Monday 17 December 2007

Top Ten... of 2006

Getting very close to this year's list, but before I let you in on 2007's top ten, here's what made the grade last year. As always, it is ones I've enjoyed most, rather than those which are most meritworthy. Otherwise I might have some trouble justifying my choice of no.1 over my choice for no.5...

10. A House and Its Head - Ivy Compton-Burnett
ICB is a love-or-loathe author, and luckily I love her. Preferred Mother and Son, but this is quite wonderful too.

9. There Were No Windows - Norah Hoult
Another Persephone Book (not often they aren't good enough for my top ten) and one which is both heart-rending and very funny - about an authoress with dementia.

8. The Two Doctors - Elizabeth Cambridge
She appeared on my 2004 list, and this is a worthy follower.

7. Discipline - Mary Brunton
Jane Austen mentions Mary B a couple of times in her letters, quite sardonically, and she is certainly worth reading. The 1980s introduction to my copy kind of misses the point...

6. The Vicar of Wakefield - Oliver Goldsmith
Very funny, and finger-on-the-pulse theologically too. Nice combination.

5. All's Well That Ends Well - William Shakespeare
Saw this with Dame Judi Dench in it, which probably helped me choose this Billybob play. No two entries by the same author, doncha know.

4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
Lisa (Bluestalking Reader) sent this one in the dovegreybooks postal group - we don't often disagree on books. Brilliantly Gothic and a classy page-turner.

3. Evelina - Frances Burney
See here...

2. A Writer's Diary - Virginia Woolf
Leonard Woolf edited Woolf's diaries into this book, which deals mainly with her literary output. Good place to start with Ginny.

1. The Letters of... - Elizabeth Myers
Only from Myers side, these letters are to all sorts of people (including Walter de la Mare) and reveal a gentle, humorous and ultimately slightly tragic figure. Myers died quite young, and, as the letters are divided into sections for each recipient, you feel this death coming on again and again and again... Still, this collection has a fragile beauty which cannot be forged.


  1. Another Persephone Book (not often they aren't good enough for my top ten)
    I'm not sure what you mean here.

  2. I love 'BillyBob'. Shall think of him thus for at least a twelvemonth.

    And just by the way there's a wonderful piece about the Bodleian in this quarter's The Author (Society of Authors journal) - about plans to participate with Google 'in an unprecedentedly large project for the digitisation of the world's published texts. Specifically ... the digital capture of every 19th-century novel and Google'. 'Spect you know about this already ... the article also talks about the old tracks for the underground trolleys/trams that 'once ferried books between the Radcliffe Camera and the Old and New Bodleian, a dramatic anachronism featured in thrillers from Michael Innes to Colin Dexter'.

    What an intriguing place to work.

  3. Anonymous, that was my convoluted way of saying that I almost always enjoy Persephone Books enough to get them into my top ten! The fact that there is only one this year bears sad testament to the fact that I only read one in 2006, I think, except for re-reads.

    Angela - thanks for the article mention, must go and look that out (perhaps request it from the Bodleian, in an ironic twist) - and everyone talks about those tracks, which are sadly something of a let down! The enormous conveyor belt, on the other hand...

  4. Simon was that a Freudian slip about the 'dovegreyreader' postal reading group?!

  5. just to show how different we are.

    Top5 2004:
    If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things: Jon McGregor
    The Way The Crow Flies: Ann Marie McDonald
    Persuasion: Jane Austen
    Fall On Your Knees: Ann Marie McDonald
    Double Vision: Pat Barker

    Top5 2005:
    Case Histories: Kate Akkinson
    The Kite Runner: Khaled Hosseni
    Saturday: Ian McEwan
    The Time Traveller's Wife: Audrey Niffenegger
    The Plot Against America: Philip Roth

    Top6(?)! 2006
    We Need to Talk About Kevin: Lionel Shriver
    In the Springtime of the Year: Susan Hill
    The Secret History: Donna Tartt
    In Cold Blood: Truman Capote
    Never Let Me Go: kazuo Ishiguro
    Gilead: Marilynne Robinson
    Middlesex: Jeffrey Eugenides


  6. oops i meant 7. im such an arts student.


  7. Oo sorry Lynne, consider it corrected!

  8. In your view, what is the right time in the day, to absorb the succulent portions of a book?


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