The best books

Missi modelling my books of the year

I’ve read about 100 books this year and these were the ones I liked best. Links are, where possible, to libraries where you can borrow the book (because library books are free to you but the authors still get paid). Books in bold were published this year.

This list is way too long and for that I apologise. I’ve tried to break it up a bit. Once again, I mostly liked books that were trying to do something either a little bit odd or a big bit odd.

The five best books

  • The dig by Cynan Jones (Wales) – Overwhelming grief and sheer bloody mindedness in rural Wales: what a bleak, gritty, beautifully written little bastard of a book this is.
  • Winter by Ali Smith (Scotland) –  I honestly reckon Ali Smith is my favourite living writer. There is no one else like her. And who else has been writing this long and is still so alive to the minutiae of the everyday world?
  • Rubik by Elizabeth Tan (Australia) – Incredibly smart and, like Winter, entirely set in the reality of the present, with technology, politics and all that other stuff most writers try to ignore. Also includes the near future. Each story builds on those before to present a dazzling, compelling whole.
  • Draw your weapons by Sarah Sentilles (US) – People kept telling me to read this and for about two-thirds of it I was sceptical and then suddenly I was not. What is art for? What is your gaze for? If you create, you should really, really read this book.
  • Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird (NZ) – I stood next to Hera in George Saunders’ signing line at Auckland Literary Festival and we had an excellent chat, so I bought her book. Then I read it to my husband each night at bedtime, and we had a bloody great time. Recommended for reading aloud.

International novels

Australian novels


Short stories



9 thoughts on “The best books

  1. Such an interesting list Jane. I had mixed feelings about Lincoln in the Bardo but thought Saunders’ short stories in Tenth of December were great; also enjoyed seeing/hearing him a few months back. Thanks to your recommendations I’ve now read The Dig (bleak is putting it mildly!) and started on Draw Your Weapons (promising so far). And I’ve just finished From The Wreck – most impressed.

    1. Hello, Jim! Thanks for reading From the Wreck. Tenth of December is incredible – the title story, for me, in particular. I think I’m going to read more Cynan Jones next year. That kind of bleakness really works for me.

  2. I’m trying to read some of your reading suggestions. I read Rubik E. Tan and Autumn by Ali Smith.
    Now time for the next book…I’m in the mood for strange.
    You mentioned Psynode on her favorite book reading list. Now, the title is strange enough in itself.
    Time to step out of my comfort zone…:)

      1. Too late to start OrphanCorp #1…just finished #2 !
        Great book…absolutely loved my first YA fiction.
        Rad babes and brus in a thrilling dystopia/YA novel.
        I stayed up til stupid o’clock to finish it!
        PS: how do you like my new ‘Ya-lingo?’
        Never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!
        Review is on my blog (click logo)

  3. You have picked another winner….reading Too Easy by J.M. Green and I love it so far (ch 10).
    I’d love to see more of your reading suggestions on a new blog post!

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