Monday, 19 March 2012

The best of 2012? Books I'm looking forward to reading

In the past month I've kept noticing that I'm getting hits from people searching for 'the best books of 2012' (and probably will get still more now I've actually written that phrase in this post). Alas, I cannot enlighten anyone on this subject, as I've only read a couple of books published in 2012 so far, so I'm not exactly qualified to judge. However, my fiction wishlist is growing by the week, so I thought it would be nice (and perhaps useful) to list some 2012 releases I'm really looking forward to reading.

Already out: Earlier this month I started (but had to put aside, due to lack of spare time!) The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein - a short first novel promising a true-to-life account of 'the tricky period between graduation and moving out of your parents' house'. Sounds like something I will definitely be able to relate to, so I'll be giving it another go when I have the chance. After that, Ayad Akhtar's American Dervish, about a young Muslim boy in America falling in love for the first time, is next on my list. I have Summer by Tom Darling on order from the library - the plot outline (a young brother and sister are left to fend for themselves on a remote farm one baking hot summer) is giving me vibes of Ross Raisin's exceptional God's Own Country, so I have high hopes... Two more debuts, The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen and The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall, are also on my wishlist. Finally, The Pleasures of Men, the first work of fiction from the historian Kate Williams, has drawn comparisons with Sarah Waters from critics, but received generally poor reviews from readers. However, I'm still intrigued by the idea of the story - a young girl in Victorian London is pitted against a serial killer known as The Man of Crows - and would like to make up my own mind about it, but I'll probably hunt for this one at the library rather than spending my money.

March: The 27th sees the publication of the sophomore novel by Australian author Kirsten Tranter, A Common Loss. Despite a few quibbles about characterisation, Tranter's The Legacy was amongst my favourite reads of last year, so I'm pretty excited about this follow-up. It's about a close-knit group of four who embark on a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate the life of their late friend, and while there are plagued by mysterious messages referring to various secrets they've been keeping. I think this will be a brilliant read, and I'm looking forward to buying it on the day of release (as long as my budget allows it).

April: I was never drawn to Sadie Jones' previous books: I know they were very popular and sold well, but for whatever reason, they just never interested me. However, her new one, The Uninvited Guests, sounds right up my street. Set in what sounds like a fine example of that mainstay of historical fiction, the crumbling country house, it follows what happens when the life of an aristocratic family is invaded by the 'uninvited guests' of the title - the lower-class survivors of a train crash. Following an excellent review from John Burnside in the Guardian on Saturday, I'm also keen to read the English translation of Gerbrand Bakker's The Detour. It's been described as a moody, atmospheric meditation on solitude and isolation - absolutely my kind of book.

June: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the third installment in the author's 'Barcelona quartet'. I'm not a fully-paid-up fangirl of the author and I actually found his best-known work, The Shadow of the Wind, rather average, but something keeps drawing me back to his writing and I find the themes of this series fascinating. This may not be a book I'm scrambling to buy the moment it's released, but I can guarantee I will be getting my hands on a copy at some point.

July: The second novel from Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident, is slated for publication on 19 July - the day after my birthday, excellent timing! As with Kirsten Tranter, Beauman's debut (Boxer, Beetle) was one of the best books I read in 2011, so I'm very excited that this new book is being released so soon. It sounds suitably mad and brilliant - 'a stunningly inventive, exceptionally funny, dangerously unsteady and (largely) coherent novel about sex, violence, space, time, and how the best way to deal with history is to ignore it'. Can't wait! For a bit of light relief I will definitely be picking up Empress of Rome by Kate Quinn. I've devoured both her previous adventures set in Ancient Rome and they were SO MUCH fun - I'll always be happy to read more.

August: I'm not sure I can wait until August for Karen Maitland's new book The Falcons of Fire and Ice. The beautiful cover would be enough to whet my appetite on its own, but the story, split between Portugal and Iceland in the 16th century, sounds excellent too.

TBC... I'm probably being a bit optimistic in imagining that the third and final book in Robert Harris's Cicero trilogy might be published this year, given that his most recent book only came out at the end of 2011. And it's probably even MORE optimistic to hope 2012 might see the release of Scarlett Thomas's next novel, provisionally entitled The Seed Collectors - there was a gap of four years between The End of Mr. Y and Our Tragic Universe, and as the latter was released in 2010 I'm probably going to have a much longer wait, but I can dream...!


  1. Ugh! Did you have too! I knew of around half of these but now I want to read all the rest and earlier ones in series as well, and I really don't need more!

    On a side note I actually bought Karen Maitland's 'The Gallows Curse' on a total whim the other day just thinking I read to many novels set in modern times and need some history, have you read it?

    Also can't wait for The Teleportation Accident, but sure your aware of that as Beauman is the reason I bugged you in the first place. ;)

  2. So glad I found this blog as this list is exactly what I've been looking for!