Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TOP 5 Most Favourite Books - Book Kaleidoscope Day 5

Book Kaleidoscope 2013 is hosted by Fanda at Fanta Classiclit. In here we will recapture our favourite moments, memories and experiences from fiction read in 2013. And lists! There will be lists. Who doesn't love a list?

The topic for Day 5 is TOP 5 Most Favourite Books, which is quite self-explanatory.

I read 65 books this year, out of which 33 were written by male authors and 32 by women. I couldn't be happier with this ratio as one of my goals this year was up the number of books I read written by women (Women's Prize long- and shortlist helped a great deal here). I read about 20 classics from my Classics Club list (actually more, since in January I hadn't joined with the Club yet), and I am also very happy with that number. It has been such a successful reading year!


5. Germinal, Emilé Zola

Germinal packs such an emotional punch that I can't even. I read it in the first half of the year and certain scenes are still so vivid in my head as if I had read it yesterday... Also, Zola has such a way with words. Everyone needs to read more Zola. One of the two favourite classics this year.
It's also one of my own favourite reviews I wrote on a book this year.

4. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde

THANK YOU BOOK BLOGGERS! I read four books by Jasper Fforde this year and his witty, clever, dry-humoured style is definitely my jam! Thursday Next books especially feel like those written for people with literary ADD (excuse the comparison but I think it's pretty accurate).

3. A Dance With Dragons, George R.R. Martin

It's probably not my favourite out of Game of Thrones books, but it is still so very good when compared to most other books. I didn't find it dragging or slow-paced at all (common complaints I had heard beforehand). I hope Martin finishes the series in my lifetime.

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

No review (yet?). This is one of the very few books that got a few tears out of the ol' cynical myself (seriously, I don't cry when reading books - no matter how sad they are). This book is packed with philosophical material and highly quotable passages, although it is not the kind of book I would recommend to everyone - I can see from a mile away how some themes that Kundera explores may just be boring for some people (living in a Communist society) or may upset some (the topic of sexuality and men-women relationships are extremely complex in The Unbearable Lightness of Being) - I think one needs a very open mindset to enjoy this book for what it is.

1. Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Back in April I dared to allow myself think "This just might be the best book I will read the whole year", and so it was. The thing is, I wasn't even in a particularly good condition when reading Life After Life - I was just in the middle quitting the ADs and thus feeling physically awful crappy (like constant vertigo and nausea crappy), but this book managed to keep me sane and distracted for many hours. I am also particularly happy that I really liked a highly hyped book - this is very rare for me! (Might have something to do with the fact that when I read it, I didn't yet have any knowledge of the hype at all...)

Simply put, Life After Life is a beautiful book. It is so elegantly written and weaved by Kate Atkinson, who uses a bit of an unusual technique (time-folding), which could easily go wrong/repetitive/majorly annoying.

The review I wrote on Life After Life is also one of my personal favourites among my own reviews this year.


  1. Interesting list. I used to have this huge crush on Kundera that I think started with this book (perhaps even with the philosophical/poetical first chapter). What I like about him is that he never sounds completely over your head, even when he probably is. It would be fun to revisit The Unbearable Lightness. I don't think high school me, the Kundera fan, was quite as sophisticated as she thought she was :D I am looking forward to your review.

    1. My crush on Kundera also started with this book and in high school. Since that was some time ago, I was highly interested in the re-read, and so glad I did - of course you are right that a younger person picks up very different things from this book.

      And that is so well put - he does sound very accessible, but once you start thinking about a passage or a thought in the book, it can go deeper and deeper, and you get completely wrapped up - I think he is one of the most thought provoking authors I have read.

  2. Germinal is the only book I've read, and yes, I agree to: "Zola has such a way with words".
    I'm curious about Life After Life, I haven't heard of this book, might check with Goodreads after this :)
    Thanks for joining the whole Book Kaleidoscope this year, Riv!

    1. Thanks for organising Book Kaleidoscope, Fanda - it was a lot of fun to put those posts together :) Happy new year to you!

  3. I am so happy to hear that you liked the newest GRRM books. I think I should get my hands on it soon, but I SLOGGED through the last one I read and so was kind of putting it off.

