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Books Of The Year

Thursday, 31 December 2015

I was pondering what I'd read during 2015 and struggling to decide on my book of the year, or even to narrow it down to a shortlist. Then, handily timed, came Janet's blog post about her 2015 reading. So I've borrowed Janet's categories (I did check first to see if she minded!) and here are my results.

Best Book You Read In 2015 (broken down by genre if necessary)

YA fiction
The Rest of Us Just Live Hereby Patrick Ness. This was easily one of the best books I read this year and it's a wonderful piece of YA fiction - clever, touching and dark.

Crime fiction
Mystery in Whiteby J. Jefferson Farjeon. Most of my crime fiction reading this year has been rereads so it seems a bit unfair to pick one of those. This was the perfect festive crime book - atmospheric, enthralling and very satisfying.

I love Adam Nicolson's writing about nature - he's one of the few people who can really get the sense of a landscape onto the printed page - but I think on balance I liked Gentry: Six Hundred Years of a Peculiarly English Classbest out of his books I read this year. It's more obviously about people than nature, but it's also very much about how ties to land and the duty of care towards a place you're only a temporary custodian of can shape lives. Honorable mentions to H is for Hawk(one of my BGR picks from earlier in the year) and Empty Mansions,which although it tailed off a little towards the end, was a fascinating glimpse into a lost world of unbelievable wealth.

Literary fiction
I read very little of this genre as a rule - recommend me some good, non-pretentious options please! - but We Have Always Lived in the Castlewas a real highlight of the year. 

I really must do a proper blog post or two about romance fiction soon cos it has so many separate genres within it that I could list about another 6 categories. Laura Florand is always brilliant and she writes super fast which is always nice! Her Paris books just edge out the new La Vie en Roses series for me, so my pick of the year from her goes to All for You. Tessa Bailey's Make Meand Chase Mewere both enormous fun and I am dying to read book 3 but it's still £6 on Kindle and I'm having a stubborn strop about it because on US Amazon, the bundle of the entire trilogy is the same price. SO UNFAIR.

And onto the more specific choices!

Most Surprising (In A Good Way) Book of 2015
I'm going to go with Carry Onby Rainbow Rowell. I'm a huge fan of hers but I think Fangirl is possibly my least favourite of her books, so the prospect of a spinoff from it didn't massively thrill me. Also I was very wary of just how much of a Harry Potter ripoff it was going to come across as. I very soon forgot about that though and it's a book that totally stands (and dazzles) on its own merits.

Book You Read In 2015 That You Recommended Most To Others
The Martian. Not that many of my friends and family have similar reading tastes to me but this was a great book with pretty broad appeal, so I tipped quite a few of them off about it.

Best Series You Discovered In 2015
The Game On trilogy by Kristen Callihan. I read book 3 (The Game Plan) first, adored it and promptly snaffled up the other two. Turns out that if you tweet a book review which basically reads "NFL playing, tattoed, manbun-wearing, virgin, beta hero", I autobuy it. I love me a beta hero.

Favourite New Author You Discovered in 2015
I'd be tempted to whack Kristen Callihan on the list but it depends what she writes next - her previous books are all paranormal historical romance and I don't get on with paranormal. I had a massive Jessica Day Georgemoment in April (lots of her books were available via my Scribd subscription) and loved everything of hers - I've picked one of the Princess books for BGR but the Dragon series is also excellent and the Castle books remind me so much of Diana Wynne Jones and there can be few higher compliments than that!

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love But Didn't
There weren't many huge disappointments this year but Janet has excellent taste in books so I was expecting her BGR choice, This is Not a Love Story, to be good and I really didn't like it.

Best Book That Was Out Of Your Comfort Zone Or Was A New Genre To You J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst is probably out of most people's comfort zone - it's utterly unlike any other book I've ever come across. It's really worth the effort though.

Book You Read In 2015 That You're Most Likely To Read Again In 2016
Loads of them! If I like a book, I'm very likely to reread it so pretty much everything else I've mentioned in this post will get picked back up at some point.

Favourite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You've Read Previously
Take your pick from several of the above!

Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else
I think it's a tie between The Martian and S, both of which were BGR choices that I loved and would never have come across otherwise. Ooh, or possibly Longbournwhich was just as good as I'd been told it was.

Favourite Cover Of A Book In 2015
I don't own them, but I really want the new set of Penguin Nancy Mitford books. Those covers are stunning.

