If one of your New Year resolutions is to read more, here's a
bit of luck: a list of a few of the books we thoroughly enjoyed in
2012. If you missed them, be sure to check them out now. And don't
forget to keep an eye on our regular books page in the magazine to
keep up-to-date with what's coming out in 2013.....
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Why Be Happy revisits some of the same territory Winterson first
visited in 1985's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit: her adoption by
Pentecostal parents and her love of literature feature fairly
prominently, for example, as well as recounting more recent
experiences. Winterson is basically a national treasure, and one of
the best writers we've ever read. It's well worth seeking out a
Artful is an amazing book and we'll be rereading it this year
ourselves. With typical skill Smith brings together the genres of
fiction and essay in this story of a narrator literally haunted by
a former lover, the author of a series of lectures on literature
and art. Smith's use of language is, as ever, an absolute joy.
Short fiction has a tendency to be overlooked in the mainstream
scramble for novels and celebrity memoirs, but you'd be missing out
if you bypassed this collection of 15 new stories. Kay's writing
has an enviable warmth and immediacy, and the flawed positivity of
the voices of many of these characters in these stories will stay
with you long after you've read them.
Tony Hogan bought me an ice cream float before he stole
Brought up on a Scottish council estate, protagonist Janie's
story is a tough one to read at times, but the wonderful humour of
her voice carries it through. The book's been a very successful
debut for Hudson, and deservedly so. Highly recommended.
Times columnist Caitlin Moran's second collection of writings
(the first was the very popular How To Be A Woman) showcases her
needle-sharp wit and, importantly, sometimes contains a serious
message. There's some great stuff here about some of her favourite
TV shows and celebrities (from Gaga to Gordon Brown) and more
serious topics like the welfare state, the Big Society and
suchlike. Funny, thoughtful writing.
Plus a couple of honourable mentions:
The Colour of Milk - Nell Leyshon
Set in 1831, the novel is in the voice of 15-year-old illiterate
farmer's daughter Mary. Brilliantly told, with a powerful
Zipper Mouth - Laurie Weeks
Gritty, funny, novel from the Boys Don't Cry screenwriter, full
of drugs, fags and letters to Sylvia Plath. Loved it.