2013: A Year in Books

Well, I did it last year, and I like consistency – and love making lists – so I’ve kept a record this year too.

It’s not been such a vintage year this year* – I’ve read less for a start (BLAH BLAH marathon BLAH, bore off already), and there has been a significant increase in books that made me go a) meh or b) URGH, but there have also been plenty that have made me full to bursting with books-are-magic happy. GUESS WHICH ONES ARE WHICH.

2013books1Jon Richardson It’s Not Me, It’s You
Elizabeth Smart By Grand Central Station, I Sat Down and Wept
Stephen King The Long Walk
Kevin Powers The Yellow Birds
Stephen King The Running Man
Nicola Barker The Yips
Tea Obreht The Tiger’s Wife
Ned Beauman The Teleportation Accident
Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes
James Smythe The Testimony
Justin Cronin The Passage
Michael Chabon Telegraph Avenue



James Smythe The Machine
Lottie Moggach Kiss Me First
Will Hill Department 19: Battle Lines
Laura Dockrill Darcy Burdock




2013books4John Green The Fault in Our Stars
Donna Tartt The Secret History
Lauren Groff Arcadia
Grace McCleen The Land of Decoration
Francesca Segal The Innocents
Dan Rhodes Marry Me
A. M. Homes May We Be Forgiven
Deborah Copaken Kogan The Red Book
Gillian Flynn Gone Girl




Deborah Kay Davies True Things About Me
DBC Pierre Petit Mal
Claire Garber Love is a Thief
Alissa Nutting Tampa
Matt Rudd The English





Jenn Ashworth The Friday Gospels
Tupelo Hassman Girlchild
Scarlett Thomas The End of Mr Y
Morgan McCarthy The Outline of Love
Clare Conville, Liz Hoggard, Sarah-Jane Lovett Dangerous Women: The Guide to Modern Life
Stephen King Joyland
J. K. Rowling The Casual Vacancy
Katie Price Angel Uncovered**


Paul Mason Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere
Rob Evans, Paul Lewis Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police
Douglas Alexander, Dr Ian Kearns Influencing Tomorrow: Future Challenges for British Foreign Policy
Lawrence Potter This May Help You Understand The World


Kirstie Allsopp Craft
Peter Swanson The Girl With A Clock for a Heart
Robin Sloan Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
Jonathan Lethem Dissident Gardens
Erin Morgenstern The Night Circus
Naomi Wood Mrs Hemingway
Elanor Dymott Every Contact Leaves a Trace
Anna Whitwham Boxer Handsome
Samantha Ellis How to be a Heroine

And on Kindle:

Tyler Keevil The Drive
James Dashner The Maze Runner
Allie Condie Crossed
Elizabeth Gilbert The Signature of All Things

So, confession time… In an all-time record, there are three books that I didn’t finish this year. I won’t say which ones but two of them I got halfway through and just thought: NO. There were far too many exciting ones lying around the house to continue with something I wasn’t enjoying. The third I got three-quarters of the way through and got so incensed by a particular paragraph that I threw it at the wall. And I have never thrown a book at a wall before. (I love my books. And my walls.)
So, not much has changed with my reading habits. A good old dose of YA, a landslide majority of contemporary fiction. This year has seen an increase in my non-fiction reading (from one book in 2012 to eight in 2013).

I used my Kindle less for freebies this year, but I did use it to edit both my own work and others’, having read four manuscripts by my friends over the course of the year (one of them twice). I still adore physical books and I have finally run out of space on my bookshelf. Thankfully, however, I have commandeered a Del-boy bar to fill with my favourites. On visiting, friends have been quite appalled that it is not being used for its rightful purpose of displaying alcohol and a pineapple ice-bucket, but LOOK HOW PRETTY:


Anyway. I digress. Like last year, let’s ignore anything that I didn’t like or threw at a wall, and instead, here are the five things I thought were the most wonderful of all:

Samantha Ellis, How to be a Heroine this book, published next month, is a totally glorious celebration of what it is to grow up loving books, a fascinating examination of femininity in literature, and one of those books that made me want to sit and get drunk with the author. So instead I booked her for Speak Easy. She’s reading on February 11th and I can’t wait.

Lauren Groff, Arcadia – Gorgeous, lush writing, beautifully drawn characters, and whole chapters where I cried my eyes out.

James Smythe, The Machine – I’m a big fan of James’s and to be honest, I could happily have included The Testimony here as well. The Machine is stunning and sparse and addictively claustrophobic. A world so well-drawn that reading it on the hottest day of the summer was almost unbearable, and, in Beth, a character so beautifully flawed, so utterly sympathetic, that I genuinely missed her after the last page.

A. M. Homes, May We Be Forgiven – Initially I was a little repulsed. By the end I was totally charmed (and still a bit repulsed). Dark, funny, and really moving when you least expect it.

Elanor Dymott, Every Contact Leaves a Trace – Flawless writing, expert pacing, and really beautiful passages on the nature of memory and of grief.

2013: A Year in My Books

In January, the paperback of Someday Find Me was published, and then in October, I signed a deal with Vintage to publish my second novel, Lay Me Down (February 2015). I blogged about this last here, and all I’ll say is that I’m still super excited about it, and that 2014 is officially going to have to be a year of Getting Shit Done.

2013 is also the year in which I said goodbye to a much-loved agent and a big HELLO to a brand new, also much-loved one, who has been brilliant. And it has been the year which saw the launch of Speakeasy, the monthly literary night I co-host with wonderful Ian Ellard, about to see its ninth episode in February next year.

So, yeah. 2013, thanks for the pages.

And first stack of 2014: Bring it.


* See what I did there… See? It’s funny because it’s… Oh never mind.
** I got it in the Poundshop, okay? And no, this wasn’t the book I threw at the wall…



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