Best Of

Best of: December

Is it the middle of January already? I won’t say ‘how did that happen?’ because I know it’s because of three and a half weeks in Australia and a couple of weeks being ill. I’m keeping up my ‘Best of’ posts, but I’ve decided to let myself off the hook in making a shorter list of top books for the year and doing a wrap-up. (See what I did there? I’ve been wondering all year how I could possibly narrow it down reasonably and now I don’t have to. Haha.) So, three final books for 2019, and I hope you’ll read them, they’re all brilliant.

Best Novel: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. As promised, the third book in my Setterfield marathon. This is her first book – I read them in reverse order as I happened to pick them up that way – and it’s a stunner of a debut novel. It’s been around a while, and has been made into a film (with Olivia Colman, clearly must watch), so you might have come across it already, but I hadn’t until last year and I’m amazed that I missed it. Setterfield is a wonderful storyteller and this book is full of love for books and stories and stories-within-stories. A main theme, too, is sibling relationships, which I’m getting quite hooked on lately. Read it. Read all her books.

Best Non-fiction: The Wild Remedy, by Emma Mitchell. You may have come across nature writer Emma Mitchell on twitter (@silverpebble) where she posts lovely photos and drawings and nature tweets. I had been following her for a while and also have her previous book Making Winter. Wild Remedy is a nature diary, but also the diary of a particularly difficult year in Mitchell’s mental health. Her close observation of and interaction with nature was crucial in managing her depression. I read it as a diary, one chapter per month, and every one was rich and inspiring. Even if you don’t struggle with the dark, colourless days of a European winter, I’m sure you will find this a charming and rewarding read.

Best Children’s: Falling Out of the Sky, edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright. I love myths and monsters and I love poetry, and I expect I would have read this book until it fell to pieces when I was a child. I bought it, among others, for my niece and nephew for Christmas, and it was the one my nephew took from the pile and firmly held onto for the rest of the afternoon. I caught him sneaking peeks at it and then putting it down because he knew it was social time not reading time (he definitely has some of my genes). I won’t say much here as I will be reviewing it soon in full, but I really loved this anthology. It has plenty of depth to it but is still very accessible for children, and the editors have selected a wide range of poems that represent different cultures and perspectives as well as all the old favourites.

Well, that’s it for the year! Let me know if you’ve read any of these, what are your favourite sibling books? And tell me what you’re thinking of reading in 2020. Happy New Year!

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