A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
I read this book over several months as part of a read-along, but I started it in July and it was by far the best thing I read that month. In fact, A Suitable Boy is my favourite book from the whole year, hands down. It's an epic tale of four families in post-partition India, but it's more than that too, it's an examination of what it means to be human in all it's forms (it reminded me of Anna Karenina). The links between the characters and the number of plots that Seth does well are awe-inspiring. Honestly, he is a genius. Apparently the sequel, A Suitable Girl, is due out in 2013 and I can't wait.
In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddy Ratner
The Cambodian genocide as seen through the eyes of a child, In the Shadow of the Banyan is a grim but beautifully written book. It's a novel but is based on the experiences of the author, and all the fear of her experiences comes through alongside her love for Cambodia. I couldn't tear my eyes away from this book.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Up until this point, I had only read Jane Austen books that I had first seen an adaptation of (Emma, Pride & Prejudice), so Sense and Sensibility was the first Austen book I went into 'blind'. I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up! But I loved the story of the two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, one led by emotions and one who suppresses them. I'm also getting better at spotting Austen's famous wit! In 2013, I hope to read at least one of the three Austen books I have left.
On Black Sisters' Street by Chika Unigwe
And now for something completely different to Austen! On Black Sisters' Street is about four African women who have become prostitutes in Brussels, seduced by dreams of the wealthy West. When one of their number is murdered, the women come together and start to share their harrowing stories. I liked how Unigwe didn't take the easy way out by making this story too moral - three of the women knew they were going to be prostitutes and made the decision purely for money. Not an easy read, but a good one.
Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi
Regular readers will know that I am taking part in a read-along of Peirene Press novellas and the best one so far has been Beside the Sea. A worn out mother plans to take her two sons on a holiday to the seaside, one last trip. You can guess the tragic ending before it comes, but Olmi's portrait of the mentally ill, exhausted mother unable to cope with life is unsettling because of how true to life it is.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
After resisting this series for over a year, I am now officially hooked. I've read the first two books within the space of three weeks (and these are big books) and am desperate to start the next. Martin's world-building is so good that the books are pure escapism, full of plots, twists and turns. The characters are constantly plotting against each other and it's impressive how Martin keeps up with it all. The high fantasy elements are minimal, so this series will appeal to even non-fantasy readers like me. Expect reviews of the remaining books in 2013, I've got to know what happens next!
2012 was a great year in books, I hope 2013 is the same.
Have you read any of the books on my list?