I usually try and write this all up in the first few days of the year but wasn’t able to this year and when I say ‘this year’ in the post I am referring to 2015.
I read a lot of books in 2015, not as many as the year before but it still felt like too many. I can’t remember a lot about them and this is partly because so many were mediocre and forgettable and partly it’s because I didn’t slow down and read mindfully and savour the really good books. That’s what I want to do in 2016 and in an attempt to achieve that I’m going to limit myself to aiming to read 50 books maximum and write a few words about them every few months on here, so that I can reflect on them, and remember them. I’m hoping this will also help me be more mindful about what I choose to read and not read shite that is a waste of time!
How many books read?
95 read all the way through, 5 started and didn’t finish, for various reasons
8 were graphic novels
Actually the above book was a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and it was enjoyable if not necessarily deserving of all the hype.
Most books by a single author?
I read four Babysitter’s Club Books by Ann M. Martin (or various ghostwriters, ha) I read two books by Miranda July, two books by Robin Sloan, two books by E.L. James (wish I hadn’t!), two books by Megan Abbott. Two by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, both of which were excellent.
I feel like I have gone ON and ON about how much I loved A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara. Seriously I have never wept tears over a book before. It was so hardgoing at times and not without flaws but it made me feel grateful for my own little life and it made me want to live.
Bad Feminist was the best non-fiction book I read this year, I read it in bits spread out over a couple of months. I learnt a lot from it.
I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan and put this as a favourite on Goodreads, though I also read other books by these authors which I didn’t enjoy half as much, probably as I would compare them to this. One of my favourite new discoveries was Megan Abbott – her book Dare Me was mentioned in Bad Feminist and I really enjoyed the writing style, it’s so physical and reminiscent of that obsession teenagers have with their physical selves.
I read quite a few YA LGBT novels and really enjoyed them, worth mentioning is the one below, ‘Beautiful music for ugly children’
I also loved We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which made me think, and was a good quick read as it’s a little Novella. The First Bad Man lived up to my expectations too, it was the only book I pre-ordered.
I read Surfacing by Margaret Atwood and really enjoyed it, I had not read anything by her until 2015, which seems like a bad thing to admit. I hope to read something else by her in 2016.
I read a Mills & Boon book and unsurprisingly it was just awful. I read Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson and wished I hadn’t, it was just heteronormative chick lit. I read Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter and it was shit. If I did it by OJ Simpson, and maybe he’s just such a repulsive person that it clouded my reading of it, but I found it enraging. I read the first two Fifty Shades books – the first was for when I still had the energy to be doing a reading challenge and I read it as the ‘book with bad reviews’. I REALLY wish I hadn’t wasted my time even further with the second book. I read You don’t love me yet by Jonathan Lethem because it looked cool but I hated it!
Most of the books I read this year I gave 3 stars on Goodreads, so they weren’t awful but they weren’t great either. I want to read more books that really excite me next year.
I was disappointed by Rainbow Rowell’s book Carry On, I have really loved so many of her books but this one had a rushed feel to it.
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster – published in 1908. I might try and read more classics next year.
I pre-ordered and bought The First Bad Man by Miranda July, and also read a few new releases including Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Alice and the Fly by James Rice and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt – this is a non-fiction true crime book. A genre I had NEVER read before this year, we’ll just thank the Serial podcast for that. This was such an interesting and sad story about how a group of teenage boys were basically judged by their fashion and music taste, cast out of a community for being ‘satanists’ and put in jail for a murder they did not commit.
Tampa by Alissa Nutting – BLOODY HELL this book is disturbing but so good which is even more disturbing. Also Thirst by Kerry Hudson which was good but not as good.
How many re-reads?
The Easter Parade by Richard Yates which is just totally glorious and I savoured every word even on a re-read. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta which was one I had on my shelf for ages and decided to re-read before working out whether to keep it. I enjoyed it second time around but perhaps not as much and gave it to a charity shop.
Any in translation?
Colourless Tzukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – which I gave 4/5 on goodreads. I usually like Murakami’s books and know what I’m in for with them, this was no exception.
In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami which was okay but not amazing. I think maybe the writing style was sanitised a bit in translation? or maybe it’s an unreliable narrator? I don’t know.
Where did they come from?
80-90% libraries, a couple I got on the Kindle app to read while I was travelling about the country, the rest were already on my shelf/charity shop purchases.
Book that most changed your perspective?
Not changed my perspective, but reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave me an insight into the perspectives and experiences of people of colour, especially those who migrate to Western countries.
Haha the Marie Kondo book on the Magical Art of Tidying changed my perspective and my flat for about one week then it all went to shit again.
Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone was really interesting. I am not diagnosed with Aspergers but I can relate to a lot of the symptoms/experiences and may well be on the spectrum. This book helped me to accept myself and my family members who may also have Aspergers. It also helped me to understand a lot of the difficult times I have had growing up, through a new perspective. It explained a lot and was a comfort.
Free: Adventures of the Margins of a Wasteful Society by Katharine Hibbert made me question a lot of my every day actions and appreciate how lucky I am. It made me think more seriously about consumption and waste.
