Toasted Fiction's Top 5.......Reads of 2017

As the year draws to a close, the Top 5 of 2017 lists are propping up in earnest. As a keen reader, listener and watcher, I would feel remiss if I didn't pay tribute to the books, movies, TV shows and music that have kept me entertained throughout the year and the creatives who make them and inspire me to make too. So here we go, the top 5 list, start with my Top 5 Reads of 2017

 

 

 5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman  A strange and compelling story, it took me a long time to finish this book, and usually if it takes me that long to really get into a book I would have given up. However, there was something irresistible about the story of Shadow Moon and his road trip throughout America, meeting old Gods & New with his travelling companion Mr. Wednesday and the high stakes game they are both playing.   I couldn't put it down. And it still lingers.....

5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A strange and compelling story, it took me a long time to finish this book, and usually if it takes me that long to really get into a book I would have given up. However, there was something irresistible about the story of Shadow Moon and his road trip throughout America, meeting old Gods & New with his travelling companion Mr. Wednesday and the high stakes game they are both playing. 

I couldn't put it down. And it still lingers.....

 4.  Mrs Fletcher  by Tom Perrotta.  This uniquely crafted story, both a coming of age and coming of middle-age tale, draws all of Perrotta's chief strengths as a storyteller here in this charming riff on  The Graduate . There are laughs, gasps and a few tears as we follow both Mrs. Fletcher and her son as she tries to find a new purpose in her life (in new and surprising ways) and her son tries to find where he fits in at college - soon realising that he might have a different place in the food chain than he did in high school.  It's a fascinating read, made even more-so as Perrotta switches deftly between first and third person narratives. He has the knack for making the ordinary seem extraordinary and the mundane feel dangerous.   NB: The narrative style is something that inspired the short story  Wiggies  which features in my new collection   The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls.      

4. Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta.

This uniquely crafted story, both a coming of age and coming of middle-age tale, draws all of Perrotta's chief strengths as a storyteller here in this charming riff on The Graduate. There are laughs, gasps and a few tears as we follow both Mrs. Fletcher and her son as she tries to find a new purpose in her life (in new and surprising ways) and her son tries to find where he fits in at college - soon realising that he might have a different place in the food chain than he did in high school.

It's a fascinating read, made even more-so as Perrotta switches deftly between first and third person narratives. He has the knack for making the ordinary seem extraordinary and the mundane feel dangerous. 

NB: The narrative style is something that inspired the short story Wiggies which features in my new collection The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls. 

 

 3.  Someday, Someday, Maybe  by Lauren Graham.  Lauren Graham's story (and debut novel) about Franny Banks and her attempts to become an actress in New York during the 1990s is one of the most pleasant surprises I had with a book this year.   Picked up purely by accident (and curiosity as I had just binged watch  Gilmore Girls  with my better half) I fell completely in love with the world, characters and dilemma's that Graham has written. I found it very hard not to smile wildly throughout each page.  It's charming, funny and absolutely delightful. I found myself disappointed when the journey came to and end, hopeful that there are more adventures of Franny Banks to come in the future.    

3. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham.

Lauren Graham's story (and debut novel) about Franny Banks and her attempts to become an actress in New York during the 1990s is one of the most pleasant surprises I had with a book this year. 

Picked up purely by accident (and curiosity as I had just binged watch Gilmore Girls with my better half) I fell completely in love with the world, characters and dilemma's that Graham has written. I found it very hard not to smile wildly throughout each page.

It's charming, funny and absolutely delightful. I found myself disappointed when the journey came to and end, hopeful that there are more adventures of Franny Banks to come in the future. 

 

 2.  Ready Player One  by Ernest Cline  Ahead of the forthcoming Spielberg adaptation (and by recommendation of a friend) I finally pulled my copy of  Ready Player One  off the shelf   and dived in, immediately glad I had done so.  Cline's nostalgia-soaked adventure captures the magic of the great pop-culture phenomena from the 80s and takes us on a (surprisingly, given the references) original story of Wade Watts as he hunts the elusive Easter Egg left behind by reclusive genius James Halliday, creator of the OASIS.  An absolutely thrilling ride, the pop-culture references and inspirations do more than simply prop up the story or act as shorthand between the writer and reader, nor are they cheap gimmicks. They are absolutely essential to the story and the wonderfully realised characters that inhabit Cline's world. It's an unapologetic love letter to a fascinating and important era in the realms of books, music, movies, TV shows and games.   Fresh, fun and inventive and almost my top pick of the year.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ahead of the forthcoming Spielberg adaptation (and by recommendation of a friend) I finally pulled my copy of Ready Player One off the shelf and dived in, immediately glad I had done so.

Cline's nostalgia-soaked adventure captures the magic of the great pop-culture phenomena from the 80s and takes us on a (surprisingly, given the references) original story of Wade Watts as he hunts the elusive Easter Egg left behind by reclusive genius James Halliday, creator of the OASIS.

An absolutely thrilling ride, the pop-culture references and inspirations do more than simply prop up the story or act as shorthand between the writer and reader, nor are they cheap gimmicks. They are absolutely essential to the story and the wonderfully realised characters that inhabit Cline's world. It's an unapologetic love letter to a fascinating and important era in the realms of books, music, movies, TV shows and games. 

Fresh, fun and inventive and almost my top pick of the year.

 1.  11.22.63  by Stephen King  An epic in more ways than one, King takes a simple premise (what if you could go back in time and stop President Kennedy from being shot?) and turns it into one of the great time-travel stories of recent years.   We follow high school English teacher, Jake Epping as he takes us on his journey from 2011 into 1958 by way of an  Alice In Wonderland -esque rabbit hole in the back of his local diner in a small town. Tasked with the noble mission of saving JFK on 22nd November, 1963, Jake has a long time to wait. And it is the intervening years between 1958 and 1963 that are King's masterstroke.   To say much more would be to spoil such an expertly woven story, which is what  11.22.63  is. Of that there is no doubt. It is more than just a time travel story. It is a parable of our times, a great love story, a thriller, a horror, a tragedy and an adventure all rolled into one.   If you pick this up, you'll find it hard to put down and the length of the story won't bother you a bit once you get started.   Perhaps one of Kings finest novels. An absolute treat, sharp edges and all.

1. 11.22.63 by Stephen King

An epic in more ways than one, King takes a simple premise (what if you could go back in time and stop President Kennedy from being shot?) and turns it into one of the great time-travel stories of recent years. 

We follow high school English teacher, Jake Epping as he takes us on his journey from 2011 into 1958 by way of an Alice In Wonderland-esque rabbit hole in the back of his local diner in a small town. Tasked with the noble mission of saving JFK on 22nd November, 1963, Jake has a long time to wait. And it is the intervening years between 1958 and 1963 that are King's masterstroke. 

To say much more would be to spoil such an expertly woven story, which is what 11.22.63 is. Of that there is no doubt. It is more than just a time travel story. It is a parable of our times, a great love story, a thriller, a horror, a tragedy and an adventure all rolled into one. 

If you pick this up, you'll find it hard to put down and the length of the story won't bother you a bit once you get started. 

Perhaps one of Kings finest novels. An absolute treat, sharp edges and all.

What are your top reads of 2017?