Your favourite books of 2012?

2012 was the year that I took the plunge and self-published by own debut novel Housewife with a Half-Life as A.B. Wells as well as some small short collections as Alison Wells. I’m looking forward to submitting my literary books as Alison Wells to agents in 2013.

But as well as writing I’ve enjoyed making more time to read this year. I’m in a book club and I’ve followed up many recommendations from others on the books they have enjoyed throughout the year including great finds from lesser known authors too.

Among my very favourite books this year have been:

  • the fabulous City of Bohane by Kevin Barry. Amazing language, every line a joy.
  • the China Factory – a short story collection by Mary Costello. Mary writes like the greats like William Trevor and John Banville, small touches of cleverness, instinct and sharp observation.
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes (a recommendation I’m happy to have followed up. This was a big, accomplished, endlessly interesting and well written novel.
  • The Cowards Tale by Vanessa Gebbie. I loved this beautifully written book that was part fascinating vignettes on the story of individual townspeople affected by an old tragedy but also gave a broad sweep over the whole town and the power of storytelling and the storyteller.

In non-fiction I’m reading the excellent The Story of Modern Art by Norbert Lynton.

I’ve also really enjoyed The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgway, Painting by Numbers by Tom Gillespie and Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips.

I’ve just started The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, it’s poetic and enchanting and I’m already in love with it.

I’m really excited in particular about the prospect of reading these books currently tottering on my bedside locker

  • Bloodmining by Laura Wilkinson
  • I capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  • The Whirlpool by Jane Urquart (one of my absolutely favourite authors)
  • The Ilustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (another of my absolutely favourite authors)
  • The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn (an intriguing novel of music, something like we’ve never read before. (I saw an interview about this on the Culture Show).

Others still on the way due to a book voucher or on Kindle are Marc Nash’s Time after Time, Tania Hershman’s My Mother was an Upright Piano (flash fiction), Carys Bray’s Sweet Home (short stories), The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (heard so many recommendations about this!), From this moment on by Colette Caddle, Florence and Giles by John Harding (a girl speaks in her own made up language).

What are the books that have moved and thrilled you this year? What can you recommend, what did not live up to expectations? Have you discovered someone from below the hype radar whose books changed your life or fascinated you for several well spent hours?

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16 comments

  1. I’m in a book club too (an online one) and I really enjoy it. Two of my favourite books of 2012 were When She Woke by Hilary Jordan and Safe House by Chris Ewan. Good luck with your submissions to agents!

  2. I loved The Coward’s Tale – it’s my book of the year for 2012, I also really enjoyed Harold Fry and I Capture the Castle is a wonderful book. Other top reads for me this year have been The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn which is beautifully written and so much more than the love story I thought it would be; The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick was likewise very good and had a strong sense of place with the titular house another character in the book; The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared is a quirky read that I thoroughly enjoyed and I finally got around to reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, which is a stunning book. So beautifully written that it’ll stay with me for a long, long time. Other great reads this year have been Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulkes and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The one I’d like to forget is the book that was everywhere this year – Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I really want that reading time back.

    1. Fantastic Kath, these recommendations are wonderful. I saw the hundred year old man one in the bookshop and was drawn to it!

  3. My favourite books of the year were the Lancelot series by Sarah Luddington. She has 3 books in the series so far, and I found them passionate, exciting and very emotional. They are not for the faint-hearted however…

    Another favourite read was The Radleys by Matt Haig. This is not your average vampire story, and it’s set in the North of England, which is why I absolutely loved it!

    1. These sound like books that will take you on an emotional journey. Authors I’d never heard of before too, great to hear about these.

  4. The Snow Child was my favourite read for 2012, glad to see you are into it already, it grips you right from the start 🙂 I also enjoyed Juliet Greenwood’s Eden’s Garden, Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer and the book I started the year out with Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone. Also enjoyed my first Steinbeck, the short fable The Pearl and plan to read more of him.

    The one I couldn’t finish was Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety, but do intend to finish it, a 400 page investment can not be totally abandoned!

    1. Yes, The Snow Child is instantly gripping. I really enjoyed Hilary Mantel’s earlier and shorter books but haven’t gone on to the tomes yet. I love Steinbeck, The Wayward Bus and To a God Unknown are among my favourites of his.

  5. Enjoyed MOTHER AMERICA by Nuala Ni Chonchuir (short story collection), and I recall enjoying a book called HOUSEWIFE WITH A HALF-LIFE ;), also like you also enjoyed THE COWARD’S TALE. Now starting THE TIGER’S WIFE by Tea Obrecht and THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. Keep meaning yo join Goodreads or something but timewise it’s read OR review at the mo. Hope you guys have a fabulous New Year!

    1. Thanks so much. Nice of you to mention Housewife. I’ve heard great things about The Help and The Tiger’s Wife. And I wish you a wonderful 2013 too!

  6. Hi Alison, my books of this year are:
    “HHhH” by Laurent Binet which takes HistFic on to a whole new level, with the fictional element regaining its primacy of place in the equation through the author inserting himself into the process of recreating history.

    “Cobralingus” by jeff Noon, out of print and non-Kindle friendly I managed to snaffle a copy from E-Bay. The Cobralingus is a language machine that takes real texts and through a transparent mechanism of mutation turns them into completely different texts, some visual, some more traditional prose/poetic forms. For anyone who is interested in the possibilities and mechanisms of language

    Jeanette Winterson’s memoir “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal” No one does self-insight quite like Winterson and always with a poetical eye too. Sumptuous portrayal of a very benighted childhood redeemed by books.

    “Embassytown” by China . The author who most infuriates me finally delivers a “grown-up” book. A scifi world rendered in wonderful, imaginative detail and is about the roots of language acquisition. All his skills are brought together in this coherent whole that I feel has previously eluded him.

  7. Thanks for the recommendations, keep them coming. Also J.D Kimple tweeted to say “The Left Hand of God” by Paul Hoffman. “Paper Towns” by John Green.

  8. For me, Gillian Flynn’s thrilling and suspenseful Gone Girl was the book I enjoyed most in 2012 but it was a good year for fiction. Thanks to my Kindle, I read a lot more than usual and have really enjoyed reviewing on my book blog. Apart from Hawthorn & Child I don’t have much overlap with your list and I see a couple here to add to my 2013 ‘to read’ list. Here are my favourites of 2012 http://izzyreads.com/2012/11/12-books-i-enjoyed-in-2012/

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