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Farm Lane Book Awards 2013

I’ve already listed the best books published in 2013, but there were many other books that stood out for different reasons. Here are the other books that deserve a special mention:

Five star reads:

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola (Audio Book) 

The Noonday Demon: An Anatomy of Depression by Andrew Solomon 

Encounter with Tiber by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes 

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon 

The Farm Lane Book Awards:

War with the Newts (Penguin Translated Texts) 

Best premise: War with the Newts by Karel Capek 

Dystopian fiction involving intelligent, talking newts? What’s not to love?!

The Noonday Demon

Most Memorable Scene: Andrew Solomon’s description of the assisted suicide of his mother in The Noonday Demon: An Anatomy of Depression by Andrew Solomon 

Most surprising book: The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling

I loved the Harry Potter series, but didn’t think JK Rowling would be able to transfer her skills to an adult novel. I was wrong. 

Best ending: The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood 

Most memorable character: Don Tillman from The Rosie Project (review coming soon)


Best audio book: Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola

Most disappointing book: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I’ve loved all of Hosseini’s other books and so had high expectations for this one. Unfortunately I found it so boring I abandoned it. 

Best writing: The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness

Encounter with Tiber

Most engaging story:  Encounter with Tiber by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes 

Buzz Aldrin’s experience in space shines through in this book that manages to effortlessly blend historical events with predictions for the future. It’s all scarily possible.

Book I’ve found myself recommending most often: Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton and Heen 

Best treatment of a difficult subject: Beneath the Darkening Sky by Majok Tulba 

An horrific insight into the plight of African child soldiers. It contains some disturbing scenes, but you can’t help fall in love with the little boy at the centre of this story.

Author I’m most excited about discovering: Émile Zola

Most thought provoking book: Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

Book which has improved the most since reading: Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam 

Just Imagine

Best children’s book: Just Imagine by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt

A great book to share with children of all ages. It is fascinating to discover their thoughts on a wide range of bizarre subjects, including whether they’d rather be made of lego, elastic or glass!

Far From The Tree: A Dozen Kinds of Love

Book of the year: Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon 

Far From the Tree is the most important book I’ve ever read. It is a masterpiece of research; giving an impressive insight into human relationships and our tolerance of those who are different. If everyone read this book the world would be a better place.

I hope this post introduces you to many fantastic books! Do you agree with my award winners?

I’m taking  a blogging break for Christmas and the New Year. Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog in 2013.

I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and wonderful New Year! 

See you in 2014.


28 replies on “Farm Lane Book Awards 2013”

I’ve only read one of your ‘award winners’, Jackie: Bonnie Nazdam’s ‘Lamb’, a brave book that I enjoyed but I’ll admit I haven’t given much thought to since. ‘Beneath the Darkening Sky’ is one I must get around to.

I like your ‘award’ categories – such a refreshing way of looking back at the year’s reading without having to do a ‘best of’ list. I’d love to play along, so these would be some of mine:

BEST PREMISE: Colin McAdam’s ‘A Beautiful Truth’ which is partly told from the point of view of a chimpanzee. Yes, it has been done before but if you’ve read anything else by McAdam you’d have thought it sounded like a car crash, but he pulls it off superbly and deservedly won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award for it.

BEST ENDING: Wayne Grady’s ‘Emancipation Day’, but only because I didn’t know the background to the book (I won’t spoil it in case a UK edition ever comes along) so it came as a complete revelation, and also because it is so perfectly judged.

MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER: Because he resonated with me so powerfully it has to be David Canaan from Ernest Buckler’s ‘The Mountain and the Valley’.

MOST DISAPPOINTING BOOK: J.L. Carr’s ‘A Day in Summer’ – having long considered ‘A Month in the Country’ a masterpiece, to find this earlier novel to be so dated and uneven was a huge disappointment.

BEST WRITING: Hmm… Michael Winter’s ‘Minister Without Portfolio’ features some of the most stunning writing I’ve read this year, and Mollie Panter-Downes’ ‘One Fine Day’ the most elegant, but Ernest Buckler seems to reinvent the English language throughout ‘The Mountain and the Valley’ so probably wins.

MOST ENGAGING STORY: An easy one: ‘Lonesome Dove’!

AUTHOR I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT DISCOVERING: There are a few – Charles Baxter, Raymond Carver, Olivia Manning, Christopher Koch… none to quite rival the excitement I felt last year about Alex Miller and Sam Shepard, but nonetheless authors I want to read much much more of. And the debut author that has me most excited has to be Lea Carpenter.

BOOK OF THE YEAR: A tie: ‘The Mountain and the Valley’ and ‘Lonesome Dove’.

Have a great Christmas 🙂

David, Thanks for sharing your list! I read ‘Lonesome Dove’ a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I still remember a lot of it now so it is one of those books that stays with you.

‘The Mountain and the Valley’ is new to me, but I’ve just ordered a copy from America (why am I drawn to books not published in the UK so much?!) ‘Emancipation Day’ is calling to me for the same reason!

I am also intrigued by ‘A Beautiful Truth’. There is something about animal narrators that really appeals. I’ll keep an eye out for that one.

Thank you for all the wonderful comments you’ve left throughout the year. I hope you have a fantastic Christmas!

Love your lists and always manage to add to my TBR list as a result. I’ll do my lists the last few days of the year, just in case i have another great surprise between now and then.

I do know my #1 book will probably remain – The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt.

Diane, ‘The Goldfinch’ is dividing opinion this year. Unfortunately I’m one of those that didn’t enjoy it, but I look forward to finding out which other books make your list.

Oh, yay, I have Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola on audio and I am going to make sure I listen to it soon. 🙂 I bought it on a whim when Audible started doing their daily deal.

Biblibio, I’m looking forward to trying discovering the rest of his work – I love discovering a new-to-me author with a wonderful back-catalogue to investigate 🙂

I agree with you about Hosseini’s book. It was good but didn’t blow me away like his others. I’m reading The Rosie Project right now for book club…it is adorable! And I have added Far From the Tree to my “to read” list. A recommendation like that from you is hard to resist!

Sandy, It is great to hear that you are enjoying The Rosie Project. I’ve made my book group read it. Let’s hope it creates an interesting discussion for us both too!

I like the way you’ve arranged your list! The Last Banquet was one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I agree with you about Lamb. The Fish Can Sing is now on my TBR list but I should read Independent People first as it’s already in my pile. Iceland seems to be cropping up a lot lately – Names for the Sea, Burial Rights, The Son and Butterflies in November all took me there, as did The Faraway Nearby as Claire at Word by Word reminded me.

Susan, Read Independent People first! I loved it and thought it was the better of the two books by a mile – it is one of my all-time favorites. Iceland has come up a lot recently and I wondered if that was because I sought it out, but actually I also read several books (eg The Son) where I came across it by accident. I hope the Icelandic trend continues!

BookerTalk, It is such a great club! I wish we could have a real-life version! I look forward to trying Germinal soon, though I can’t imagine how it could be better than Therese Raquin – exciting!

Jackie, we’ve been reading very different things this year! Although I also read The Casual Vacancy (maybe in 2012) and loved it. I haven’t been attracted to the new Hosseini book and given your assessment of it, I probably won’t bother.

Have a great year! I hope you’ll post a bit more often again. Me? I’ll be posting less. 🙂

Judith, I suspect I’ll be posting as often as you – not very! I hope I can keep up 2 posts a week, but blogging is no longer the priority. Good luck with your new business!

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