Hits & Misses

HITS & MISSES 2011 – 2016
My Annual Reading Lists

BEST READS : 2016
I haven’t ticked as many books off my TBR list as I’d hoped, only 9 out of 12. More effort required in 2017. And my cataract op slowed me down somewhat, but this said, here are the highlights of my 2016 reading year.
BEST READ OF THE YEAR
The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra
BEST SOUTH AFRICAN NOVEL
Recipes for Love & Murder – Sally Andrew
BEST TRAVEL BOOK
Lost on Planet China – J. Maarten Troost
BEST CLASSIC
Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov
BEST SUSPENSE
The Martian – Andy Weir
BEST BIOGRAPHY
The Invention of Nature – Andrea Wulf
BEST WAR MEMOIR/HISTORY
The Call of the Litany Bird – Sue Gibbs
(Surviving the Rhodesian Bush War)
BEST TRANSLATED NOVEL
From the Mouth of the Whale – Sjon
BEST SPECULATIVE FICTION
Station Eleven – Emily Mandel
BEST SHORT STORIES
Brief Encounters with Che Guevarra – Ben Fountain
FUNNIEST NOVEL
A Match for Dr Koekentapp – Allan Kaye
MOST UNUSUAL CRIME NOVEL
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union – Michael Chabon
MOST UNUSUAL MEMOIR
The Undertaker’s Daughter – Kate Mayfield
MOST UNUSUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY
South of Nirvana – Sue Randall
TERRIFIC READS
Between the Woods & the Water – Patrick Leigh Fermor (beautiful prose)
Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff (modern life & marriage)
The Penguin Lessons – Tom Michell (fresh & quirky)
Unaccompanied Women – June Juska (memoir)
The Shaman in Stilettoes – Anna Hunt (memoir)
The Mouseproof Kitchen – Saira Shah (contemporary novel)

BEST READS OF 2015
Best Novel of the Year
A Man Called Ove – Fredrick Backman
Best Non-Fiction of 2015
Improbable Libraries – Alex Johnson
The Orchid Thief – Susan Orlean
The Mole People – Jennifer Toth
Best Literary Novel
Lila – Marilynne Robinson
Terrific Reads – Fiction
All the Light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
Breath – Tim Winton
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North
Best South African Novel
A Slim Green Silence – Beverley Ryecroft
Best Translated Novel
The Discreet Hero – Mario Vargas Llhosa
Best Indian Novel
The Story Hour – Thrity Umrigaar
Longest, most difficult read
Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon

Best Memoir
The Diving – Helen Walne
Best Thriller
I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes
Best Fantasy
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store – Robin Sloan
Best Avant Garde Novel
The Familiar – One rainy day in May – Mark Z Danielewski
Wittiest Book
Table Talk – A A Gill
Disappointments
The Little Paris Book Shop – Nina George
Zoo Time – Howard Jacobson
Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler
Leaving Before the Rains Come – Alexandra Fuller
The Ocean at the end of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
FOOTNOTE: . Try as I might, I just couldn’t limit my list to a measly ten reads.

BEST READS OF 2014
2014 has not been a good Reading Year for me – I got off to a bad start with eyesight problems, which weren’t resolved until mid-May, so I’ve not read as many books as usual. My list shows books which I read during 2014, and is a mixture of Old & New. Some of them were published way, way before 2014; some of them in the late 1990s in fact, but I only had the pleasure of discovering them this year. One of my less obvious categories is ‘Books About Books’ : I’m hooked on books, and love reading books about reading and books. We all have our quirks.
Best Book of 2014
The 40 Rules of Love – Elif Shafak
Not to be missed book : 2014
The Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka
Most Original Book of 2014
We Are all Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
Books About Books:2014
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair – Nina Sankovitch
Funniest Book: 2014
Nature Girl – Carl Hiaasen
Most Challenging Read of 2014
Living by Fiction – Annie Dillard
Best Gothic Novel : 2014
Marina – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Best Non-Fiction : 2014
12 Patients (Life & Death at Bellevue Hospital) – Dr E Manheimer
Best Travel Book : 2014
The Way of Stars & Stones – Wilna Wilkinson
Best short stories: 2014
The Barnum Museum – Steven Millhauser
Best Crime 2014
Diamond Dove – Adrian Hyland
Great Reads (Novels): 2014
The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
Big Brother – Lionel Shriver
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simision
The World We Found – Thrirty Umnigar
Epic Fail/unreadable 2014
The Infatuation – Javier Marias
Swann’s Way – Marcel Proust

