I started off by listing the books that scored a 9 this year: 14 of them. In reading order, these were the following:
1 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler (library audiobook)
One of the best books I'm likely to encounter this year! Told with autobiography-like, personal insight, yet with the balance of having had time to reflect on it from a distance, this tale of an extraordinary family bowls one over. The author gives new understanding to aspects of human-animal interaction that we often tend to give little more than superficial thought. It would have been so easy to slip into oversentimental simplification. It's not a book that I will forget quickly.
A special note on the sequence of the storytelling: the author, by her own admittance, starts in the middle, but there is a lot more to it than that. Her choice of the sequence in which all the parts of the story are pieced together is superb, adding a lot to its impact.
2 On a Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakamihttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13975764
3 The Honorary Consul – Graham Greenehttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/14046043
4 Siddhartha – Herman Hessehttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13975765
5 Night Train to Lisbon – Pascal Mercierhttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13975766
6 This is How – MJ Hylandhttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/12549852
7 The President's Last Love – Andrey Kurkovhttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/14059754
8 Unless – Carol Shieldshttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13975755
9 The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundathi Roy (own library)
"How to tell a shattered story?
By slowly becoming everybody.
By slowly becoming everything."
And that says it all. Somehow Arundhati Roy achieves exactly that in her unique way. Instead of trying to describe the history, the politics and the systems, she describes at grassroots level how all of these affect ordinary human beings, animals, and things. She doesn't shy away from the severity of what transpires, yet never succumbs to gratuituousness, moroseness or sentimentality. Things are what they are, and people miraculously survive, even allowing beauty and grace to shine through. A powerful work, with serious "book of the year" aspirations – definitely on my shelf.
10 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishigurohttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13975757
11 The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakamihttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13699296
12 The Forsyte Saga – John Galsworthy, comprising three books: (i) Man of Property, (ii) In Chancery, and (iii) To Let — plus two interludes: Indian Summer of a Forsyte, and Awakening — all from my own library.
The books turned out to be an enjoyable read. Well written, witty and with a lot of insight in the human condition.
13 An Equal Music – Vikram Sethhttp://www.bookcrossing.com/---/12727993
14 Homeland – Barbara Kingsolverhttps://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13166384
Pruning those into the following shortlist was the next step:
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundathi Roy
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
Homeland – Barbara Kingsolver
From these I finally chose the three books that had the most impact on me this year .
Third: Homeland – Barbara Kingsolver
Second: An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
Best book of the year: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundathi Roy
Most enjoyed book of the year: The President's Last Love – Andrey Kurkov