Better late than never but I am always wary of posting this too early and then reading the best book of the year on 31st December (it has happened!)
2015 has been an odd reading year, my diary lists 194 completed books but this doesn’t take into account the dozens of journal articles and chapters I’ve read from academic books as part of my studies.
The balance between male and female authors remained pretty close to as 84 books were by men and 107 by women. However as I said earlier in the year the sex of the author doesn’t bother me as much as the content of the book!
It has felt like I’ve read far more non-fiction than fiction this year too, but again counting through my records this isn’t quite so with 106 works of fiction, 23 plays and 65 non-fiction books making up the balance.
So after all of this pointless number crunching what do I actually recommend…?
Top 10 Fiction books (in no particular order)
- The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (translated by Jane Aitken) – second book by the author of The President’s Hat, not quite so good as the first but still wonderful, escapist whimsy.
- The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks – a retelling of the Biblical tale of David and his advisor Natan.
- King of Shadows by Susan Cooper – a time-slip story for children set in 1599 in and around the Globe theatre.
- Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickman – another delightfully whimsical story all about a journey allegedly made by Hickman’s parents as they return an alligator to Florida.
- When Marnie Was There by Joan G Robinson – another children’s time-slip tale, this one set in North Norfolk so felt a really cosy read.
- God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – I liked this one so much more than Life After Life even though it is very similar, hard to categorise but a really rewarding read.
- George’s Grand Tour by Caroline Vermalle (translated by Anna Aitken) – as this book made me cry in public I’m as surprised as anyone that this has ended up on my top 10! I’m a sucker for road trip story and the two main characters stole my heart totally.
- Hearts of Stone by Simon Scarrow – archaeology, a Greek Island I’ve visited and a World War Two story made this a hit for me.
- The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim – this one was recommended to me by two friends who were shocked they’d found a book I’d not read and they had. They were right – I loved it but as a word of caution do read this book and not the ‘updated’ Enchanted August.
- The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock – I reviewed this book back in February and even after 10+ months it remains my book of the year.
- Oregon Train by Rinker Buck – a real life Little House on the Prairie
- On the Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson – Bryson back on top form (if slightly potty mouthed) with his latest trip around the UK.
- Latest Reading by Clive James – James looks back at his reading life, sharing old favourites and new finds with his readers. A poignant and expensive read as I added lots to my wish-lists!
- Blue Stockings by Jane Robinson – after seeing the play Bluestockings in 2013, and thinking a lot about feminism this year I found this book a fascinating insight into those women who broke the mould and went to uni early on to make it absolutely normal by the time I went.
- Fallen Glory – James Crawford – it is a close run thing as to whether this book or The Last Pilot is my best of the year. I loved Crawford’s take on telling history through the rise and demise of buildings and have been recommending it to all and sundry since finishing it.
It has been harder to pick out the best of 2015, I don’t know if I’ve become harder to please or if there was less good stuff out there…however as I have recently finished two excellent non-fiction books that are to be published in the middle of 2016 I think it may be shaping up to be a vintage year!