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 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 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 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:
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.
The 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 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.
The 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.
The 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.
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 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 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):
Tim’s other 7
Have you read any of these? Any cross-over between me and Tim? Let me know in the comments below.