My Favourite Books So Far This Year

It’s been a while since I blogged about the books I’ve been reading. This is largely because I’ve been a bit more open than usual to trying out different books, new writers, and genres that aren’t usually my thing.

I’ve read mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, poetry, children’s stories, books written centuries ago and brand new publications.

The result of that has been mixed in terms of my enjoyment of what I’ve read. That’s the risk you take when you try something different. I understand why a lot of readers stick to a familiar genre or even just a few authors they know they like, to avoid that issue.

Actually, it’s only a problem if you think of time spent reading books you don’t enjoy as time wasted. I’ve fallen into this way of thinking before, but I can see how everything I’ve read this year has helped me as a writer. If I didn’t like a book, then why? What was it about the author’s style that grated? Why was that ending so unsatisfying? Everything is research!

Best of all, there have been some real gems. I’d like to share my three absolute faves so far this year.

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The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by L C Tyler

A disillusioned writer by the enigmatic name of Ethelred Tressider finds himself thrown into one of his own murder mystery plots when his wife vanishes suddenly. A blend of detective story and literary allusion, this book makes the most of unreliable narrators and never takes itself too seriously. It quotes Winnie the Pooh and keeps you guessing as to the answer to the mystery. I’d never heard of this series before my mum recommended it, but I’m already looking forward to reading the next one.

out of the silent

Out of the Silent Planet by C S Lewis

I’m a big fan of C S Lewis, but had never read his lesser known Cosmic Trilogy. The story goes that Lewis and the rest of the Inklings were challenged to write their own myth, and only Lewis completed the task. The result is an adventure on a strange planet (fully aware of all it owes to H G Wells) that raises some interesting questions about how we treat other civilisations. I can’t remember the last time I read a sci fi novel, but as a linguist, I loved the attention to detail in the protagonist studying the languages of alien races, and I can’t help but wonder if Tolkien also remarked on this in his conversations with his friend Lewis.

Agnes_Grey_cover-OWC

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

You may remember that last summer I stumbled across Anne Bronte’s grave in Scarborough and became interested in the youngest Bronte sister whose work is less celebrated than Charlotte or Emily’s. Agnes Grey was a lovely read: light, with a social critique that reminded me at times more of Austen than the Brontes. I assume that she draws on her own experiences when she showcases ‘wrong ways’ to bring up children and the difficulties faced by governesses caught in dysfunctional family situations.

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30 thoughts on “My Favourite Books So Far This Year

  1. ellenbest24Ellen Best says:

    An interesting post, I try to keep genre free so my mind is open to different styles of writing. Reading a kalidascope of genre’s teaches skills we otherwise could miss. I want to read Agnes Grey now you have peked my ready bone and the Herring sellers apprentice. Thank you.

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  2. Ritu says:

    Is it bad that I didn’t recognise any of them?? But I’ve realised over the last year or so to keep my mind open regarding genres. I’ve found many new books that I never thought I’d like!

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  3. Debbie Harris says:

    Thanks for these ideas, I’m always looking for new reads so will make a note of them. I just read ‘A man called Ove’ followed by a ‘Handmaids Tale’ and thoroughly enjoyed them both, very different of course. Only this morning I updated the reading page on my blog!!

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  4. Modern Gypsy says:

    Interesting post. I find reading different genres and new authors really exciting. Sometimes I find new gems that I never would have otherwise. Sometimes, of course, it’s a bit of a disappointment! The Herring Seller’s Apprentice sounds interesting. I’ll pop it on to my wish list!

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  5. emfletche says:

    Always open to new recommendations of new books and classics! I genre hop all over the place, currently reading a Scandi-thriller, a crime book set in Zambia and a historical fiction set in the mid 19th century as recommended by the Richard & Judy book club!

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  6. Shallow Reflections says:

    I love your experimentation with reading, as I like to do that, too, and you are so correct about reading being the ‘classroom’ for us writers. I can see how everything I have read has taught me so much about writing – the good and bad. I am intrigued about the mystery series, love C.S. Lewis and never heard of this work, and have not read anything by Anne Bronte. Thank you for the introductions!9

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  7. anhistorianabouttown says:

    The Herring Seller’s Apprentice has been added to my re-read list, it sounds just the thing for a lovely afternoon read. (Or evening. Or morning. Really any time of day haha.) As soon as you tell me it quotes Winnie, I’m in!
    I do feel for Anne Brontë- so little recognition. I scarcely remember a single of my lit profs mentioning her. Still, I adore Agnes Grey and I’m so happy that someone else is singing Anne’s praises!!

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  8. Kelsey says:

    I agree with you when you say reading a book you don’t like is not a waste of time. It can certainly feel that way, but it is a great opportunity to reflect on the type of reader you are by asking those questions you stated above – and that is certainly not a waste! Also, I need to put that CS Lewis trilogy on my To Be Read list! Thank you for these recs. 🙂

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  9. angelanoelauthor says:

    I am also a fan of CS Lewis and hadn’t heard of this trilogy- shame on me! Also, any book that quotes Winnie the Pooh is okay by me. And as a Jane Austen fan, the youngest Bronte (Which I knew existed, but that’s about it) sounds like a book I must pick up. All in all, your book choices aren’t just great examples of your own adventure into a new literary openness, but an excellent invitation to me to do the same! Thank you!

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  10. lisaorchard1 says:

    I haven’t read any of these books. Hmmm…I’ll have to add one or two of them to my TBR pile. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendations!

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  11. Gary says:

    I’m with Angela, fan of CS Lewis, but so missed this trilogy; my bad! Mind you I have been stoic in my horror genre over the last few years filling in gaps that I’ve missed. Recently started dipping out into a variety of others because it helps with the writing. Will stick these on that TBR pile now so thank you for sharing 🙂

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    • Claire Wong says:

      I’m with you on this Gary – I can’t believe I didn’t know about the Cosmic Trilogy and it seems to be Lewis’ least known work as far as I can tell! Glad to have discovered and shared it now though 🙂

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  12. Becca Barracuda says:

    “If I didn’t like a book, then why? What was it about the author’s style that grated? Why was that ending so unsatisfying? Everything is research!” I totally agree! Sometimes when I’m lounging on the couch, reading a book, and my husband asks, “Aren’t you supposed to be writing?” I tell him that I’m doing research, and it’s true!! Also, I like the sound of The Herring Seller’s Apprentice; I may need to add it to my TBR list. 🙂

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