Posted by: billpurdue | December 15, 2010

Pick of the Year

Trawling back through my blogs for 2010, it seems that my reading year started off well, but by late summer, I seem to have run out of the kind of book that, when you reach the end, leaves you wanting more. Last year I was able to divide my pick of the year choices up into precise categories, but this time I’ll just list them under non fiction, local and fiction.

Starting with fiction, perhaps the two most outstanding novels for me were :

Erick Setiawan’s Of Bees and Mist [Headline Review £7.99 9780755348558] and

Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures [HarperCollins £15.99 9780007178377 ]

Of Bees and Mist is perhaps one of the most unusual novels I’ve read for a while: it’s set in a strange world where the seasons change from day to day and stairs shorten and lengthen as you climb up them and yet the story isn’t too fantastic to be unbelievable.

Remarkable Creatures is a novel based on fact: two women from totally different backgrounds, one searching for fossils to make a living and the other a fossil collector.


Other novels that I particularly enjoyed during 2010 are:

The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark [ Penguin £7.99 978-0141018348]

Blackmoor [Pocket Books £7.99 9781847391261] a first novel by Edward Hogan

The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell [Orion £7.99 9780575084650].

Henning Mankell, The Man from Beijing [Harvill Secker £17.99 978-1846552571].

Now to non-fiction, including (auto)biographies. Undoubtedly top of the list is Bill Bryson’s At Home[Doubleday £20 9780385608275]. I’m not surprised that this book has done really well in the bestseller lists. It’s a really absorbing and fascinating ramble through life in the home down the ages – just as page turning as a good novel.


A close second is The Cloud Garden [Transworld £7.99 9780552771207] by Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder, who were captured and held by guerrillas when they attempted to cross The Darien Gap in Central America. A spellbinding story: you couldn’t make it up.


A book with a rather boring sounding title and a fairly nondescript cover turned out to be anything but. I read On Roads by Joe Moran [Profile, £8.99 ,9781846680601] from cover to cover. Unfortunately I missed hearing Joe Moran speak at this year’s “Off the Shelf”, Sheffield’s festival of Reading and Writing.


Gervase Phinn has featured a lot in this year’s blogs, but deservedly so. During the summer I was privileged to meet him and record an interview Road to the Dales [Michael Joseph £18.99 9780718149116] was new this year and describes his early life in Rotherham.

Other non-fiction titles I have enjoyed include;

Michael Brooks’ 13 Things that don’t make sense [Profile Books £12.99 9781861978172 ] which is not just for scientists.

Eleven Minutes Late [Pan £8.99 9780330512374] by Matthew Engel, about how British railways have been mismanaged more or less since they first began.

Finally to local books – well I haven’t come across many really good local books this year which are worth a mention in this list except for Yo’d Mek a Parson Swear by Joy James [published by the author , £9.99 plus £2 p&p, 9780956364401] in which she describes her early years in the back streets of Nottingham.

Well, there it is: my choice of the year. This isn’t my last posting for 2010. There will be another towards the end of next week, before the Christmas break.



  1. Thanks for mentioning “Yo’d Mek a Parson Swear”. I love Joy James’s books, which are now being read by people all over the country. A friend in Cornwall mentioned them last night as it happens, so well done to her!

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