So, another year of reading behind me, but first a quick run-down of the 3 books I read in December.
A brutal killing takes place on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland: a land of harsh beauty and inhabitants of deep-rooted faith. A MURDER. Detective Inspector Fin Macleod is sent from Edinburgh to investigate. For Lewis-born Macleod, the case represents a journey both home and into his past. A SECRET. Something lurks within the close-knit island community. Something sinister. A TRAP. As Fin investigates, old skeletons begin to surface, and soon he, the hunter, becomes the hunted.
For me this book was much more about Fin's journey back to his childhood than it was about the murder of a man who was at school with him. I would call this an incredibly well-rounded book because the murder was woven seamlessly into the story of Fin's childhood, both before his parents were killed in a car crash and then after when he goes to live with his aunt. The island itself plays a huge part in the plot, especially the descriptions of the annual guga hunt where men go and harvest young gannets, which are delicacy in restaurants. I would also add that this is one of the most atmospheric and beautifully written books I've read in a long, long time. Fantastic.
Well, gosh. It seems that people either love or hate this novel. I had no idea which category I would fall into but Pat at Here There and Everywhere loves it so much I had a suspicion I would too. And so it proved. I understand why it might not appeal to some. It meanders all over the place time-wise, there's a lot of extra material about the books the authors wrote, and possibly the supernatural element combined with two real people is not for some. All I can say is that those were precisely the reasons I loved it so much! The book is almost 800 pages long, which apparently indiciates to some that it should have been shortened. I didn't think it was a single page too long. I loved the seedy, Victorian atmosphere, the historical detail, the speculation about Wilkie Collins' relationship with Charles Dickens, the details about Collins' opium addiction and so on. I found it *all* fascinating and completely absorbing. I know some of the historical details are supposition and can't be verified, but that was part of the fun for me... trying to decide what was real and what wasn't. The book has also had the effect of making me want to read more of Collins' work and also Dickens' biography by Clare Tomalin. Oh and Our Mutual Friend. In my mind, when a book has that kind of effect on you it has to be A Good Thing.
So... books for 2012. Sixty three altogether and twenty books less than 2011! Twenty! I thought it might be ten. LOL. But here's the thing: I really don't mind. I think I may have said at the end of last year that I wouldn't mind reading less books this year and thinking more about what I read, rather than *more* and having all of them just be one of a number of books I happened to read. So I'm quite happy with my sixty three books and, looking at Pinterest where I have a board entitled, Good Books - 2012, and where I have listed fifty books, it looks like most of the books I read were worth reading. Of the sixty three books thirteen were non-fiction. I'm not so happy with that... I was rather hoping I'd managed a few more non-fictions than a fifth of the total, although it is slightly up on last year. *Next* year I want to do better than that though.
I'll split my favourite books of the year into fiction and non-fiction. Fiction first and not in any particular order.
1. Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg
2. West of the Moon by Katherine Langrish
3. Living Dangerously by Katie Fforde
4. The Black Angel by John Connolly
5. The Black House by Peter May
6. Drood by Dan Simmons
1. Down Under by Bill Bryson
2. Wait for Me! by Deborah Devonshire
3. Love and War in the Appenines by Eric Newby
4. The Political Animal by Jeremy Paxman
5. Narrow Dog to Carcasonne by Terry Darlington
6. Walking Home by Lynn Schooler
So, should I choose actual favourites? Ummm... okay then. Fiction: Drood by Dan Simmons. Non-fiction: A tie between Down Under by Bill Bryson and The Political Animal by Jeremy Paxman. All three of these were fantastic reads.
It was also the year of the series for me. I devoured the Daisy Dalrymple books by Carola Dunn all through the summer. Then in the autumn I decided to reread Terry Pratchett's wonderful Sam Vimes books. And all year I read my way through about half a dozen of John Connolly's fantastic Charlie Parker series. It's no exaggeration to say that I enjoyed every one of these series books immensely and hope to carry on into 2013.
I think I'll leave my 2013 reading plans for another post as this is long enough. Happy New Year to everyone and here's to an excellent reading year in 2013.