Monday 19 December 2016

It’s a Top Ten, but not as we know it, Jim. By K.M. Lockwood

K. M. Lockwood looks back over this year’s reading in her own unique way.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading a wide range of books this year – from tiny gems of 64 pages each to whopping great immersive tomes at 443 pages long. I’ve had great fun with picture books, short story collections and graphic novels. There’s no way I can pick out a top ten – it would be like comparing bananas, cauliflowers and pine nuts. 

But I can tell you about the features I’ve found most satisfying this year. 

Quirky sidekicks – Who would expect to care about a clockwork octopus, a grumpy dormouse, a wind-up fox or a pet worm called Porridge II

Fab new worlds to explore – Braving fantasy ones with vicious shape-shifters, sports-car-driving witches or a very unpleasant Fellowship, or historical ones with alchemists, explosions and spies. It’s good to get away sometimes.

Fast moving action – So gripping - be it evading vicious plants, keeping clear of contamination or detecting thieves in department stores.

Weird humour – Very hungry cabbages, hard-boiled snark in duels and bizarre creatures in not-quite-Prague – will those do you?

Magic – I love it and it’s in every book I enjoy. It doesn’t have to be literal wands and monsters (though those do thrill) but making me believe in the adventures of a she-vole or the romance between oddball teens is a kind of magic too.

Kind-hearted boys – I cannot get enough of these lads – the sort who’d care for a lost, troubled and mysterious girl, a monster in a boiler room or a small and frightened half-sister. Who wouldn’t admire them?

Courage – Whether it’s coping with time-travelling villains, resurrected witches or the coming of The Beast, valour is a trait I want to see in action.

Peril – And you can’t have courage without danger. All the books I admire, whatever the age they are written for, have threat in them. It can be an ancient curse, tormenting ghosts or being trapped in a strange otherworld. 

Hope – No question – this is essential. However dark, however full of danger and villainy, the best tales give you a faith in the future. I grin or cheer or cry (sometimes all three) when there’s that moment of promise at the end. When a young couple find a better world or when a boy comes to terms with his terrible loss. It’s not always easy – but it must be there.

What are your Top Ten must-haves in stories?

K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed-and-breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You're always welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter.

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