It's time to choose my best books of the year, the Cornflower Blues 2010. This is always a difficult process as there are more strong contenders than space here allows, but tough as it is to exclude some gems, I have to make the cut.
I shall be listing the books over several posts but I'm beginning today with my first category which I've called "a breath of fresh air" as the three books in it are vibrant, invigorating, original, and are all written in a major key, if you see what I mean.
I'll start with Michael Faulkner's The Blue Cabin: Living by the Tides on Islandmore which I read back in February - that post will tell you all you need to know, but Mike's account of his and his artist wife Lynn's major life-change is warm, open and engaging, and it may make you want to find your own island hideaway.
A book which went down very well with the CBG was John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America. I loved Steinbeck's voice and his perceptive portrait of the American landscape he saw and the people he encountered on his journey, as also the view of himself and his canine companion which his distinctive narrative affords the reader.
My third book today is not unrelated to the other two - there are similarities in tone and mood, sometimes in subject matter, also in location. Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs (post on it here) was a real pleasure to read and as I noted, one of its strengths seemed to be the author's feeling for the inner life that informs so much of human character and behaviour.
All three books here are good-natured, respectful, considered, and there's an integrity to them which appealed to me strongly.