This was the year that I made time to read again. Starting a new week with a new book is such a simple pleasure but definitely not one to be underestimated. It’s so easy to fall out of the habit of reading, I know because I was guilty of it myself for a long time. But now that I always have a book on the go, I can’t imagine it being any other way. I tend to shy away from book reviews here on my blog mainly because I am terrified of giving away a spoiler. There is surely nothing worse?! That and the fact that opinions vary so much when it comes to books. Such a personal choice. But I really wanted to share with you some of my best – and worst – reads this year if you don’t mind indulging me?
I actually don’t know how many books I have read this year but it’s probably about fifty so I’d be here all day if I shared all of my favourites but here are some that have really stood out. Mutton by India Knight was amazingly fun. I have loved all of her books but the return of my most favourite peri-menopausal heroines ever Clara Hutt was long overdue and I loved every minute of it. Another great and utterly charming read was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. This was probably sat on my to be read pile for at least a year before I got around to reading it. I loved the gentle pace and it was just well, terribly life affirming. Kiss Me First by Lottie Maggach was probably my darkest read of the year but man alive, I have recommended this to just about anyone that would listen to me. Don’t be misled by the title, it’s not the sickly sweet love story you might think it is, quite the opposite in fact. This book is so current though that it needs to be read sooner rather than later because I suspect that the references will age really quickly. You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane was another superb read. Terribly witty and really rather heartbreaking I loved it.
I have a rather large soft spot for fluffy chick lit and it’s fair to say that every other book that I read is of this particular genre. Far too many to list them all but I adored The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan, Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella and also Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell. And I can’t possibly write a book review of the year without mentioning Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding. I was disappointed to read so many negative comments when the book was released, especially those who were slating it before reading it, what was that all about? All I can say is ignore everything that you have heard and read it for yourself. For me, it was truly like welcoming back an old and very much loved friend. I hadn’t realised that I had missed Bridget so much until I finished the book and missed her all over again. I did find the ending ever so slightly rushed but that didn’t detract from how much I loved having Bridget back in my life.
Most of the books that I read are recommended to me but there was a couple that really disappointed. You know when somebody raves about how amazingly fantastic a book is to the point that you wonder if you read the same thing? Well that. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared by Jonass Jonasson I found impossible to get in to. I actually gave up about half way through which is really not like me. Maybe it was a case of the story being lost in translation? I’m not sure. But my biggest flop of the year was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I found it really slow until I reached the twist in the middle (but the ‘twist’ actually soon became obvious and I found myself just waiting for it to happen) Then I ploughed on just to finish it only to find that it had the worst ending ever. Ugh.
Now at the complete opposite of the scale, my most exciting find of the year was definitely the author Afsaneh Knight. Slaughterhouse Heart tells the powerful story of a father and son’s troubled relationship. I quite liked that it didn’t have all of the answers and managed to conjure up so many emotions. It left me with a very heavy heart perhaps for very personal reasons but it really was an outstanding read. The Sunshine Years was about a group of friends embarking on middle-youth or should that be middle-age? The characters were so complex and very cleverly observed. These two books couldn’t be more different but Afsaneh Knight has a way of exploring human flaws. I actually loved that neither book had all the answers and gave me so much food for thought. Definitely my biggest recommendations of the year – read them NOW!
So what have your favourite – and not so favourite – reads of 2013 been? Despite my ever increasing to be read pile and double stacked bookshelves, I am always looking for new recommendations!