2017 was a great year for reading (what year isn't). Just to up the nerd factor of recording and rating the books I consume, this year I went the whole hog and created a chart. Out of the forty-seven books I consumed fifteen got the top rating of five. If you think you might like the books I like you can check out the winning list.
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin: Stupendously written short stories that illustrate the everyday struggles of alcoholism, family dysfunction, romance, sickness and death. Lucia had an amazing capacity to bring her characters to life.
Buddhada by Anne Donovan: A delightful story about a family's ordinary struggles and the different ways we choose to cope. Set in Glasgow, it is told from the three viewpoints of mother, father and daughter. Written to reflect the Glaswegian accent so it takes a bit of getting used to, but the effort is worthwhile and eventually it seems normal.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon: Brilliant characters, compelling back stories - set in the lead up to and during WWII, reminding us of the peril of Jewish life, of being an outsider, an other and how new countries should offer new opportunities to belong.
shtum by Jem Lester: Written as a first person account of a father's struggle with his non-speaking autistic son and his fight to give him the best possible life.
Maestra by L.S. Hilton: A titillating ripper I could rip through - I needed to know what Judith did next.
Fallout by Sara Paretsky: The 18th V.I. Warshawski novel is another terrific installation in the series. Paretsky does the crime genre so well, always interesting to meet her new characters and to discover which social issue is the backdrop for the story.
number 9 dream by David Mitchell: Weird coming of age story mostly set in Tokyo. It took me a few chapters to get my head around the style, but because the main character Eiji was so lively I was prepared to dig in. Parts of the narrative are fascinating looks into fantasy, the yakazu and being part of the Japanese military in WWII.
The Art Of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh: An antidote to the woes of modern living. Sensible lessons to live a peaceful life.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgramage by Haruki Murakami: I raved about this in a blog post last year.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completley Fine by Gail Honeyman: Cleverly takes us into Eleanor's world, slowly revealing her fucked up childhood. We see her at a turning point and I read through the pages compulsively to see how her life would proceed.
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan: Completely charming novel about finding purpose and hope after loss and despair.
Taboo by Kim Scott:Gritty story illustrating the complex relationship between Aboriginal culture and white settlement. Tilly Coolman lives in the modern murky world created from this history of displacement.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: This is a book of our times that looks at how disenfranchisement develops. Told from the point of view of three London siblings whose parents hail from Bangladesh.