Sometimes, in addition to the books I read for work, I also read things for less instrumental reasons, almost for pleasure, although the boundary is a bit fuzzy (in both directions). This is a list not so much of ‘best books’ of the year, more a list of the books associated with my favourite book-buying/book-reading experiences of the year.
1). Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation, because this is the kind of holiday I would like to take.
2). Let’s Talk About Love, by Carl Wilson, which is the best, and probably only, book about Celine Dion I am ever going to read.
3). Double Negative by Ivan Vladislavic, my favourite writer-whose-books-you-can-only-seem-to-buy-in-South-Africa.
4). The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll: Collected Music Writings 2005-09, by Robert Forster. I bought this for a couple of quid in Bristol, not knowing that he wrote music criticism, and discovered some new things to listen to as a result; I almost cried when reading his appreciation of co-Go Between, Grant McLennan.
5). James Salter’s Last Night, short stories, no sentence of which can be read quickly, really good for reading in the bath.
6). Michael Tomasky’s Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!, my first e-book, I read this in one sitting on a flight to New York city. There were not screaming crowds awaiting my arrival.
7). Gideon Haigh’s Ashes to Ashes. I have come to dislike most things about cricket, leaving one or two pleasures at the edges, like Mike Selvey in The Guardian, and Vic Marks on the radio, and Gideon Haigh; this is really only a collection of his daily newspaper columns of the 10 Ashes Tests of 2013-2014.
8). The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, by Robert Caro. This is a cheat, since I haven’t actually read all three of these this year, but I have been dipping in and out of each one, having read the fourth volume a couple of Christmas’s ago, and then seeing Bryan Cranston play LBJ in All the Way in March. The Bluecoat second-hand bookshop in Liverpool has had these three volumes sitting around for years, so I finally succumbed and got the lot for £20, a bargain).
9). The Portlandia Cook Book. I’ll give this a try, but nothing with pickles.
10). Simon Critchley’s Memory Theatre. I read this in two sittings, to and from Disneyland Paris on Eurostar, which seems appropriate in all sorts of ways.