This year’s very best read for me has to be Room by Emma Donoghue. I still think back to it often, despite it being almost a year since I read it, and wonder how the author managed to make such an uplifting read out of such a horrific subject. If you haven’t read it yet, you must.
Two other books that come a close second this year are The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly and The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain – the latter of which is my only 10 out of 10 read since I started giving books a score halfway through the year. Both unputdownable.
Controversially, the prize for this category goes to Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone. Boring and TOTALLY not my cup of tea at all. Clearly, however, I’m in a minority here!
Also must mention The Gift by Cecelia Ahern which was just appallingly bad. I read her first (much hyped) novel, PS I Love You, several years ago, and was shocked by the poor quality of writing and editing. Having seen several reviews for The Gift, however, I decided to give her a second chance, and ended up wishing I hadn’t. I only made it to the end of this book by the skin of my teeth.
Biggest Disappointment by Author Previously Enjoyed
Having loved Allison Pearson’s first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, I was delighted to read that she had written a new book entitled I Think I Love You. I was really, REALLY disappointed in it, however, and gave up after the first 100 pages – clunky writing, unfunny humour and just generally not enjoyable. Allison Pearson herself tweeted me somewhat unpleasantly when I commented on Twitter how disappointed I’d been in her book, thus ensuring I never part with money for anything else she may write!
The Sunflower Forest by Torey Hayden. I really enjoyed Torey Hayden’s many autobiographical books about children she had met through her work as a special needs teacher, but this was the first of her novels I have read. The story was based around a family of four, and unfortunately the two parents were so self-centred, self-obsessed and selfish, that my loathing of them and my sympathy for their poor daughters made it difficult to enjoy the book at all.
Madeleine by Kate McCann – The personal story behind one of the most controversial news stories of the last decade, if you can read this book and still have no sympathy or compassion for this poor couple, you have a very VERY hard heart.
Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford – just an amazing feat of human endurance and determination, with lots of adventure along the way. Loved it. He writes very well, too.
Best New (To Me) Author
Diane Chamberlain. Thanks, Amy, for the recommendation. Her writing is similar to Jodi Picoult, another of my favourite authors, and I’ve just loved everything I’ve read by her so far.
Book I Didn’t Expect to Like But Did
Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier. This had been hanging around my bookcase for years, and I picked it up without very high expectations. Sometimes these are the best books, aren’t they? When you expect not to enjoy them, and then love them.
And that is the end of my 2011 Book Awards.
Here’s to another year of great reading in 2012!