BEST READS OF 2013
Another year marching towards 31 December. A trail of interesting books behind me. I’m not adding comments or explanations – I think the category headings speak for themselves.
NOT-TO-BE-MISSED BOOK OF 2013:
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schalbe
TEN of my BEST READS – 2013 (in no particular order)
The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
Flashback Hotel – Ivan Vladislavic
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barberry
Ex Libris – Anne Fadiman
Angelmaker – Nick Harkaway
Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Book Store – Robin Sloan
The Hero’s Walk – Anita Rau Badami
A Widow’s Story – Joyce Carol Oates
My Name is Asher Lev – Chaim Potok
BEST FOREIGN READ OF 2013: Lost Luggage by Jordi Punti – translated from Spanish
MOST UNUSUAL READ 2013:
The Golem & the Djinni – Helene Wecker
CHALLENGING READS 2013:
We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo
Ancient Light – John Banville
Invisible Furies – Michiel Heyns
In the Beginning – Chaim Potok
THE POPULAR BOOK THAT I COULDN’T READ
Wool – Hugh Howey

BEST READS OF 2012 – Fiction
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
The Glass Castle – Janette Walls
The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint – Brady Udall
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – Amy Chua
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson
The Cat’s Table – Michael Ondaatjie
My Brother’s Book – Jo-Anne Richards
Pops and the Nearly dead – Edyth Bulbryng
NON-FICTION
Reading Like a Writer – Francine Prose
The Kindness of Strangers – Kate Adie
How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran
Medium Raw – Anthony Bourdain
SURPRISINGLY ENJOYAB LE
Restoration – Rose Tremain
29 Gifts – Cami Walker
A Wild Herb Soup – Life of a French Countrywoman, by Emilie Carles
MOST DISAPPOINTING READS OF 2012
When Hoopoe Went to Heaven – Gail Goodwin
Lightning Rods – Helen de Witt
JUST AWFUL
Amrita – Banana Yamamoto
The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobsen
WHAT POSSESSED ME TO BUY THIS? ? From Elvish to Klingon – Michael Adams

BEST READS : 2011

Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Zoo City – Lauren Beukes
A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
Dirt Music – Tim Winton
River of Smoke – Amitav Ghosh
The Lonely Polygamist – Brady Udall
Rancid Pansies – James Hamilton Patterson
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson
The Last Resort – Douglas Rogers
Choosing only ten books for the past year’s Best Reads is difficult. Do you only include the books that kept you feverishly turning the pages into the early hours?
Do you put in the books that you absolutely loved, and wanted to read all over again, the moment you reached those words THE END ?
Do you confine yourself to novels and exclude the non-fiction? My number 10 is non-fiction, although it was a difficult, uncomfortable book to read.
Do you include the magical fantasies that paint dark pictures of dystopian societies, future times, other worlds?
Do you include the historical novels that carry you back through the centuries?
Do you put in the stories that made you laugh – or cry – uninhibitedly?
The answer to all of the above is YES, you do.
As you can see, I had a rich and varied year of reading in 2011. I hope yours was a good a reading year as mine was, and I wish all of you a 2012 crammed full of more fabulous books!

2 thoughts on “Hits & Misses

    1. Thanks for following my new book blog. Yes, you will find new ideas in my Reading history lists, because I enjoy offbeat, quirky books and also buy most of my books online. Keep me posted on what you read and enjoy?

      Liked by 1 person

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