It’s been a good year for fiction – and I don’t mean the lies and denial that have blighted politics on both sides of the pond. But when isn’t it rosy for readers? For every novel that leaves us baffled and bludgeoned or tempted to give up, we’ll always find another dozen that provide comfort or relaxation or, with or without prickly characters, transport us on a magical mystery tour.
My book consumption has increased since I started reviewing from around 60 a year to over 100. But I’m slightly embarrassed to have “beaten” last year’s pinnacle of 120 by, at the time of writing, 26. I know I devote a lot of time to the printed word, but 41,783 pages smacks of greed.
Another area I haven’t monitored consistently, but intend to do so in the future, is the proportion of my reading that comes from independent presses. I’ve made a commitment to supporting them in my newsletter, but I think I could do more, especially as small presses have made my favourites list (Salt, Serpent’s Tail). The independents are also the best places to come across diversity in fiction, especially those such as HopeRoad and Nigerian Cassava Republic who make that their specialty.
So to my 12 favourites – hover over the image for a brief summary or click to go straight to my review. Are you surprised by any of my choices? Have you read any of them, or are you hoping to? And how do they compare to the highlights of your own reading year?