Tuesday 29 December 2020

Favourite books of 2020

Appalling though this year has been, I personally have had an excellent reading year. I suppose that's down to the lockdowns and even when we weren't in lockdown we still stayed at home as my husband is one of the at risk people, not high risk but ceratinly medium. So one of the things I did to pass the time was read. Quite a lot... managing 93 books in all, which for me is not bad... I generally average 60 to 70. Of the 93, 28 were non-fiction. So, not too bad. Shockingly, given how bad I usually am at reading my own books, 75 of the 93 books I read were my own!

A few fiction favourites and links to my reviews:

The Returning Tide - Liz Fenwick

Evening Class - Maeve Binchy 

Iron Lake - William Kent Krueger

The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins 

Summer at the Lake - Erica James

The Village - Marghanita Laski 

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins

Smallbone Deceased - Michael Gilbert 

Close Quarters - Michael Gilbert

The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman 

Choosing a favourite out of those ten is tough as they were all excellent for different reasons and they're a motley bunch. But when all's said and done I think I loved this book the most, this year:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins kept me glued to my chair and when I wasn't, I worried constantly about the eventual outcome for Marion and Laura. For me that's the sign of a brillaint book.

Now non-fiction:

Footnotes - Peter Fiennes 

To War with Whitaker - Hermione Ranfurly 

The White Road Westwards - 'BB' 

Atlantic - Simon Winchester 

Between the Stops - Sandi Toksvig 

Underland - Robert Macfarlane

The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards 

And my favourite? Oh dear... it's this that I apparently didn't review. (For shame!)

Underland by Robert Macfarlane was a superb study of all things underground, caves, mines, the Paris catacombs, nuclear waste sites, the inside of Greenland glaciers, and the people who explore them or work there. I thought it was utterly brilliant and now want to read more about this fascinating subject.

So that was 2020, or it will be in a few days, and good riddance! Onwards to 2021 and hopefully a vaccine to end all this madness although I think it will take quite a few months to change very much. In the meantime I have my 2021 shelf of books ready to start and I can't wait.



DesLily said...

Hooray ! Wilkie made the list twice!!
Wow! I only read that many ONCE eons ago when my eyes were still good ! Way to go Sis!

Cath said...

Loved both the Wilkie Collins books to bits, Pat. Much more than I thought I would. Want to read a couple more this year too.

CLM said...

As often is the case, our tastes are similar. I have read and enjoyed the first four you mention (although not this year and I found Iron Lake a bit too grim to rush out for more by this author). I know I read The Moonstone years ago when the BBC series was on in the US.

I had my mother order The Thursday Murder Club for my sister for her birthday and it was delivered to the wrong apartment in her building. You'd think they'd bring it to the doorman, wouldn't you? I made her call to see whose error it was and I hope another book is on the way by now.

I have not opened my copy of The Golden Age of Murder this entire year but it is clearly time to return to it.

I have been getting annoying emails from Google about my storage. I deleted about 5000 unread emails but it hasn't made much difference and I wonder if it is the blog that is taking up so much space. Well, that is a problem for another day!

Happy New Year! And more happy reading ahead! I have so enjoyed reading your blog and chatting during this depressing year.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I love these lists Cath and, many of your faves are still on my TBR list. Maybe 2021 will be the year to try a few. Happy New Year!

Rosemary said...

I too have had a great year for reading Cath.

As you know, I loved 'The Village' - in fact we were just discussing last night how some people cling on and resist change (this was in the context of Trump and Guiliani), and it reminded me of Wendy in the book, and how unhappy she makes herself by not being able to accept the new, post-war, order in society. I doubt Wendy has been compared to what my US friend calls The Great Orange One before!

I read 'The Moonstone' at school and would like to re-read it - so many books, so little time, even when one is locked down. The days fly past, don't they?

Are you watching 'Black Narcissus'? My youngest dauughter and I used to love reading Rumer Godden's children's books together - 'The Diddakoi' and 'The Dolls House' (which was surprisingly scary) were her favourites - but I've only read a couple of Godden's adult novels and I haven't been that impressed with them. I'm enjoying this adaptation though - I think it's funny to remember that Gemma Atherton, now the head nun Sister Clodagh, was not so long ago the Head Girl in the remake of St Trinians!

I managed to reserve The Golden Age of Murder during our library's very brief re-opening, and the lady assured me that they would let me know when it arrived (they's still doing drop-offs and collections) so I will look forward to that.

Very best wishes for 2021,


Lark said...

Wow...75 books from off your own shelves is awesome. You have had a good year of reading. Glad something was good in 2020. I'm very glad to see this year come to an end. And I agree about The Woman in White! It's on of my very favorite novels. You make me want to read it again. And there are several other books on your favorites list that I hope to read in 2021. Here's hoping it's a good one. :D

Travellin' Penguin said...

Nice selection of books. I liked the Moonstone but not read the Woman yet. On my list...hmmm. I am so looking forward to saying goodbye to this year, the virus eventually and seeing Trump dragged out of the White House. Stay well. 🐧🐧🐧

Jeane said...

It sounds like you had a really good reading year! I have also read more books off my own shelves than ever before (or so it seems, I haven't done an actual count yet). That cover of Underland looks very intriguing.

TracyK said...

This is an interesting list. I will have to look into Underland. It sounds like something Glen would like and I know that some of the areas would be of interest to me too. (Paris catacombs, Greenland)

In the fiction list, two of my personal favorites are Iron Lake and The Woman in White. I will read The Moonstone someday, maybe in 2021 if I get a copy.