Emily Grimes in The Easter Parade
Willem in A Little Life
I liked the little sister in We are all completely beside ourselves (pic above) if you’ve read it you will know what I mean, don’t want to spoil it for you.
I feel like the downfall of getting through books so quickly is that I don’t savour them and quite often don’t remember key things about them, such as scenes.
A Little Life was so quotable, the above pic is of a quote from it I liked. So was Bad Feminist. I took so many pics of good book quotes on my phone this year.
This quote on Christmas in Tina Fey’s autobiography ‘Bossypants’
Most inspirational for your own writing?
The book of short memoir vignettes by David Sedaris
I read Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please and Tina Fey’s book Boosypants, I feel like the idea of improv has been a creative concept that really appeals to me, the unlimited possibilities of it and of women playing main characters rather than basic stereotypes.
How many would you read again?
A few of them, after about five years or so. Definitely A Little Life, because I could be less blinded by it and form a more rounded opinion. I have read negative reviews and critiques of it and agreed with them but when I read it I thought it was perfect.
Here is the full list of what I read last year…
Richard Yates – The Easter Parade
Virginia Woolf – Memoirs of a Novelist
Amy Poehler – Yes Please
Tove Jansson – Moominland Midwinter
John Green – Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Jonathan Lethem – You Don’t Love Me Yet
E. L. James – Fifty Shades of Grey
Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse-Five
Sebastian Faulks – Birdsong
Ian Fleming – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Chester Brown – Paying For It
Zoe Sugg – Girl Online
Joe Dunthorne – Wild Abandon
Emily Gould – Friendship
Kirstin Cronn-Mills – Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
Marie Kondo – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
James Rice – Alice and the Fly
Miranda July – The First Bad Man
Miranda July – It Chooses You
Adam Gnade – The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad
Lisa Williamson – The Art of Being Normal
Hadley Freeman – Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies
Jennifer Egan – A Visit From The Good Squad
Lauran Bjorkman – My Invented Life
Sarah Hall – The Beautiful Indifference
Claire Kendal – The Book of You
Robin Sloan – Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
Grace Dent – How to Leave Twitter
D. H. Lawrence – Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Gemma Burgess – Brooklyn Girls
Amy Morin – 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
Richard Ayoade – Ayoade on Ayoade
Giacomo Casanova – Of Mistresses, Tigresses and Other Conquests
Robin Sloan – Ajax Penumbra
T. S. Easton – Boys Don’t Knit
Audrey Niffenegger – The Adventuress
Eric Drooker – Flood! A Novel in Pictures
Helen Gordon – Landfall
Ann M. Martin – Kristy’s Big Day (BSC #6)
Matthew Quick – The Good Luck of Right Now
Sarah Bannan – Weightless
Joanna Davies – Freshers
Patricia Highsmith – Little Tales of Mysogyny
David Levithan – Every You, Every Me
Moneypenny – Mrs Moneypenny’s Financial Advice for Independent Women
Ann M. Martin – Claudia and Mean Janine (BSC #7)
Nicholas Dickner – Apocalypse for Beginners
E. L. James – Fifty Shades Darker
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists
Siobhan Curham – Finding Cherokee Brown
O. J. Simpson – If I Did It
Haruki Murakami – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Stacey Richter – Twin Study: Stories
Alissa Nutting – Tampa
Craig Thompson – Blankets
Megan Abbott – Dare Me
Mara Leveritt – Devil’s Knott – The True Story of the West Memphis Three
Ruth Thomas – The Home Corner
Megan Abbott – The End of Everything
Roxane Gay – Bad Feminist: Essays
George Bernard Shaw – Pygmalion
Mia March – Finding Colin Firth
Francoise Hertier – The Sweetness of Life
E. M. Forster – A Room with a View
Alexandra Potter – Me and Mr Darcy
Matt Haig – Reasons to Stay Alive
Karen Joy Fowler – We are all Completely Beside Ourselves
Margaret Atwood – Surfacing
Stephanie Perkins – Lola and the Boy Next Door
Marina Keegan – The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
Katie Green – Lighter than my Shadow
Catherine Lacey – Nobody is Ever Missing
Hanya Yanagihara – A Little Life
Adrian Tomine – Scenes from an Impending Marriage
Anders Nilsen – Rage of Poseidon
Ann M. Martin – BSC: Logan Likes Mary Anne!
David Levithan – Marly’s Ghost
Gillian Flynn – Sharp Objects
Katharine Hibbert – Free: Adventures on the Margins of a Wasteful Society
Sarah Dessen – Saint Anything
Tom Perrotta – The Abstinence Teacher
Joanna Neil – (Mills &Boon) Daring to Date her Boss
Ryu Murakami – In the Miso Soup
Jojo Moyes – Me Before You
Jessica Thompson – Paper Swans
Kerry Hudson – Thirst
Suzanne Berne – The Dogs of Littlefield
Lauren Slater – Prozac Diary
Ann M. Martin – BSC Mystery 14: Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall
Rudy Simone – Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome
Ann M. Martin – BSC: Jessi and the Bad Babysitter
Amy Bloom – Lucky Us
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
Rainbow Rowell – Carry On
Tina Fey – Bossypants
David Sedaris – Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Here is my Goodreads link if you are on there…
read 1 book toward her goal of 50 books.