"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Monday, 31 December 2012

A Year of Books: 2012

Hello everyone! Firstly I’d like to apologise for the lack of reviews over the last couple of months. I started an MA in October which has become increasingly intense, and Christmas preparations and family visits have kept me very busy, all of which has meant that I have had a lot less time for reading books and writing reviews than I’d like. Hopefully I’ll be able to step it up a little in the New Year!

Overall 2012 has been a brilliant year with regards to reading. I’ve read a lot of fantastic books with only a few duds, and I have tried to branch out a little and read stuff other than classics and horror, which has resulted in some amazing finds. Here are my top 5 reads of the year:

I think I loved this so much because it surprised me so much. It sounded quite dull and uneventful, and while it may lack in action Kitchen was so sad and at the same time uplifting and was a truly beautiful read.

Horns is another one that surprised me; not so much a horror novel as I was expecting but dark fantasy mingled with romance and a deep poignancy that I loved. It really is such a clever, brilliant novel.

I was amazed by how much this medieval fantasy series gripped me. A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold was so exciting and gripping I could barely put it down, with characters dying regularly throughout, I felt almost afraid to turn the page through fear of what might happen next. I whizzed through all 7 books, despite their length. The series is not at an end, however, and after many unanswered questions at the end of A Dance with Dragons, I eagerly await Winds of Winter with great impatience!

This is a novel I had not even heard about until recently, and it’s not the kind of thing I would normally pick up. Geek Love is now one of my favourites, with evocative characters, a compelling and poignant story as well as raising numerous moral and ethical questions, I would recommend this to anybody.

And number 1...

This French classic is my favourite read of the year. This hefty tome (1,376 pages) was well worth the time I committed to reading it. The characters are the best asset the novel has - they are so compelling and richly drawn, and the story is memorable, poignant and moving. There are some rather large yawn-inducing digressions, but you get used to them, and wading through them to get to the meat of the story is more than worth it.

Those are my top 5, but I’ve read many other fantastic books this year - And Then There Were None, my childhood favourites Little Women and The Hobbit, In the Tall Grass, The Book Thief, Howl’s Moving Castle, Jamaica Inn and others were also brilliant. 

I am looking forward to filling 2013 with lots more fantastic reads, here are a few I am especially looking forward to and you can expect a review of them sometime next year:

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
I have been meaning to read this for years, and I think I’ll make the effort to in 2013. It is set in the early years of the Second World War on the quaint little island of Cephalonia, with, I believe, a romance between a resident Greek and the invading Italian officer.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
A talking cat and the devil! This Russian classic sounds so bizarre but I’m very intrigued. I’m confused about which translation to get though.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White / The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I really want to read both of these as I love all things medieval but I’m not sure I’ll have time for both as they are quite long. The Once and Future King is the tale of King Arthur starting with his childhood and the famous ‘The Sword in the Stone’ story. It is considered one of the ‘go-to’ novels on Arthurian legend. The Mists of Avalon is the same legend but follows the trajectory of Morgaine (aka Morgan le Fay), and focuses on the lives of the main women in Arthurian legend such Gwenhwyfar, Viviane, Morgause and Igraine, with Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table featuring more as minor characters, giving the classic tale a feminist twist.

The Woman in White / The Moonstone both by Wilkie Collins
Again I can’t decide which I want to read more, these two murder-mystery style classics both sound fantastic, but chances are I won’t have time for both.

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
Steampunk and vampires in the 19th Century. Hopefully reading something different by George will help to tide me over before Winds of Winter is published.

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
After reading Kitchen in September I fell in love with Yoshimoto’s writing and I am now determined to read everything she has ever written; The Lake appeals to me the most.

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino
I love Japanese literature and Out by Kirino was super, so I have high expectations for crime / horror novel Grotesque. I have both Murakami authors  on my 2013 to-read list too (1Q84, Underground and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki, and Almost Transparent Blue and Audition by Ryu) but I’m just looking forward to this one a lot more.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Joe Hill’s newest novel, due to be published in Spring 2013, is about vampires. Admittedly vampires are very tired, overused bad guys in literature nowadays, but since I loved Horns so much I can’t wait to read it, and the excerpt in In the Tall Grass was well written and intriguing.

These are the books I’m most excited about, but I have plenty more I’m looking forward to reading, such as some Stephen King, Clive Barker and Daphne du Maurier (I can’t decide between The Parasites and Frenchman’s Creek).

What were your favourite reads of 2012, and which books are you looking forward to reading in 2013?

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