Farm Lane Book Awards 2012

I’ve already listed the best books published in 2012 and my favourite reads of the last year, but there were many other books that stood out for different reasons. Here are the other books that deserve a special mention:

Lost Memory of Skin

Best treatment of a difficult subject: The Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
This book looks at the way sex offenders are treated in American society. It is eye opening and thought provoking. Just a shame the ending wasn’t very good.

Author I’m most excited about discovering: Melvyn Bragg

Most Memorable Scene: The one with the cat and the piano in Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles


Most surprising book: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
I thought this book would be really dull, but it captivated me.

Best premise: The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf

Best ending: The Cook by Wayne Macauley

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Most memorable character: June from Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Best audio book: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green

Worst book: Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis

Best writing: A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard

HHhHThe Street Sweeper

Most thought provoking book: It’s a tie! The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman and HHhH by Laurent Binet
These books both deal with a similar subject matter. Both will make you think about the way history is recorded and what it is important to remember. They are my favourite books of the year and I highly recommend them.

Most gruesome scenes: The Cow by Beat Sterchi

Book which has improved the most since reading:  The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
I wasn’t that impressed with this book when I was reading it, but on completion everything slotted into place and it went up in my estimation. Several months down the line my appreciation of this book continues to grow.


Book of the year: HHhH by Laurent Binet

HHhH is one of those rare, faultless books. It is thought provoking, ground breaking and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Do you agree with my choices?

Would you like to suggest any more categories for me to place books in?

This will be my last post of the year as I’m taking a short blogging break to celebrate Christmas/New Year.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

27 replies on “Farm Lane Book Awards 2012”

Brilliant (and fun) list, Jackie! There are a few on your list that I definitely want to read.

I agree with you about the most memorable scene (in fact a couple from ‘Care of Wooden Floors’ spring to mind). That book would also be a contender for me for the ‘improved most since reading’ award, though for that I’d have to go with Christian Kiefer’s ‘The Infinite Tides’ which when I finished I thought was just a very good debut but which has really grown since, with images and characters from it regularly popping vividly into my mind.

‘Memorable character’ has got me thinking – I tend to remember images from books and the way they made me feel more than characters. For me I think it’d be a three-way tie: Saul Indian Horse from Richard Wagamese’s powerful and moving ‘Indian Horse’, Keith Corcoran from ‘The Infinite Tides’ and Rob from Randolph Stow’s ‘The Merry-go-round in the Sea’.

Best ending for me would be another tie: Ian McEwan’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ (I think I actually clapped!) and Christopher R. Beha’s ‘What Happened to Sophie Wilder’, which celebrates the power of fiction and what it can do.

Best premise? Ooh, Robert J. Lennon’s ‘Familiar’ instantly springs to mind – I thought that was very clever and well-executed.

Author I’m most excited about discovering HAS to be Alex Miller. It’s been a long while since I’ve come across an author who I’ve felt I have to read everything by, and already this year I have devoured five of his novels, with a sixth on the tbr pile.

‘The Street Sweeper’ could easily have won the most gruesome scenes award too, surely? I don’t think I’ll ever get that gas chamber description out of my head, and I suspect that was the point.

I’m pleased to say that this year I’d really struggle to pick a worst book. Not a single book in 2012 has made me want to throw it across the room, nor have I abandoned any. There were a few I had serious problems with but all had redeeming features. My least favourite though would probably have to be Colm Toíbín’s ‘The Testament of Mary’.

Book of the year? Ooh, now you’re asking… I’ve read 157 so far so narrowing it down to one is very difficult. My favourite novel published in 2012 would be either ‘The Street Sweeper’ or ‘The Deadman’s Pedal’. My favourite story collection of the year would be Caitlin Horrocks’ ‘This is Not Your City’. But my overall favourite book is one I read way back in January: ‘Journey to the Stone Country’ by Alex Miller.

Thanks for all your inspiring reviews throughout the year. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas too.

David, Thanks for telling me your choices – all very interesting! You have persuaded me to read ‘The Infinite Tides’ and ‘The Merry-Go Round in the Sea’.

Those Holocaust scenes in ‘The Street Sweeper’ would win the prize for most disturbing/shocking scenes – I can still vividly remember them all too. Disturbing is a little bit different to gruesome (although ‘The Street Sweeper’ would probably come second in the gruesome stakes too) There is something about blood splattering everywhere in an abattoir that is just yuck, as opposed to the real horror of the gas chambers.

I’m glad to see ‘The Street Sweeper’ so high up on your 2012 list. It does seem to be getting a bit overlooked on the main press lists.

Alex Miller is an author I’m yet to try, although he has been on my wishlist for a while. I’ll try to find one of his books next year.

Thanks for all your wonderful comments this year. I look forward to trying your recommendations and sharing many more bookish thoughts next year.

Jackie this was a fun post! I have already added so many of these to my wishlist per your reviews (HHhH, The Street Sweeper, etc.) and now I’ve added two more: The Lost Memory of Skin and Birdsong. Oh, and A Death in the Family. And I still have others to investigate! You keep me busy! 😉

Annabel, I already know your thoughts on HHhH – luckily I believe all the best books divide opinion! I’m sure you”ll enjoy Wooden Floors. Happy 2013!

I had no idea that’s what The Memory of Skin is about. It seems like everyone who reads Tell The Wolves I’m Home falls in love with its main character. I really need to get to The Street Sweeper soon. Great post.

Wow! Well, I guess HHhH really did rock your world this year! I just keep shaking my head. If I can just get a toehold on the books I “have” to read then get on with the business of the good stuff. I can’t wait.

That’s a great list of awards. The only one I’ve read is ‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ and, although I enjoyed it, it hasn’t really stayed with me unfortunately.

My most surprising book is 50 Shades! I really thought it would be dreadful and wanted to hate it but I actually liked it. Can’t wait to write my review – I feel I could do a PhD on it!

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2013.

I’m going to work on my year-end wrap up tomorrow (nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh?) I love your categories … I think I might have to borrow some of them for my own wrap-up.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful and here’s wishing you happiness and lots of 5 star reads in 2013!

I love your list Jackie and am super chuffed you included Beatrice on it! Good luck for 2013 and I look forward to popping by now and then to see what you’ve been reading!

I think Tell the Wolves I’m Home is the one I’m most intrigued by – not surprising considering its buzz, but I’m especially glad to know it has such a memorable character at its core, because that is an important aspect of books for me.

Christy, Yes. I find the best books normally have the most memorable characters. I think that is the main reason Wolves is getting so much (well deserved) buzz.

I tried Tell The Wolves I’m Home on audio, but the narrator’s voice was so incredibly irritating to me I abandoned it about one third of the way through. I might have to read it to myself, though, as everyone seems to love it.

I have Sebastian Faulk’s newest book to review, A Possible Life, and I look forward to it after your praise of his book Birdsong. Not, of course, that they’re one and the same.

You’ve intrigued me with A Suitable Boy. It just shows how sometimes we need to stick a bit longer than usual with a book to know for sure how it will work for us.

Bellezza, A lot of books don’t work that well on audio. I think you might enjoy it if you give it another try in print, although I can see it might be hard to shake off the annoying narrative voice the audio has now put in your head. 🙁

I’m sure I would have abandoned A Suitable Boy far earlier if I hadn’t been assured I would love it. There were some wonderful sections early on, but I kept being thrown out of the narrative by the introduction of a seemingly endless number of new characters. I think I’m on top of them all now. Fingers crossed!

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