Best of 2015
29 January, 2016
So we’re well into January and I’m a little late but I wanted to let you all know my favourite books of 2015. And before you go on about my sparse list of reviews last year, I did read a lot more than I wrote about and I’m hoping to recapture my lost blogging enthusiasm. Like many of my book blogging friends, I think it’s hard to balance a fulltime job, a social life and personal projects of which book blogging is one and my balance went a little askew as I had it pretty much full on last year. I also had my first reading slump since I started this blog in 2009 which I drowned with a lot of Korean dramas that left my brain in a happy but slightly lobotomised state although it did spur me on to learn Hangul and dip my toes in Korean literature (I just finished reading Han Kang’s astounding The Vegetarian and Tony has a brilliant list of suggestions). Hopefully things will be a little bit calmer this year, although every year seems to get busier and busier or am I just losing the plot and my organisational skills are becoming redundant? Who knows but as long as there are books to read and discuss, I’ll be here, maybe just not as often or on schedule.
But, even though there may have been a paucity of reviews, 2015 turned out to be a fine year for well-crafted and sublime books. I allowed myself to read titles one after another in a series which kept me immersed in the stories but also made it harder to review without giving away spoilers. I also loved many of my book group choices which can often be hit and miss as we all have very different tastes which is what makes our book group so great.
Here’s my list of twelve in alphabetical order with links to reviews. I’m hoping to review the others soon.
Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis – I can’t tell you how much I admire and love Willis’ work. They are all clever, substantial, thrilling and with a perfect balance of darkness and humour. If you haven’t read her novels, you are missing out.
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison – devastating and brutal but brilliant.
Child 44 by Tim Robb Smith – clever, fast-paced and brought back my interest in the eternally complex and hypocritical construct that is the USSR.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – beautifully written, melancholic and dream-like.
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing – powerful and stark debut novel from a master writer.
Hotel by Joanna Walsh – what can I say, I’m a huge fan of Walsh’s, from her illustrations to her short stories. And Hotel, as I have come to expect, simultaneously surprised and delighted me with its astute observations and wry humour. I’ve already bought an extra copy for a friend and will be buying more as gifts for other discernable readers.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – probably the truest depiction I’ve read of female friendship in all its complexity. I’m still in the middle of the third book of this incredible quartet as I don’t want it to end.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – first book in an absorbing quartet. Beautifully written and reminded me a lot of The Secret History. I read all three books that are out one after the other and cannot wait for the final volume.
Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima – gorgeous, tortured and just exquisite. I need to read the rest of books in his Sea of Fertility tetralogy.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – this was a surprise hit for me. I didn’t enjoy it all that much when I was reading it but the story refused to leave my mind and I am still haunted by it.
True Grit by Charles Portis – incredibly tightly written and absorbing for a genre I wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole. And with a kick-ass protagonist too.
What about you? What were your favourite books of 2015?