Sunday, December 22, 2013

My 10 Favourite Books Of 2013

I'll probably do a separate list for crime fiction, but in the meantime here are my favourite books of 2013, not all of which were actually published in 2013. If there's a theme here I think it might be walking or possibly the literary ascent of the extended Morrissey clan...
1. Autobiography - Morrissey. The Moz gets his revenge on anyone who's ever crossed him in this poisonously brilliant billet mal.
2. Red or Dead - David Peace. One of England's best writers uses the medium of Bill Shankly's tenure at Liverpool FC to reinvent what the novel can do. 
3. EdgelandsMichael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley. Two poets explore the edges of civilization in a walk throughout England's shittier and lesser known byways. 
4. Longbourn - Jo Baker. Pride and Prejudice from the servants perspective. The hard work and aspirations reminded me more of Jack London's Martin Eden than Austen but that's no bad thing. 
5. The Generals - Tom Ricks. Best history book of the year. An exploration of the decline in American generalship since the war. 
6. The Old Ways - Robert Macfarlane. Posh intellectual Robert Macfarlane goes for lots of walks in Britain and abroad and waxes lyrical about them. 
7. Parallax - Sinead Morrissey. Ireland's best young poet up to all her old tricks and some new ones too. 
8. The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton. A man walks into a bar and finds an Irishman, an Englishman and a Scotsman... and 9 other strangers. They've got a story to tell.
9. London Orbital - Iain Sinclair. Iain Sinclair and his hippy best friend decide to walk around the M25 motorway. Anti clockwise. JG Ballard gets invoked. A lot. This also is a very good thing. 
10. The Broken Road - Patrick Leigh Fermor. Part 3 of Paddy Fermor's journey a pied to Constantinople completed by sympathetic editors. 


adrian mckinty said...

honourable mention to Billy Lynn's Long Half Time Walk, The Flamethrowers, The Goldfinch, TransAtlantic, Wool, The Mountain (Drusilla Modjeska)...

some of my non crime favourites...

lil Gluckstern said...

I loved Longbourn, and I found no one who shared my opinion because no one had read it. It might be Austen fatigue, but I find it interesting that a favorite crime author had it on his "best of" of list. Now The Goldfinch on the other hand, I read it looking for a saga, and I was disappointed. In my eyes it was overwritten, and way too long. The story was lovely, but it took too long to get to the end.

adrian mckinty said...


I "read" Longbourn as an audiobook and loved it. It got a few good reviews. The Guardian liked it and The Age liked it here in Melbourne. Incredibly the hardback was withdrawn by the publishers BEFORE Christmas in anticipation of the paperback release in January so when I was looking for Christmas presents a fortnight ago neither the hardback or paperback were available on or the book depository. A really stupid decision that. I would have bought 4 of them.

KIKAREN said...

Got halfway through Red or Dead then threw in the towel; I can see why you like it but basically I am just not interested in Football. Not interested in Mr Morrisey either I'm afraid. The Luminaries is easily book of the year. Tremendous.
I'm a about a third of the way through The Kills at the moment. So far so good.
Have a good Christmas.

adrian mckinty said...


I admire your diligence with Peace. Some of the reviewers on Good Reads were made so angry with Red or Dead that they wanted to fly to Japan and do violence on Peace's person. I read a random page out to a class I was teaching and half of them thought it had been written by someone with mental problems.

And yet I think its a masterpiece...

You MUST at least try Morrissey.

Joe Velisek said...

Hey –

2013 was a very mixed bag for this reader – particularly in the fiction department.

That said – here’s the list – in no particular order.

The Hopkins Touch – David Roll
Guns at Last Light – Rick Atkinson
The Passage of Power – Robert Caro
Sutton – J R Moehringer
In Sunlight and In Shadow – Mark Helprin
Exit Music – Ian Rankin
Tumblin’ Dice – John McFetridge
The Lovers – John Connolly
If the Dead Rise Not – Philip Kerr
And Then You Die – Michael Dibdin
The Invisible Code – Christopher Fowler
The Way We Live Now – Anthony Trollope

And a few “re-reads” to add to the discussion.

The first three Wolfe/Goodwin mysteries – Rex Stout
JFK: Reckless Youth – Nigel Hamilton
Hubris & Nemesis – Ian Kershaw
Nobody’s Fool – Richard Russo
The Drowning Pool & The Moving Target – Ross MacDonald
Pere Goriot - Balzac

adrian mckinty said...


Very strangely I haven't heard of the first 4 books on your list, I havent read the 5th and I have read all the others. Particularly enjoyed the McFetridge.

Brendan O'Leary said...

I got "I am Zlatan" for my son but might have a read of it myself.

I don't have much time to read but this was the year I discovered Adrian's work after picking up Falling Glass in the airport , then downloading others which led to this blog which led to Adrian Hyland's Kinglake-350 (most memorably) among others.

Best surprise was finding I had not one but two new Rebuses to read, if we can allow "Standing in Another Man's Grave" into 2013!

Richard L. Pangburn said...

Hey, you made the KIRKUS list of upcoming must-reads:

Nice to see that Largehearted Boy carried your best list this year.

I do not yet have your new one, but perhaps I can get my library to order a copy soon.

adrian mckinty said...


I LOVED the new Rebus. Grumpy and sardonic cant be beat with Rebus.

adrian mckinty said...


The new one wont be out in the US until March but I bet the library will get it.