This is a pleasure. I have read so many good books in 2006 I can hardly think where to begin. Of course book reading is very personal (more so than movies and music I think) so all I offer here is my own taste. As it happens Jeana has read considerably more books this year than in the recent past and I will be focing her to publish her innermost thoughts in due course.
I suppose one must divide them into those published in 2006 and those read in 2006. So I’ll start with the former.
My favourite books published in 2006 (ish)
Derren Brown. Tricks of The Mind
An absolute belter. This is a really outstanding book and my personal book of the year. It’s a text book (and a truly valuable one at that) come comedy autobiography. I can’t find words to describe how good it is.
Irvine Welsh. The Bedroom Secrets of the Masterchefs
He’s a sick masogynist trying to find his way into the female character as a writer. I wouldn’t urge my kids to read this (although Amy read, and loved, his masterpiece, Trainspotting, on holiday in Portugal this year).
He doesn’t succeed in his attempt to write about sympathetic female characters in this attempt. It’s too long. It’s preposterous. It’s not as good as the aforementioned Trainspotting (or Porno) but..it’s actually pretty funny. I rattled through it and still enjoyed it; for all its weaknesses.
Black Swan Green. David Mitchell.
Were you ever a 13 year old (boy ideally) that wasn’t the coolest kid in town? If you were; read this. At one point it was favourite for The Booker Prize which was just plain silly really. But it is a fantastic (light) read and completely different from Cloud Atlas which I think is a seriously good book. This is the best young writer in Britain just now (that I have read) – with the possible exceptions of Ali Smith, Michel Faber and Alan Warner.
Saturday. Ian McEwan
Ah, the passed over masterpiece. Ian McEwan has NEVER written a bad book. This is another classic. I went to the book reading of this with Vic and her Bro. Great day out and great book spoiled by Catherine Lockerbie’s fawning and obnoxious MCship. Anyway the book is a hugely dramatic 24 hours in the life of a brain surgeon and his family. Read it. It’s not brain surgery!
Heartfelt. Sipping Bovril from the Devil’s cup. Aiden Smith
What a hoot. Hibby goes behind the scenes at Jambo Meltdown HQ before the Lithuanians properly arrived. Hilarious.
Explorers of The Lost Century. Magnus Mills.
His most disappointing yet. But still a cut above the average. (Start with The Scheme for Full Employment)
The City of Falling Angels. John Berendt.
A book about Venice by a lover of Venice. He takes the piss from start to finish, slags off EVERYONE in town and is now heartily detested by Venicians everwhere. Brilliantly exposes the snobbery and corruption that underpins the machinations of one of my favourite cities. If you’ve been to Venice you MUST read this book.
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Marina Lewycka
Probably the publishing world’sa slow burner of 2006 and rightly so. It’s hilarious. Black, pretty sick really as it’s about the psychological undermining of an 80 year old Ukranian Tractor designer by his (Ukranian) 30-0dd slapper wife and gold seeker (only there isn’t any gold to seek) . How the family unites against her is choc-a-bloc with hilarious moments. (Jeana hated it. She thought it was cruel. BUT THAT IS THE POINT).
Stuart, A life Backwards. Alexander Masters
Aaaah. What a wonderful book. 2006(ish)’s Curious Incident… A very funny, but sad biography (backwards) of a seriously mentally ill young homeless, alcoholic, drug addict. Laugh or cry you’ll love it for both.
Favourite books I read this year NOT published in 2006
The People’s Act of Love. James Meek.
I’ve written elsewhere about this book. Suffice it to say it was my non- 2006 published book of the year and probably pipped Derren for the overall crown.
What a Carve up. Jonathon Coe
I’ve read a lot of funny books this year, which is not like me. This is the funniest. A vicious satire on Thatcher’s Britain. Brilliant plot that twists and turns like the Labour Party denying that this is a book about them. If he wrote it today it most certainly would be.
The Accidental. Ali Smith
Is it as good as hotel world? Maybe not; but it is immense. She has a penchant for overelaoration stylistically but that doesn’t put me off one jot. Keep ’em coming Ali.
The Proteus Effect – Stem Cells and their Promise for medicine. Ann B Parson
My Brother in law gave me this. It’s a popular science book about Stem Cell research history and I really enjoyed it. It is unlikely to ever say ‘Number One Bestseller’ on any reprint though.
Primary Colors. Anonymous
Read this on holiday. Perfect. More political satire. US-style. Not a patch on Jonathon Coe but still a great book.
Fingersmith. Sarah Waters
A Lesser romp to finish with. Lovely Jubbly. Bit light on the lesser stuff though. Need to move on to Tipping the Velvert for that. Which I shall.