Where to start with a list of just five favourite reads of 2013? It’s quite a challenge and is sure to be something I reflect on and want to make changes to the moment I finish this – it’s a tough call in any year, but in 2013 I think it’s particularly tricky.
So, I’ll jump straight in with Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ (Published by Headline) – a purely magical book linked to a traumatic real event in the author’s own young life and the supernatural and fairytale-like tale that he spins from it. If the Brothers Grimm were around and writing in 2013 I’m pretty sure that something akin to ‘Ocean’ is exactly the sort of book they’d have written.
Then I’ll turn to darkness, mystery and time travel with ‘The Shining Girls’ by Lauren Beukes (Published by Harper Collins), a stunningly inventive take on the serial killer sub-genre with many a twist and a much-welcomed focus on the victims rather than the gore and an evil psychopath – a refreshing and exciting fragmented story that creates a fantastic finished jigsaw.
Top new crime writing has arrived late in the year as an ebook available now, with paperback due (published by Avon) in January, with Luca Veste’s ‘Dead Gone’ – a serial killer/psychological thriller told with intelligent plotting and well rounded and loveable new detectives, sure to be a long running series.
It’s a sad fact of life that every year we lose some great writers and this year was, of course, no exception. In particular, I found reading ‘The Quarry’ by the late Iain Banks (Published by Little Brown) a very poignant and moving experience, especially as the growing cancer suffered by its central character was written before the author himself was diagnosed with the very same disease. But, for all that, it was one of the most thought provoking and rewarding reads I had in 2013.
And, similar in theme to a certain extent, as we reach the end of the year, just creeping in in time, came Sarah Pinborough’s haunting and beautiful ‘The Language of Dying’ (Published by Jo Fletcher books).
It’s a book I knew I would find tough and yet an absolute must-read as soon as it was available. A first person tale of losing someone close and the reactions of the family and friends’ dynamic that surround the event and that final night, it’s a choking tale full of emotion and love. As we approach the dying of the year and look forward to whatever 2014 may bring ‘The Language of Dying’ is a, at times painful, reminder, of just what is most important and cannot fail to place everything else around you as you read it into total perspective.
A stellar year for books with some great writing and, having been fortunate to have already savoured a few titles due for 2014, the new year is looking in fine shape for readers too.
Wishing all you fine readers and writers out there a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2014.