It's that time of year when the media start to churn out the reviews of the best books, films, songs, etc. The Guardian kicked it off yesterday with their best books of the year chosen by authors and I haven't read hardly any of the titles they mentioned. So this set me to wondering why and I realised it's because I don't often read books as soon as they are published. So then I sat and thought about the books that I had read this year and there are a few that I read as they came out.
The first one was Rook by Jane Rusbridge, which I was lucky enough to go to the launch of at Bloomsbury publishing house in July. This is Jane's second novel and just like her first, The Devil's Music, it's a multi-layered tale of family secrets, which is my favourite kind of story. Her writing is so evocative and transports you completely to the Sussex coast, while her characters are so real that you feel an instant affinity with them. Jane's Rook wins my vote for the best novel published in 2012 that I've read.
My second choice is by a writer that I discovered for the first time this year, Fiona Robyn. Her latest novel, The Most Beautiful Thing, was my first introduction to her work and it prompted me to read all of her back catalogue. It tells the story of two episodes in the life of Joe, first as a teenage boy then 15 years later as a grown man, and she captured his voice so well. It was very sad but had a vein of hope running through it too, which is what I aspire to in my writing. This came a close second in my favourite reads list for this year.
In the world of my writing I have been working on some short stories, thinking about the editing of my first novel (but not actually doing it!) and starting to write some scenes and a plot outline for the second. I've also launched the Retreat West Short Story Competition and will be taking my first foray into self-publishing at the end of 2013 when I publish an anthology of the winning and runner-up stories. I've got lots of great judges lined up for it, including Jane Rusbridge, so all of you readers who are also writers I hope you will enter.
So, tell me, what have been your favourite reads of 2012? I'm always looking for recommendations and introductions to authors that I haven't read before.