write a good story and with this prequel to Life After Life she goes above and beyond. I think I’m just personally tired of reading about Britain in wartime. But honestly, this is a great novel, as is Life After Life. No need to read them together though, it’s just better if you do. 6/10
A fun spy novel. By fun I mean the typical misogyny, hard to follow and remember plot lines, and a real sense of gratitude to not have grown up in communist Russia. 5/10
I did it. I read it. Just like half the population. As I was reading it I was thinking, “geez, they don’t need to write the movie script, they can just copy and paste from the book.” Then I went and saw the movie and thought it was really good. i also have to say I thought this book was good too. It’s trash, but kind of complex and real in the sense of the theme and the heroine’s struggles. 6/10
I love stories about cults. My favorite is Man Crazy by Joyce Carol Oates, but this one comes in close second. Really interesting easy read.
Bill Bryson can be so mean. There’s a whole chapter in here where he publicly humiliates a McDonald’s employee who did nothing wrong. That said, I learned a lot about how Britain has changed since his days writing this and it did make me love it here even more. 5/10
Every once in a while when I’m walking by the charity bookshop I will stop in and buy a book. I always look for Agatha Christie. They have these really fun mass paperbacks from the 70s that we don’t have in the US. I found this one over the summer and read it in my nifty IKEA lounge chair on the back porch in one afternoon. This is a really good one and it also happens to be an excellent episode of Poirot. 7/10
Go ahead, judge it by the cover. Another book group pick, but I have to say I really enjoyed reading this bizarre tale of a woman whose husband is being investigated for… (can’t say or it will spoil it.) Fun trash. But then if I think about it, it’s really messed up to this reading this is fun. 5/10
I’m in the process of reading Middlemarch, one of the longest novels written in English. I love it. However, I needed a bit of a break over Thanksgiving and happened to pick up this little gem about a French Canadian detective in the small town of Three Pines trying to solve a murder. And guess what? It takes place on Thanksgiving. (Probably Canadian Thanksgiving, but whatever.) 6/10
Sequel to the above but it takes place on Christmas. Features satirical commentary on health and wellness movements, three old ladies who live together and bicker all day, and curling. What more do you need in a good murder mystery? 5/10
Fab book of short stories. Creepy, funny, and weird. Highly recommend! 8/10
One of the best books I’ve read all year. The descriptions, the characters, and the relevance of the novel are reasons to go buy and read if you get the chance. 9/10