Here is the final part of my round-up of every sodding book I’ve read this year. Plus, some other 2012 highlights.
The Secret Race, by Tyler Hamilton
We live and learn – and us Lance Armstrong fans have done a lot of living and learning in recent months. It is hard to know how many of the claims made against Lance in this sad book one should believe, given that its author is a self-confessed liar. (Speaking of Lance, I muchly enjoyed this article from his former ghostwriter and friend Sally Jenkins.)
Zoo Time, by Howard Jacobson
Classic HowJac: a warm, witty and wonderful story. It is definitely my favourite of his to date. (I also particularly love Kalooki Nights.)
Bringing Heaven Down To Earth: Meditations On The Wisdom Of The Rebbe, compiled by Tzvi Freeman
A collection of the wisdom of the Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, drawn from speeches, articles, books and more. A superb, inspiring and guiding tome. I often open a page at random on a Monday morning, and then focus on the content of that page in the days ahead.
Fortress Israel, by Patrick Tyler
Tyler rather overeggs the central argument of this book – that the military elite ‘runs’ Israel. However, he recognises that the big characters of Israel’s history – Ben Gurion, Sharon, Begin et al – make for relentlessly entertaining copy, and sketches them well.
Unsaid Things, by McFly
Rarely, if ever, has a pop band produced such an honest memoir while they are still together. I spent three days with McFly for a magazine feature several years ago. It’s great to see them still going strong. I read this book in two sittings.
Nowhere But Up, by Pattie Mallette
Another surprisingly frank poppy memoir: this time from the mother of Justin Bieber. An inspiring books that shows again many of the hidden depths of Bieber’s remarkable back story.
The City of Abraham, by Edward Platt
Platt’s writing about Hebron is vivid and entertaining. Yet he is nowhere near as even-handed as he hopes and makes so many serious factual errors – two in a single paragraph about the Temple Mount, for instance – that it became hard to relax into this book.
Back To Blood, by Tom Wolfe
I’m actually still reading this novel. Thus far, I’ve enjoyed it. It is not as good as my favourite Wolfe, A Man In Full, but I vastly prefer it to his previous novel, My Name Is Charlotte Simmons, which I wrote about on The Guardian website.
Other highlights of 2012:
Films of the year: Argo, Skyfall, Breaking Dawn part two
Blogger of the year: Pop Chassid
Single of the year: Give Me Love, by Ed Sheeran
TV series of the year: Hatufim, Inside Claridges, Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor USA.
Plays of the year: American Idiot, Out There.
Discovery of the year: Nando’s (I was a late adopter.)
Event of the year: London 2012 – no contest!