Let’s start with non-fiction and the best book I’ve read so far this year. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi tracks his journey from medic to patient as lung cancer works its way through his body. I know it sounds gloomy but the effect of reading such clear-sighted and intelligent commentary on life and death is exhilarating. I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes and her collection Making It Up As I Go Along is a blast of much needed fresh air into my new year.
On to novels: I love the way fiction transports us to different parts of the world and back and forth in time. The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis takes us to Georgian London, The Ballroom by Anna Hope is set in a West Yorkshire asylum before the First World War and The Maker of Swans by Pariac O’Donnell is an entrancing magical mystery tour. Love and faith struggle for the upper hand in Chinelo Okparanta’s impressive debut novel Under the Udula Trees, a long ago mystery disturbs the uneasy peace of a grieving couple in Julie Myerson’s The Stopped Heart, and Look At Me by Sarah Duguid introduces a new relative into an unusual family.