Happy New Year everyone. Here’s to another year full of health, happiness & lots of reading time.
This time last year, I was looking at this pile of books on my desk & vowing to read at least some of them in 2014. Well, I read five of them – that’s it, only five. So, the other day, I had a clearing of the decks & shelved what was left (there were another two piles of books behind these that I was going to read “next” but of course, I didn’t). I also shelved the pile of books & magazines sitting on the table beside my reading chair. This year I’m going to have only the books & magazines I’m currently reading on that table. It was a wonderful feeling to see my desk almost clear, apart from library books. It also gave me time to listen to two episodes of In Our Time (on Tennyson’s In Memoriam & the Restoration of Charles II) with Melvyn & guests as it took me ages to rejig the overflowing tbr shelves to fit them in to their appropriate places. See this post here if you’d like to see how I organise the tbr shelves).
Looking at that post of reading resolutions from last year I did manage to read more from the tbr shelves, including those middlebrow authors I love. I read fewer books though than I have for years – only 95 & only 3 rereads. I think I’ve been rereading less because I still feel I need to post regularly & I don’t usually review a book if I’ve already written about it. I bought 181 books last year (another useful, or scary, aspect of Library Thing is that I can see when I added books) & I’ve read 42 of them. This sounds quite good until I confess that some of the books I bought were duplicate copies of books I already own (for the justification for that little habit, read this post). I also added 56 books to my Kindle, quite a few of them were free downloads & that doesn’t include the books I bought from elsewhere such as Delphi Classics.
So, finally, here it is, my Top 10 list for 2014. It wasn’t difficult to come up with the list, I knew as soon as I read most of these books that they would be on my Top 10 for the year. The books are in no particular order & the links are to my reviews.
The Far Country – Nevil Shute. As Thomas from My Porch says, Shute is D E Stevenson for boys. I loved this story of a refugee doctor who emigrates to Australia after WWII & the new life he makes for himself here.
Kirkham’s Find – Mary Gaunt. A book I’d had on the tbr shelves since 1988. Another Australian story about an independent woman overcoming the disapproval of her family to make a life for herself.
The Prime Minister & The Duke’s Children – Anthony Trollope. I’m going to cheat with two of my choices because I read pairs of books that go together. I finally got around to reading the last two Palliser novels this year as I watched the wonderful BBC TV series. You can’t beat Trollope for an absorbing story & I loved reading about the lives of Plantagenet Palliser, Glencora & Phineas Finn, their families & friends.
Campaigning for the Vote : Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary & Kate Parry Frye : the Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette – Elizabeth Crawford. My other cheat involves the two books I read about Kate Parry Frye. I think Kate was the person I enjoyed meeting the most this year through her diary & through the excellent biography by Elizabeth Crawford. I was so moved by Kate’s long life, the challenges she overcame & her courage in her later years, caring for her husband, John.
The English Air – D E Stevenson. I read 9 books by DES this year, spurred on by discovering Open Library & by the reprints of her work that seem to be coming thick & fast. The English Air was reprinted by Greyladies a couple of months ago. This was my favourite, set during WWII it’s the story of a young German who visits English relatives in the years leading up to the war & experiences a new way of life that changes all his ideas.
Invisible – Christine Poulson. I haven’t read many mysteries or thrillers this year at all but I did love this one. The story of a man who has secrets in his past & the woman who loves him & is drawn into danger when he disappears. I read the last half in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down.
One of Ours – Willa Cather. Another author I read when I was young is Willa Cather. I rediscovered her this year & look forward to reading more of her books & the Selected Letters in 2015. I loved the story of Claude Wheeler, his life on the family farm in Nebraska & his search for something to give his life meaning. The Great War gives him his opportunity to make a difference.
Four Sisters – Helen Rappaport. I couldn’t have a Top 10 list without a couple of history books. The story of the daughters of the last Tsar was beautifully told by Helen Rappaport with such sensitivity. I especially enjoyed reading about the Grand Duchesses work as nurses in the Great War & the discovery of previously unknown letters from Anastasia to a friend when the family were in exile. A tragic story well told.
A Lifelong Passion – ed Andrei Maylunas & Sergei Mironenko. Leading on from Four Sisters, this is the story of the last Romanovs told through their letters, diaries & memoirs. Fascinating to read the story in their own words & to read the many familiar extracts & quotes in context.
Moby-Dick or, the Whale – Herman Melville. My last book of the year was one of the best. I listened to it on audio & the wonderful performance by William Hootkins made this one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.
There it is, my Top 10. I’m looking forward to reading other lists from my favourite bloggers or just leave a list in the Comments.