I read a lot and I've loved most of the books I've read this year, but two stand out above the others.
The first is Aminatta Forna's The Memory of Love. It was such a touching gentle way to tell the brutal story of the war in Sierra Leone.
I loved the way the author wove together the four story lines. It is sad but somehow not hopeless. Such an excellent read, it still lives actively in my mind though I read it months ago.
The other book that had a profound effect on me this year was Binyavanga Wainaina's One Day I Will Write About This Place. It is the coming of age story of a middle class boy in Kenya, a special boy who reads with an insatiable hunger and will one day go on to win the Caine Prize.
I read very little non-fiction but I can recommend this book unreservedly to everyone. The writing cracks with electricity. It is hilarious and touching. The chapter about his mother's death, written like an obituary, had me weeping so hard I had to change my shirt. You'll not have met a book like this before, I can assure you. Buy this book, come back and thank me later after you've read it.
I read everything, books from everywhere, and I'm quite pleased to find that my two favourites, the ones that stand out from all of the others, are both African stories by African writers. That makes me very happy.