I purchased The Village on your recommendation, and will read it in 2021. I am sure I will get to The Thursday Club, but not sure when. Maybe if/when it is remaindered somewhere. Maybe sooner if I cannot wait.

Sam said...

Great reading year, Cath. Your list has a nice mix of classics and newer stuff, and what a dent you made in your own shelves. That's something I always do terribly at despite my good intentions. I'm looking forward to a new year of following your reading...let's do it!

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

You have had a fantastic reading year and I've loved some of the same books as you, especially the Wilkie Collins' books. I haven't read Underland, but I think I'd love that too.

My reading slowed down this year, with about 20 less than normally and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to settle down and write about them.It has been such a strange year - and and I really hope 2021 will be better all round.

Vallypee said...

Ooh, I'd like to read Underland too! It sounds just up my street, Cath. Have you read Lara Maiklem's Mudlarking? I found that fascinating too, so if you haven't read it, it might be one you'd enjoy! A terrific list althogether! Happy new year from me, Val Poore

Cath said...

Constance: Yes, our taste in books does appear to be rather similar. I'll have a look at the recs you sent me on Goodreads later, thank you for those. I loved Iron Lake but still haven't got around to reading more, I must do that.

Amazon seem to be having a lot of trouble delivering The Thursday Murder Club, my first copy got lost in the mail and they had to send another. I gather it's been so popular they ran out of copies too.

I didn't know it was possible to take up too much space on Google. I must check on my email account with them (I hardly use it) as it gets a lot of spam which I just ignore.

Happy New Year to you too. It's been lovely meeting you this year and finding we have so many books in common.

Diane: Happy New Year, and here's to a great reading year ahead for all of us.

Rosemary: Pleased to hear you too have had a good reading year.

I think the best thing you can be in this life is flexible and tolerant and open to change. It can be hard, I'm not great with change, but tolerant yes, and let your adult kids live their own lives. I know so many parents who interfere, make demands, and then wonder why they run into trouble.

We have Black Narcissus recorded. I thought we might watch it in the new year when watchable things seem to be so scarce. I'm ancient enough to remember watching the 1947 film of it in the early sixties, probably on a Sunday afternoon when they always showed a classic film.

Enjoy The Golden Age of Murder, I was fascinated by it.

Happy New Year to you. Looking forward to more book chat throughout 2021.

Cath said...

Lark: Thank you. Yes, I was quite surprised that I had read so many of my own books. LOL

I think everyone will be glad to see the back of this year unless they're some kind of masochist. I know it'll take a while to roll out the vaccine to all but they've started and I'm hoping that by Easter some kind of normality will start to be restored.

Pam: You have a treat in store with The Woman in White. I don't know why I resisted reading it so long!

Jeanne: Judging by what you review on your blog I think you would like Underland. Robert Macfarlane is one of the best writers about the natural world I know and has written some fantastic books. Mountains of the Mind is my favourite.

Tracy: I first read about The Paris Catacombs in one of Fred Vargas's 'Inspector Adamsburg' books, he went down there investigating a murder. I thought it was too creepy to be believed but apparently it is 'actually' like that.

It's well worth getting hold of a copy of the Moonstone, it's so good.

I hope you enjoy The Village, it offers a lot to make you think about. It did me good to get away from murder amd mayhem for a bit.

Cath said...

Sam: Thank you. I like to ring the changes and next year I hope to branch out and do that even more.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you read next year too. Reading and connecting with other bloggers has kept me sane during these depressing times. What I would've done without that I don't know.

Margaret: I could bore for England on the fascinations of Underland. I will definitely be reading that one again. I'm gathering quite a collection of Macfarlane's book now.

I think a lot of people's reading slowed down and I'm not surprised, these things strike people differently. Yes, let's hope for something better next year, although it's bound to be a few months it happens.

Vallypee: Underland was just the most wonderful book, but so are all his other books, The Old Ways, Mountains of the Mind, and I still have Landmarks to read.

I've heard of Mudlarking but not that it was so good, I will add that to my Goodreads TBR shelf, though it may already be there.

Happy New Year to you and thanks for stopping by. I've added your blog to my Blogspot reading list.

Kay said...

Cath, you had some great books this year and to read 75 of your 'own' books - well done! My numbers turned out about normal for me, but I started and stopped many, many other books. Hoping 2021 will be less stressful and more peaceful for all of us. Have a Happy New Year!

Jo said...

I only discovered Erica James this year, thanks to lockdown. I can see me reading more of her again soon.

Cath said...

Kay: Thank you. I have to say I was extremely pleased with when I realised I'd read that many of my own books! Happy New Year to you too and yes, 'fingers crossed' for a better year for all of us.

Jo: Yes, I only discovered Erica James this year too. I'll be reading more of her books in 2021... I think I have two more on my Kindle.

Susan said...

Sounds like you had an awesome reading year! That's one good thing about lockdown anyway.

I read THE MOONSTONE back in college, but that's the only Collins book I've read. I might have to give THE WOMAN IN WHITE a go. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

Cath said...

Susan: Precisely... lockdown doesn't have a *lot* to recommend it but one thing is having more time to read. We're back in a hard lockdown again now and I'm just so grateful that I have a TBR mountain to read from.

Do give The Woman in White a go. It looks daunting but I found it very readable and so absorbing.