My Top 10 Reads of 2013

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Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evarist

A delight to read, I did not want it to end. Wonderful characters, fascinating insights; all told in a compelling and playful way. I chomped on the words like they were sweets.

Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Addicts beware: I consumed all three in a week, everything else came second. Fresh characters for the 21st century – no staid gender stereotyping here. Men can be kind, women can be ferocious and single minded – the characters are true unto themselves. And it made me want a gold tattoo…

Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson

A brilliant young-adult novel set in Belfast. Truthful, punchy and compelling. Dual perspectives told with unflinching honesty.

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

A startling, yet imperfect, tale. The joie de vivre of the narrator lifts the bleak subject matter from the depths which it has the honesty to go. Fascinating insights into homelessness and the care system. A linguistic pleasure, especially for those who enjoy the taste of Scots.

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

The greatest love letter disguised as a novel I have ever read. I only wish I had delved into it when I was going through my Vita Sackville-West obsession. Pair it with Portrait of A Marriage for a treat.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

The only Austen I have professed to dislike – but third time lucky. I think I am now finally old enough to enjoy this novel. No longer was I put off by the wussy protagonist, this time I relished the dangerous sub-plots this novel is rife with.

Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Makes Cruel Intentions look prudish. A flabby middle, but worth it for the lean and exciting ending. So French, so naughty – delicious.

Nights At the Circus by Angela Carter

Since my first reading, I have re-read this novel every other year. A tale is so rich it never tires; so tantalising it always delights. It both tickles and sharpens my brain. Such fluid prose, I feel as though I am sitting on a train watching the story spin past the window.

The Emperor’s Babe by Bernardine Evarist

Normally I cannot stand verse longer than a page, but I was swiftly hooked. I found myself skipping through Roman London along side the protagonist. Starling, vivid and with pinpricks of tragedy.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Beautiful. Compelling. A protagonist so well drawn, that I cannot dissect; I cannot see her seems. This novel perfectly balances the internal and external, the familiar and unfamiliar. Joint first with Mr Loverman for my favourite novel of the year.

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