I had a really good reading year, according to my reading spreadsheet. The vast majority of books I read fell into the ‘really liked it’ category. This list of the ‘best’ ones could have easily been four times as long. But ten is a standard number, so ten it is. As always, and where possible, links are to libraries where you can borrow the book
- attrib. by Eley Williams (2017 – British) – eclectic, astonishing, heart-breaking and delighting short stories that are in love with words.
- A tale for the time being by Ruth Ozeki (2013 – Japanese/Canadian) – this book has a lot to say about how you might get through life.
- The man with the compound eyes by Wu Ming-Yi (2013 – Taiwanese) – super-confusing and weird and great with a magnificent pay off.
- Flames by Robbie Arnott (2018 – Australian) – a story about Tasmania told by some fire and a water rat who is a god and a woman who might be reincarnated into nature when she dies and a man who writes angry letters and also by almost anyone/thing you can think of who might tell a story about Tasmania.
- Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (2018 – Sri Lankan/Canadian) – if you don’t already love MO this isn’t going to change your mind. I already love MO.
- Trieste by Dasa Drndic (2012, Croatian) – thank you to Bram Presser for recommending this incredible book, which is a virulent condemnation of everyone who stands by and lets evil happen.
- Less by Andrew Sean Greer (2017, American) – the funniest sad book I’ve read maybe ever. An utter gem.
- Animalia, an edition of Granta (2017, maybe? British) – a collection of stories, essays, poems and pictures about animals, including Nell Zink’s hilarious ‘The Kabul markhor’, Rebecca Giggs’ beautiful essay ‘Loggerheads’, a ferocious look inside slaughterhouses and Elliot Ross’ remarkable photographs.
- Animals strike curious poses by Elena Passarello (2017, American) – strange insights into animals. Essays, I suppose, but perhaps they’re really non-fiction poems.
- Songwoman by Ilka Tampke (2018, Australian)- what is home? Who gets to be home? Whose version of home is the right one? Also, adventure and romance. Songwoman has all the good stuff.
And this year, new to ‘best books’, my most anticipated books of the new year. Or, at least, books I read in manuscript form that are either being published next year or SHOULD be published next year if publishers have any sense at all. Keep your eyes peeled for:
- Crossings by Alex Landragin, published by Picador Australia late next year.
- Fled by Meg Keneally, out in April next year.
- Bushwalking in Tasmania by Ben Walter, which fans of Flames would totally love and which someone should publish.
- Try a little tenderness by Patrick Allington, the blurb for which – when it is inevitably published – will say something like ‘a stunning work of imagination’, ‘you never knew fiction could do this’ and ‘I wish I wrote it’.