Let’s pretend like I’ve been here all along, shall we? That I didn’t take a nine month hiatus from my online life and such. I shall tell myself this over and over, as obviously it’s much easier to write a blog post when one is already in the habit of doing so, rather than trying to overcome the tremendous inertia it would take to come back from an absence of that length.
Since it’s also easier to create a book list than to write a book review, I’m a-gonna start with counting down the best books I read in 2015. Usually this is a pretty daunting task, choosing my favorite 10-15 books out of the 125+ books I read in any given year, but 2015 was special in that I essentially stopped reading during those same months that I wasn’t blogging. I’m still clawing my way out of that bookless pit that I fell into, but things are definitely getting better.
I only read 53 books in 2015, but forty of those books were read in the first four months of the year. Since one thing I learned last year was the importance of being kind to oneself, I’m trying very hard not to berate myself for those shocking numbers. After all, who could have predicted that being unable to read would be the collateral damage of my separation?
Everything else that I list is in chronological order from when I read it:
2. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. Here’s what I said about it back in February 2015: I liked this one significantly more than her last 2-3 novels, and it might even be my second favorite of her books, after The Bluest Eye. This one is spare, either all plot or all character, with very few descriptors in between. It's almost like she said, "Fuck it. I'm 83 and I don't have time for any filler.”
3. Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller. Little did I know when I read this book about the dissolution of a marriage that I would be relating to it on a much more personal level before the year was out. Fuller is an excellent writer and memoirist. My full review is here.
6. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. I’m a little embarrassed that I’d never read this book as a child, which is quite a shame since it’s as delightful a book for young readers as I’ve ever encountered. Even so, it took me weeks to read it last year. I have no review for it, but probably most of you already know it better than I do anyway!
9. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. This was technically an audio book that I listened to, and it’s the only non-fiction to make my Top Ten list this year. Holy crap, but this book was good, and it should basically be required reading for everybody who has ever felt outrage over the treatment of the disenfranchised in this country. Or better yet, for everybody who has not felt that outrage. So basically required reading for everybody. The audio was fine, but I think it might have been better served by a professional reader.
10. Scary Old Sex by Arlene Heyman. This is also a collection of short stories, which won’t be published until March 8, 2016. You know, I’m a little surprised that short stories comprise 40% of my Top Ten list. But then again, considering the nature of short stories and being able to pick them up and put them down again at shorter intervals might explain a lot. These stories are not interrelated per se, but they are linked thematically by love, sex, marriage, aging, and the fragility of our mortal coil.
So that’s that, then. I’m a little surprised at my list, but those are all of the books I read in 2015 that I gave a 4- or 5-star rating on Goodreads. My reading does seem to be picking up a bit now in 2016. I’m able to finish a book in less than two weeks usually, and while I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to resume my average pace of 2.5 books per week, I’ll be quite grateful if I can get back to one book per week. We’ll just have to see.
But what about you, Gentle Reader? What books excited you most in 2015? And are there books coming up this year you’re particularly keen on?
Nice to see you back! Interesting list. It reminded me I never did buy "The Wonder Garden" and I really liked the look of that one -memo to self, must buy.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Jan. I’ll be thinking of you in the days to come as you’re making all of your busy preparations!ReplyDelete
I adored Fortune Smiles and The Tsar of Love and Techno. Other 2015 reads that amazed me were the Elena Ferrante books, Welcome to Braggsville, H Is for Hawk, and Our Souls at Night.ReplyDelete
Hope your reading mojo returns to you!
Glad to know that you liked a couple of these, too. My boss has recently been raving to me about the Ferrante books, so perhaps this will be the year I give in to their allure. :-)Delete
My 2015 was lackluster. I managed to read more than I have in many past years (82 books), but not one stands out in my mind as a keeper and a re-reader. I am trying to change that a bit this year. My favorite so far for 2016 is The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee and Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (very different types of books) and honorable mention goes to Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington. We shall see what February brings my way. Love, BelleReplyDelete
Oooh, I also loved Mr Splitfoot. So much fun in that one, and gothic, too!Delete
Sorry to read that you were in your own dark place in 2015. I hope that 2016 is lighter in every sense of the word.
Short of death, I just really believe it will have to be better all the way around. Lol.Delete
Now I am wondering if nothing much appealed to me not due to the books I read - which some were really quite awesome - as my general overall mood last year. I was in a dark place I think. I think I might not be so much so now. BelleReplyDelete
Glad to see you and your blog back. Hoping things will look fresher and brighter for you as we head into spring…ReplyDelete
I have just started reading Church of Marvels and it is HIGHLY likely I put it on my TBR list cos you mentioned it (cos I def can't remember why BUT I AM EXCITED NONETHELESS)ReplyDelete
I had completely looked over A Little Life at the bookstore because I assumed the guy in the picture was Morrissey and it was another autobiography of his. I hadn't even noticed the author name on the book!ReplyDelete
Anyway, I am glad you're back and blogging. Looking forward to more reviews!
I've had a tough 2015, my reading has suffered, and my blogging. Somehow despite events not being on my mind specifically I've found my concentration has been low. I seem to be slowly picking up now though (only 2 and a bit books read last month, but that really is an improvement). Don't worry about being 'bad' you've got to come first.ReplyDelete
Great to see you back
Lists are good. I love lists...sometimes they're all you need! A Little Life is calling to me. So is Just Mercy, but everything in this post sounds good. Keep listing and I'll keep reading!ReplyDelete
What? No James Patterson? Shame! :-)ReplyDelete
Glad to have you back Emily, you were missed.
You ended up with a nice list, even with a short reading year. I had fun looking up the books and reading your reviews. There's a couple that caught my eye.ReplyDelete
Hello Emily, Just came across your blog, and was delighted to see that you enjoy travel to Anguilla and books set in the Caribbean. So we invite you and your readers to indulge in both at the Anguilla Lit Fest, May 19-22,2016, at Paradise Cove Resort. See the Facebook group page, and www.anguillalitfest.com for more information. Hope to see you there!ReplyDelete
I feel you on the falling behind thing -- I still need to do my top ten of 2015, and I haven't because I haven't even reviewed most of the ones on the list. I keep getting tripped up over myself.ReplyDelete