Books of the Year

Books of the year is a fairly loose description of a talk I gave recently.  At the bottom of this piece is a list of the titles and as you can see they are a fairly idiosyncratic bunch.

I start with some winners of the major prizes, although as this also includes a couple of books shortlisted for next year’s Costa Prize even that is not straightforward.  This is followed by some trends  – the tendency for every thriller to have “The Girl Who” in the title morphs neatly into the fashion for comedians to write children’s fiction.  The “Channel 4” trend of calling books “The Secret Life of” comes next followed by the medical autobiography (confusingly Dr Adam Kay has followed Harry Hill into the Stand up comic world just as Dr Hill has turned to children’s stories…)

The Puzzle genre has been given a fillip by the GCHQ book which has had a number of imitators – Bletchley Park Brain Teasers and Spy School to name a couple.  It will surprise no one that Brexit has spawned a host of titles from the serious Tim Shipman to the less so – Five Escape Brexit Island.  Jane Austen’s bicentenary has resulted in a host of biographies.

Surprising titles come next:  Sarah Perry’s Essex Serpent came out of nowhere – a sprawling  novel with some good bits.  Sue Gee has been writing novels for a while but Trio looks like it might be her breakthrough. The Lost Words written by Robert McFarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris follows no trend and is completely marvellous.  Simon Jenkins could make the telephone book interesting and Ysenda Maxtone-Graham would make it amusing.

Two books I missed and have only just caught up with but which are worth it are the short but perfectly formed A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler and the first in the Jackson Lamb sequence of wry and hugely entertaining spy books by Mick Herron.

Local books  – I was lucky enough to hear nearly all the authors talk about their books and they were all great but none greater than Barnaby Rogerson.

Three very different approaches to History – three excellent books.

Four biographies of which two are actually novels

Two new thrillers and one which just refuses to leave our bestseller list – the good news is that Terry Hayes has a new book out in September – The Year of the Locust.

The top ten fiction bestsellers are next followed by mention of two special authors that we lost in 2017 – Helen Dunmore and Michael Bond.

Three new books of great charm for different reasons.

And Finally….Five books which have been big this Christmas and will be massive in 2017 when they finally arrive in paperback

Happy Christmas!

One Tree Books – Best of 2017


Lincoln in the Bardo                         George Saunders

Days Without End                             Sebastian Barry

Reservoir 13                                      Jon McGregor

Fragile Lives                                      Stephen Westaby

The Power                                         Naomi Alderman



Secret Life of Cows                            Rosamund Young

The Inner Life of Animals                 Peter Wohlleben

The Secret Life of the Owl                 Jon Lewis-Sempel

Girl On the Train                               Paula Hawkins

The Girl with the Lost Smile Miranda Hart

Bad Dad                                                          David Walliams

This Is Going to Hurt                         Adam Kay

When Breath becomes Air               Paul Kalanithi

Bletchley Park Brain Teasers           Sinclair McKay

Spy School

All Out War                                        Tim Shipman

5 Escape Brexit Island



The Essex Serpent                             Sarah Perry

Trio                                                   Sue Gee

Lost Words                                        Robert McFarlane

100 Best Railway Stations                Simon Jenkins

Terms and Conditions                      Ysenda Maxtone-Graham

Jane Austen The Secret Radical        Helen Kelly


Ones I Missed:

A Whole Life                                      Robert Seethaler

The Slow Horses                               Mick Herron



The Shipwreck Hunter                     David Mearns

In Search of North Africa                  Barnaby Rogerson

The Road to Little Dribbling Bill Bryson

Tree Survey

Petersfield at Work                           David Jeffery

Hampshire Through Writers Eyes  Ed. Alastiar Langlands



The  Silk Roads                                Peter Frankopan

Sapiens/ Homo Deus                        Yuval Noah Hariri

Prisoners of Geography                   Tim Marshall




Everyone Brave is Forgiven Chris Cleeve

Sweet Caress                                     William Boyd

Keep on Keeping On                          Alan Bennett

Pour Me                                            AA Gill



I am Pilgrim                                        Terry Hayes

The Dry                                             Jane Harper

The River at Night                             Erica Ferencik


Top Ten Fiction Bestsellers at OTB:

The Dark Flood Rises                        Margaret Drabble

Lie With Me                                        Sabine Durrant

This Must Be the Place                      Maggie O’Farrell

The Noise of Time                             Julian Barnes

How to Measure a Cow                     Margaret Forster

Conclave                                                         Robert Harris

All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr

Exposure                                                        Helen Dunmore



Paddington Pop up                            Michael Bond


2 Books for Younger Readers:

Survivors                                           David Long & Kerry Hyndman

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls    Elena Favilli


3 Charming new books:

Poetry Pharmacy                               William Sieghart

Another  Year of Plumdog                Emma Chichester Clark

Year of Wonder                                             Clemency Burton-Hill


Sure to be Bestsellers in Paperback in 2018:

My Absolute Darling                         Gabriel Tallent

The Sparsholt Affair                          Alan Holinghurst

Munich                                                           Robert Harris

A Legacy of Spies                               John Le Carre


Book of the year!

The Book of Dust                               Philip Pullman


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