While this doesn't really fit into the main aim of the blog and I'm not going to share everything I've read here (41 this year, a bit higher than previous years thanks to lots of time in a hospital bed...) I thought I'd share my top five reads for this year.
Book 5 is a book that I read while contemplating my own ill health.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
In it, Harold Fry receives a letter and at the age of 65 he feels called to action - heading off to meet the woman that he worked with twenty years before as she faces a tumour. The story intertwines memories of his past alongside the challenge of the walk. The present helps t make sense of the past and vice versa. I recommend it. This Man Booker longlister is well worth a few tears.
Book 4 is no less touching and it's one that I've decided to use as a teaching material. This Carnegie nominee packs a different kind of punch.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
This tells the story of August who begins his time at school in a different place from most who experience the challenge as August has a facial deformity. The story is told from many perspectives - not just August but his sister Via too and it was her that I felt most attachment to.
Third place was tricky - in reality this encompasses the whole of the series. Game of Thrones is a series that I've managed to mostly get through in a year. Mostly thanks to that aforementioned hospital time. It's got me through long waits to see doctors, have blood tests and helped me get from one sent of pain medication to the next. It's gripped me utterly. I'm going to be seeing out the year with the last of the series in existence so far and this feels about right.
A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin.
This book probably exists on the edge of where I like my fantasies to reside. I'm more firmly in the sci-fi than the fantasy camp but the personality, the heart of these books is hard to ignore. Again, it makes use of telling the stories from a variety of perspectives and this aids the connection that I couldn't help but have to the characters. I have my favourites (Arya and Tyrion if you're interested) and I have the ones I hate but can't help but follow the stories of. It's a well-told tale and knowing these characters so well means that they are like old friends. I hope that the next book isn't a long time in coming. Of those read, this is the one that sticks most firmly in my memory but I'd obviously recommend you to start from the beginning!
Book 2 and book 1 are close to one another in my affections but there has to be some sense of order and as the former appears to be more on people's radar I felt that #2 was a good spot for it.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This is one of those books that lots of people are talking about - I'm interested to see that it's being turned into a film starring Ben Affleck. This is the story of Nick Dunne, facing a terrifying situation. Not only is his wife missing but the finger is being well and truly pointed at him. This is an undeniably clever thriller that interweaves the past and the present. If you haven't already read this, do. It won't take you long. I'd love to know what you think of it if you do!
Book #1 has been the book that I've bought for many this year. It's really truly brilliant in concept and should have received just a bit more praise than it has. I found it in Waterstones on the buy one get one half price table and I'm so very glad I did.
Wool by Hugh Howey
Wool is more about the situation than the characters - it tells of a time when everyone lives in a silo - except a silo is into the ground rather than the silo that you might know of. There is a tricky balance of power between those in IT and those in mechanical and there is clearly something that needs to be uncovered.
I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the trilogy extremely soon and was interested to discover that this has been picked up for turning into a film - Ridley Scott has apparently expressed an interest. I'd be interested to see it and can see how it would fit into Scott's work. There is something inherently grimy about it.
I feel that I should make honourable mentions for two other books that didn't quite make the grade - Horns by Joe Hill and Gone by Michael Grant. Both excellent reads.
What have you read this year that you would recommend? Please share!