I don’t rely entirely on my ratings for including a book into my favourite reads of the year. There’s also an indefinable ‘something-about-it-stuck-in-my-head-long-after-finishing’ quality that comes into play and that element is unknown when I give my rating (which I do within a day or so of reading the book). So, to arrive at my top ten books for the year I looked at a list of all the books I’d read and rated 3.5 or above (81 out of the 127 books I finished) and reflected on each one (sometimes skimming my review, sometimes not needing to) and slowly whittled them down to the ones with the most ‘stickinmyheadedness’. The result (in alphabetical order of the author’s surname) is:
- Karin Alvtegen, Missing (read in July)
- Colin Cotterill, The Coroner’s Lunch (read in September)
- Reginald Hill, A Cure for all Diseases (audio) (read in August)
- Adrian Hyland, Diamond Dove (read in April)
- Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played with Fire (read in January)
- Denise Mina, Garnethill (read in July)
- Malla Nunn, A Beautiful Place to Die (read in November)
- Matt Rees, The Saladin Murders (audio) (read in July)
- Tom Rob Smith, Child 44 (audio) (read in April)
- Johan Theorin, Echoes from the Dead (read in March)
I didn’t take any of this into account when narrowing down my list but noticed something curious once I’d finished:
- Three of these are by women.
- I read three of these in audio (unabridged of course), the rest in old-fashioned print
- Three of these qualify as historical fiction although the past they are set in is quite recent (two in the 1950’s and one in the 1970’s)
- There is one each set in Australia, Laos, Scotland, South Africa, Palestine, Russia, England and three set in Sweden (which is odd because I read 43 books set in the US this year but none of those made it to the list and only six set in Sweden)
- Only three of these were by authors I had read previously
There are procedurals and whydunnits and whodunnits and thrillers and books where crime-solving is incidental to a different kind of story in the list.
There are light books and dark ones and a few in-between ones.
What they all have in common is characters that are memorable and stories that have captured my imagination. I’ve met people who are strong, funny, poignant, awe-inspiring, evil or tragic. Their stories have made me angry, happy, wistful, sad and nostalgic. Each one of them has made me badger friends, family, colleagues and, in at least two cases that I can recall, strangers on a bus to read them.
Hearing this year about the struggles new (and new-ish) authors must go through to get published made me count my blessings for all the wonderful books that do get published and make their way to my hands. To the authors of all the great books I read this year, the ones on this list and the ones that narrowly missed a spot but still entertained and engaged me, thank you for your endurance and your stories.