But I would like to read Philip Larkin's Letters to Monica and I would be delighted to find Romantic Moderns, by Alexandra Harris, under the Christmas tree. (I hold out little hope. I have to do my duty by the bath products industry. I know. I'm ungrateful. I am difficult to buy for. There are starving children who would be glad of my shower gel. And a scented candle.)
So here they are, my books of the year 2010 ...
No surprises that top of the list are Wolf Hall (I know, it's last year's book, I'm always behind the times) and The Hare With Amber Eyes, as well as Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (a brilliant discovery, thanks to Cornflower's book group) and Olive Kitteridge.
Other books that I've really enjoyed were Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon and Death Comes for the Archbishop (but anything by Willa Cather soars to the top of any list).
The most powerful book of the year was Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi. I meant to post about this but I was too gutted after I read it. It's no secret what it's about but I won't tell you here because the drip, drip of clues increases the tension. You know how it will end but the ending, when it comes, is so much worse than you can possibly imagine. But don't read this if you are in any way fragile; it is so powerful, a Greek tragedy of a story that you can't get out of your head.
My easy, enjoyable wallow award goes to Norman Collins for London Belongs To Me, the only book that's ever got a unanimous thumbs-up from our book group.
Maybe it's a sign of age (and fading memory) but I find that I'm returning to novels that I've read before ... and it was well worth a return visit to The Go-Between by LP Hartley and my favourite Elizabeth Taylor, A Game of Hide and Seek, which I'm still reading. (Thanks again to Cornflower for the push.)
And although it seems to be blog protocol not to give bad reviews ... what the hell. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is vile, pornographic tripe fit only for the dustbin. Which is where it would have gone. Except it was a library book.