Just over a week left until the big day, and I think I must draw a line under this year’s reading and choose my books of the year – I haven’t stopped reading though, I still have a few Christmas books I really want to get to before it feels too late to do so. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking back through the year’s posts, remembering the pleasure every book has given me – and perhaps particularly so this year, when escaping into books has felt more important than ever before. Other than at the start of lockdown in March, my reading has never faltered – even when I sadly lost my mum in July.
My Goodreads challenge tells me I’ve read more books this year than ever before – 160 at last count – and that’s just made it so much more difficult to pick out the particularly special ones. I’ve said “one of my books of the year” so many times that I did make things rather more difficult for myself than I should have done – but if I tell you that I gave five stars on Amazon and Goodreads to 127 books this year (I chose well!), the task was never going to be easy because I wanted to include every one of them.
Last year, I finally managed to draw up a list of 30, drawn from across all the genres I’ve read – this year, it’s a list of 36 because I just couldn’t bear losing any more from my initial list of (ahem!) 53. I did have some few basic rules – no novellas (sorry!), no more than one book per author (and some authors made that very difficult!), but I would include Christmas reads (just two in the end – although there were six in my list of 53!), and the original publication date was immaterial if I read it in 2020.
Anyway, here is my final list of 36, in groups of nine – they’re in the order I read them, I’ve made absolutely no attempt at ranking (which really would have been a step too far…), and all links are to my reviews…
The Place We Call Home – Faith Hogan
Beyond the Margin – Jo Jackson
Hidden – Linda Gillard
One Dozen Second Chances – Kate Field
The Cottage in a Cornish Cove – Cass Grafton
Wild Spinning Girls – Carol Lovekin
I Am Dust – Louise Beech
The Walls We Build – Jules Hayes
The Lost Lights of St Kilda – Elisabeth Gifford
The House By The Sea – Louise Douglas
The Memory – Judith Barrow
Spirited – Julie Cohen
Sing me A Secret – Julie Houston
Roots of Corruption – Laura Laakso
People Like Us – Louise Fein
Growing Up For Beginners – Claire Calman
The Beauty of Broken Things – Victoria Connelly
Sunshine and Second Chances – Kim Nash
The Old Girls’ Network – Judy Leigh
Where We Belong – Anstey Harris
Four Minutes to Save a Life – Anna Stuart
Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Cafe – Annette Hannah
Miss Benson’s Beetle – Rachel Joyce
Endless Skies – Jane Cable
The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness – Laura Bambrey
The Country Escape – Jane Lovering
Only Human – Diane Chandler
The Second Marriage – Gill Paul
Boomerville at Ballymegille – Caroline James
Christmas Wishes – Sue Moorcroft
When I Come Home Again – Caroline Scott
Harper’s Highland Fling – Lizzie Lamb
Every book I’ve had to leave out has really hurt – particularly those where I’ve read more than one by the same author but just couldn’t decide on one stand-out book. I’ll specifically mention Maggie Christensen, Mandy Baggot, Emily Harvale, Kathryn Freeman, TA Williams, Lucy Coleman/Linn B Halton, Kiley Dunbar, Christina Courtenay, Kath McGurl, Josie Bonham… and I know I really shouldn’t have started this, because I’m only going to forget someone whose books were every bit as special to me.
There’s such a lot for us all to look forward to next year – hopefully our lives will return to something like normal thanks to the vaccine, we’ll be able to travel again without fear, and I know I’m particularly looking forward to hugging people again at all the book-related parties. Since March, I’ve spent most of the year on my own (Zoom and Facebook Live have been an absolute life-saver) – in fact, I think the only time I’ve been “in company” was at mum’s funeral, other than the doctor and dentist and trips for food shopping. I do wish I could tell you that I’ve done everything that I wanted to around the house, learned a new language or that I can now play a musical instrument – I’m sorry, I’m going to be a bit of a disappointment, I’ve read books! And I do know that many of you haven’t had the luxury of all that me-time – but I hope spending more time with the family made up for all the agonies of home schooling. I’ll be spending Christmas on my own too, something I’ve never done before, in all my 65 years: there will be some sadness (and some lovely memories, of course…) but I am rather looking forward to watching TV and films I’ve chosen for myself (and who knows, there might just be a bit more reading too!).
I’d like to thank every author who’s brought me so much pleasure – and the escape I so needed – throughout this difficult year. Thank you too to those of you who’ve consistently provided such wonderful support – blogger friends, blog tour organisers, authors, publishers, readers and friends. All the Twitter shares never fail to amaze and delight me, and mean so much to me and to the authors I feature – thank you all so much.
I had planned to take a blogging break in January – but then I started hearing about all the new releases and blog tours, and just couldn’t resist. So, just a few more reviews planned in the run-up to Christmas, then I’ll be back with you on 4th January. I wish everyone – and those you love – a wonderful Christmas, and a New Year we can hopefully all look forward to.