So as we have reached, well slightly gone over, the halfway point in the year, I thought I would do something I don’t think I have done before and share with you my Books of 2016 so far. Well it made sense to me considering I had just done the below video for my YouTube channel and so I thought I would share it on here too. (I am really enjoying the booktube community but trying not to bombard you with it on here.) So if you would like to know some of my favourite books of the year so far, grab a cup of tea (as its about 20 minutes of me going on about books) and have a watch of this…
I hope you like the list, some of the books haven’t been mentioned on here before so give you an idea of what is coming over the next few weeks and months*. I would love to hear you thoughts on the books that I discuss and what you have made of them if you have read them. I would also really love to know which books have been the books of your year so far too, so do tell.
*Yes I know there have been a few video posts of late, with work being utterly bonkers in the lead up to one of our biggest festivals this weekend, video’s are so much speedier to make than a review which takes me ages, they will return though, honest – along with the usual rambling posts. I just need to play catch up with life after the musical festival has happened. It is this weekend so I am getting there.
It is World Book Day, hurrah, and I thought as we can’t physically swap our favourite books with each other today it might be nice to swap some recommendations of some favourites. I have chosen a few catagories of books that I would love to give copies to everyone if I could and thought you might like to do the same in the comments below…
Your favourite book: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (no surprises there)
A recent reading highlight: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (so newly a highlight I haven’t reviewed it yet)
A book people might not have heard of or read but really should have: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (because it is brilliant on so many levels)
A book which might get someone who doesn’t think they like reading back into books: The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies (a short story collection where every story could charm everyone and anyone)
A book you can’t wait to read by a favourite author: The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain (it arrived yesterday and my joyous bellowing could be heard throughout the land)
Now your turn, over to you. I look forward to your five recommendations…
I have had another bonkers week followed by a lovely weekend away with my mother. The former has meant I haven’t done much reading, the latter has meant I have done loads as a) the weekend away was five hours by train away on the other side of the UK b) I had a hotel suite to myself which always means more reading. So I thought I would share what I am reading right now, in the hope that you might tell me all about what you are reading, have read and want to read too.
So my current read is Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways. Remember I mentioned authors whose debuts are so good you are nervous of the follow up? This falls into that category as I thought Sunjeev’s debut Ours Are The Streets was pretty brilliant when I read it back in 2011, when I was somewhat more succinct in my book thoughts. So far The Year of the Runaways is proving to be just as brilliant, if not even more so. I should say here that this picture is actually slightly misleading, though does show you my second favourite train pastime – eating M&S picnics, as I am not only reading one book but two. I am also slowly (because it is so good) reading Christos Tsiolkas’ Merciless Gods one story at a time so as I can savour it for as long as possible. That said Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk is begging me to read it at the moment, well next.
I can also tell you what a few other people are reading. The Beard has devoured The Trouble With Goats and Sheep (which his mum is now reading) before he comes to see Joanna Cannon and I in conversation at Liverpool Waterstones tomorrow at 6.30pm, he is just about to start Love Nina by Nina Stibbe, now with Savidge Reads fiancé status he has to get his reading habits up frankly. My mother was almost finished reading A Little Folly by Jude Morgan, apparently I started her onto Jude’s books, it seems I need to read them. She is going to read (a signed copy of) Carys Davies’ The Redemption of Galen Pike which I gave her this weekend, I would buy that book for everyone in the world ever if I could.
So what about all of you? What have you been reading, what are you reading and what do you possibly fancy reading next?
I thought I would sneak in a quick post before my final book review of the year and my posts on my top reads of the year go live over the next few days before a shiny new year opens before us. (I love a new year, have I mentioned this before, it is like the epic version of a night of new bed linen.) Anyway, I have been having a small sorting out of the shelves before the new year begins and discovered, to my slight horror, that I there have been lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of books that have come out this year that I have meant to read, haven’t and have that slight ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ feeling about them all. There were about 50 – just a small amount – but I whittled it down to 22 (I am rubbish at whittling down, very good at whittling on) and here they are in no particular order…
I Saw a Man – Owen Sheers
Girl at War – Sara Novic
Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
Delicious Foods – James Hannaham
The Year of the Runaways – Sunjeev Sahota
The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood
The Shore – Sara Taylor
The Fisherman – Chigozie Obioma
Devotion – Ros Barber
Daydreams of Angels – Heather O’Neill
Did You Ever Have a Family – Bill Clegg
Before the Feast – Sasa Stanisic
Beatlebone – Kevin Barry
Public Library – Ali Smith
Music for Wartime – Rebecca Makkai
Trans: A Memoir – Juliet Jacques
An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It – Jessie Greengrass
I’m Jack – Mark Blacklock
The Loney – Andrew Micheal Hurley
The Not Dead and The Saved – Kate Clanchy
Mislaid & The Wallcreeper – Nell Zink
I am not a believer in regrets or of ‘what if’s’ so I have simply decided to be excited about the fact that a) books don’t go anywhere unless you remove them from your life yourself b) these will all be out in paperback over the next year so I can talk to you about them all then. Plus I am 95% sure I am going to love these as people I know who read them really, really did. Are these going to be my first reads of 2016? No. I have decided I am going right off on reading tangents next year, more on that in the next few days. I just thought I would share these ones with you in the interim. We all love a selection of books and a bookshelf to nosey at don’t we?
