Six favourites from 2013, and then some

Cover image Given that it’s ‘best this’ and ‘best that’ time of the year I thought I’d list my own top six favourite reads of 2013, particularly as it’s been one of my best reading years in ages. Unsurprisngly, I’ve failed miserably to keep to my limit so here are my top however many in no particular order most with links to reviews on this blog:

Hard to miss and impossible not to include is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. If you haven’t read it ignore the hype, the jibes, its door stopping size and jump straight in. Next, and a much lamented omission from the Man Booker, is Kate Atkinson’s wonderful Life After Life, which won the Not the Booker instead and is shortlisted for the Costa Book of the Year Awards. Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1995 with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, so it would be fitting for Life After Life to win the Costa,  the prize formerly known as the Whitbread. Then there’s Robin Sloan’s Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore for sheer invention and reducing me to surprised tears with its revelation of the puzzle’s solution. Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland was my favourite from the Man Booker shortlist but I’ve yet to read The Luminaries so may well stand corrected. Joint first place has to go to The President’s Hat, a wonderful feel good novel both translated and beautifully packaged by the Gallic Books team, copies of Cover image which I’ve been giving out to friends and family since May, and Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet which rivals Andrew Miller’s Pure in its evocation of eighteenth century France.

Honourable mentions to Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, as enjoyably wacky as ever; Simon Rich’s short but very sweet love story What in God’s Name; Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds, which made me laugh out loud with delight at the end and Lori Baker’s The Glass Ocean, for its vividly imagined nineteenth century world and it’s heart wrenching love story.

In non-fiction Louisa Waugh’s Meet Me In Gaza made me think about what it must be like to live under virtual siege, Alice Rawsthorn’s Hello World relieved me of always feeling it was my fault when I can’t get something to work, Sarah Moss’s Names for the Sea captured the dislocation of relocating your family somewhere entirely different while Penelope Lively’s Ammonites and Flying Fish left me filled with admiration. There are many more but I’m sure you’ve got books to read. Before you go back to them, tell me, what are your favourites from 2013?

8 thoughts on “Six favourites from 2013, and then some”

  1. I think Life After Life may make into my top books of this year too. I’ve heard such good things about The Lowland, I think I’m going to have to read it. I’m not sure how I’ll narrow mine down, I’ve read some truly amazing books this year. Great list – I’ve added a few more to my wish list!

    1. Thanks, Ellie. It’s been a vintage reading year for me and I hope it has for you, too. I’ll look forwad to seeing your list.

    1. I loved it, Lindsay, as you can tell! Hard to keep those lists under control, isn’t it. I’m writing a little post about the WLTB list and taking the opportunity to include a few more tomorrow.

  2. Interesting list! I’ve read almost all of your fiction choices (think I need to try The President’s Hat) and had mixed reactions to them.

    I’m afraid I wasn’t a fan of Life After Life and Lowland was just average, but I LOVED The Last Banquet. Have you read The Cook? It is similar to The Last Banquet and equally dark and twisted!

    1. Thanks, Jackie. I suspect Life After Life might be one of those love it or hate it books. I’d have to disagree about The Lowland (obviously!) although I’d concede that the first few chapters are a bit too heavy with the facts but then it took off for me. Thanks for the tip about The Cook – it sounds like one to add to my list.

    1. Gallic are lovely – I particularly liked the fact that they’d translated The President’s Hat as a team. Each character has a distinctive voice.

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