My favourite books of 2006

Books-of-the-yearA year’s worth of novels. How do I choose which ones make my Top 10 list?

I read so many interesting books this year. I didn’t have any specific reading goals other than to read more foreign novels (that is, books in translation) and more books from my homeland (Australia). I did well on both fronts, reading some 15 books in translation and 12 Australian novels.

Most of my reads were modern fiction (released in the past five years) with a handful of classics thrown in and a helluva lot of Irish stuff. All up I read 82 books, a fine increase on last year’s 30-odd total.

My favourite read for 2006 was, without question, the extremely profound Snow by Orhan Pamuk. I found the book so incredibly thoughtful, weighty and sagacious that I could not bring myself to review it.

My top 10 (in alphabetical order by book title) is as follows — hyperlinks take you to my full review:

1. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (German)

2. A Gesture Life by Chang-Rae Lee (American)

3. A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry (Irish)

4. Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers (English)

5. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (English)

6. Sixty Lights by Gail Jones (Australian)

7. Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Turkish)

8. Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indriðason (Icelandic)

9. Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey (Irish)

10. The Sea by John Banville (Irish)

And an extra one thrown in for good measure:

The Barracks by John McGahern (Irish)

What books did you fall in love with this year?

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17 thoughts on “My favourite books of 2006

  1. Top ten lists – love ’em!
    Reading John McGahern this year has been a sheer delight. I too read All Quiet on The Western Front (for bookclub) – what a disturbingly profound read that was. I still have to read Seastian Barry!
    I’ve not heard of the author or title of 5, 8 or 9. I will have to investigate.
    I read your post about the bookshops in the West End. I subscribe to Foyles e-mail updates – I would love to visit the store (post refurb and all!). I noticed that you bought The Road. I was able to pick that up a couple of days ago for 40% off 🙂 We may have been purchasing it around the same time on opposite sides of the world! I’m still “uming and ahing” over the Ballard.
    As to Snow – I think you’ve convinced me to finally purchase it 🙂

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  2. Nutmeg, McGahern was a revelation to me — I just adore his work. And “All Quiet on the Western Front” was very moving, especially in the context of the state of the world today. Funny that we bought “The Road” at the same time; I’m really looking forward to reading it.
    Dorothy, I thought your post on “Snow” was wonderful, and really hit the nail on the head. I often find that if I don’t review a book within a week of reading it, I just never get around to it. But with “Snow” I just didn’t know where to start — although I tried on several occasions.
    Kate, “Snow” hooked me from the word go. I found it very atmospheric, although I sometimes found it confusing that the main character was called Ka and he was visiting a place called Kars — or was it the other way around?

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  3. I agree with you about “Snow,” it was very profound, but I just couldn’t wait to write about it. Maybe it’s because I loved it so much that I just had to stand on my little blog mountain and scream, “Read this book!” And to think I may never have picked it up if Pamuk hadn’t won the Nobel Prize. I have “My Name is Red” in my to-be-read pile and I’m looking forward to reading it.
    As for the book I fell in love with, that’s “The Remains of the Day,” which I’ve already mentioned somewhere in the comments. It was my first Ishiguro novel and I’m itching to get my hands on more of his work.

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  4. Brandon, I’m tempted to read more by Pamuk, so will be interested to hear what you think of “My Name is Red” when you get around to reading it. As for “Remains of the Day”, have you ever seen the movie? It’s one of my all-time faves.

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  5. Oh! That sounds like a possibility. I can’t commit just yet, but thanks for the “heads up”. I’m definitely going to consider it. 🙂

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  6. Great list! Unfortunately, the only one I have read is All Quiet On the Western Front and you already know that I loved that one. Inspired by your post, I wrote one myself for my blog, but here’s my list for 2006:
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    Women’s Diaries on the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel
    The Stone Diaries by Carol Sheilds
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr
    Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
    The Way I Found Her by Rose Tremain
    Pierwszy Krok w Chmurach by Marek Hłasko (in Polish)
    Happy reading in 2007!

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  7. I’ve been tempted by Persephone Books since you first posted about the endpapers. Seeing that Mrs. Pettigrew actually made your top ten forces me to try one out! Thanks for introducing me to this press!

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  8. Sara, you’re very welcome. The books are lovely to look at, but even better to read, if Miss Pettigrew is anything to go by. I keep meaning to visit the store in central London, but I know if I go in there I may well never come out!!

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  9. I highlighted my ‘top ten’ in my year end post on my site. It was very hard to choose and I was forced to knock out some that I really enjoyed (‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ and ‘Rebecca’ come to mind).

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  10. Tracker Knacker, All Quiet is listed as number one, but that’s only because the books are in alphabetical order by title — it doesn’t mean it’s my ultimate favourite book of 2006. That honour goes to Snow.

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