Have any of you read any of these and what did you make of them? Which are the books you should have, would have, could have read?
Just under two hours ago Sarah Howe was announced as the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2015 with her collection of poetry, Loop of Jade. A huge, huge congrats to her and a huge, huge kick to myself who was going to try and fit this collection in before the announcement (not because I knew, as if, because it was the shortest and I wanted to have read at least one of them) but have sadly not found the time. Maybe this weekend. Anyway, huge congrats again to Sarah…
…And indeed to all the shortlisted authors because (as I said at The Green Carnation Prize winner announcement and party earlier this week) being shortlisted and longlisted from lots and lots of books is a marvellous thing too! Speaking of shortlists though, you may also remember that I promised to give a signed set of the shortlisted books away. If you have forgotten what the titles were, let me remind you they were; Ben Fergusson with The Spring of Kasper Meier, the aforementioned Sarah Howe with Loop of Jade, Sunjeev Sahota with The Year of the Runaways and Sara Taylor with The Shore.
Well I have used random.org and I can reveal that the winner of the signed shortlisted titles is… Zeudytigre! If you email me with your details I will get these sent out asap so they can be with you before Christmas, a lovely early present or four! Commiserations to everyone else. Do let me know if you have read any of these though, I shamefully have not (yet) read one of them – but I want to read all four, so the intention is there, ha!
I have been feverishly lost in the world of sneezes and coughs for the last week and so missed the announcement of The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2015 (wow that’s a mouthful) shortlist earlier in the week for authors under 35. The four shortlisted authors and their works are…
- Ben Fergusson: The Spring of Kasper Meier, a critically acclaimed historical fiction debut
- Sarah Howe: Loop of Jade, a poetic exploration of heritage and identity
- Sunjeev Sahota: The Year of the Runaways, his Man Booker shortlisted second novel
- Sara Taylor: The Shore, a Baileys-nominated collection of interlinked short stories
Now I have to admit that I have all three of these on my shelves (well Sarah Howe popped through my letterbox yesterday which was nice of her) but have yet to get around to any of them because clearly I am a fool. I do like the sound of all four of them. I know Rob of Adventures with Words loved the Fergusson and Kate has raved about the Taylor, obviously Sahota was up for the Booker and the Howe was new to me but exciting (and slightly petrifying as its poetry which I always think I am rubbish at understanding yet really enjoy) because I hadn’t heard of it and wanted to know more.
Anyway, before I move on to giving away a signed set of all four of the books and how you can win them, I will just flag up the fact that if you happen to be in London the on Monday then there is a special free Foyles event happening with 3 of the shortlisted authors and 3 previous winners, who will be in conversation with Sunday Times Literary Editor Andrew Holgate more here http://www.foyles.co.uk/Public/Events/Detail.aspx?eventId=2689. I wish I could go, I’m quite jealous. The winner will then be announced at a ceremony on Thursday 10th December.
So, the question you now all want to know, how can you win a signed set of the four shortlisted titles? Well I thought I would make it simple… ish. I say ish because I was going to do a post around it and struggled, though this might have been because I was off my face on Lemsip. Anyway. What I would love you to do is tell me who your favourite author under 35 is and why, recommendations of their titles would be a delight too! Good luck, you have until midnight GMT on Friday the 27th of November!
Sorry if I have been a bit quiet of late. The new job that I mentioned the other week has been a bit bonkers (in a brilliant way), I was also at Gladfest , then giving a masterclass to some brilliant new reviewers and bloggers up in Newcastle whilst also working on something secret but very fun with Lynne of Dovegreyreader which we might be able to talk about next year, sorry to be a tease. Oh and I have been reading for Booktopia Petoskey next week. Phew, it has been a bit manic!
Anyway to show I still have my finger on the booky pulse here is the Man Booker Shortlist (you can see my thoughts on the longlist here) for you all, if you haven’t seen it already.
- Marlon James (Jamaica) – A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications)
- Tom McCarthy (UK) – Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)
- Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) – The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press)
- Sunjeev Sahota (UK) – The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
- Anne Tyler (US) – A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus)
- Hanya Yanagihara (US) – A Little Life (Picador)
I am really keen on it, obviously because Yanagihara is my book of the decade and that’s in the mix, but also because I want to read every single one of the other five. In fact I may have to buy Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island as a treat for myself (and my new job, coughs – this excuse will last months) at lunchtime. I like the mix of authors and the disparity between publishers (which I didn’t like but didn’t bemoan when the longlist came out) seems to have been more balanced out, unintentionally I am sure.
What are your thoughts? Which have you read and what did you make of them? Which do you want to read?