As in most years I've read around 56 books this year. But I'm finding it hard to come up with my top ten. Not because of too many contenders, as is usually the case, but too few. I don't wish to promote books that I haven't felt worthy, even if they were better than others. I read two books that have been praised on twitter and other social media among writers as well as readers and both proved very popular. Several people, whose opinions I find worthy, joined in with praise but I found them irritating and their main characters unconvincing. Clearly I am in a minority.
As always my reading has been a mixture of current books and older ones. Many of my choices this year have been books that have been sitting on my TBR bookshelf for ages and as part of my general de-clutter I got on with reading them rather than buying yet more new books. They have been a mixed bag. Some have now been donated to the local charity shops or our local community bookshelf which is thriving, but one or two have been retained. You can't de-clutter everything!
The following novels, however, do stand out.
VOX by Christina Dalcher - I had read many of Christina's flash fiction pieces and guessed this debut novel would be worth a read. I was right! A dysptopian vision which, while seemingly unreal, recent politics makes less unlikely!
The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore. One of the books on my TBR shelf, I'd not read any of Helen Dunmore although two of her books were waiting for me. I read one earlier this year and was disappointed as I knew her to be a well loved and respected author. This book made me see why. I have The Siege awaiting!
Strangers On a Bridge by Louise Mangos. Another flash fictioneer whose work I have admired, this is Louise's debut. Much as I wanted to slap her main character at times, I was drawn into the story and kept turning the pages. Except I had to swipe the pages on my e-reader.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Another that had been on my TBR shelf for ages. Both gripping and delightful. I've lent it to a friend and am interested to see the recent film, which I learned about just after I read it.
Dirt Music by Tim Winton. A Christmas present from last year to celebrate my stay in Australia. I loved this and look forward to reading the two more books by Tim on my shelves, although one is on my shelf in Australia next to Dirt Music!
Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary. One of my Kindle reads, it is the fourth of the D.I Marnie Rome series. Sarah never disappoints.
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. I confess to hating most of the characters but this was a beautifully written book. I look forward to reading Bitter Orange.
My top non-fiction, although I'm hoping there might be a bit of fiction in there, is This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. I'm a sucker for books by staff or former staff of the NHS, because whatever is said about the NHS, the fact is that most of these writers did their jobs because they loved working with their patients - as did I!