I’ve read lots of wonderful books this year; these are my very favourites, in no particular order. Follow the links for full reviews/responses:
Specimen Days | Michael Cunningham
I was surprised and delighted by every element of Specimen Days: the precision and freshness of the language, the startling imagery and metaphors, and the utterly novel way of looking at the world. Wry, funny, insightful and disturbing, it provokes thought on an incredible range of contemporary issues without ever feeling preachy or didactic.
Flight Behavior | Barbara Kingsolver
A wonderful involving story, funny and sad, and beautifully written with a gutsy protagonist I was really rooting for.
We Were the Mulvaneys | Joyce Carol Oates
A heartbreaking exploration of how trauma can impact on a family.
The Dog Stars | Peter Heller
It’s hard to imagine how anyone can do anything new with post-apocalyptic fiction but Heller has: compelling, meditative, exciting, profound, sad, moving, funny and told with a strikingly unique voice.
Letters to the End of Love | Yvette Walker
A beautifully written and deeply moving meditation on love – the most gorgeous prose I read this year.
Seating Arrangements | Maggie Shipstead
A contemporary comedy of manners set over a wedding weekend in New England. A pitch perfect satire.
This One is Mine | Maria Semple
Definitely the funniest book I’ve read this year but also smart, perceptive and compassionate.
A Dual Inheritance | Joanna Hershon
A sweeping exploration of race and class in America from the 1960s to the present day, focusing on the relationship between two young men who meet while studying at Harvard, and whose lives remain intertwined for half a century, even as they struggle to move apart.
A Hologram for the King | Dave Eggers
The global financial crisis, wealth, our sense of self, ageing and change, fear of sickness, and death: Eggers covers all this and more in the cleanest, straightest prose: brilliant.
The Round House | Louise Erdrich
I read this with awe for Erdrich’s talent, as well as an intense absorption in the characters and their story. It engaged with deep and fundamental issues of race and morality and justice, and was powerful and authentic and deeply affecting.
Your turn: Have you read any of these? Do any of them appeal? What are the best books you read this year?