Attempting to win a non-existent prize in a non-existent contest for the most ridiculously early New Year’s Resolution for 2014, I resolved to read 10 books from The Guardian’s List of Best Books of 2013 as selected by a number of well-known writers and critics.
I couldn’t find 10 books I really wanted to read so I am also in line to win the non-existent prize for earliest failure to keep a New Year’s Resolution.
Does the list-maker influence the choice? Possibly. Hermione Lee’s Penelope Fitzgerald: a life appeared on the lists of John Lanchester, Penelope Lively, Hilary Mantel and Helen Simpson. I’ve read all of these writers and hold them in high esteem. Same with Mark Haddon, but although he’s a good writer it’s the subject matter of the The Great War, edited by Mark Holborn and Hilary Roberts, that is both topical and compelling.
Blurbs can help – who could resist “a chilling psychological thriller portraying the disintegration of a relationship down to the deadliest point when murdering your husband suddenly makes perfect sense”. Not me, so I’ve added The silent wife by A. S. A. Harrison. It was on John Lanchester’s list and some say it’s better than Gone girl.
I chose Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda off Lionel Shriver’s list because Ivy Pochoda is such a good name and because it features a character who is “a Juilliard drop-out and barfly… forced to confront a past riddled with tragic sins of omission.”
I’ve also picked two off William Boyd‘s list: Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig and Breakfast at Sotheby’s by Philip Hook. Not just because they both have breakfast in the title, but because they are about the endlessly fascinating art world.
Richard House’s The Kills has been called a staggering work but it’s 1003 pages long – ‘a novel in four books’. The fact that I’m game for the attempt is what’s truly staggering. The Luminaries will be a walk in the park after this baby.
So, my list of books I will read from The Guardian Best Books of 2013 is as follows:
- Breakfast at Sotheby’s by Philip Hook
- Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig
- The Great War, edited by Mark Holborn and Hilary Roberts
- The Kills by Richard House
- Penelope Fitzgerald: a life by Hermione Lee
- The silent wife by A. S. A. Harrison
- Visitation Street by Ivy Pochada
All safely reserved. First come, first read. I can’t wait to see where they’ll take me and I may even record how I get on.