Monday, November 22, 2010

The best this year.

Yesterday I listened to a radio pragram about books for 'young adults'. What I missed in the program was the voices of 'young adults' speaking for themselves. What are they reading? Not what books are people buying for them to read.
With Christmas coming up I had hoped that the program would give some ideas about new titles that are out but while the program did talk about how it seemed that books for young adults is a growing market ( partly because so many grown ups read them too) it went little further than that in half an hour.
So I decided to ask my children what their favorite books of the year were. The hope is that if we post ours then all those who read this can add theirs in the form of comments and with luck we can get something going that isn't just a bland article that follows a marketing trend, but a true word of mouth reflection of what people are reading and what they love. Ask your kids too, if you have them, both big and small. And flag up this blog posting to friends and fellow bloggers to get them to join in. The more the merrier.
Hannah ( aged 16).
1. Collection of poems by Seamus Heaney from school.

Tom ( aged 18)
1. A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin and all of the books that come after that one.
We found this book when I asked our editor at Harper Collins who could replace Robin Hobb now that we had read all of her books.

Me ( aged 49)
4. There are No Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz. I heard her read this at the Starlit Festival in Hackney and she was great. Lovely book for  really young children because it is just fun.
5. The Arrival special edition by Shaun Tan.   Couldn't find it on Amazon, but it is an amazing box set with hardback book and a hardback sketchbook included, sort of like dvd extras. Beautiful set for anyone who loves illustrated books and likes to see the working out behind them.
6. The Firebird by Saviour Pirotta and Catherine Hyde. Beautiful. Also The Princess's Blankets by Catherine and Carol Ann Dufy, a love story. These are picture books for all ages. I have the hardback with the slip case which is a very beautiful object. Templar are just the best at the moment when it comes to book design.
7. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I read this afterlistening to a radio program about the book with Meg Rosoff talking about it. You can see when you read it why its fame has been so long lived. A wonderful piece of gripping writing that is such an incredible observation of children, relationships.

And this year again my book has been included in Mr. B's roundup of books for Christmas. Their catalogue, available online, by post or from the shop in Bath, is a wonderful guide for the best books of the year, all chosen by the staff rather than a list paid for by publishers. So much in it and every time I look I see more that I want. If you follow the link to their page you can download their catalogue, and get 10% off anything on it. I love the look of Atlas of Remote Islands, which they claim is the 'most beautiful book of the year'.


  1. I'm 42 for the record.
    I just discovered this nice series by Celine Kiernan, the first volume is "The Poison Throne".

    If you like vampires (not the twilight persuasion) then Suzanne McLeod's books are the way to go.

    I also was completely taken by the "Nightrunner" series by Lynn Flewelling is at least as good as Robin Hobb and G.R.R. Martin (it has some pretty violent scenes but if you're ok with GRRM then it's no worse)

  2. The Prince of Mists Carlos Ruiz Zafon - almost couldn't finish it because i was so scared
    The Left Hand of God Paul Hoffman
    Tender Morsels Margo Lanagan - I know this was published last year but I read it this summer after my 17 year old daughter recommended it to me, and it is such an amazing book

  3. Me (40 something!)
    The Garden in the Clouds by Antony Woodward
    The Small hand by Susan Hill

  4. Doesn't have to be published this year, just what you have read, Stephanie. I tried Tender Morsels but got stuck. I thought the writing amazing but something very uncomfortable about it. I think I need to read again when ALL I have to do is read it as it needs to be given the time. So many of my writing friends just love her books.

  5. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
    A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin is also one of my favourites, but be warned, the series is not finished, have been waiting years for the what might be the final book, have almost given up that it ever will be finished.
    Tracy (49)

  6. Thank you for my mention, Jackie! x I'm 46 but hope I count owing to arrested development... and this year I have loved MORTLOCK by Jon Mayhew, CASTLE OF SHADOWS by Ellen Renner, ALMOST TRUE by Keren David, TROUBADOUR by Mary Hoffman, and one that wasn't published this year but which I've only recently read - I AM THE GREAT HORSE by Katherine Roberts. And OSTRICH BOYS by Keith Gray nearly made me miss my train stop. And WASTED by Nicola Morgan... oh stop me...

