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.
- LaRose by Louise Erdrich (US/Chippewa)
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US)
- Days without end by Sebastian Barry (Ireland)
- Kingfishers catch fire by Rumer Godden (England)
- Scratch by Steve Himmer (US)
- Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (US)
- Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (England)
- New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (US)
- Broken River by J Robert Lennon (US)
- The wanderers by Meg Howrey (US)
- Home fire by Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan)
- Psynode by Marlee Jane Ward
- See what I have done by Sarah Schmidt
- Carrion Colony by Richard King
- The book of dirt by Bram Presser
- Too easy by JM Green
- The ’80s by Frank Bongiorno (Aust)
- Her father’s daughter by Alice Pung (Aust)
- Can you tolerate this? by Ashleigh Young (NZ)
- Other minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith (Aust)
- The trauma cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein (Aust)
- Madame Zero by Sarah Hall (England)
- The monkey’s mask by Dorothy Porter (Aust)