Well, everybody’s doing it, and now with less than 24 hours left of 2012, I guess I’d better get my skates on and do it too. Come up with my Top Ten for 2012, that is …
But how to choose which books should make the cut? I read 167 books this year, and I enjoyed nearly all of them. I found it hard enough to choose A Suitcase full of Books for Sylvia Johnson back in November, and that selection was limited by her criteria that the books had to be only those published this year, 2012.
Here’s the break-down:
Fiction 132; non-fiction 35
77 Female authors; 86 Male authors; and 4 jointly authored by males & females.
100 Australian authors including 8 by indigenous authors and 14 first-time novelists; 8 from New Zealand including one by a Maori author (I must do better than that in 2013); Russia 12; USA 9; UK 11; and the rest from the four corners of the globe, including 31 works in translation.
2 Nobel Prize Winners (Happy Valley by Patrick White and Silent House by Orhan Pamuk), and 3 Miles Franklin winners (All That I Am by Anna Funder; Bring Larks and Heroes by Thomas Keneally and The Irishman by Elizabeth O’Conner, and the entire longlist for 2012.
So as you can see, I had a very satisfying year of reading and it’s not easy to choose a Top Ten or indeed a Top Anything. When I tried rating these 167 books out of 10, 20 scored 9; 43 scored 8 and 52 scored 7 and I hesitated over about half of those and nearly made them 8s too. I have read some really, really great books this year.
But there were 8 books that rose to the top and scored 10, (a rating I reserve for unforgettable books like Ulysses and Pride and Prejudice and That Deadman Dance. These were the books that have stayed with me, have changed my mind about things, opened my eyes to different ideas and possibilities, walked me through life in a different pair of shoes. Here they are:
- Petersburg by Andrei Bely
- Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
- Tamarisk Row by Gerald Murnane
- The Cry of Winnie Mandela by Njabulo Ndebele
- The Factory by Paddy O’Reilly
- Tasmanian Aborigines, A History since 1803 by Lyndall Ryan
- Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith
- Happy Valley by Patrick White
This year I had the honour of being awarded 2012 Winner of the Best Australian Blog in the Writing Category. But as I said at the time, if it were not for the wonderful authors about whose work I write, my blog would not exist. My thanks to each and every author from my 2012 Year of Great Books. You just don’t know how much pleasure you bring!
PS January 3rd, 2013 The members of the ANZ LitLovers online reading group are sharing their 2012 Top Tens on this blog too. They are a bunch of very discerning readers from all over Australia, so have a look to see what they liked best as well.