So as I sit here with my news years eve lunch of cheese and crackers (a mild goats cheese with some delicious red onion chutney) I’m going to scroll back through the 2016 shelf of my goodreads account and remember some of the books that I enjoyed the most this year.
I hope you don’t mind me just listing the books that I thought were great without going into too much detail about them. I feel like I could try and explain what it was about them that worked for me but I think too much would get lost in the attempt. That personal connection to a book that comes as much from inside the reader, their mood, the place, the time, is hard to pin down. But great books are great books, and these were the ones that meant a little something extra to me.
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes was excellent. A story of a conductor in 1936 Russia, trying to balance art and expression with the dangerous politics of the time. I also really enjoyed The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan. This was about a young sheriff who is tasked with looking after an elderly criminal with a violent past and the unsettled relationship that forms between them. I also read No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (the first Cormac McCarthy I have read, but there’s certain to be a lot more). Both those books now occupy the same little bit of my memory, since they have very similar settings and tones.
So what else? Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama was a random purchase and ended up being the perfect accompaniment to a two week break from work that I took in March. This gigantic Japanese crime novel is about a detective who has been moved to the media department and ends up embroiled in an unsolved case that has been dredged back up. Reminded me a little of The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy.
My Mr Bs Reading Year turned up some really fascinating books. My personal bibliotherapist selected Martin John by Anakana Schofield for me, which was one of the most unsettling reads I have had a for a long time. The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt were both excellent as well. In fact, The Sisters Brothers now lives in that same bit of my brain as The Ploughmen and No Country For Old Men. While I think of it, The Ploughmen was a Mr Bs Book too.
Two of my favourite writers had new books out this year. Dave Eggers Heroes of the Frontier was wonderful and I loved every word of it. It’s the story of a woman and her two kids travelling across Alaska in a camper van, trying to leave the past behind and figure out a future for themselves. It was sort of chaotic and calm all at the same time and the ending was perfect. I adore the ending. Also Alison Moore’s new book Death and the Seaside took a look at unethical social science experiments, which is a subject I have been fascinated by ever since I first heard about stuff like the Stanford prison experiment and Stanley Milgrim. I love Alison Moore. All her books have this haunting, whispery quality. Very quietly spoken books. I also read her second book He Wants and am currently reading her collection of short stories.
So there you go, a bunch of cool books that I read this year. I have a massive to-read pile on the go so 2017 should get started with some decent momentum. I think hidden in books seems like a sensible place to be.
Happy new year.