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DIVA's top 5 books of 2012

We list our favourite reads of the year that's just been

Eden Carter Wood

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 13:47:53 GMT | Updated 4 years today

If one of your New Year resolutions is to read more, here's a bit of luck: a list of a few of the books we thoroughly enjoyed in 2012. If you missed them, be sure to check them out now. And don't forget to keep an eye on our regular books page in the magazine to keep up-to-date with what's coming out in 2013.....


Jeanette Winterson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why Be Happy revisits some of the same territory Winterson first visited in 1985's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit: her adoption by Pentecostal parents and her love of literature feature fairly prominently, for example, as well as recounting more recent experiences. Winterson is basically a national treasure, and one of the best writers we've ever read. It's well worth seeking out a copy.


Ali Smith


Artful is an amazing book and we'll be rereading it this year ourselves. With typical skill Smith brings together the genres of fiction and essay in this story of a narrator literally haunted by a former lover, the author of a series of lectures on literature and art. Smith's use of language is, as ever, an absolute joy. Genius.

Jackie Kay

Reality, Reality

Short fiction has a tendency to be overlooked in the mainstream scramble for novels and celebrity memoirs, but you'd be missing out if you bypassed this collection of 15 new stories. Kay's writing has an enviable warmth and immediacy, and the flawed positivity of the voices of many of these characters in these stories will stay with you long after you've read them.


Kerry Hudson

Tony Hogan bought me an ice cream float before he stole my ma

Brought up on a Scottish council estate, protagonist Janie's story is a tough one to read at times, but the wonderful humour of her voice carries it through. The book's been a very successful debut for Hudson, and deservedly so. Highly recommended.


Caitlin Moran


Times columnist Caitlin Moran's second collection of writings (the first was the very popular How To Be A Woman) showcases her needle-sharp wit and, importantly, sometimes contains a serious message. There's some great stuff here about some of her favourite TV shows and celebrities (from Gaga to Gordon Brown) and more serious topics like the welfare state, the Big Society and suchlike. Funny, thoughtful writing.


Plus a couple of honourable mentions:


The Colour of Milk - Nell Leyshon

Set in 1831, the novel is in the voice of 15-year-old illiterate farmer's daughter Mary. Brilliantly told, with a powerful message.


Zipper Mouth - Laurie Weeks

Gritty, funny, novel from the Boys Don't Cry screenwriter, full of drugs, fags and letters to Sylvia Plath. Loved it.


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