Happy New Year! I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it’s 2016 already. Like last year, I thought I’d do a round up of the best books that I read in 2015.
To be honest, this hasn’t been the best year I’ve ever had for reading, whilst I completed my 50 book reading challenge, my average rating on Goodreads for these books has been just 3.3 stars. However, there were definitely books that stood out as being ones that I couldn’t stop thinking about.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel (2014, Picador)
Station Eleven was one of the first books I read in 2015, and it is one that I just haven’t stopped thinking about. It’s more speculative fiction than anything else, and follows the world after a devastating super-virus. It has a real The Walking Dead vibe, but is so much more than a dystopian novel; focuses on the arts and what it means to be remembered.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958, Penguin)
I wasn’t at all sure what to think going into this, but this was a really pleasant surprise. One of the first novels written by an African about the African experience, Things Fall Apart deals incredibly well with the perils of toxic masculinity and also explores the impact of colonialism on a community in Nigeria. I’m very keen to pick up more of Achebe’s work.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013, Abacus)
It’s always good to have the longest book you read in a year to also be one of the best. The Goldfinch is the story of Theo Decker who after a tragic event ends up in possession of a piece of art which will change his life. Theo is an endlessly endearing character, who I never stopped rooting for, and Tartt is a phenomenal author. Her characterisation and descriptions of place throughout this novel are excellent. I’m really looking forward to her next novel (which will probably not be out for a decade).
Slade House by David Mitchell (2015, Sceptre)
A seriously creepy short novel set in the same world as The Bone Clocks, which I loved last year, this is the story of a house which appears every nine years and its visitors are never seen again. Chilling and Mitchell is a master at creating fascinating characters in very few pages.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (2014, Oneworld)
A book that I would have never read had it not won the Man Booker, I’m really glad I read this. Whilst A Brief History of Seven Killings is by no means an easy read but one that I feel is really important. It’s the story of a really fascinating part of Jamaican history and whilst this might not be for everyone it’s really worth trying out if you’re a fan of programmes like Breaking Bad.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015, Picador)
A late entry, but one of my favourites from the year. I don’t want to repeat my December post too much, but this is a book that really makes you consider the way you behave online.
Honourable Mentions: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht, Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
Biggest Surprise: Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant which I knew next to nothing about and really enjoyed
Biggest Disappointment: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, when you read so many reviews saying a book is life-changing, anything less is going to be a disappointment