Claire and Tim’s top 10 books of 2015

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My husband Tim is a university librarian and has always read more books than me, until this year. 2015 was a year of maximum reading for me; the most books I’ve ever read in a year (57), but I’m one of the lucky people who can count reading fiction as part of their job. I told Tim I was writing a post about my top 10 books that I read in 2015 (published any time) and he wanted to do one as well, except he doesn’t have a blog – so he’s muscled in on this one. But since this is my website I’m starting with my list, his list is at the bottom (if he doesn’t like it, he can get his own damn website…).

Here’s a little bit about each. The link in the title will take you to my Goodreads review, if I wrote one. Starting with my top three (in no order):

the seaThe Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch
I’ve been trying to catch up on Murdoch this year. I also read The Italian girl (weird but good) and The Bell (not so good). The Sea, The Sea was weird but wonderful. Buy on Hive.

sweetland Sweetland by Michael Crummey
Another book where the sea features strongly (did I mention that my second novel, Swimming Lessons is set by the sea?) This is about an old man on an island. Perfect writing, story, place. Buy on Hive.

the pastThe Past by Tessa Hadley
Four siblings come back to their family home to decide whether to sell it. A quiet book but full of old tensions and new problems. I don’t understand why this book didn’t win prizes. Buy on Hive.

And the other seven, in no order:

last The Last of Us by Rob Ewing
A bit of cheat this one, because this isn’t out until April 2016 and I was sent a proof. It’s about a group of children surviving on a Scottish island after a smallpox epidemic. Look out for this. I loved it.

duchessThe Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
Have you ever read 84 Charing Cross Road? No? Go back to Start and read it now. Yes? Read this. It’s kind of a sequel, about when Hanff visits London in 1971. She writes so naturally about all the people who take her out to dinner. Looks like Harper Perennial are re-issuing it in July 2016.

did you everDid You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
Pretty relentlessly sad, but beautifully written, about a woman (and the people that satellite around her) who loses her family in a fire. The Man Booker judges agreed with me and it made the long-list this year. Buy from Hive.

Green RoadThe Green Road by Anne Enright
Another book about a family coming together, but this time with more insight into the siblings’ lives away from home. This also, deservedly, made the Man Book long-list this year. Buy from Hive.

MountainThe Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger
The first of the two which Tim and I agree on. This is an amazing debut about a man who plants trees in Canada and his son who does something bad. Sarah and I are appearing together in January in Winchester. Buy from Hive.

Ali smith How to Be Both by Ali Smith
You must all know by now that this is two stories that kind of mash and mesh together through time and character. Clever, and lovely writing. Go read it, let me know which story you get first. Buy from Hive.

aquarium Aquarium by David Vann
I think if I had been doing my top 10 books since I’d been reading David Vann, all his books would have made the list. I met him recently, and he’s a very nice man* (*That hasn’t influenced this book’s inclusion). It’s about a girl who meets a man in an aquarium, and much more. Buy from Hive.

Tim’s list

Tim doesn’t do reviews. Click on the picture to buy from Hive. I think he’d say you should read them all. I’ve read quite a few, and only two – The Mountain Can Wait and Aquarium – did we agree on. It makes dinner time more interesting.

Tim’s top three (in no order):

downloadbeside the sea images

Tim’s other 7

aquarium          Submission         BMImg_151335_BDOLImageTemp

     hausfrau-978144728079801          book_review         arbitrary-conduct-978144726891801        Mountain

Have you read any of these? Any cross-over between me and Tim? Let me know in the comments below.

29 thoughts on “Claire and Tim’s top 10 books of 2015

  1. Excellent lists! Delighted to see that you both picked The Mountain Can Wait – I’d love to see it garlanded with prizes. A Whole Lie is a treasure, too. Perhaps Tim could be persuaded to start his own blog.


  2. Great list and reviews. So different from my reads, but that’s okay. I can’t imagine my husband and I ever agreeing on the best books we’ve read in any year – we have dissimilar tastes. But the good news is that we love being together while we read our different books. 🙂


  3. Oh how fantastic to have another fiction reader in the house… hubby reads a lot but non-fiction and lots for work too. I’ve bought him John Peel’s biography as it’s a look at social, cultural & music history since 70s which he’ll delight in talking about it to reminisce with me and ‘educate’ the kids😊

    Good to see Hausfrau & Beside the Sea on Tim’s list… been hankering after Anne Enright’s, Tessa Hadley’s and Sarah Leipciger’s and must look up The Aquarium … got The Duchess from recommendation of NovellaNov & will reread 84 Charing Cross first☺

    Do miss being part of a book club…


  4. Hi Claire,
    Just finished Tessa Hadley’s latest, actually, and I was left feeling a bit disappointed. I hope I’m not being affected by that agent-virus of the ‘too-slow-not-enough-tension’ strain, but I did think the descriptions could have been cut back. Also she has been let down by her editor, in my opinion, loads of superfluous, ugly adverbs (Hungrily, they ate their fish and chips etc.). I loved the first third though and I love her writing generally. My favourite one of hers is The London Train.

    My favourite authors this year have been Sadie Jones and Amy Bloom, both of whom are new to me, and also loved Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women.

    Wishing you and Tim a great, book-filled Christmas!
    Jacquie xx


  5. My husband is more of a non-fiction person and reads a lot of autobiographies so I rely on my book club for great heated fiction discussions! I loved The Mountain Can Wait and How to be Both (my edition had the modern story first). Tessa Hadley is one of my favourite authors but I have only read a few chapters of The Past and then got distracted by something else so I must return to it. I enjoyed the Bill Clegg for the dazzling array of voices he was able to inhabit but for some reason I ended up feeling a bit emotionally detached by the end, similarly with Hausfrau. The ones I have my eye on now are the Anne Enright. The Last of Us sounds good and I haven’t heard of it before. Hope you have a very lovely Christmas x


  6. Most of these I haven’t yet got to… but I will. Last year did feature 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and they gave me and my husband (and we only have a few crossovers in a year) enormous pleasure.


  7. Pingback: Sample Saturday – siblings, fish, and a mother | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

  8. I was astonished to find how much I enjoyed the Iris Murdoch – most of her other work had left me cold. I’ll agree with you re Ali Smith (I had the version with the painter first). But didn’t rate either Anne Enright or Bill Clegg.


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