The Best of January’s Reading

Well, January is over thank God. I can see from my stats that I have plenty of readers from the Southern Hemisphere and recent Januscomments about the Australian heatwave mean I am sending envious glances across the globe.

Perhaps I should have geared my reading to books set in sunnier climes, but my need for escapism was more than amply met by the amount of historical fiction on my list. Five out of the eight crime books I read this month were set in the past, from first century Alexandria to 1980s Northern Ireland. Compiling this post, I’m slightly ashamed to notice that only 1 and 1/2 books (Nicola Upson and Maj Sjöwall) were written by women. However, I’m pleased to say that a number of women crime writers – Lindsay Davis, Elly Griffiths and Eva Hudson are already lined up for my February books.

My book of the month is a tie between Paul Doiron’s The Poacher’s Son and Adrian McKinty’s Hear the Sirens in the Street. Doiron is a new discovery of mine and I’m looking forward to reading more of his books. McKinty is an old favourite and once more he didn’t disappoint.

The eight books I read for crimepieces were:

1. The Chessmen by Peter May

2. The Abominable Man by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

3. The Dark Winter by David Mark

4. Fear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson

5. HHhH by Laurent Binet

6. The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron

7. Furies by D L Johnstone

8. I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise is putting together a list of reviewer’s favourite books for January.

31 thoughts on “The Best of January’s Reading

  1. Sarah, I must confess my reading is under-represented by female authors. 1/15 last month and I think only 10 or 11 last year out of 120. Am I a closet sexist? I can recall browsing once and putting a book back by Joan Brady once I realised it wasn’t written by a John Brady….. no real reason why she couldn’t write a book equally as good or better than a man.
    Hmmm, maybe I just subsconsciously pick male authors.


    1. To be honest Colman,, my comment was a note to myself to not take my eye off the ball and to make sure I’m mixing up my reading a bit more. I hadn’t intended to read so much historical crime fiction either and it’s interesting how your reading patterns vary each month.


  2. I haven’t read any of your books Sarah but have a couple on my TBR and am eagerly awaiting others to be available at the library. I somehow managed to read very few books by women for the month too (3 of 12) but I’m sure this will even out a bit more over the year as I normally end up with a close to 50/50 split for the year without much effort on my part.

    in further proof that we humans are rarely happy with our lot as you were sending envious glances this way I was wistfully thinking of your snowy goodness – when in reality I expect that both extremes are equally grim 🙂


    1. I’m sure my reading will even out too Bernadette but it goes to show that if you don’t watch things, it’s easy for women writers to slip down the pile.

      The snow was quite good fun (except when I had to drive in it). The problem was the wind, rain, fog, cold etc. I have my sights firmly set on March!


    1. Eight books a month is about average for me Prashant. I have always been a fast reader and crime fiction is ideally suited to this. But I always strive for quality over quantity.


  3. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – You’ve reminded me that I must read I Hear the Sirens…. I”m not surprised you liked it as much as you did but then I like McKinty’s work too. And it’s really interesting that you read more historical novels this month. I’ve had patterns like that too, where I sort of focus on one kind of novel even when I wasn’t even I aware that’s what I was doing. And I hope your weather gets a little less grim…


  4. Interesting list, Sarah– I’ve added a few to my huge TBR on Goodreads. I’m not a winter fan either, even though our snow has melted a couple times in the last month. February is a short month!


  5. I know what you mean: when I compiled my reading list for 2013, I was shocked to discover how few women featured on it. (This from a die-hard feminist!) So I am doing my best to amend that, or to incorporate as much fiction by women authors as I can outside the scope of my reading challenges.


    1. Hi Marina Sofia. Yes I agree that I try to read an equal split between male and female writers. I think as Bernadette says it usually evens itself out. I’m surprised at how little I read this month written by women writers.


  6. I want to read all of these books (or earlier books by the same author). And most of them I have, so it won’t bee too long.

    I have never thought about whether my reading is divided equally between male and female authors. Looking now, I see that 20% of the books I read this month were written by male authors. Hmmmm. That is interesting. I will have to look back at the last year.


