You’ve seen my yearly Top Five lists, but how about a “best of the best” list?
For those of you who have been following this blog, you’ll know that I’ve been producing a list of my favorite books published for each of the years I’ve been blogging. While I probably should have done this after my 2017 list, so I’d have the top five of the last five years, but I didn’t think of it back then, so I’m going to give you instead my top seven of the last seven years. In any case, I’m hoping this will become a new yearly feature, that is unless you all get sick and tired of it (let me know, okay)!
Anyway, here were the #1 ranked books of the past years:
- 2013 – “A Tale for the Time” Being by Ruth Ozeki
- 2014 – “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
- 2015 – Two books tied for first place:
- 2016 – “Flight of Dreams” by Ariel Lawhon
- 2017 – Three books and a novella tied for first place:
- 2018 – “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje
- 2019 – “The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt” by Andrea Bobotis
Wait a minute – that’s 11 books over seven years. Well, that means that first I’m going to have to cut down the ones that tied in 2015 and 2017. But… rather than discard them altogether, they surely deserve to be included as honorable mentions. So let’s start there:
The first three honorable mentions were relatively easy to choose. In descending order, they go to:
#4 – The novella, “The Deal of a Lifetime” by Fredrik Backman (partially because it isn’t a full-length novel, and well, there’s some magical realism in there that isn’t totally my thing, even though I ignored that in the rating).
#3 – Backman’s “Beartown” and,
#2 – “My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises,” also by Backman.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t love these three books or Backman’s writing, but if I have to compare them with the others, then to be perfectly honest, they’re just that tiny touch of a minuscule bit of a level slightly lower than the rest (by a whisker!).
That leaves my #1 favorite honorable mention, and the book that came devilishly close to getting a spot on this list as “The Music Shop” by Rachel Joyce. I probably should have let it tie it for 7th place, but I really wanted just one book from each year, so I’m letting it take the top honorable mention spot instead.
That leaves me with the following, which again, was no easy task to rank. And the winners are:
- In 7th place: “A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler
- In 6th place: “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
- In 5th place: “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje
- In 4th place: “All the Rivers” by Dorit Rabinyan
- In 3rd place: “Flight of Dreams” by Ariel Lawhon
- In 2nd place: “The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt” by Andrea Bobotis
- In 1st place: “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki
You might be wondering how it is that my favorite author (Michael Ondaatje) didn’t take the top of the top of this list? Well, to begin with, the sheer beauty of the writing in the Rabinyan book was what pushed that one up the list. The Lawhon novel was the most engrossing historical fiction novel I’ve ever read (and yes, I was really ticked off that this didn’t bring Lawhon more recognition for her amazing writing). Bototis moved up not only for the beautiful writing, but also for the originality and the fact that it was a debut novel. As for the Ozeki, beyond a doubt, that is a book that has kept me thinking about it more than any other on this list, ever since my first reading. Furthermore, while I loved Warlight, it isn’t my absolute favorite of his books (that’s still reserved for “The English Patient” with “The Cat’s Table” an extremely close second). I also know that I almost couldn’t write the review of Ozeki’s book, because I loved it so much.
You also might wonder how an obscure Israeli author’s novel overtook what I think is Tyler’s finest work to date, not to mention pushing down the debut novel that skyrocketed Fredrik Backman to international acclaim. The answer to that is simple – Rabinyan’s book is the finest re-imagining and modernization of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” that I’ve ever read. Agree or disagree with these decisions as you will! (I know you will. Or will you? Hell, I’ve changed my mind on this list at least 20 times already, so go right ahead.)
There you have it, my best of the best for the years 2013-2019.
Who knows, but maybe my #1 book for 2020 will beat them all out and grab the top spot from Ozeki this year!