I set myself a target of reading a book a week in 2016 and managed to surpass this with 58. I’ve set myself the tougher goal of 60 books – or 5 a month for 2017 as, without a house move to undertake this year, I should be able to fit in more reading time.

Goodreads very helpfully tots up the pages – and I managed 16,927 apparently – with the shortest book being a short story collection by Jill Rutherford and the longest being Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Right off I must disclose that I didn’t read every single page of the Ovid – just those stories relevant as background to the book I was writing at the time (The Green Ribbons) – but I think it’s fair to count it as a completed read in the light of all the miserable hours I spent on this in the original for O Level Latin!

Here are my highlights. (Part 2 to follow)

Image of the front cover of the novel 'A God In Ruins' by Kate Atkinson

My stand-out best read of the year has to be A God in Ruins. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading it as I love Kate Atkinson. I absolutely fell in love with Teddy – one of the most likeable characters I have read in recent years. I also loved the insights into the life of a bomber pilot and the skilful way in which Atkinson flitted about from time period to time period, character to character in a feat of breathtaking authorial confidence. I wept when I finished it – even though I guessed what was coming. Having read Life After Life I had a clue, but kept telling myself “No – she could never pull that off” – but she did. My father was an RAF pilot in WW2 – not in Bomber Command – but Coastal Command. Reading the book made me think of him a lot – and all the extremely brave and terribly young men of that generation. Brilliant.

I decided to read as many Historical novels as I could – as while I write in that genre, I had not read much Historical Fiction since my schooldays. I have always tended towards Literary Fiction and as a result felt out of touch with what my fellow HF writers were doing. I found most of these really enjoyable reads – several in preparation for or inspired by the Historical Novel Society Oxford conference in September 2016, for which I was honoured to be on the organising committee.

Inspired by a recent Facebook post from Matt Haig in which he rightly decries the snobbery of book classification by genre, I am going to mix up the books and not classify them – which is exactly how I read them – starting with one of Matt’s.

Image of the front cover of the novel 'The Humans' by Matt Haig

Matt Haig The Humans – I loved this quirky, funny tale of an alien inhabiting the body of a Maths professor he has killed off to prevent the human race discovering the secret to a complex maths problem. I only bought it because I met the author – so glad I did! A clever but touching story that I read in a sitting.

Image of the front cover of the novel 'The Humans' by Matt Haig

Human Rites by JJ Marsh. This is my first encounter with DI Beatrice Stubbs but it won’t be my last. A well-written international detective thriller with an interesting art crime background, moving from London to Hamburg, Amsterdam and the remote Sylt islands off the Danish coast. 

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