It would be traditional at this time of year to offer a roundup of the previous twelve months, mentioning particular gems that have stood out from the crowd and caught the writer’s attention, but because I read so few contemporary books in 2011 I’ve decided not to attempt anything comprehensive. I think the best book that came my way that was actually published in 2011 was Robin Robertson’s poetry collection ‘The Wrecking Light’, but the best book that I read overall last year was Geoff Dyer’s ‘Out of Sheer Rage’, originally published in 1997. A genre-bending masterpiece, it was both funny and profound, and introduced me to the work of one of the best English authors currently writing. I wrote about it here.
When I was a lot younger I used to keep a list of the books I had read every month in the back of my notebook, mainly so I could amaze myself, and others, at the sweep and range of my interests and erudition. I might revive the practice, for slightly less smug reasons, purely to keep a record of what passes through my hands over the year. In January 2013, I will confidently be able to recall exactly what I read and when, and next year this traditional post will be slightly easier to write.