A simple enough concept - my favourite ten books out of 65 I've read this year (according to LibraryThing). They aren't necessarily published this year, but I will restrict myself to one book for each author.
10. The Blood of Others, Simone de Beauvoir
This book had been sitting on my shelf (or floor, or wardrobe depending on the particular room organisation at the time) for more than a decade since I did an Existentialism evening class at Edinburgh University in the late nineties. I admit I started reading it because I felt the need to read something 'worthy', and it's not exactly a pleasurable read, but I was drawn in by the central theme of the tension between personal freedom and responsibility to loved ones and society at large.
9. The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
I also read Oryx and Crake this year too, of the two I preferred this one - better and more engaging characters, but I think if you're going to read either you should read both of them.
8. I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett
After Going Postal was on telly at Easter I re-read many of my favourite Discworld books, but this was the only new one I read. I really like the character Tiffany Aching and while I didn't think this was the best of the series, in particular I thought the ending was a bit of an anti-climax, this book was almost worth reading just for the return of Eskarina Smith. Also the whole 'witch-hunt' theme was quite topical.
7. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
Got this in hardback for Xmas and I'm glad to say it was worth lugging the hardback around for the two weeks it took me to read it. I always find historical novels a bit more engaging than straight up history books, and this period, crucial as it is for religious freedom in England, is fascinating to me.
6. Makers, Cory Doctorow
Another Xmas present - 3D printing lets the hacker culture of the internet infiltrate the world of 'made things'. Somewhat unusual in that the 'evil Corporation' weren't actually completely evil, all in all a completely reasonable seeming extrapolation from current trends into a near future world.
5. Remarkable Creatures, Tracy Chevalier
Another excellent historical novel from Tracy Chevalier. The whole idea of Victorian women digging up dinosaurs offers plenty of themes for exploration - women fighting for respect in a man's world, evolution vs creationism, class war, and the nature of science itself, as well as the more personal interactions of the main characters.
4. New Model Army, Adam Roberts
Adam Roberts frequently writes books which make me think about things in a whole new way, the concept of crowd sourcing armies is not one I'll forget in a hurry either.
3. The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt
The liberal movement, the emancipation of women, authors, artists and the Victoria & Albert Museum, all in a beautifully described world - hard to see how I'd not love this book.
2. Surface Detail, Iain M. Banks
Do we need the concept of hell to frighten us into being good people? What if we didn't need to leave it to chance - technology evolves to the level where hells could be created as virtual worlds where people would get what they deserved after their physical bodies die? Fascinating stuff, and an excellent book for Culture addicts especially with the ending.
1. One Day, David Nicholls
I laughed out loud, I cried, I loved this book. Since both of the main characters went to Edinburgh University and later moved to London it wasn't going to be hard for me to identify with them, so many familiar places and moments, and a great story.