A Year of Books

Too many books, too little time.

This realisation will haunt me to my grave. I’m constantly adding titles to my ‘to be read’ list in the full knowledge that I can’t read fast enough to keep up!

That’s why I have to be very selective and only read books that I feel confident won’t be a waste of precious reading time. I make my choices based on reviews featured on literary blogs, magazines and word-of-mouth recommendations and unlike previous years, this year I’ve not abandoned a single book. The fact that I finished all 55 books means I rate them but some more than others which means they don’t earn a place on my bookshelves. I love books but I also love space. This means I don’t want to clutter up my home with bookcases everywhere so when I moved to this house seven years ago, I bought two bookcases and decided on a ‘one in, one out’ policy rather than having to add more shelving. The books that don’t make the grade get donated to the charity shop or passed on to friends and only very few books keep their place on the shelves permanently.

Some of these retain their spot for sentimental reasons such as the signed copy of Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre. He came to give a masterclass when I did my MLitt so the book has happy memories of a year when I immersed myself in books and writing. Favourite authors have been awarded a whole section when I’ve read several of their books. I have all 7 titles written by my close friend, Karen Campbell, whose latest novel, The Sound of the Hours, came out this year and will always be guaranteed a space in my bookcase. If you haven’t read it yet, make sure it’s on your 2020 tbr list – I promise you’ll not be disappointed!

Looking at the list of 55 books, like last year, I notice that I’ve read a few memoirs. My default setting is cynical, and I think that’s why memoirs appeal to me. Sometimes fiction novels can be too farfetched for me and I like a story based on true life or an insight into someone’s world.

I’m also drawn to shorter novels. If a book is a doorstopper it puts me off. I like to read a different book every week so one that will involve a couple of weeks reading time is a big commitment. I read Becoming, Michelle Obama’s chunky 400 page memoir and although I found it interesting and inspiring, there was far too much detail for me.

Stand out books of the year? As always, it’s hard to pick only a few but the ones that have secured their place in the bookcase alongside The Sound of the Hours are: –

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

 

Which books would you suggest that I add to my 2020 tbr list?

12 thoughts on “A Year of Books

  1. Interesting list and post Helen. If you want to read a memoir, I am really enjoying Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path; it’s good because it has a number of levels, walking, homelessness, ill health but it isn’t a downer. Happy New Year.

  2. I read Michelle Obama’s book, but over time dipping in now and again. It wasn’t as if I was going to forget the storyline! Possibly I enjoyed it better than you did because of that (and it gave my wrists a rest, it was very big to hold up). I read American Marriage too, but didn’t warm too it. Neither of the main characters appealed to me. The only other title I can make out that I have read, but not this year, is the Amy Liptrott which i loved. My favourite this year was Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. Also a big tome, but worth it. I don’t buy many books now, I borrow from my local library or GWL, because I have no shelf space either.

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