Book of the year 2011

Here is the annual award for my book of the year. It is totally subjective, based on my own peculiar reading habits. Last year, a new publication of Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer took the crown. Who knows, it may just be that my habits and the best seller lists have collided a little more in 2011?
This year I have enjoyed some great fiction, getting especially hooked on a succession of Italian police procedurals by writers such as Andrea Camilleri and Michael Dibdin. It’s also worth noting that I have read more books as Kindle downloads than paper copies this year for the first time ever. I don’t expect that trend to ever reverse.

In descending order:

10/ Notes on them and us – Justin Webb
A great little read by the presenter of Radio 4’s Today Programme. This is an anthropological study on the relationship between us and our cousins across the Atlantic, based on Webb’s years of living stateside. An endearing read, which surprisingly argues for a divorce from our ‘special relationship’.

9/ Revenger – Rory Clements
No year of reading is complete without a good dose of Tudor historical fiction. Clements doesn’t disappoint in a year when we are waiting for a new CJ Sansom book.

8/ Dangerously Alive – Simon Guillebaud
I blogged on this autobiographical diary back in May when I read the book. Others have not enjoyed the diary approach, but the stories and faith of these boys own missionary adventures in Burundi still grip me 6 months later.

7/ Room – Emma Donaghue
My wife made me read this, and I held out until I was left at the airport in Zambia with nothing else unread on my kindle! I hated the first few chapters, annoyed at the child’s voice through which this captivating story is told. But stay with it, and it turns into one of the most gripping, moving, and disturbing reads of the year.

6/ The Popes – John Julius Norwich
This was my big book for the summer holidays. A biography of every Pope from the beginning until the present day. It deserves a mention just for that feat, but to then be written in such an engaging style that it becomes a page turner gets it on the list! The author certainly doesn’t hold back on dishing the dirt on the Papacy, but also speaks well of those who have worn the hat deservedly.

The Top Five will be posted tomorrow……


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