A Year in Books: 2015

Mmm, books.

I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Books are delicious, enticing, engrossing, and essential not just to pleasure but survival.

I’ve been keeping a record of the books I read since 2005. I used to write comments, and now it’s just title & author & type … but that’s enough to form a useful record, to be able to find titles when I need to, and to write an annual summary of what I read. Here it is.

In 2015, I read 85 books. I started but did not complete 14 others. Quite pleased with the number I didn’t finish – I’m glad I am appreciating my time enough only to read things I choose to read (I won’t say things worth reading. That is a different question). Categories below are approximations, recognizing the limited usefulness of labels.

  • 57 were fiction
  • 14 non-fiction
  • 12 memoir. Must mention Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber, a story of her encounter with God during her studies at Oxford. 
  • 2 graphic novels. They kept my attention with the wonderful characters and images: Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich, and Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast.
  • 6 YA books. Two of the Penderwicks’ books by Jeanne Birdsall were highlights here. Also The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty – this whole series is a delight!
  • 2 short story collections. I didn’t know I liked short stories but I would strongly recommend both books: The Hollow Land by Jane Gardam, and All Saints by K.D. Miller
  • 5 e-books. These were all a disappointment. They were free downloads, and none stood out for anything aside from stereotypical characters. Yet, I read them all. To the end. Including the one that kept screaming, “please edit me! you’ve read this scene five times already!” Even that one. 

Favourite Books: Must Read List

  • Euphoria by Lily King (novel)
  • My Life in France – Julia Child (memoir)
  • Advise and Consent – Allen Drury (political novel; old; long; yet utterly fascinating to me)
  • After Birth – Elisa Albert (novel)
  • Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishigura (novel). Chilling and moving.
  • While the Gods were Sleeping: A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal – Elizabeth Enslin (memoir)
  • Riding the Bus with my Sister – Rachel Simon (memoir) and The Story of Beautiful Girl (novel)
  • Children of God Go Bowling – Shannon Olson (novel). I loved this and her first book.
  • No Plot? No Problem! – Chris Baty (non-fiction writing guide for NaNoWriMo)

Simple Fun: 

  • The Vacationers – Emma Straub
  • The View from Penthouse B – Elinor Lipman
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doer. Particularly struck by the depiction of the steady work of the Nazi regime’s propaganda, education and creation of a masochistic, violent culture. 
  • Us – David Nicholls
  • Love Letters – Katie Fforde. Only if your version of escapism involves England, Ireland, literary festivals, novelists and bookstores. 
  • Becoming Scarlett – Ciara Geraghty. Ditto on the Ireland bit. And subtle characters. 
  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own – Kate Bolick (non-fiction/ memoir)

Unusual and Interesting

  • Ada’s Rules – Alice Randall. This wonderful author undertook an integration of social science research on creating a healthy body weight among African-American women in an authentic novel with believable characters. That she succeeded shows her artistry. I read The Wind Done Gone by her last year and recommend it. 

And I must mention Marie Kondo. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it did transform my relationship with stuff. 

 

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