Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
A Bookish Discovery I made in 2019:
Out of Sync Reading and Reviewing
I know this TTT is supposed to be about “Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019,” meaning “books, authors, blogs, websites, apps, products, etc.,” but if you have some patience with me, I think you’ll see how I’ve spun this for my own purposes. See, ever since I started this blog in 2013, I’ve made up lists of my favorite books, but I reserved these to include only books I’d read that had been released in that same year. However, it recently occurred to me (in late December, to be truthful) that sometimes I’ve read books a year or two after publication, and I just realized that if had I read them during (or before) their publication year, they would have received places of honor on those annual lists. So, my bookish discovery of 2019 is that these books need to be highlighted, even though they didn’t qualify to get onto my top five or top ten books for the year they were published!
So, here are my top ten books that might have been contenders for my favorites of the year, had I read them the year they were published.
(Links in this post are to my reviews of these books!)
“Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales” by Margaret Atwood, Short Fiction, published 2014, reviewed 15-Nov-19. I tried to get the ARC for this collection of short stories, but was turned down. The concept, and of course the author, made me decide I still wanted to read it, so when I won a voucher for The Book Depository, this was one of the books I bought. I’m glad I have it on my shelf (and no, you can’t borrow it, so don’t even ask)!
“My Counterfeit Self” by Jane Davis, Fiction, published 2016, reviewed 11-May-19. Jane Davis is an indie author I’ve enjoyed for many years now. Her book “Smash All the Windows” got an honorable mention in 2018, which encouraged me to purchase a couple of her books when they were on special at Amazon. Because this one is about a poet, it quickly became my favorite of all her novels (but I have two more to read, so who knows, that might change). If you don’t know her work, I strongly suggest you correct that oversight as soon as possible.
“Hag-Seed” by Margaret Atwood, Fiction, published 2016, reviewed 21-Jul-18. Another Atwood book that I tried to get the ARC for, but was refused (funny, I did get the ARC for her dystopian novel “The Heart Goes Last” – go figure what publishers will allow). The idea of a modern version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” was what interested me in this novel, mostly because it’s a play I knew nothing about – never read it, nor seen it in production. Now I know more; thanks, Margaret.
“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton, Fiction, published 2014, reviewed 02-Dec-17. This book received a whole lot of hype back when it was published, and I generally avoid those. But my husband picked it up on one of his trips abroad. I was originally daunted by its length, but when I finally got around to reading it, the opening line grabbed me right away. Now I have to read her other two books, only one of which do I have on my shelf!
“Shtum” by Jim Lester, Fiction, published 2016, reviewed 27-May-17. This was a total whim purchase. We chanced upon this book while wandering around the bookshops of London, and picked it up on a “3 for the price of 2” sale, thinking “why not”. I had never heard of the author before, but the idea of a story about a Jewish man dealing with his autistic son and somewhat estranged father, while he watches his marriage break apart sounded intriguing, and it did not disappoint.
“A Place Called Winter” by Patrick Gale, Fiction, published 2015, reviewed 16-Feb-16. Again, for some reason, no one wants to give me ARCs for any of Gale’s novels, no matter how much I beg or grovel. That’s why we have to buy them ourselves. No matter, we love his writing, and are willing to wait until the more affordable paperback comes out, because… good things are always worth waiting for, as they say (and I just started reading his 2019 novel).
“The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” by Rachel Joyce, Fiction, published 2014, reviewed 14-Feb-15. I fell in love with Rachel Joyce’s writing when she published her debut novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” and her subsequent novel “Perfect” cemented that feeling completely. When I saw she had a type of sequel to Harold Fry, I made sure to buy it as soon as it came out in paperback. There’s no question in my mind that if I had purchased and read it earlier, it would have made my favorites list of 2014.
“Almost Famous Women: Stories” by Megan Mayhew Bergman, Short Fiction, published 2015, reviewed 25-Dec-14. This was one of those books that I took a chance on to get the ARC, and read it well before it was published. I’m including it here because I forgot all about it when I came to doing my favorites of 2015. Mind you, that was the year I read a veritable tsunami of five-star novels, and I was still trying to limit myself to the top five, so I left off all the short story collections that year. Shame, since it really was a wonderful read.
Now, it might not be fair to add these next books, because I wasn’t blogging when these books were published, but still, I could have at least mentioned them when I did my first “best of” list, or I could have done a “best of” list for years prior to my blog’s start date. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and I’m going to rectify this oversight once and for all (and hey, it is a top TEN list, not a top EIGHT list)!
These are the only two books I’ve read that were published in 2012 to which I gave five-star ratings.
“The Beginner’s Goodbye” by Anne Tyler, Fiction, published 2012, reviewed 20-Oct-13. Tyler is one of my favorite authors, but there was a long period of time when I forgot about her, and didn’t seek out her novels. This book was a kind of re-introduction for me, and I’m glad I found her again, since her writing is well worth it. I love her quirky characters, and her dry, but witty writing style which never tries to be flowery or poetic. It seems her publishers appreciate my reviews because I got approval for two ARCs of her novels in recent years, and I just got the ARC for her 2020 book!
“A Perfectly Good Man” by Patrick Gale, Fiction, published 2012, reviewed 14-Apr-14. This book came out before I even started blogging let alone getting ARCs. My husband picked this one up when he found this in paperback on one of our trips abroad – yes, we’re both big fans of Gale! I believe the reason it took me so long to write a review is because my husband wouldn’t let me read it until he’d finished with it, and he’s always reading bunches of books at the same time, which slows down not only his completing a book, but also my getting my hands on these books, and of course, I’m a slow reader as it is! (Now if only NetGalley or Edelweiss would let me have ARCs of Gale’s novels…)
There was only ONE book published in 2011 that I read and thought worthy of a full five stars.
“The Cat’s Table” by Michael Ondaatje, Fiction, published 2011, reviewed 26-Oct-13. My regular readers already know that Ondaatje is one of my favorites, if not my #1, favorite author. I was so excited about this novel that I purchased it almost the minute it was published (in hardcover, no less), and read it as soon as it was in my hot little hands. I see that I wrote a review of this novel that same year (which I published on a few content sites), and I still think that only “The English Patient” outshines this novel, but only by the minutest of whispers.