Book That Had The Greatest Impact On You In 2015
Call me shallow but I can't think of anything that was a standout.

Book You Can't BELIEVE You Waited Until 2015 To Read
Nothing is particularly springing to mind for, does it count to say Carry On and The Rest of Us Only Live Here? Both authors are autobuys for me but the books were released in October and August respectively and I saved them both until the post-Christmas period, I think that deserves praise on my part!

Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Wow, I really can't think of anything in particular. I quite often want to fangirl with others about things I've just read but I can't recall any particular scenes.

Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2015 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)
There's no concealing my love for Dominique Richard, one of Laura Florand's French chef characters, and he popped up again in All For You. (Spoiler: he's still amazing. Treat yourself to a secondhand pb copy of his book, The Chocolate Touch ) His relationship with Celie is part boss, part big brother and completely lovely. 
Mikey and Jared in The Rest of Us Just Live Here are my new favourite pair of friends though.

Most Memorable Character In A Book You Read In 2015
Mikey from The Rest of Us Just Live Here haunts me a little bit.

Genre You Read The Most From in 2015
Romance. It's always romance and only in part because they tend to be shorter and easier to glom. Having said that, I read a lot of shit this year and I really need to start being more selective about what I spend my time on.

Best 2015 Debut
Act Like Itby Lucy Parker was a very pleasant surprise and I'm really looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2015
The Church Mice at Christmasis part of my Christmas Eve tradition and it is so much fun to read. Lovely story and inspired illustrations.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015
Loads of them! It's not hard to make me cry. I had a bit of a meltdown near the end of Adorkableand the start of The Shepherd's Crownmade me absolutely sob. Heartbreakingly poignant.

Book You Read in 2015 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out
Hmmm. Maybe S? Just on the basis that I had never even heard of it before reading it for BGR and I feel like it should be a lot better known. Also on that tack, I wish a lot more people knew about the existence of Laura Florand's books. They are a complete joy.

Total number of books read in 2015
338. Busiest month was April (59) as I was on holiday for a week and in a car for pretty much four solid days driving to Orkney and back. Quietest month was July with a feeble 13 - work kicked off big style and I had zero free time.

I don't do resolutions but in 2016 I definitely need to read more quality and less rubbish. 338 is a lot of books but it's surprising when I looked back at the list of titles just how few of them really made a mark. It's not a good sign when you read the title and author details and recall nothing about the plot and characters. And no, I don't have a bad memory. They just weren't very good! I'm open to any and all recommendations so please send them my way.


  1. Ooh I'd like to hear more about romance fiction, I have such a hard time finding anything good! It's either not romantic enough for me or way too cheesy, I need something worth reading! :)

    1. The only 'romantic' books I ever enjoy are Jojo Moyes or Marian Keyes (earlier stuff). Both suitably non-fluffy!

      Sooo many books going on my to - read list now (I am always in awe and a bit jealous of how quickly you can read)...

  2. I loved H is for Hawk and We have always lived the Castle, The Martian I could see being a better film than a book (but I haven't watched it yet). I started off with good intentions and read some classics, then fell into a hole of discovering series and binge-reading them (Poldark books and the Saxons series by Bernard Cornwell). Really enjoyed The Bone Clocks - does that count as literary fiction?
    Happy New Year!

  3. What a lovely tag! H is for hawk did nothing for me at all but I loved reading the Martian!
    Happy new year as well!

    Lizzie Dripping

  4. YES to the Patrick Ness & Rainbow Rowell books! We already had this conversation on Twitter, though, I guess. Agh, named and shamed as the chooser of the most disappointing book, sorry! It really was pants, though, next time I do BGR I'll stick to the rules and pick a book I've read and loved.

  5. I feel like I desperately need to read a Rainbow Rowell book, I keep reading people's blogs about them! I'll be saving this post for all the reccs :)

    Liz x
    Distract Me Now Please

  6. P.S. I've also stolen this idea from Janet too- in the process of writing it! x

  7. I love the sound of all of these books, I haven't read as much as I would have like but hoping to rectify that soon!

    Maria xxx

  8. I definitely need to add The Rest of Us Just Live Here to my reading list - it sounds brilliant. I'm always on the lookout for good YA fiction - I'm a sucker for it. Loved this post. - Tasha


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