At the beginning of 2015 I challenged myself to read 25 books in a year, and wrote a list of things I wanted to do rather than writing traditional New Year’s Resolutions. I did 7 of the things on my list, and read 20 books + another four which I haven’t finished yet. (See below). A lot of these came from a Buzzfeed list of books to read before the films come out so that’s why there are so many that have been made into films!
1. The Casual Vacancy, J K Rowling – 3.5
JK Rowling’s adult book written under a secret name. I really enjoyed it, it’s about village life, it’s quite slow and none of the characters are very likeable, however the characters are well-written, and story lines are good it’s very British.
2. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand – 5
This was so good. A true story about an American pilot who became a Japanese POW and the troubles and challenges of his life. It’s not an uplifting read but very compelling. If you like Shantaram, you will enjoy this book.
3. Do No Harm: stories of life, death and brain surgery, Henry Marsh – 5
Really interesting and well-written memoir of a top neurosurgeon. Includes: ethics, philosophy, medicine, the wonders of the brain. It’s very tense at times!
4. Second Life, SJ Watson – 3
Disappointing, S J Watson’s second book about online dating and the protaganist’s sister’s murder. Interestingly S J Watson was an audiologist who wrote his first book (Before I go to Sleep – amazing book) at an evening class.
5. The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton – 3.5
Now a three part BBC drama, this is a novel about a Dutch girl in the 17th century who enters into an arranged marriage and is given a doll’s house. Great book.
6. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt – 4
Donna Tartt can do no wrong! Amazing writer, interesting stories with great characters. A young boy’s grief and adventures. a coming of age novel, drugs, criminality lots going on. You won’t be able to put it down.
7. We are all Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler – 4
Really good book. (Don’t google it or you will ruin the plot twist!) It’s a comedic novel about family and psychology.
8. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell – 4.5
This is a really interesting book about people who are truly exceptional – one of the ideas is that if you spend 10,00 hours on something you can become an expert.
9. Suite Francaise, Irène Némirovsky– 5
This was so, so good! Beautifully written, light and optimistic considering it was written by a Jewish lady in Nazi occupied France. It was found, unfinished, in 1998 – the first 2 parts of a 5 book series. the author was killed in Autwitz in 1942. The film, however, is not nearly as good.
10. So you’ve been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson- 4.5
This book explores ‘Trial by Twitter’ and the consequences of a public shaming. Really thought provoking and entertaining, like Jon’s other books. I went to a reading of this book at Oxford University and that was really interesting.
11. Them: Adventures with Extremists , Jon Ronson- 4.5
A light-hearted book about subjects from the Ku Klux Klan to David Icke and from Muslim fundamentalists to the Illuminati. Ronson is a gonzo journalist and puts a little of himself in all his books.
12. The Rosie Project – 5
A beautiful and quirky rom-com. Don’s quest for love in his own unique way. Really sweet book.
13. To Kill a Mocking Bird, Harper Lee- 5
This was the first time I read To Kill a Mocking Bird and I could not put it down! The praise in rightfully deserved. 6 year old Scout is the main character and her father, Atticus Finch, defends a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman.
14. The Secret History, Donna Tartt – 5
A book about a close nit group of friends who are all classics students. One of their number is murdered and the book explores why and lots about Latin and Greek . You won’t be able to put it down.
15. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins – 2.5
I did not guess what the fuss was about! I thought it was quite depressing and dissapointing. I loved Gone Girl and thought this might be similar (different author)
16. Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey- 5
You will weep and weep! A book about an 82 with dementia and her relationship with her friends and her sister. A more light-hearted version of the film’Memento’.
17. The Paying Guests- 2
Set in 1922, a grumpy landlady takes on a couple as lodgers. She gradually warms to them and all sort of trouble ensues. I didn’t enjoy it much.
18. The Year of Living Danishly, Helen Russell- 4
Denmark is one of the happiest countries on earth, and when Helen moved to Denmark from London she gets a real culture shock. This ‘memoir’ explores, exercise, welfare, work / life balance, hygge, taxes, careers and more. Very interesting, particularly if you are interested in socialism
19. Bandits, Elmore Leonard – 3
A crime noir novel. Readable, but not incredibly memorable!
20. Funny Girl, Nick Hornby – 3.5
Light hearted – starting in Blackpool, it follows Barbara/Sophie as she tries to become the next Lucille Ball and moves down to London. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read but it was enjoyable.
See my other posts for 2016 and 2017 books.