  7. I have been waiting for George R.R. Martin to get the 5th in the series out...but in the meantime, have read all of his other books.

    I was somewhat amused to see the list that the BBC put out, and to discover out of the list (which was supposedly 100, but has some errors to my mind in how they have listed them) I had read 78 and I'm 50. What was interesting is what they had included and what they had left out.

    I have been reading Madeline L'Engle lately, and getting into some of her other books (not the young adult ones).

  8. I loved THE BOOK THIEF Tracy. I am told that George R R Martin's book will be out next year but I think they are still waiting for the manuscript. The editor, who told me about these books said she envied me that I hadn't yet read them. That is a bit how I feel when People first start reading Robin Hobb. Tom loved them, read them all in about 4 weeks or less and keeps picking them up and revisiting.
    So little time. So many books.

  9. Me (twenty ten) :)

    Empress Orchid, by Anchee Min. (Fictionalized biography of the last Empress of China).
    Under the Beetle's Cellar, by M.W. Walker.
    The Thing Around Your Neck, by Chimamanda Adichie. (Some of the best short stories I ever read).
    Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Adichie. (Absolutely beautiful novel).
    The Chosen, by Chaim Potok.
    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman. (Amazing book about the Hmong people living as immigrants in the US).
    Lost Christianities, by Ehrman (a history book detailing what we know of the different versions/branches of Christianity and why they were eventually supressed).
    Holy Fools, by Joanne Harris. Beautiful and poignant!
    The Good Thief, by Hannah Tinti.
    Annie John, by Jamaica Kincaid. A coming-of-age story that is pure poetry!

    Ah, I'm sure there's more, but it's hard to keep track!

  10. Thanks for these Isamar. They have a wonderful quality of not being by Dead White Males!

  11. What fun!!! Things to add to my wish list, I love reading everyone's lists. Mine aren't as exotic though.

    OK here we go~

    Me~ Danica (39)

    Sun Storm, by Asa Larsson.
    The Fifth Woman, by Henning Mankell (two great mysteries)
    The White Masai, by Corinne Hofmann ( True story about a Swiss woman who falls in love and marries a Masai warrior in Kenya)
    Island Beneath the Sea, Isabel Allende
    Winona's Web, Priscilla Cogan (based on Lakota beliefs)
    No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy
    Butterfly Messengers- True stories of comfort and hope, LLoyd Hollett~ (Wonderful book I got for my Dad. It is about encounters with butterflies that people feel are spirit visitors. My Dad had three such incidents and I was amazed that there were others out there.)
    The Star, Julie Litty (beautiful book for Christmas)

    Marley (7)

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    The Rover Adventures, Roddy Doyle
    Where Did They Hide my Presents?- Alan Katz and David Catrow ( I have been singing these songs to the kids each night for a week!)

    Tansy (5)

    Zen Ghosts- Jon J Muth
    Ladybug Girl at the Beach- Jacky Davis
    Winnie the Witch- Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul (We have the five book set with CD's- so very funny, she loves poor Wilbur the cat)
    Morris's Disappearing Bag- Rosemary Wells

    Great idea Jackie!

  12. Thank you Lyn ! My best books were almost all re-reads, as so often. Clayhanger - Arnold Bennett - magnificent, under-rated writer. The Painted Veil - magnificent novel by W. Somerset Maugham. Short, poignant, wonderfully read it.
    Le Petit Prince - I read it occasionally to keep up my French.
    Orlando the Marmalade Cat - for the pictures really.
    A Time to Keep Silence - Patrick Leigh Fermor. Never fails to restore me.
    I re-read 4 Moomin books, and ditto.
    Susan Hill

  13. I loce Wind, Sand and Stars, but have never ever managed to read The Little Prince all teh way through and feel this is a big failing. Maybe I should take the time to read it at Christmas.
    I love the cover of A Small Hand, Susan ( ) Beautiful. Must get it.

  14. Here's mine (I'm 47)

    Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
    Firebrand by Gillian Philip
    Wasted by Nicola Morgan
    Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson
    City of Thieves by Ellen Renner and
    Tall Story by Candy Gourlay.

