BEST FACTUAL BOOK
This would actually be a tie between "The Flavour Thesaurus" by Niki Segnit, and "The Grudge" by Tom English. The first is a beautifully produced, idiosyncratic look at how different flavours combine. It combines food, science and humour and has given me the amazing taste sensation that is smoked bacon with horseradish sauce... What is not to like? The second looks at the run-up to and political context of the legendary 1990 Calcutta Cup and Grand Slam decider between David Sole's Scotland and Will Carling's England. One of the best pieces of writing on sport I have read in a long time, which should appeal to anyone who is interested in human nature even if they don't care about sport in general or rugby union in particular.
Again a tie, between two huge bandwagon books that have been turned into movies which I resisted reading until I could take the nagging of friends and family no more. The first is "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, a book offering a fictionalised account of the lives of black domestic servants in portrayal of life Jackson Mississippi in the 1960s. The movie over-simplified the book, as tends to happen, and the book itself is not without its critics, but as someone with absolutely no understanding of that era or society I found it compelling and moving. The second is "The Hunger Games" which I regard as one of the best pieces of "teen fiction" I have ever read. The movie did a good job of realising a complex plot without over-doing or glamorising the violence (which is a temptation rarely resisted in Hollywood). It is unfortunate that the next two books in the trilogy do not maintain the high standards of the first.
Most of the theological books I read this year were actually re-reads... I suppose that the best of those was probably Tom Wright's "Surprised by Hope", his marginally more popularised exploration of the reality and theology of the resurrection and its implications for Christian worship and witness. However, of "new" books I read in the past year I suppose the best would be the slight, but poignant "Code Red" which is both the testimony of family friend and Christian surgeon Andrew Drain, together with a series of talks he gave on the book of Job whilst fighting a battle with terminal cancer.
All of my books read are logged and reviewed in full on Goodreads - yes I am that anal... but actually I find it a good way of processing what I am reading and finding other worthwhile reads that fit my preferences, rather than relying on Amazon's recommendations! They also have an annual reading challenge where you log the number of books you aim to read in a rear. I originally planned to read 30 books this year, but weaning myself off rubbish TV gave me more reading time resulting in me pushing my target ahead of myself until it was eventually twice my original target... However, unles I find substantial reading time in the next few hours (which is unlikely with a communion service to conduct tonight and a wedding to prepare for tomorrow) I am likely to fail by 2 books... So near and yet so far...
Next year I plan to get to that 60 mark... So if you have any suggestions I would be pleased to hear them...
Good reading and blessings for 2013.