What’s Your ‘Book of The Year’?

As we reach the last day of the year, I thought I’d include these lovely lines from ‘Promise’ by Jackie Kay, which I must admit, I saw on Bel Mooney’s page in the Mail today, so it’s not entirely my ‘find’ – but I think it sums up perfectly how I feel (and perhaps you too?), at the start of a new year:

Remember, the time of year
When the future appears
Like a blank sheet of paper
A clean calendar, a new chance.

I have a friend who’s read 71 books this year! SEVENTY-ONE! (Shush.. .between you and me, I think she must have too much time on her hands!).

I’ve just texted her and asked for her ‘Book of The Year’ because I was curious, you know. And she has managed to whittle it down to three, one of which, by coincidence, is also my BOTY:

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell

Room – Emma Donoghue

I loved all of these too, but The Help was definitely my favourite – I wrote about it here (don’t be put off if you’ve only seen the film – the novel is a million times better).

So, what’s your ‘Book of The Year’? Let me know! One of my resolutions is to read more in 2012 (although 71 might be pushing it a bit…), so I need some recommendations!

Whatever you’re doing tonight (we’re having a night in and celebrating properly with friends tomorrow!), enjoy yourself, thanks for ‘tuning in’ and I hope you’ll be back in 2012! And Happy New Year!

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25 Responses to What’s Your ‘Book of The Year’?

  1. cathaber1 says:

    I enjoyed the Maggie O’Farrell, but my book of the year is Jon McGregor’s “Even the dogs”. He is a fabulous writer, and I think he’s got a book of short stories coming out in 2012 – look out for it.

    That’s for all your tips Helen – and Happy New Year to you.

    • Cath
      thanks for that recommendation. I read Jon McGregor’s ‘If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things’ years ago and loved it so I expect I would like ‘Even The Dogs’ (doesn’t he have great titles?!). I will add it to my list! Thank you!

  2. cathaber1 says:

    That was meant to say “Thanks” not “That’s”!

  3. Elaine Everest says:

    This year I had the good fortune to meet author, Jean Fullerton and also read the first three of her books. No Cure For Love, A Glimpse at Happiness and Perhaps Tomorrow. I recommend all these books for readers that enjoy historical novels.
    Happy New Year!

  4. Jenny Francis says:

    Happy New Year to you and all your family

  5. Happy New Year!

    Can’t pick a favourite book as I’ve read loads of good ones this year (71 isn’t even trying!) Would like to recommend the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie though. She’s brilliant (and sickeningly young)

  6. Heather says:

    I read a record number of 58 books this year! I loved ‘The Help’ but read it at the end of last year so can’t include it for this year’s list. My book of the year from what I read is ‘The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy, closely followed by’ The Colour’ by Rose Tremain.
    Happy New Year! I really enjoy reading your blog.

  7. Gail Aldwin says:

    I loved ‘The Poet’s Wife’ by Judith Allnutt and ‘After the Fire, A Still Small Voice’ the fantastic debut novel by Evie Wyld

    • Oh that’s good, Gail – I’ve got ‘The Poet’s Wife’ on my big pile of books to read! Might try that next – I’ve just started ‘Death Comes To Pemberley’, the new PD James novel.


  8. Prue says:

    I like the lines from ‘Promise’ – yes, the new year feels like that. If I manage to wake up early before the world is moving, the day seems like that too, with just the birds singing and no one about.

    Book of the year – I haven’t read many novels but I thoroughly enjoyed Sebastian Faulks ‘Birdsong’. One of the very few books that my husband and I both enjoyed – our choice of reading is usually miles apart! It was a pleasant novelty to discuss the plot and characters with him.

    Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope it’s a good one 🙂

  9. Prue – I enjoyed Birdsong too. I read it a long time ago but it’s one of those books that stays with you.

  10. Happy New Year Helen,
    I haven’t read as many as I’d like to, but one of my fave’s is The Old Curiosity Shop, which I love for the characters. Now I’m into Snuff by Terry Pratchett.

  11. Danielle says:

    My three books of every year so far (yeah I’m greedy and it pains me to choose) are The Chrysalids by John Wyndam, Hello summer, goodbye by Michael J Coney and Rose Madder by Stephen King. Happy new year! xxx

  12. Stephanie Holliday says:

    Happy New Year. Thanks everyone as well for a load of book recommendations. One of my favourites was The Passage by Justin Cronin.
    Thanks for the poem too. I always feel like this at the beginning of the year – a good way to clear your mind of things that are weighing you down. I’ve just finished two articles that have been hanging around to send to a travel mag that I and entered the WriteInvite comp you gave us. Hope the ‘clarity’ continues.
    Thanks for all the inspiration you give us.

  13. Maggie May says:

    I loved Room too and have added the other two to my list. I thought I was doing well reading two books a month. I’ve just read The Kite Runner for the first time (brilliant) and tried to read Great Expectations before the new TV adaptation over Christmas. I read part one before the first programme and thought it stuck very well to the book. Scanned the rest of the book and intend to finish it now I’ve seen it all on TV. The critics didn’t think much to the casting (Pip being too handsome, Miss Haverham being too young and Estelle not pretty enough), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    A very Happy New Year and thanks for an excellent blog.

    • Maggie – thanks for your comment. Was that you I spotted on the Jane Wenham-Jones’ page in Feb Writing, wondering whether to start a blog?! I have sent a letter to Writing, giving some more examples of the benefits! If you do decide to start one, let me know and I’ll be your first subscriber!   


  14. Alice says:

    Hi Helen,
    Happy New Year! My top three books are very similar to yours!
    1. Room by Emma Donoghue
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

    Oh and I only managed 30 books this year which I put down to driving more and traveling on the train less 😦 I read tonnes of short stories too of course!!

    Here’s to the wonderful reading and writing we’re all going to be doing in 2012!

  15. Alice says:

    Oh sorry, I mean it’s similar to your friend’s top three!! (perhaps my new year’s resolution should be to read blog posts properly?!)

  16. Rachel says:

    Do you know, I’ve never counted how many books I’ve read in a year. Maybe I should start this year. I really like Maggie O’ Farrell, my favourite of hers is The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. The Help is on my shelf ready to be read and I have my Kindle at the ready for this year. Happy New Year! Thanks for all the posts.

  17. wightrabbit says:

    Immortali by Anne Lewington. Don’t usually go for historical fiction but Anne is a good friend and I heard some earlier chapters when she read them out at our writing group. But the finished book still managed to exceed my expectations. Her observations are incise, her descriptions beautiful and uncliched; her use of language and syntax appropriate for a modern audience, yet she manages to transport the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy – the heat, the noise, the smells. I loved it!

    • I very much appreciate Jacqueline’s words on Immortali. When you write you never really know if what you’re creating is anything like the ideal you’re striving for. Only the genuine appreciation of the reader can provide what any author needs (and craves). In writing this novel I set out to engage the reader in a direct way without distancing them by history. I also wanted them to love the characters as much as I do.

  18. womagwriter says:

    I’d say it’s a close run thing between The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Though wait – when did I read This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson, my almost all-time favourite book? Oh, it’s ok, I finished that in 2010, so yes, between those first two – both fabulous.

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