First, some statistics from my year of reading. I read 104 books (71 fiction, 33 non-fiction including 23 audio books, 27 eBooks & 26 rereads). I acquired 200 physical books (mostly bought but some review copies) & probably about 40 eBooks – hard to tell & a lot of them are free which is really neither here or there. All of them are invisible. I read 11 more books than I did in 2015 so I’m pleased with that. I do spend more time every year on the iPad, reading blogs, reviews, magazines, newspapers, Facebook & Twitter, listening to podcasts. I also spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon looking at Simon Savidge & Jen Campbell‘s Youtube channels. Lots of bookish goodies there, end of year roundups, plans for 2017 & Christmas book hauls. It’s interesting that, even though I have completely different tastes in books from Simon & Jen, I enjoy watching them talking about books. However, I enjoy the incidental reading I do & it’s not a competition so I will try to stop worrying about the time I spend on non-book reading although I’ll continue to keep statistics because I’m a librarian & can’t resist a good list!
Here’s my Top 10, in no particular order although Genji was definitely my book of the year.
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. Life in Imperial Japan. A completely immersive reading experience about a culture I knew little about. I’ve even bought another copy, in the Seidensticker translation, for my next reread.
A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell. The best WWII memoir I’ve read. The devastatingly honest & raw story of the Blitz through the eyes of a compassionate woman. One of the new Furrowed Middlebrow imprint from Dean Street Press.
Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport. A look at Petrograd through the eyes of expatriates in this centenary year of the Revolution.
Tales of Angria by Charlotte Brontë. When you thought you’d read everything the Brontës wrote, these stories written by Charlotte when she was in her 20s, reveal the origins of her later work.
Deep Water by Christine Poulson. An unputdownable thriller about medical fraud & an involving, human story about the families desperate for a breakthrough. The first in a series about medical researcher Katie Flanagan.
Sandlands by Rosy Thornton. Involving short stories linked by place & some characters. Set in the Suffolk fenlands, the stories range across time & history in a very satisfying way.
Ruined City by Nevil Shute. A story of England during the Depression & one man’s determination to keep a town from dying. Full of Shute’s usual attention to the detail of work, in this case, ship building, finance & engineering.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. A stunning novella infused with the melancholy of post Great War Britain. The events of this one day will change Jane’s life forever.
The Moon & Sixpence by W Somerset Maugham. The story of a man obsessed with his own destiny & willing to ignore the feelings of anyone who gets in his way. I read several Maugham novels this year but this was my favourite.
The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg. Life in Germany for an Englishwoman during WWII. Written years later only with the knowledge that Bielenberg had at the time, this is a suspenseful story full of the domestic details of surviving war & possible treachery.