Time again to review my reading list and pick my favourites from the year. There seems to be some themes running through my picks this year: sad books (I cried all the way through at least three of these books), dystopia and books about the end of the world (I love a good imaginary apocalypse), and books with characters with dementia. I was also interested to see that four of these books are first novels from new authors.
A god in ruins – a stunning companion volume to Kate Atkinson’s hugely successful Life after Life. Incredibly moving; this book might be my favourite of the year.
A little life – another heartbreaking book; set in America, we follow the central character and his group of friends as they all try to cope with the after-effects of Jude’s terrible childhood.
Not forgetting the whale – a surprisingly cheerful look at the collapse of civilisation, as seen from a tiny village in Cornwall.
Only ever yours – possibly the least subtle satire on the role of women in society I have ever read, but none-the-less a brilliant dystopian young adult read. Great (bleak) fun. This author’s first novel, it won the first ever Young Adult Book Prize.
Elizabeth is missing – Another outstanding début novel, this time from a local author. It won the Costa First Novel award in 2014, but I only caught up with it this year.
Weathering – I read Lucy Wood’s collection of short stories a couple of years ago and I’ve been waiting ever since for her first novel. This is it and it doesn’t disappoint. Beautifully written, a meditation on memory and the relationship between mothers and daughters.
The bees – This is just staggeringly good. I have no idea how the author managed to write this. It’s a début novel set in a bee colony. All the characters are bees, communicating though vibrations and chemicals – yet the character and personality of the bees shine through.
Station eleven – another dystopia, but unlike any I have read before. I can’t wait to read more from this author. The book is mostly set some 20 years after the collapse of society and develops into a riveting tale. Gorgeous.
Spill simmer falter wither – an incredibly affecting read. This book has won several awards already, and deserves to be more widely known. The book follows one isolated man and his dog as they attempt to navigate an increasingly hostile society.
The view from lazy point – my non-fiction pick of the year, this important book combines nature writing, a travelogue & science writing on the state of the environment. If you have even a passing interest in environmental matters, this is a must-read.