Each January I give you my list of Top Ten books of the year just ended. It’s always terribly hard deciding which books to include. Looking back through the little notebook in which I record each year’s books, I find that in 2019 the books that really stood out for me were all non-fiction, so I’m going to give you a non-fiction list first.
In alphabetical order according to the surname of the author, these are the works I’ve loved this year:
• The Lost Books of Jane Austen – Janine Barchas
• The Chocolate Wars – Deborah Cadbury
• Saving Mona Lisa – Gerri Chanel
• The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 – Antonia Fraser
• Father and Son – Edmund Gosse
• The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and their Year of Marvels – Adam Nicolson
• The Library Book – Susan Orlean
• Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why it still Matters – Anne Boyd Rioux
• Britain by the Book – Oliver Tearle
• Educated – Tara Westover
However, in between these and other non-fiction works, I’ve also had huge pleasure in 2019 from some truly fabulous crime writers. A good crime novel is so wonderfully satisfying – a beginning, middle and end, a story that takes you to frozen Scandinavian landscapes or the Yorkshire Dales, a bit of brain-testing as you try to work out who committed the crime, and some memorable characters along the way. So this year I’d like to add a list of the crime writers I’ve loved this year (again in alphabetical order):
• Julia Chapman has a really nice series set in the Yorkshire Dales with a woman who runs a matchmaking agency and a ‘retired’ policeman. I love this part of England so it’s fun to read novels set there.
• Sulari Gentill’s crime series is set in 1930s Sydney with a nice hero, Rowland Sinclair. It’s fun reading mysteries set closer to home, but also to learn about Sydney in that rather tumultuous era.
• Cora Harrison has set her “Burren Mysteries’ in 16thC Ireland, well before the time when technology could help solve a crime. I like her main character, Mara, who is a ‘Brehon’ or legal judge.
• C.S. Harris’s series is set in Regency London (the Regency is my favourite era in English history) with the gorgeous Sebastian St Cyr as the hero.
• Jorn Lier Horst is a Norwegian crime writer (a retired policeman himself) and his Inspector William Wisting series is fantastic. I got my Dad reading and loving them too.
• M.L. Longworth sets her novels in Aix-en-Provence, a city I love, and she has lots of gorgeous food in her books, as well as good mysteries.
• Torquil Macleod is Scottish, but his crime novels are set in Malmo in Sweden, with a very nice women detective named Anita.
• I have read all of Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series, set in Yorkshire. He is wonderfully consistent and his books are always an excellent read.
• Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series is soooo good. I’ve had the immense privilege of meeting Gunnar, quite the loveliest man in all of Norway. His novels are set in the gorgeous city of Bergen.
• Martin Walker’s ‘Inspector Bruno’ series set in the Dordogne is rich with food, French customs, and many contemporary issues of French society. I have listened to the books on audio and adore them!
I continue to read and enjoy Donna Leon, Håkan Nesser, Jacqueline Winspear, Patricia Wentworth, Quintin Jardine, Tony Parsons, M.C. Beaton, and Alison Bruce.
So my resolution for 2020 is to read more literary fiction as that has been a gap on my list for 2019. Oh, I need more reading time!
The Lost Books of Jane Austen by Janine Barchas
The Chocolate Wars by George Eliot
Saving Mona Lisa by Gerri Chanel
The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 by Antonia Fraser
Father and Son by Edmund Gosse
The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and their Year of Marvels by Adam Nicolson
The Library Book by Oliver Tearle
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why it still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux
Britain by the Book by Oliver Tearle
Educated by Tara Westover
books by Julia Chapman
books by Sulari Gentill
books by Cora Harrison
books by C.S. Harris
books by Jorn Lier Horst
books by M.L. Longworth
books by Torquil Macleod
books by Peter Robinson
books by Gunnar Staalesen
books by Martin Walker