2018. There it goes. Whoosh. Bye!
While others were obsessed with Brexit, I was busy reading (and doing other stuff). Mostly reading though. The count was 85 books. Some poetry, some biography, some non fiction and a lot of fiction.
My focus this year was female authors of the last century, with the #vote100books list as my guide, and also Virginia Woolf. For Virginia I read:
Night and Day
To the Lighthouse
A Writer’s Diary
The Hours (by Michael Cunningham)
And for the rest I discovered lots of wonderful authors I’ve never read before, and lots of brilliant books. Ali Smith was a real find, although she fell just outside the top ten. My top ten consisted of seven women and three men, six Americans, three English and one Argentinian.
And in the end these were my top ten books:
1. Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
2. We have always lived in the castle (Shirley Jackson)
3. My Antonia (Willa Cather)
4. Fictions (Jorge Luis Borges)
5. Restoration (Rose Tremain)
6. White Noise (Dom DeLillo)
7. The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane)
8. Testament of Youth (Vera Brittain)
9. The Colour Purple (Alice Walker)
10. The Pursuit of Love (Nancy Mitford)
Deciding my favourite book was DIFFICULT! Every time I tried to choose between Shirley Jackson and Zora Neale Hurston I changed me mind. One day Shirley, the next day Zora. The Shirley Jackson was incredible. Was Merricat just quirky and other worldly or was she a dangerous psychopath. It was funny, scary and unsettling. Jackson's narrative is a delight. In the end I picked Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes were watching God, because it had everything! Plot, characters, style. It had pathos and humour, passion and tragedy. And it is haunting. It keeps coming back to me in odd moments.
I also had fifteen re-reads this year. My top five were:
1. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
2. Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)
3. North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell)
4. Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
5. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
My favourite non-fiction was the awesomely powerful and humbling, eponymous Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass.
And my favourite poetry collection was Drowning in fire, Burning in water, collected poems by Charles Bukowski.
All in all an amazing year of reading. Do comment what your favourite book of the year was.