As ever, picking a Top Anything is so difficult because it’s all subjective and my feelings about some books change over time. These are MY Top Ten Reads of the year but it’s not to say that if a book didn’t make it to the list that it wasn’t any good. It might have only JUST missed out on the list but these are the ones that stuck with me or I rated very highly at the time of finishing. There’s still time to go and buy these as gifts and I’d urge you to spend those book token vouchers on any of these as soon as you receive them!
Life by Keith Richards
A Classic in terms of autobiographies and, quite frankly, an utter must for anyone who is a fan of music. Even if you’re not a massive Stones fan, this book is a true insight into the music industry in several eras and what it’s like to be one of the most famous rock idols still going. Hilarious, cruelly honest and heart-breaking.
The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell
A true treat for the festive season. I can think of nothing better than curling up on Christmas Day, next to the fire (or radiator) and dipping into a snow-bound adventure. This read like an established classic and would be perfect for fans of Narnia, Lyra’s Oxford and the Potterverse. Fun, scary and full of heart.
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one but I completely loved it. It’s aimed at the Stranger Things fanbase I’d imagine but it’s a great in-between while you wait for the next series. No science-fiction or horror but just a jolly-good tale about a gang of boys in the 1980s who have a goal in mind and how life gets complicated when you start thinking about people other than yourself and your small needs. Think The Goonies or Stand By Me with the nerd factor upped to 100. A great one for lads and lasses.
After the Fire by Will Hill
Already a big fan of Will Hill, I requested this book pre-publication because it just ticked a few boxes when I read the blurb. I think I read this is a couple days and it was quite literally the book I couldn’t put down in 2017. Stunning writing as ever but filled with hugely complex characters and a story that is just so gripping that I can’t believe that more people haven’t been raving about it. LOVED IT.
My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner
A late entry to this year’s list but a worthy one. I love Sally Gardner’s work and Maggot Moon is one of my favourite books ever so the chance to review her new work had me bouncing around like an excited fangirl. A superb story that makes science-fiction, thriller and drama into a wonderfully-packed novel. Fans of The X-Files will probably get a kick out of this one, much like I did, but the sci-fi factor is just a backdrop to this great unfolding puzzle that centres around two friends and the people they meet. A real corker of an ending too!
One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
Keris is one cool lady and not just because she runs a Harry Styles-based twitter page. Her novels are always a sweet delight but this one just might be my favourite. It really struck a chord with me and was pitch-perfect in my opinion when it came to talking about grief and living after a death. Plus lots of pasta.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I nabbed a copy of this one because I’d seen it on a lot of ‘Top Lists’ and loved the title. A strange but uplifting tale about a woman who’s life has gone off the rails because of events in her past but there’s a hint of darkness in her bland and friendless life. Then, Eleanor makes a friend (much to her initial dismay) and her life changes with a great tumbling bang. Totally see why it’s hit a lot of ‘top’ lists this year and that’s why it’s on mine too.
I’m Not With The Band by Sylvia Patterson
I was recommended this book by the lovely Keris Stainton because not only am I music fan but she thought I’d appreciate the fangirlness of it. Keris was so very right but I think this is a fab book for anyone who is a fan of music and music idols because it looks at the highs and lows of fame and infamy as well as what it’s like to be that person on the outside of it all while still being a lot closer than most people would ever get. It’s also fantastic for a great musical anecdote. Loved it from start to finish.
Encounters by Jason Wallace
A book that might have gone under your radar when it came out but I just loved it way more than I expected. Set in Africa, not long after Apartheid has ended, and a strange event happens at a school leaving a large number of school children certain that they’ve seen alien beings. We follow the stories of a few witnesses and see how their lives change in the days that follow when an American team come to investigate. Brilliantly done and about a lot more than alien space ships.
Tin Man by Sarah Winman
A tragic and tender tale about the loving bond between three people and how their love for one and other changes and bends over time. A very strong contender for a lot of best of year book lists, I’m sure, and one that I still think about now. Sad, hopeful and thought-provoking all in one big breath.