Stacey’s Top 15 of 2012

Thought I’d send in my top 15 books of 2012, after seeing the good recommendations so far on the book blog!

Adult Non Fiction

Spike Milligan – Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

(A funny,  light read told in Spike’s distinctive irreverent voice, this is the first of his autobiographical volumes, offering a comedian’s experiences serving in the Second World War with plenty of nonsense along the way.)

Jen Campbell – Weird Things customers say in Bookshops

(This appealed to me because I work with books too. It’s only small so makes for a funny afternoon read! I found it hilarious and bewildering, from the customers asking for signed Shakespeare books to the mothers buying law books for their toddlers.)

Andrew Robertshaw – 24 Hour Trench

(How do you make a cup of tea in a trench? How do you cook breakfast without getting mud in it? How to keep your feet dry and what do you use for loo paper? A team of volunteers dug a real trench network and lived in it for a day, as troops would have done in the Great War. This isn’t about shells and ‘going over the top’ – this is about ‘digging in’, so often glossed over and wrongly portrayed. That long straight trench in War Horse? Absolutely wrong.)

Philip Oltermann – Keeping Up with the Germans: A History of Anglo- German Encounters

(An arbitrary choice on my part which turned out to be really interesting. The author moved from Germany to England in his teens and tells us his experiences of life here compared to his homeland, interspersed with historical and cultural titbits, from the ingenious to simply bizarre. I learned a lot about German humour!)

Adult Fiction

M. L Stedman – The Light Between Oceans
(Saw a good review of this so tried it out on holiday in the Forest of Dean. Wish I’d been nearer the coast at the time! A young couple manning an isolated lighthouse in the 1920s are desperate for a child. Their prayers seem answered when a rowboat washes up on their beach in a storm – but what follows is a heart wrenching story that will make you question your morals.)

Mark Haddon – The Red House
(This book is responsible for my sunburn on Cromer beach this summer, when I was too engrossed to remember to reapply sun-cream.  A rich tale of a very real family with tangled bonds of love, debt and duty, struggling to cope with the past, deal with the present and keep a lot of secrets.)

Cormac McCarthy – The Road
(So bleak, it’s not a bedtime or a holiday read – it’s an apocalyptic novel which tackles real issues, not sensationalist gore. The writing is sparse, speech minimal, and the language so clipped. You never learn the main characters names. I saw the film and it was very true to the book.)

Jasper Fforde – The Eyre Affair
(For anyone who loves reading and knows their popular novels and characters, this detective story investigating crimes against literature is a funny read. Fforde takes a real detective story and plonks it in a literary fantasy world – and it works!)

Stephen Kelman – Pigeon English
(One of the first books we read in the book club I joined this year. Gritty and very relevant, dealing with a bright young immigrant in London trying to keep his head down in a violent neighbourhood. This book stayed with me long after I finished it.)

Sarah Hall – The Beautiful Indifference

(A great collection of short stories about women who have reached a crisis point in their lives. Possibly not to everyone’s taste but put my way by a reading group.)

Young Adult Fiction

Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games trilogy

(Everyone was reading this series this year – with good reason! I wolfed these down at the rate of one a day. )

Sue Townsend – The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4

(2012 marked the 30th anniversary of Adrian Mole; so I revisited the series this year. It’s still great, still funny and I’ll go on to read the later ones I never got round to!)

Judith Kerr – When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

(I had heard of this book but not really placed its author – the talented lady behind ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’. Her autobiographical story shows a child’s view of her family’s flight from Nazi persecution in Germany.)

S. E Hinton – The Outsiders

(A classic of its time and so well written considering the young age of its author. A strong group of male characters tell a story of 50s gang warfare between upper and lower class kids in small town America.)
Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret

(Beautifully illustrated book, motivated to read this after seeing the film ‘Hugo’..)



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