Thank you, 2013.
What a year. Off page, there have been ups and downs. New house, job upheaval, sallies abroad, some key weddings, a niece, plenty of chocolate pudding. On the page though, it’s been a cracker – some of the best books I’ve read in years. So here for your New Year delectation is a little round up with a summary of why you should – or shouldn’t – consider each. Bon appétit!
The best (a hard shout, judged on re-readability)
1. Midnight’s Children Read if… you’re prepared for your mind to be blown.
2. The Corrections Read if…you’re breathing (and can work past the first 50 pages.)
3. The Luminaries Read if…you want the best of Victorian adventure mashed up with virtuoso structuring.
4. The Siege of Krishnapur Read if… you like your settings colonial and your satire biting.
5. Crossing to Safety Read if… you want a tale that truly understands lifelong friendship.
A Bend in the River Read if… you want a whole new understanding of the twentieth century teething pains of Africa.
The Pursuit of Love Read if… you’re sick, it’s raining, and you want some old fashioned comfort.
Daniel Deronda Read if… you like your heroines opinionated and your heroes sensitive and Semite.
Howard’s End is on the Landing Read if… you’re a booklover surrounded by philistines and fancy a chat with a fellow reader.
84, Charing Cross Road Read if… you’ve only got short snatches of time to read in; the letter format suits dipping in and out.
The Thirty-Nine Steps Read if… your knees are grubby from climbing trees.
Let the Great World Spin Read if… you like a weighty narrative delivered with a light, deft touch.
Gone Girl Read if… you haven’t read it already. Brushed my top 5 list.
The Shining Girls Read if… you think voyeuristic murders of women make for a good read.
Parade’s End Read if… you like psychologically complex characters and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Almost English Read if… you were an awkward teenager and enjoy a good Hungarian accent, daaarlink.
A Tale for the Time Being Read if… Haruki Murakami is a bit much for you but you like where he’s going.
Lean In Read if… you’re in business, pregnant, and want a car parking space near the office entrance.
Moby Dick Read if… You have plenty of time and want to feel like you’ve achieved something. Helps if you love whales.
The Enchanted April Read if… you’re down and don’t mind a touch of schmalz. Prozac in a book.
Madame Bovary Read if… you want to see if you can find it in your heart to pity a selfish, cruel but desperate heroine.
The Go-Between Read if… you want to know the book behind the famous opening line.
The Beautiful and Damned Read if… you want to see how there’s more to F Scott Fitzgerald than Leo, Lurhman and Gatsby.
The Bad Cook Read if… you want a candid, hilarious look at life, marriage, and babies, with the odd recipe thrown in.
Small World Read if… you’re thinking of going into academia. You’ll probably be encouraged.
Ghana Must Go Read if… Family dramas and a touch of diaspora do it for you.
Bullet Park Read if…you’ve already read all of Richard Yates and want something a bit weirder.
The Lacuna Read if… you fancy hanging out with Tolstoy and Frida Kahlo.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman Read if… you haven’t read The Magus, otherwise you’ll be disappointed.
The Bell Jar Read if… you’re curious to read a classic of mental illness, and prepared to be tolerant of disjointed, numb narrative.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Read if… you like your fiction political and conceptual.
Sword of Honour Read if… you want a stiff-upper-lip Catch 22.
The Sense of an Ending Read if… you’re a Julian Barnes fan. I ain’t.
NW Read if… you want to read the best dialogue being written today.
Brighton Rock Read if… you like a chilling ending.
I leave you with a brilliant bit of spoken word poetry, going out to all those bookworms not perceived as the heartthrobs that you are by this cruel world…