Favourite reads of 2012

TBR pile 1It’s that listing time of year, a time when I like to collect my thoughts, and those of others, too, in list form. Bookstores and websites are full of ‘best of’ lists by genre and I thought I’d get in on the act by listing my favourite reads of 2012.

A quick whip around among crime fiction reading tweeters and bloggers reveals almost no overlap between my top crime reads of 2012 and everyone else’s — which speaks volumes about the breadth and diversity of this genre we call crime fiction.

While the rest of the world seems besotted by Nordic noir, I tend to read crime fiction set in Asia and/or written by authors from Asian countries. I also read a lot of crime fiction by Australian women. This year, inspired by the Australian Women Writers Challenge, I extended this tendency to cover general fiction by Australian women writers. I even declared June my month off reading and writing crime fiction.

I had the good fortune to revisit Europe in August and took this opportunity to read a few classics, including Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.

I also read several graphic novels this year, having been introduced to the beauty of the form by Bernard Caleo. Bernard and I have collaborated on several comics, and this year we collaborated on a forum at the Melbourne Museum on Agatha Christie, which in turn affected my reading by requiring me to swot up on her life and work.

So my list of favourite reads released in 2012 is highly subjective (whose isn’t?) and in no particular order. I’ve provided links to reviews I’ve posted during the year. That I haven’t reviewed them all is due only to my failure, despite my best efforts, to master the art of bilocation.

All That I Am — Anna Funder
Full of ideas and history, a book to love as both a reader and a writer.

Nine Days — Toni Jordan
A book about love, as poignant and romantic as the cover photograph that inspired it.

The Mistake — Wendy James
One of the first books I read in 2012. The ending still haunts me.

The Woman Before Me — Ruth Dugdall
A tense, heartbreaking thriller.

A Dissection of Murder — Felicity Young
Historical crime fiction but by no means cosy, set during early 20th century violent demonstrations for women’s suffrage and featuring Britain’s first female autopsy surgeon Dody McClelland.

Ghost Money — Andrew Nette
Don’t take my word for how good this book is. Believe the reviewer who said, “Ghost Money could well be The Third Man of Asian Noir.”

Phnom Penh Noir — Christopher G Moore ed.
A stylish, edgy anthology of short crime fiction set in Cambodia, with contributions by Cambodian, expat and overseas writers.

Blue — Pat Grant
Inspired by the Cronulla riots, part sci-fi, part autobiography, a highly sophisticated graphic novel about beach culture, nationalism, racism and surfing.

Hard Labour — Andrew Nette, Cameron Ashley, Liam Jose eds.
Disingenuous to include an anthology in which I have a story, but truth is this collection rocked my world in 2012. Personal highlights include short fiction by David Whish-Wilson, Leigh Redhead, Greig Johnston and Andrew Prentice.

The Midnight Promise — Zane Lovitt
A collection of interconnected short stories featuring Private Inquiry Agent John Dorn. Dark, Chandleresque tales showcasing Melbourne in all its grit and glory.

Paving the New Road — Sulari Gentill
The fourth novel in the Rowland Sinclair series is my favourite to date.

And here’s what’s at the top of my TBR pile this summer:

Thrill City — Leigh Redhead
Halfway through and greatly enjoying Simone Kirsch PI’s latest outing.

The Sacrificial Man — Ruth Dugdall
Hearing good things about this.

Silent Valley — Malla Nunn
See inability to bilocate (above) to explain why I haven’t already read this.

Wolf Hall / Bringing Up the Bodies — Hilary Mantel

Scared Yet — Jaye Ford
I was poised to read this when a violent incident close to home put me off being frightened for a bit. I think I’m up to it now.

Six Suspects — Vikas Swarup
Loved Q&A, the novel behind the movie Slumdog Millionaire; looking forward to the author’s second book.

Thirst — LA Larkin
Making an exception to my rule of not reading novels set in places colder than where I’m living at the time to read this Antarctic thriller.

The Darkest Little Room — Patrick Holland
A review on Pulpcurry has sparked my interest in this one.

Click here to hear my 19 December review of my favourite crime reads of 2012 on Radio National Books and Arts Daily.

About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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7 Responses to Favourite reads of 2012

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Angela – Right you are indeed about the breadth of the genre. I love that about it! And about your choices? I couldn’t agree more about The Mistake Such a powerful story and yes, a haunting ending. And I’m so glad you mentioned Hard Labour as it’s such a fine collection of stories. I richly enjoyed reading it. Thanks also for these other suggestions. Some of them look irresistible.
    Oh, and you may want to look out for my spotlight on Ghost Money, coming up on Monday 14 January/Tuesday 15 January…


    • Thanks for the feedback, Margot. Great to hear you enjoyed Hard Labour. There are a number of authors to watch in that collection – I’ll single out David Whish-Wilson whose new novel, Zero at the Bone will be released mid-2013 (read about it here).

      And I will definitely look out for your spotlight on Ghost Money in the New Year.

      Thank you for all your support for my work in 2012. It has been a pleasure getting to know you (no pun intended!) and I look forward to keeping in touch.

      Here’s to great reading and writing in 2013.


  2. kathy d. says:

    Well, I must say that I am quite glad that I read 10 books by Australian women writers, including two fine reads by this eminent blogger. I also was riveted and moved by The Mistake, and liked Felicity Young’s book. I also read the Malla Nunn book mentioned above, and it was excellent, as usual.
    I look forward to Jayne Keeney’s third investigation, as well as to more fine books from Oz, the only problem being accessibility. And I am a proud Luddite when it comes to wanting to read paper books, holding them, turning pages, putting them aside and then picking them up again.
    Happy New Year for so many reasons, including wishing for a year of great crime fiction from Oz.


    • Kathy, you are a great champion of Australian women writers. Thanks for all your support in 2012. Hopefully the entry of the Jayne Keeney novels to the US market mid-2013 will make these and other titles more accessible to you in your preferred format.

      Meanwhile, here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year filled with reading adventures.


  3. Mrs P. says:

    Happy New Year, Angela! Look forward to sampling one of the Jayne Keeney novels this year, as well as Ghost Money (what a talented pair you are 🙂 ).


  4. Pingback: One woman’s courage in the line of fire in Cambodia | Angela Savage

  5. Pingback: Ned Kelly Awards 2013 | Angela Savage

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