Making Lists

Making lists is always fun.  I recently gave myself the challenge of picking one book from each of the last twenty-one years for a special person’s birthday.  It meant a highly pleasurable trawl through bookshelves and a less entertaining search of endless websites.  I wanted to include some meaty non-fiction – Long Walk to Freedom, Lean In, Dreams From My Father, The Memory Chalet; a book about old age – Somewhere Towards the End; something humorous – The Uncommon Reader;  some Booker winners and some plain good reads. The fiction side was much more difficult – which books to leave out because two good ones came out in the same year etc. though publication in different parts of the world and different formats allowed for a little cheating…. I wanted it not to be all British (9 are not from this country) and reasonably gender balanced (10 women and 11 men). – books that I knew would be enjoyed and not just my favourites…. full list at the bottom.

In the meantime some good books have made their paperback appearance. John Boyne (author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) has written a very powerful novel, A History of Loneliness, told from the perspective of an Irish priest, a good man compromised by the choices he makes.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is not autobiographical though it is about a grumpy bookseller.  It is a warm-hearted tale of books that manages to be not too sentimental.

1994   Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil   John Berendt

1995   Long walk to Freedom                                 Nelson Mandela

1996   A Fine Balance                                               Rohinton Mistry

1997   The God of Small Things                              Arundhati Roy

1998   Poisonwood Bible                                         Barbara Kingsolver

1999   Dreams From My Father                             Barack Obama

2000   White Teeth                                                   Zadie Smith

2001   Bad Blood                                                      Lorna Sage

2002   Fingersmith                                                   Sarah Waters

2003   The Kite Runner                                            Khaled Hosseini

2004   Old Filth                                                          Jane Gardam

2005   Saturday                                                         Ian McEwan

2006   The Road                                                       Cormac McCarthy

2007   The Uncommon Reader                               Alan Bennett

2008   Somewhere Towards The End                    Diana Athill

2009   Wolf Hall                                                        Hilary Mantel

2010   The Memory Chalet                                      Tony Judt

2011   The Sense of an Ending                                Julian Barnes

2012   Lean In                                                           Sheryl Sandberg

2013   Harvest                                                           Jim Crace

2014   Life After Life                                                            Kate Atkinson


comments welcome……