  15. If you don't finish The Little Prince, Jackie, the rose is going to make you feel soooooooooooooooo guilty!

  16. Jackie, thanks for this wonderful idea. I love book lists and use them as "reader advisory" bibliographies. The reading lists here are truly unique since these title are well remember and have touched each of us in their own special way.

    Judith (62)

    My list in no special order:

    Fire Bringer; The Sight / David Clement-Davies
    Boneshaker / Cherie Priest
    Blackout; All Clear / Connie Willis
    Little White Horse /Elizabeth Goudge
    Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie / Alan Bradley
    Amelia Peabody series (about 18 titles in the series so far) / Elizabeth Peters

    and how can I not forget The Little Prince

  17. What an excellent idea for a post. Lots of great suggestions to follow up on here - thanks!

    I asked my 9 year old, and his favourite this year so far is Cornelia Funke's "Dragon Rider".

    As for me (41) a re-read of Mary Stewart's "The Crystal Cave" made me realize just how brilliant this Arthurian series is, and just how much detail and depth I missed when I read it the first time around (a long, long time ago).

    The outstanding new book of the year for me was Catherynne M. Valente's amazing, poetic, hallucinatory "Palimpsest".

    So many books...

  18. Annie: 62 (and then some)

    The Help, Kathryn Stockett
    Teach us to Sit Still, Tim Parks
    Hummingbirds's Daughter, Luis Alberto Urrea
    From Harvey River, a memoir of my mother and her island by Lorna Goodison
    Who will Run the Frog Hospital? Lorrie Moore
    Firebrand, Gillian Philips
    Went out Early Took my Dog, Kate Atkinson
    To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
    Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
    The Fountain Overflows, Rebecca West

  19. For my 56th birthday, my husband bought me a year of reading delights from Mr B's in Bath. They have included:
    The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (amazing),
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell(brilliant-where does he get his ideas from?),
    The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin ( really beautiful)
    The only one I haven't enjoyed is The Garden in the Clouds by Antony Woodward. Still 3 out of 4 is good, and another eight months worth to go! It's a great present, don't you agree, Jackie?

  20. Absolutely. I was going to post my reading passport at the end of my year. What I love about it as a present is that it lasts for a whole year and takes up so much time. My Hummingbird's Daughter came from Mr B's.
    Fantastic present. Brilliant shop. And I made it into their Christmas catalogue again this year for 3rd year running!

  21. Thanks for all those wonderful titles. To Kill a Mockingbird has been my absolute favorite since the age of 13! It's magical. Also enjoyed The Bride's Farewell. As I read a lot of YA (though I'm also 49 :), I recently picked up The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which is a roller coaster. The blurb sounds dangerous and not my usual fare, but it's fascinating and has many parallels to our world today.

  22. God, The CHosen by Chaim Potok is one of my favourite all time books. The original YA book (written in the 60s) and still one of the best.

  23. Paul and Laura, both turned 50 years young:
    Second the Connie Willis books from above would also add To Say Nothing of the Dog.
    Dakota, Kathleen Norris
    Reaching for the Stars, Nora Waln (published in 1939 about living in Germany during the rise of National Socialism)
    Scotland: An autobiography, Edited by Rosemary Goring.
    A Soldier of the Great War, Mark Helprin

  24. I've been revisiting old favourites this year, so here's my list of my best reads 2010:

    old faces revisited:

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
    I, Juan De Pareja, Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
    I Am the Great Horse, Katherine Roberts
    Salem's Lot, Stephen King
    Kingfishers Catch Fire, Rumer Godden

    New reads:

    Firebrand, Gillian Philip
    Fallen Grace, Mary Hooper

  25. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is one of those perennially astonishing books that yields more and more each time I read it.

    I'm now 55, but in my YA years there was a series of books about collie dogs by Albert Payson Terhune that I remember as wonderful, especially 'Lad, a Dog' (which I think is the first one, published in 1919).

    And I loved Walter Farley's 'Black Stallion' series.

    Heartening to see both still available through