Inspired by the brilliant Tom Vowler’s post of the same name, here are my 5 favourite reads of the year so far:

John Irving’s latest is a return to form after a string (to this reader anyway) of disappointing novels. Features a lot of Irving tropes, most notably a single parent/only child relationship and a death by baseball related shenanigans, while the story is suffused with a sense of impending loss, and the ending twists the reader’s expectations with just the right amount of tragedy, just the right amount of hope. Reminded me what is great about Irving.

A collection of spare, autobiographical short fiction. Brilliant in places. Contains at least two stories that brought me to tears. Inspiring writing.

Thought it was about time I read this and very glad I did. Part humourous romp, part social satire, Wells’ control of plot and pacing, along with a great eye for eccentric characters makes this a favourite book of mine, not just of this year.

Most satisfyingly complete short fiction collection I have read in a long time. Great ideas, great characters and a fine ear for voice made this a delight to read. Laugh out loud funny in places and heartbreaking in others. The opening story and my favourite, Wind, can be read by checking out the sample online.

Finally got round to reading my first Graham Greene novel and bloody loved it. The eye for descriptive detail blew the writer in me away while the reader in me was carried along by the sheer dubious vitality of the world and its characters. My favourite has to be Ida, who I couldn’t help seeing as a bawdy, lusty, lively alternative to the Ms. Marple lady amateur detective archetype. A classic worthy of the name.

What’s the best of your 2011 reading so far?