Is there still time to share a few favorite books? Fittingly, since I seem to have been behind all year long, this is a very late post. Looking back over the year, however, I haven't had a problem making a list of favorites. I am actually finding more books that I really loved than I was anticipating as I look back over this year's reading. It was a wonky reading year, but there were still lots of good books.
My standout reads for 2015:
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel -- I was lucky enough to hear the author speak this fall and she is as amazing in person as she is in the pages of her book! I put off reading Station Eleven, thinking I wasn't really the right audience for it, but man---wham. That was what reading this book was like for me. "This is such a masterfully told story and if you are willing to give yourself over (and I always am) you will feel like you are submerging yourself under water, into a vivid new and very different world and only after turning that last page do you come up for air."
Half the Human Race by Anthony Quinn -- I still remember this story vividly and suspect it will stick with me for a long time coming. It had all the right elements that I love in a good story and in just the right way. "[It] is pretty much, in my opinion, pitch perfect. The right book at the right time that also happens to be well written, well plotted and of admirable substance yet still hugely entertaining. Ticking all the boxes on this one." I said I was going to pick up another book by Mr. Quinn and I do have one, and as a matter of fact it happens to be sitting on my 'which book should I start in 2016 pile'. Which indeed.
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin -- I think Colm Toibin is an amazing writer and have loved everything I have read by him. I need to read more as a matter of fact. Nora is such a prickly character but I hugely admire her. "It was sometimes a little painful to watch her struggles, but it was encouraging to see her find her way. When she finally begins to live at least as much for herself as for her children, she decides to reinvent her life and I applaud every woman who does so. "
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Other favorite reads from 2015 (in the order I read them):
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami -- "Many of the questions he asks are questions I ask, which is why this is such a perfect read. How does this Japanese man on the other side of the world, speaking a different language, living a different life understand so well what I'm thinking, too?"
Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua -- "This isn't just a good story, it's a pretty amazing construction on a variety of levels from the jacket illustration (which suits the story so well) to the complex multilayered story told from two very different perspectives that offers so much to think about."
Gillespie and I by Jane Harris -- "If books were food, Gillespie and I would be a decadent chocolate torte with layers of cake separated by cherry filling and covered with a rich ganache accompanied by a steaming hot cup of coffee. In other words, absolutely and ridiculously delicious. "
Death in the Fog by Mignon Eberhart -- "Death in the Fog is a wonderfully atmospheric puzzle. Not quite your typical detective story, since it is the main suspect you find yourself rooting for and quite put off by Mr. Crafft's smarminess. Like a good Christie mystery, all the clues are there if you can piece them together, though I tend to just enjoy sitting back and enjoying the ride and let the mystery-solving unroll while the fog closes in around the house."
Dominion by C.J. Sansom -- "This is a 700+ page novel and is many-layered, well researched and heart stopping in its plotting. He is meticulous in his research and the stories are on the heavy side---both in the plotting and the complexity of the situations the characters find themselves. But I felt quite rewarded on both counts."
Chocky by John Wyndham -- "I feel like I ought not say this about a science fiction story, but it's really quite sweet. It might not be the typical sort of story filled with menace to drive its point, but in this story, the point is well-taken anyway. I'm virtually sliding this one into your hands. If you've not read it, I think you should."
Justice Hall by Laurie King -- "I really do like twisty turny mystery novels and Laurie King is quite adept at pulling them off, which is one of the things I like about these books. I like the characters who feel so flesh and blood, but I like the intellectual aspects (would I expect anything less of a Sherlock Holmes story--keeping in mind this is as much Mary Russell's novel--actually more Mary than Holmes really) of these books, the complexity of the storytelling and the mystery and the solving. Truly the books have it all, and this story in particular."
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And a few honorable mentions:
Most beautifully told story: Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys
Best comfort read of the year: Legend in Green Velvet by Elizabeth Peters
Book farthest outside my comfort zone: Dolly City by Orly Castel-Bloom
Fictional world I never want to wake up in: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Most interesting nonfiction: Book of Ages by Jill Lepore
So many books! So this was all pretty self-indulgent, but as it turns out I had a pretty good reading year all in all.