November Wrap Up and some thoughts about deciding on my books of the year

In November I read and blogged about books related to or featuring seasons in the title. The only season I didn’t represent in my choice was autumn. There are books about autumn but somehow none of them were immediately relevant to my blog. I had originally planned to write about Diana Gabaldon’s book The Drums of Autumn but realised that I had talked about her Outlander series when  I reviewed The Fiery Cross here and I didn’t have a lot to add.

For December I am intending to read and blog about books to do with all kinds of celebrations. As we pass Christmas I shall also muse on my favourite books of the year in different categories and publish my personal lists.

It is becoming very common now for all types of writers and organisations to choose a book or books of the year or a collection of good books to read over the Christmas period. Today (2 December) Waterstones announced their book of the year presumably in time to encourage more sales over Christmas. The book they have chosen is Lyrics by Paul McCartney which retails at the amazing (to me) price of £75 – I shall not be buying it. I fully expect bloggers and bookshops and newspapers to start publishing their annual lists very soon – I shall leave mine until after Christmas Day as I’m not selling anything !

The Daily Mail recently published their choice of books to read on a winter evening. I found the article via Twitter as a number of people were commenting on it. The article was didvided into a number of genres which were interesting because of what they revealed about how people think about fiction. The categories were Literary Fiction, Historical, Crime and Thrillers, Psycho Thrillers (only one book), Contemporary (only one book), Popular, Debuts, and Science Fiction and Fantasy. The groupings attracted quite a lot of comment.

One group of respondents was outraged that Romance was not listed as a genre. They rightly point out that romance is the biggest selling genre in the UK and for many publishers it is the romance titles and the profit they bring in which pay for the literary fiction titles which sell many fewer copies but win the prizes. This reflects the fact that romance titles are seen as lightweight and not “real” novels in comparison with others – a view perpetuated, I suspect, by those who don’t read them. I like a good romance and although they tend to be predictable they can be very satisfying reading and I have quite a number of them on my shelves although I note that I don’t often choose romance titles to blog about so maybe I am affected by the same thinking without realising it.

The books which we often describe as “Women’s Fiction” are contained in the Popular section. The choice of title for these books rather begs the question whether that means that all the other books are unpopular ? Surely crime fiction is also popular ? Have they just tried to avoid a difficult category heading and ended up making a different problem ? I find the whole thing rather odd.

I’m not sure what titles I will use for my own lists of books when I select them and they may be as idiosyncratic as those chosen by this newspaper. I have no particular views about the books chosen for the article as they were all published in the past year and I don’t tend to read a lot of very new books – my lists will consist of books read by me in 2021 for the first time.

I shall also be keeping an eye out for all those lists posted by bloggers and appearing elsewhere over Christmas although I really shouldn’t add any more books to my unread pile until I read some more !

Keep reading

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