Archive for December 27, 2013

My favourite books for 2013

December 27, 2013 25 comments

Hello everyone,

Lyon_FourviereThat’s it, 2013 has flown by and we’re almost at the end of December. It’s time for me to look back on my reading year and share with you what I thought were the best books I’ve read. This year I’ve read more crime fiction than the previous ones so I’ve picked 10 titles of literary fiction and 5 titles of crime fiction. I’ve read approximately 50 books, which isn’t a lot for a book blogger. My reading time is limited and sometimes, when I read in English, I’m very slow. It’s been a good year with few abandoned books and few disappointments. So what’s the verdict and which are the best of 2013?


Extreme mid-life crisis and artistic calling.

The Moon and Six Pence by William Somerset Maugham is an amazing tale about an artist that leaves everything behind to follow his passion. Strickland is based upon Paul Gauguin. I love Maugham for his style and his way to entwine deep reflections with the narrative, all this wrapped in a wry sense of humour.

Love x-rayed

In Notre Cœur, Guy Maupassant makes the autopsy of a love story. It’s beautiful, sad and lucid at the same time. Madame de Burne shies away from commitment. She loves her independence. André Mariolle was a happy bachelor before he is caught in her net. Soon he wants more. Can she even give him more?

I is somebody else.

In A Virtual Love, Andrew Blackman explores the issues of our internet world. When IT guy Jeff Brennan impersonates the famous blogger Jeff Brennan to seduce a girl, his life takes another dimension. He weaves a web of lies around him and fragments his personality. Who is he? How do social networks and internet life impact our flesh-and-blood life?  

Down and out in Kristiana, Norway.

Hunger by Knut Hamsun overwhelmed me. This novel is based upon Hamsun’s experience as a starving writer. The book shows in a crude way what poverty and starvation can do to one’s humanity.

Long is the road.

18% Gray by Zachary Karabashliev is the crazy road trip from Mexico to New York of a grieving and failed photographer. A poignant tale about broken dreams and relationships. A funny look on grassroots America.

Love and marriage don’t go together like horse and carriage

With The Odd Women, George Gissing manages to write both a militant book for the rights of women and a sensitive novel about relationships. I thought it was very modern for its time.

Contempt by Alberto Moravia

Upcoming billet. Superb. 

Zola’s take on stock exchanges.

In L’Argent, Emile Zola depicts the stock-exchange crisis at the end of the Second Empire. It follows La Curée as we find Saccard again. It just shows that we haven’t invented anything in this century when it comes to manipulating the stock market.

Netta was a fish but she had George in her net and wouldn’t let him off the hook.

Set in London in 1939 and more precisely in Earl’s Court, Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton describes the obsessive, consuming and destructive passion that George Harvey Bone has for the attractive Netta Longdon

You need to read this: Death in Beirut by Tawfiq Yusuf Awwad

Death in Beirut is about the student movements in Lebanon in 1968. Written in 1972, it captures beautifully the struggle of a generation for the liberalisation of mores and changes in their country. It shows how their efforts were doomed to failure in a country set in the middle of the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Swimming without getting wet

I hope that Matar y guardar la ropa by Carlos Salem makes it into English. This crazy book is set in a nudist camp where a hit-man in a middle of his mid-life crisis is sent on a mission that mixes his real life with his illegal occupations. Hilarious and gripping.

“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window” – Raymond Chandler.

The Blonde by Duane Swierczynski could be the twin book of the above mentioned Matar y guardar la ropa by Carlos Salem. I can’t imagine what kind of wacked tale these two could write if they joined their efforts. Swierczynski is definitely a find and I have his Fun and Game for 2014.

“Why in hell did the past have to catch up with him now?”

Build my Gallows High by Geoffrey Homes is a classic Noir tale. Red lives an orderly life when his muddy past catches up with him. I’d like to watch the film version, now.

Manchette pushes all the right buttons.

Le petit bleu de la côte ouest by Jean-Patrick Manchette. You want to discover French crime fiction ? Try this one, you won’t be disappointed.

Incidences by Philippe Djian

Djian is not a crime fiction writer but I think that Incidences is more crime than literary fiction.

That’s all folks. I enjoyed sharing these books with you.

Have you read any of those? I hope some of them appealed to you and if by any chance I helped you discover new writers this year, then I’m happy for it. For me fellow bloggers are an important source of inspiration to find new books. Almost all the books on this list came to me through other bloggers. So thanks Guy, Max, Nino and Vishy.

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