It was a slow year for me. I can’t have read more than a dozen books in all, but very few duffers came my way, indeed I think the Mrs may have out-read me and will no doubt post her own best-of by close of play today.
However many of the best books I read were recommended by Ian Dommett, so he goes to the top of my critics list.
In no particular order my favourite reads of the year were.
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.
In truth this probably wins by a nose. The fact that it was written in 1985 is a strength as it shows off her perceptiveness even better than if one read it at the time of its release. Is it her best book? Hard to say as she is such a brilliant writer, but it certainly sits alongside Oryx and Crake, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace and he Blind Assassin. All magnificent.
You’ll find my full review here if you are interested.
Then We came to The End by Joshua Ferris
I predict this will be a monster in paperback. It’s been on many year end lists this year and so should get the reviews it deserves when it comes out in PB in 2008. I think it’s slated for a movie too, although the mystery that is implicit in its writing will probably be diluted on screen. I reviewed it here.
The Damned Utd byDavid Peace
My all time favourite sports book. It’s a novel but reads like a Biography od Brian Clough in his 43 days as manager of Leeds Utd. Not a happy experience. It is frightening how out of control Cloughie was. So good was it that I asked for, and recieved, “provided you don’t Kiss me, 20 Years with Brian Clough” for my Christmas. I’m really looking forward to that. Anyway I reviewed David Peace here. Highly recommended.
An Occurance at Owl Creek by Ambrose Bierce
It’s just a short story but it’s packed with drama and a brilliant twist. Read more here.
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides
I was blown away by this. Far superior (aren’t they all) to the movie; it gets right under your skin in a very odd way. But he’s a very odd writer. My mother read this and his other masterpiece, Middlesex, on my recommendation and loved both of them. More here.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
This is an interesting but overwritten and ultimately pompous diatribe against the existence of God. Nevertheless, until he starts getting overly political about it all it is a very interesting essay and worthy of reading for anyone who has any interest in the existence of god(s). Read more here.
Auchwitz by Laurence Rees
I was gripped by this book and I also liked the BBC Drama later in the year that depicted the liberation of Auchwitz. Not by the same writer.
It’s a detailed account of the concept behind Auchwitz and throws the net of Nazi guilt far wider than Hitler. Well written and absorbing it is, despite its gruesome content, a compelling read.
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
Great, but not his greatest. I wrote an overly glowing review of this on completion, but, in hindsight, it’s a bit style over content. Still beats most of the muck that gets published though.
Agent Zig Zag by Ben Macintyre
If this was a novel it would be rejected on grounds of ludicracy. It is in fact, the true life account of an English Double agent who crossed sides more often than Michael Stewart. It’s real boys own stuff and a splendid read. What ho!