Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My books of the year.

These are the not the best books of the year. These are my best books of the year; that is, the books I read and enjoyed the most. Some of them weren't published this year. Also, having a book out myself and reading wildly different reviews for it (sometimes you'd think people had actually read different books) I am fully aware of the subjectivity of reading. I'm not reviewing these books. I'm simply giving them a little bit of the praise they deserve, and pointing my readers in the direction of books they might themselves enjoy.

Here are my favourites, in no particular order:

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams
Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins
The Blue by Mary McCallum
Dead People's Music by Sarah Laing
The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday
Relief by Anna Taylor
The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce by Paul Torday
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Magpie Hall by Rachael King (whoops, how did that get on there?)

If you are buying Christmas presents this year, please think about buying books. The above list is a good place to start.


Anonymous said...

I read Northanger Abbey for the first time this year and it is by far and away my favourite Austen novel now. I always love a strong recommendation and so I will check out the others on your list. Thanks for sharing, Rachael, and a merry Christmas to you and your family.

Mary McCallum said...

I love that the author of The Sound of Butterflies has The Behaviour of Moths as the top of her list! I love your loyalty to NZ writers, too, including me. This list is an insight into you as much as anything else - and of course Magpie Hall should be on there! I haven't yet thought about my 'best of' - frankly, I'm surprised Xmas is nearly here.... Thanks for another year of your lovely blog, Rachael. X

Marianne said...

And now my Christmas shopping list is complete. One trip to Unity tomorrow and it will all be done at once. Simple. The way I like it.



Rachael King said...

Glad to be of service, ladies. Oh and if you're thinking of checking out the Tordays, I recommend The Girl on the Landing slightly more than the other. The I I of W has an unusual backwards structure that takes the wind out of its sails a little by the end. Still enjoyable though. Both have a disarmingly casual tone that masks something much more unsettling.

MareeM said...

Good list. Mine is less erudite, but here goes:

Best "Adult" Reads:

Christos Tsiolkas's "The Slap"
Max Brooks' "World War Z"

Best Kids/YA:
Kate de Goldi's "The 10 PM Question"
Suzanne Colins' "The Hunger Games" (but not the followup)
Helen Lowe's "Thornspell"
James Norcliffe's "The Loblolly Boy"

Best Kids' Picture Book:
Diana Neild's Piggetty-Wiggetty Jiggetty Jig

Best Poetry:
Michele Leggott's "Mirabile Dictu"

Best First Book of Poetry:
Joanna Preston's "The Summer King"
Amy Brown's "The Propaganda Poster Girl"

Looking forward to reading:

Magpie Hall, of course! I am quite intrigued by the tattoos.

Judith Binney's "Encircled Lands"

Rachel Fenton said...

There are a few of my "best of"s on that list, too.

Northanger Abbey was the first Austen I read and it stayed with me - I must have been at an impressionable age!

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays - look forward to reading more in 2010!

Andrea Eames said...

I just wanted to stop by and say merry Christmas - I hope you have a wonderful day! :)

A xx

Unknown said...

Mmm. Well my Christmas read didn't quite make it, serves me right for ordering over the Internet - though I only did so on about December 22nd, so my fault, not Arts Centre Bookshop which is a new online find I'm rather excited about:

Hi Mark,
thank you for your order.We do not have a copy of this book [Magpie Hall] in stock,unfortunately we will not have a copy until the New Year.We have recorded your order and the book will be supplied as soon as possible,probably around the 10th of January.
Yours sincerely,
Arts Centre Bookshop

Looks like Magpie has to wait to the New Year.

If we're doing book lists, the below is extracted from my reading log over the last ten years and are my books of the decade. I'm cutting and pasting from a Zoetrope post:

If I open my spreadsheet reading log (keep a film log also), filter to read since the 2000 year, then filter for novels published over the oughties, take out short short stories, then take the top ten scores (yes, I score them, I know, anal). That gives my personal list as follows:

Scoring 10 out of 10:

Thinks, by David Lodge
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
The Uncle's Story, by Witi Ihimaera
Blindsight, by Maurice Gee
Saturday, by Ian McEwan

Then scoring 9.9

Inappropriate Happiness, by (our own) Tom Saunders.
Broken Angels, by Richard Morgan
Middle Age - A Romance, by Joyce Carol Oates
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishoguro
The Scornful Moon, by Maurice Gee.

And that's my top ten of the decade.

There were three books written in the oughties which I did not finish (due to being bored, or whatever):

Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill
Small Island, by Andrea Levy
Blinding Light, by Paul Theroux

Under my scoring system :) Sound of Butterflies made 8.4 (which is well in my top quartile, and considering I don't normally read that genre, is good. From the reviews I suspect Magpie will come in higher; I think I've read you write somewhere you thought your second novel better written, which would be natural).

And yeah, I know, it's very anal of me keeping reading (and movie) lists, and worse, a scoring system :(

Unknown said...

Addendum: Magpie arrived by courier today (30th December). Hopefully it will lift my spirits a bit after reading Cormac McCarthy's ultra-depressing The Road which I am wading my way through (and making heavy weather of it - dreadful Christmas reading selection that one).

TK Roxborogh said...

Magpie Hall. Just finished this morning. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Don't really understand why one reviewer said Rosemary was an 'unreliable narrator' as I found her completely credible and she came to face her 'demon' when she was at the right place and we, as readers were too. She wasn't lying to us, just not pressing on that wound...

Tad disappointed that the Henry and Dora story was underminded by Rosemary's comments at the end. The romantic in me would prefer to think that the 'story' was accurate.

I'm pleased to say, I figured pretty early on that Henry would have 'preserved' Dora though the manner in which he did was surprising.

I liked every character - they had redeeming, human qualities right down to Dora's stepmother.

Thank you, Rachel. I hate to say this but it took you such a long time to write and only two days for me to read *grin*

Very warmly recommended by me to anyone who will listen.

Andrea Eames said...

I'm sure you've come across this already, but apparently the in-flight mag on Air New Zealand had a great piece on Magpie Hall - my friend Vanessa from Tete a Tete Vintage said she read it on Christmas Day on the plane. :) Congratulations!

Mystic Thistle said...

Thank-you. I love book recommendations, otherwise I don't know what to read sometimes!

Kristine said...

I appreciate you sharing the books you like. I often get confused of what books to read because of the many books available now.