It's time to choose my books of the year, and agonising over which to include and which - reluctantly - to leave out, I've decided to 'cheat' a bit in order to fit in more novels than usual. I'll start by listing my top non-fiction titles and favourite book group books, and then I'll go on to the rest of the fiction.
Criteria for inclusion? They must have impressed me on one or more of the following counts: mastery of material, narrative thrust, intelligence and beauty of writing, sheer enjoyment! As you can see, this is not scientific, it's simply some of the books I've got most from or have rated most highly since the beginning of the year.
Why do we make mistakes (though not, of course, when choosing our books of the year...)? Read Michael and Ellen Kaplan's breathtaking Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human for an entertaining, accessible, multi-disciplinary look at errors of all kinds. (More on it here).
For a clear-sighted view of an author and her work you could do no better than read Julia Jones' The Adventures of Margery Allingham: a reliable, well-researched, thoroughly enjoyable biography of a writer who is worth getting to know as a person in her own right as well as as a creator of memorable fiction. (Original post here).
A look around someone else's bookshelves and a chance to hear their literary reminiscences are pleasures I find irresistible, and Susan Hill gives us both in her very personal, individual Howards End is on the Landing, an account of her 'year of reading from home'. (The full story).
20th. December, edited to add:
The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters, ed. Charlotte Mosley. Just finished, but more than deserving of a place on the list. Screamingly funny, very moving, hugely absorbing.