I spotted this on MarinaSofia’s blog a few weeks ago and enjoyed her post so much I thought I’d have a go myself, it being that time of the year and all. I’ve linked to my own reviews where relevant and to other sources of information for books I haven’t reviewed.
A Book with More that 500 pages: John Dos Passo’s U.S.A – a fabulous book which I must reread some day.
A Forgotten Classic: This may well not be forgotten and I’m sure many will put up their hands and tell me so but when I was a bookseller I was surprised at how few copies of Tolstoy’s Resurrection we sold. I read it many years ago but still remember how much it impressed me.
A Book that Became a Movie: So few film adaptations live up to books but Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando actually surpassed the novel for me.
A Book Published This Year: Where to start with this? I’m plumping for Nickolas Butler’s American small town gem Shotgun Lovesongs.
A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth – not a very adventurous or original choice but it’s so damn good.
A Book with Non-Human Characters: Michel Faber’s Oasans in this year’s The Book of Strange New Things are very endearing aliens.
A Funny Book: Richard Russo’s Straight Man is a campus novel with some rib-ticklingly funny passages in it.
A Book by a Female Author: There are so many but Katharine Grant’s Sedition, a smart, salacious and very witty novel of female subversion, seems appropriate.
A Book with a Mystery: Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind was a much-hyped title way back in 2004 when the English translation was published but it more than lived up to that hype – wonderfully atmospheric and suitably booky.
A Book with a One-Word Title: Amanda Hope’s Wake is a very fine debut from earlier this year, one of 2014’s many First World War novels but this one had an interesting spin.
A Book of Short Stories: Annie Proulx’s Wyoming collection Close Range which has some excellent very short and quite unsettling stories.
A Free Square: For this I’m going to choose the book I’d most like to see back in print: Linda Olsson’s lovely Astrid and Veronika, one of those slim novels written in the pared back prose that I so admire. It’s about the friendship between Veronika, a young New Zealand writer fleeing a tragedy who holes up in a remote Swedish village wanting only to be left alone to work, and the reclusive Astrid, elderly and shunned by the rest of the village, who falls ill. These two disparate women have more in common than they first thought. It’s written in gorgeous prose and was published in the UK with the sort of jacket that makes you want to pick it up immediately. I hope you’re reading this, Penguin
A Book Set on a Different Continent: Favel Parrett’s When the Night Comes – a lovely story of a thirteen-year-old girl, a sailor and his ship, the Nella Dan, set on Tasmania and in Antarctica.
A Book of Non-fiction: Lewis Buzbee’s The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is a joy to read for anyone who’s worked in a bookshop or who loves to frequent them. So that would be most of us, I imagine
The First Book by a Favourite Author: Helen Dunmore’s atmospheric Zennor in Darkness set in Cornwall during the First World Wart is not my favourite book of hers but she is one of the finest authors I’ve read and I’ll take any excuse to mention her.
A Bestselling Book: Emma Donoghue’s Room which I wish I hadn’t read.
A Book at the Bottom of Your To-Be-Read Pile: Mark Haddon’s The Red House. Just can’t seem to get around to it.
A Book Your Friend Loves: Alexandra Fuller’s memoir of her African childhood, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.
A Book that Scares You: Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl scared the pants off me. Written when she should have been studying for her A-Levels, and she still got into Cambridge.
A Book That is More than Ten Years Old: Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved, probably my favourite contemporary novel and I’m amazed to find that it was published in 2003.
The Second Book in a Series: I was left wondering what on earth to choose for this then remembered Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie so it has to be One Good Turn.
A Book with a Blue Cover: A. L. Kennedy’s The Blue Book, which may seem a cop-out but it’s excellent.