    And YAY Jasper Fforde :-)

    1. I don't know about the latest Martin book - I've definitely heard more negative opinions about it (compared to the other books) than positive, but for me personally this was a very good experience. It wasn't maybe the fastest paced book and the amount of characters involved is ginormous, so I can see why some people are not happy, but I think that if there has been some time between your last read in this series and this book, it could be a good idea to pick it up.

      And yes YAY Jasper Fforde! :)

  4. Yay, Game of Thrones! My aunt-in-law read Dance with Dragons recently and was then like 'I'm off to the library to get the next one'. She was most upset to find out that it hasn't been published yet! Hopefully the wait won't be too long....
    And happy blogoversary for tomorrow, I always enjoy visiting your blog and I'm glad that we've met ech other, even if only online :)

    1. Hahaha that must have been disappointing to learn that the next book is not out yet - I'm not the biggest fan of the TV-series so I was not pleased to learn that Martin is putting all his energy into that instead of the book, but. What can you do.

      Thanks, Sam! It has been a really nice year of books and blogging and making some good bookish friends!

  5. I've been hearing such good things about Zola, but he hadn't really been on my radar...will have to investigate!

    1. I remember from high school when we had to read Therese Raquin that Zola was that guy who wrote in a very naturalistic style and some of the scenes were really gross; I didn't have the best memories from him, nor the worst, but I'm really happy I revisited this year and will be reading more of his books. He is just so good.

  6. Lõpetasin "Life After Life" eile.

    Kuna mulle on sama autori eelnevad raamatud meeldinud, siis ei oodanud sellest vähemat. Ja ei pettunud, kindlasti mõtlen raamatule veel kaua - nii vaatepunktist kuidas üks väike erinevus võib saatust muuta kui kirjaniku vaatevinklist - kuidas tegelaste elusid võib erinevalt edasi arendada. Siit võiks võrdluseks juurde tuua "Troonide mängu" eripära, mis mõned lugejad eemale peletab - nimelt võib tunduda, et George R.R. Martin lausa mõnuga piinab oma loodud tegelasi. Meenutades Kate Atkinsoni Ursula võimalikke eluteid, tuleb ainult üks selline meelde, kus kõik läheb just nii halvasti kui vähegi võib.

    Huvitav oli minu jaoks ka minu reageering Ursula ja Hitleri liinile - esimene mulje "No see on küll liig!" ... aga kui Ursula ja tema tuttavate saatused olid korduvalt lahti rullunud, siis ei tundunud Ursula selline teekond enam "see on küll liig!", vaid midagi väga isiklikku.

    1. Ah, ma ei oskagi öelda, kuidas ma oleks arvanud, kui ma oleks varem mõnda Atkinsoni raamatut lugenud - aga võibolla oli isegi hea alustada seda nii, et ei olnud mingeid ootusi ega taustinformatsiooni. Aga ma kindlasti tahan veel lugeda mõnda Aktinsoni teost tulevikus! :) Ma ei suutnud ka peale Life After Life lugemist tükk aega millelegi muule keskenduda, just see, kuidas väike detail võib muuta kogu tulevikku oli väga mõjus. See osa, kus kõik läks nii halvasti, nagu vähegi võib, on mul siiamaani meeles ja seda oli isegi natuke iiveldamapanev lugeda.

      Mu meelest see Hitleri liin oli hästi tehtud, kuigi algul mul oli ka pisike tõrge - aga mulle meeldis, et see niimoodi kaudselt, ümbernurga oli lahendatud (Hitlerit ennast nagu polnudki, ta oli nagu nähtamatu) ja hoopis teiste, pealtnäha "väikeste" inimeste ja tegelaste kaudu.

      Huvitav kommentaar Martini kohta - mulle isiklikult oli see võõras, kui hakkas pihta see jutt, et Martin on mingi sadist ja mõnuga tapab tegelasi - mulle see oli nagu loogiline, et see on selline julm maailm, ja asjad juhtuvad. Või siis ei suuda ma tegelastega korralikult suhestuda, et alati jään pigem selliseks kõrvaltvaatajaks, jälgijaks, ja seega tegelast surm huvitab mind pigem üldise narratiivi kontekstis ja ei puuduta niiväga isiklikult.


Leave a comment if you feel like it - it warms my little bookish heart. :)