Tuesday, 26 July 2011


It rarely happens, but on occasion I’m stuck for something to read. You know, that moment you browse your shelves and nothing appeals, that last book your friend said they couldn’t put down, you, well, put it down. And so, for what it’s worth, here are the five books I’ve enjoyed most this year. Take them or leave them. Actually, don’t leave them: your literary life will be poorer in their absence. And why not tell me your own favourite five reads of the year so far.

Many writers achieve a compelling, powerful narrative at the expense of beautifully woven prose – or vice versa. Robinson’s unsettling yet tender tale pulls off both and so much more.

More a novella, the voice quietly burrows beneath your skin as the horror slowly builds. The book’s power comes from the space left for the reader.

 Masterly crafted stories, one of the strongest collections I’ve read for years.

One of those wonderful novels to lose yourself in, content you’re in expert hands. Can hardly wait to see what Lee writes next. 

Regular readers of this blog will be sick of me banging on about this book. Tough. I first read it in one sitting, appositely by an open fire, in 2009. I did the same in early spring this year, savouring every beautiful and extraordinary page.


Caroline Green said...

I have had JUST that feeling lately Tom, so these recommendations are very welcome!

TOM J VOWLER said...

Great. Let me know what you think.

dan powell said...

Forgetting Zoe is already on my to read list but I'll be giving your other recommendations a look too.

Hope you don't mind, but your post got me thinking about my top 5, so I've posted them on my blog:


TOM J VOWLER said...

That's great, Dan. One of the only Irving's I've not read, but will have a look now.

Neil said...

Well, fingers crossed, I've just bought numbers 2,3 and 5 from your list. Will let you know how I get on.

TOM J VOWLER said...

Do come back and let us know what you think, Neil.


I want to read the Polly Sampson after your rec Tom.
You rec'd J Winsome and it is stunning. I keep telling people to read it.
So many books, so little time.
I loved Room. Oh that was last year.
Em, I loved an ancient EB White book about New York, 'Here is New York'.
Anne Enright's 'The Forgotten Waltz'.
Lots of others, I'm sure, just can't remember right now.

TOM J VOWLER said...
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TOM J VOWLER said...

Thanks for those, Nuala. I tend to stay away from hyped books, at least for a year or two, so not read Room. I also can't imagine it being as good as Forgetting Zoe, which is similarly themed. Have you read Gerard's other novels? I really enjoyed Schopenhauer's Telescope - less affecting and satisfying than JW, but good nonetheless.

Neil said...

Tom, well, I've been working my way through the list. "True things about me" – started really well, but the story and voice didn't hold me.

Julius Winsome was stunning. Really enjoyed it. Excellent in every way. Thanks so much for recommending it.

I started Polly Samson and thought it was great, but then got distracted. Will re-engage soon.

Thanks for so much for the recommendations.

TOM VOWLER said...

Thanks for popping back with your thoughts, Neil. Glad you enjoyed JW. I'm teaching it to my MA group this year. And I believe it's being adapted for film.