Books of the Year 2015

These are not necessarily books published in 2015, but the books I’ve read and enjoyed this year, which is why I’ve held off with this post till long after all the ‘best of’ lists have appeared. I’ve read 170 books this year, so you can imagine that whittling it all down to just 10 favourites is an impossible task. So instead, here are the books that spoke to me most at various points throughout the year.

DSCN6654Best Winter Chill

Not necessarily books set in winter, but which bring a ‘frisson’ or shudder to your soul.

Emmanuel Carrère: L’Adversaire

Gohril Gabrielsen: The Looking Glass Sisters

Leaves You Breathless

Perfect for a holiday escapade, a long flight or train journey, to keep you turning pages until late into the night.

Virginie Despente: Apocalypse Bébé

Jean-Patrick Manchette: Fatale

Tom Rob Smith: Child 44

Best for Cheering Up

Because we all need a little satire and humour in our lives.

Shirley Hazzard: People in Glass Houses

Fouad Laroui: L’étrange affaire du pantalon de Dassoukine

MontmartreStreetShould Be Dark But Are Really Inspirational

From darkness a light shall spring – and hope.

Sherman Alexie: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Vincent Van Gogh: Letters

Best Criminal Intent

I’m cheating a little bit in this category, as I already have a list of Top Five Crime Reads on the Crime Fiction Lover website, so these are just a few additional books I really wanted to include but did not have place for:

Jakob Arjouni: Ein Mann, ein Mord

Jari Jarvela: The Girl and the Bomb – will review it in January

P1000921Most Beautiful Style

Prose that sings, to read again and again.

Michelle Bailat-Jones: Fog Island Mountains

Tove Jansson: The True Deceiver

Most Interesting Concept

Experimental, unreliable, not sure what is going on but expanding me as a reader in all directions.

Valeria Luiselli: Faces in the Crowd

Laura Kasischke: Mind of Winter

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be…

Not to copy their style, but to capture something of their fearlessness.

Elena Ferrante: The Days of Abandonment – I probably will have to read more of her at some point, although I’ve resisted the Neapolitan tetralogy so far (because of the hype)

Eva Dolan – I’ve loved all three of her books to date and admire her productivity

P1020030Grim Yet Powerful

Because I’m still naturally drawn to dark themes and underdogs.

Julia Franck: West

Richard Yates: Disturbing the Peace

Max Blecher: Scarred Hearts

Leave Me Unsettled and Thoughtful

Unsure what to think about these – but they certainly will stay with me for quite some time.

Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life

Heather O’Neill: Lullabies for Little Criminals

Challenges Completed:

With creaking bones and feverish mind, I just about completed some challenges – or rather, I did better in terms of reading than reviewing. The Global Reading Challenge saw me hopping across 7 continents (2 options for each one). I failed the TBR Double Dare for the first three months of 2015, but caught up later with a #TBR20 to whittle down my endless To Be Read lists. In January I only read one book for January in Japan – Kanae Minato’s sinister ‘Confessions’. In March I read two books for Stu’s Eastern European challenge, one set in Moldova, the other in Georgia. I took part in a Tale of Genji readalong (my longest book of the year by quite a margin) in April/May/June. I participated in Women in Translation month in August, German Literature Month in November and #DiverseDecember (which speaks for itself). I even managed to reread some old favourites: Tender Is the Night, Muriel Spark, Jean Rhys and Tillie Olsen. But the hardest challenge was the Netgalley Reduction one: I managed to read about 9 from my Netgalley shelves between October and December, but promptly replaced them with other books. So I still lag behind at only 61% review rate.

heartsowhiteMy book of the year? So hard to select one, especially one I haven’t reviewed yet.  Books fit in with moods and seasons, with personal experiences and the order you read them in. However, bless the book which got me out of a reading slump – and a new author to discover and devour! Javier Marias’ A Heart So White (translated by Margaret Jull Costa). I will write a full review in the new year, but this book is one to savour in small portions at a time (and not when you have a bad migraine). Just allow yourself to be carried away by his apparently rambling but ultimately very moving, incantatory style.

Friday Fun: Dreamy Holiday Homes

No need for words… Just let yourself be swept away by these beautiful images… It’s holiday season, after all!

Montana house, Decoist.
Montana house, Decoist.
Design: Sawyer, Domaine Home.
Design: Sawyer, Domaine Home.
Design: Okitu Beach House by Pete Bossley, Minimalisti.
Design: Okitu Beach House by Pete Bossley, Minimalisti.
Casa das Canoas, Oscar Niemeyer, Rio. http://www.niemeyer.org.br/fundacao/locais/casa-das-canoas
Casa das Canoas, Oscar Niemeyer, Rio. http://www.niemeyer.org.br/fundacao/locais/casa-das-canoas
Cap Martin, South of France, Sotheby's.
Cap Martin, South of France, Sotheby’s.
Cabin in Maine, Decoist.
Cabin in Maine, Decoist.
Green Lantern, Decoist.
Green Lantern, Decoist.

And, finally, something of more modest proportions, but great pedigree. Close to where I live.

Le Corbusier Villa Le Lac.  Dwell.
Le Corbusier Villa Le Lac. Dwell.

Dreaming of Bookshelves and Writing Desks

 

 

Where has all my text gone to?  I posted this yesterday with a little blurb about how I cannot resist a good bookshelf, wherever it might be in the house.  And how my husband keeps sighing and pointing out the progress of technology in the form of e-readers.  But this morning the text disappeared! Ah well, what use are words when the images speak for themselves?

http://www.thekitchn.com/in-good-company-dining-among-books-170014
http://www.houzz.com

Working lavishly:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/writersrooms – Marina Warner
http://www.Decoist.com
http://www.home-designing.com

In the in-between spaces:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com

But where do we get most of the reading done? In the bedroom!

http://www.home-designing.com