Wednesday, 29 January 2020

The best books read in 2019

Time to look at the books I have read during the last year, and which ones are the best ones. It is always tricky to choose some out of all you have read, but there are always a few books who raise above the rest. I read unusually many detective stories/thrillers this year. It was actually the biggest genre, 33% of all I read. Maybe it does not come as a surprise that I find four, or even five books, depending on how you calculate, among my list of best books. Here are also four non fiction books. I have cheated slightly, since the books by Sara Lövestam are three, which makes it twelve books. However, they are of a similar kind so I put them as one.

Here is the list in no particular order, only by genre.

If I have to choose one which is the very best, it has to be A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It is not only the best book of the year, but I think, also the best book I have ever read. It is a bold statement, but it really has everything that makes it a great classic. I read it in Swedish, but will now buy the book in English, and I will read it slowly again. I can see myself read this over and over, which is a big thing for me. I seldom reread books, although it does happen with favourite ones. You have my review under the link. If you have read it, please let me know what you think.

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams, is a historical fiction, partly based on true events. It was a wonderful and exciting read. I am a fan of historical fiction, but even if you are not, it reads like a very good fiction, and includes a mystery story, with a surprising end.

Saratoga Trunk by Edna Ferber is a classic. I have had it on my shelves for ages, and never got around to read it. It was a surprisingly fresh tale from the end of the 19th century. Edna Ferber is a new acquaintance, but makes for more reading.

The Man From St Petersburg by Ken Follett was a thrilling and exciting read, or listening. I listened to it during my holidays, and could hardly put it down. It is set at the outbreak of World War one, and contains a Russian anarchist out to murder a high profile Russian diplomat, a noble family where the wife is Russian, Winston Churchill and other politicians from that time. It is a thrilling tale, which also includes a complicated love story. It is so well told, and I realised that it was such a long time since I read anything by Ken Follett. He is a master. 

Two books by Nele Neuhaus enlightened my year; Snow White Must Die and Big Bad Wolf. Her books are so well written, well characterised with interesting life stories of the people involved in a crime. It is much more than a crime novel.

Another thriller writer of great class is Håkan Nesser. His books are, like Neuhaus', based on interesting life stories and characters. 'The Association of the Left-Handed' (my translation, I cannot see that it has been translated to English yet). However, any book by him makes for good, interesting and exciting reading.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is another great story of murder and 'who dunnit'. His first book, and one can hardly wait for the next one. Michaelides has made his amateur sleuth into a psychiatrist, which can be scary in itself. It is a great story, the detailed actions of the protagonists are given to us slowly. However, it is not until the very end you realise the whole horrible story.

During the Non fiction month I intended to read quite a few books. I was stuck with Simon Sebag Montefiore's great tale on Stalin. Stalin - The Court of the Red Tsar is a horrifying tale of a man who treated a huge country like his own family. Montefiore has had access to newly open archives and made interviews with survivors and relatives. It is a very detailed account on a tyrant, paranoiac who sentenced people to death on a whim. It was sometimes quite difficult to read about the horrors, and it took me quite some time to read it. Having said that, it is a very thick book. A must read. Montefiore has a talent for writing history and facts, that almost reads like fiction. In this case, facts overtake any fiction you could think of.

Last, but not least, three books by Sara Lövestam. She is a linguist, teacher and writer. Her talent is to make grammar fun! Yes, believe it or not. I was laughing myself through her three books on nones, verbs and the order in which words are placed in a sentence. I always thought Swedish was quite easy to learn, but was I wrong. She teaches people who learn Swedish as a foreign language. The examples she makes of how confusing the Swedish language can be, makes, at least me, revalue my idea.

Well, that was a few of my favourite reads last year. Happy to hear you views on some of the books. Do you agree? Or disagree? Reading is a very individual treat, that is why it is so interesting to discuss books with other people. It gives another look on how stories are interpreted.

All the best for the 2020 reading.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

My reading year 2019

Better late than never. I have been travelling for about six weeks, from early December to mid January. We have been visiting four islands in the Caribbean. A lovely holiday, of which I will write a few posts for The Content Reader Goes Outdoors. I managed to read 9 books, plus two books with a chapter a day or a few chapters; Moby Dick and The Merchant of Venice. The last one I just finished for the Classic Club, and Moby Dick is for end of February, a read-along with Brona at Brona's Books. Not much left of this thick book.

I read 98 books last year, divided in the following categories:

Fiction - 19 (19%)
Nonfiction - 19 (19%)
Mystery - 32 (33%)
Historical fiction - 20 (20 %)
Classics - 9 (9%)

Summary: 79 books of fiction, 81%, and 19 books of non fiction, 19%. I hope to make the figures a little bit more even for 2020. One of my goals this year is to read more non fiction.

Monday, 27 January 2020

2020 Mount TBR Reading Challenge

This year I will participate in much fewer challenges. However, this is one of my favourite one, and useful for my TBR shelves. Head over to Bev at My Reader's Block, to find all the details. As usual it is all about lowering the number of unread books from your shelves. I have lowered my list from 219 to 181 from last year, but I added a few as well. This challenge applies to all books ended up on your shelves before 2020. 

Challenge Levels:

Pike's Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancounver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR pile/s - My aim
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro*: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s (*aka Cerro El Toro in South America)
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

I set the same aim as last year. I am still due with a post on my challenges for last year. I only read 28 books from my shelves, which took me part up the Mount Vancouver. Have to do better this year!