For my penultimate post on Reading Women, a selection of “awards”. Here are some of the most memorable books that I’ve read this year, ones that made me laugh, think and cry.
Best Laugh-out-Loud Book (Non-fiction)
Unexpectedly, a psychology book! Cordelia Fine is a witty and clever writer, and her examination of the various kinds of self-delusion that we all practise is very, very funny. Look for the ‘Good Samaritan’ experiment that shows us up as less than saintly, in spite of good intentions. Highly recommended.
Most Ridiculous Murder Weapon (Crime Fiction)
This one was a re-reading, and it is still my favourite absurdity. The plot of Christie’s Towards Zero strains credulity in so many ways , it’s hard to know where to begin – but the deadly back-handed tennis stroke, with a racquet especially fitted with an iron knob (!), is as good a place as any. Several other ridiculous fictional murder weapons can be found here, in Murder by Toaster.
Best Pack-Up-And-Go Book
Travel writing at its best, Justin Marozzi’s The Way of Herodotus: travels with the man who invented history. A wonderful book, combining learning with humour and elegance, and leaving me keen to go back to the Mediterranean, and on to the East from there, as soon as possible.
Most Delicious Book
Easily Barbara Santich’s new book, reviewed here. Santich is a historian, an unpretentious foodie (yes, there is such a thing – just not enough of them!) and an excellent writer.
Best Book Club
Le Carmen in Paris, where readers meet in a bar housed in an opulent nineteenth century building. We need to recreate an atmosphere like this in the Barr Smith Library’s gorgeous Reading Room – we already have creative writers unofficially using it as a Writing Room, lets add to this!
Lots of competition from the wonderful ebooks around, but the Touch Press edition of The Wasteland, with all of its imaginative use of new technologies, has to be the winner. And it costs ( much) less than a bottle of French champagne – or the average print book!
Most Loved Library
Again, there are some great contenders out there – but I can’t go past the new library in Johannesburg, where the true value of libraries, our contribution to humanity, is enshrined.
Most Unreadable Book (2012)
Definitely Fifty Shades of Grey, a triumph of commercialism over intelligence if ever there was one. Calling it ‘mummy porn’ is insulting to mummies.
The Author Award (2012)
For the talented best-selling author who restored my faith in contemporary fiction, after my depressing encounter with Grey. Anna Funder is an accomplished author, and as Stephen Romei reported in The Australian ( Aug 18):
While All That I Am had sold 90,000 copies at the time of writing, which is Tim Winton territory, it is but a drop in the Fifty Shades ocean. Funder is mock rueful. ‘Yes, obviously I didn’t have enough sex, enough handcuffs.’
The Reader’s Award
Shared between Louise (for her contributions to the blog and her willingness to share her enthusiasm for reading), Ainsley (for her help with the NYR events and for her sense of humour) and Janette (for coming to every single event we organised, from the launch, to Children’s Books, to Chocolate and Champagne Readings.) Thank you to my favourite Reading Women.