    1. I’ll look forward to your reviews Tracy, Interesting that your reading was predominantly written by women writers. I usually find it is the opposite with me, but January was exceptional in the percentages,


      1. sorry, Sarah, I got it backwards. Should be 20% by female writers in January. I took a very quick look at the books I read in 2012, and it still looks heavily weighted towards male writers, although maybe 33% female. Very interesting. I have a lot of favorite female writers, but I have read most of their books already.


  7. vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

    I’m still thinking wistfully of how nice it was to be freezing cold in China at Christmas, rather than roastingly hot in Adelaide! The grass is always greener… 😉 I’m going OK on women writers so far this year, but only due to a big re-read splurge on Heyer and now Elizabeth Peters.


  8. If it’s any consolation my brother has just gone to travel around Australia and he has been sending me messages saying that all his plans have been scuppered due to torrential rain & flooding! I don’t keep track of my male:female author ratio but I noticed that lots of bloggers mentioned it in end-of-year reviews. I must have a look as I suspect I also favour male authors.


  9. Sarah,
    I’m so glad you’ve posted a wrap-up for your January reading! I’ve been able to get around to a number of your reviews this afternoon, and unfortunately the Nicola Upson is the one I’ve decided I must read–I must wait until April 9 for it to be published here. I pre-ordered it for my Nook. I’ve always adored Rear Window–Ken and I watch it every few years and always find something new to entrance us.

    I’m looking forward to your February line-up.

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)


    1. I’m glad you’ve been persuaded to read Upson. I think you will enjoy it although as you can see from the comments, she does divide her readers. I liked the Alfred Hitchcock references.


  10. Sarah you got everyone going with the male:female ratio! I never think to check, but assume I would read 50/50, and was shocked to find that just over a third of the books I read were by women….Hmm, I’ll have to think about that.


  11. kathy d.

    I have to read The Poacher’s Son and think about Furies. Historical fiction isn’t my favorite genre, however, this sounds interesting. The Abominable Man is still at the top of my TBR pile but I’ve been pulled by other books lately, although I’ll visit Sjowall and Wahloo soon.
    I usually read more women writers than men, and that was true in 2012, too. I only read 65 books, and 37 were by women. One was by Sjowall and Wahloo. However, I was quite happy to read 10 books by Aussie women writers; none disappointed. Some were stellar. I hope to repeat this.


  12. kathy d.

    By the way for anyone who wants to read a good mystery about the U.S. South, which is really a story about the human condition, I highly recommend Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. It’s crime fiction, but brings in racism, poverty, friendship and more. It should be part of high school studies over here, anyway.


  13. Thanks Kathy. I hadn’t realised that you read 10 books by Aussie women writers. I read YA Erskine’s ‘The Brotherhood’ which was I thought was excellent and innovatively plotted. I’d be interested to hear hwat else you read. I liked ‘Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter’ and as you say, although not specifically a crime novel it is very moving.


  14. kathy d.

    Well, thanks for asking about Aussie women writers. I read two books by Angela Savage, The Half-Child and Behind the Night Bazaar, very good protagonist and interesting plot with social issues explored. Virginia Duigan’s The Precipice was like nothing I’ve ever read, psychological suspense, good. I read a few by Katherine Howell, a lovely writer who sent me some of her books; feature a woman police officer and different EMT squads. I also read The Brotherhood, had mixed views of it. Read the very riveting The Mistake by Wendy James, one Corinna Chapman by Kerry Greenwood (I love her character, bakery owner, loves cats, has eccentric building mates, The Dissection of Death by Felicity Young and a few others.


  15. kathy d.

    Also, Nicole Watson’s The Boundary, which was hard at first to get into, was really an exposition of the history of the oppression of the Indigenous people of Australia, put into a current murder mystery. I thought it was quite good and will look for her other books.
    And I read Blessed are the Dead, the third book by Malla Nunn, set in 1952 apartheid South Africa. I liked it but I loved the first two in the Emmanuel Cooper series: A Beautiful Place to Die and Let the Dead Lie. A fictional expose of apartheid, but also of urban poverty and more. So worth reading.


    1. Wow. Some great sounding books here Kathy and most of which by authors I haven’t heard of. I want to try a Kerry Greenwood at some point. The Nicole Watson sounds really good.


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