I was highly amused by A.M. Homes book May We Be Forgiven. In the tradition of Jonathan Franzen (however with characters you can actually like) we find ourselves ensconced in the domestic dramas of American people going about their privileged yet dysfunctional lives. That's not to say that the characters in this book don't have good cause to be acting up, afterall one of them has just killed an entire family in a road crash, and the rest seem to be struggling with the guilt that has engulfed them all. What's funny so far, I hear you say? Well, that's a good point. This book walks that narrow line. Whilst it is a moving exposition of tragedy, the sublimely farcical elements that are injected throughout make this a completely compelling read. Very dark, very funny, very readable. My favourite book of the year.
I've put this book on my list mainly because it was just so memorable. An unusual book that blended the writer's journey with a historical fiction narrative, HhhH is the story of Heydrich, one of the most feared officers in the Nazi regime and second in charge to Himmler. Laurent Binet, the author of HhhH inserts himself into the book by clueing the reader into his writer's angst. How can a novelist be true to the reader and also be true to history? Does a simple description of a favoured vehicle reveal a lack of research, does a thought attributed to a real person mislead? At times, Binet's insertions detract from the story of Heydrich, however the book as a whole is utterly fascinating, thought-provoking and refreshingly original.
Okay, so I'm showing my true colours now. I love design, but I also love having a little knowledge about a lot of things. It's a character flaw, but how can I help it when publishers like Phaidon keep on feeding it. The Archive features 500 influential graphic designs on each "page" with one large image on one side and descriptions from experts and further illustration on the other. Just looking at it makes you smarter. Okay, so they are not really pages. The Archive is one large file box with 500 cards which you can organise and re-organise to your heart's content by whatever filing method you might choose (okay showing another weird peronality trait). You can even choose to frame them or use them as educational cards during dinner parties when your friends show a complete lack of knowledge about the font you used on their place cards. I've already had a lot of fun with my Archive. But in all seriousness, this is the book for design enthusiasts. Great content and above all a kick-ass presentation box that will guarantee a happy dance from the coolest of your friends.