This year has been a really important one in my 'reading life'. (Is that a thing? Well, it is now!) This year was the year I really discovered how sociable reading can actually be. From the outside, most people would consider reading to be a very introverted, isolated activity, but it does not have to be that way! This year I joined Goodreads, I started a blog and I really re-ignited how important and sociable reading can be! I learned that you can get involved with so many things by having bookish friends and can spend many happy hours chatting about books and the pleasure of recommending them.
According to Goodreads (how did I survive without it?!), I read 78 books in 2015 - that's 27,291 pages! That seems like an obscene amount, but by reminding myself that it was all completely voluntary, I guess it is kind of amazing! Added to that the fact that my average rating was 4/5 stars, it just shows how much I have enjoyed all (or maybe, most) of the books I devoured this year!
So, I think the easiest way to pick the highlights of the year is to do a top 10! My strategy for this was to just write down the first 10 books that came to mind when I look back over the year. Seemed like as good a strategy as any!
So here we have it...my 2015 top 10!
10) Us - David Nicholls
Waterstones' marketing strategy worked well here...this as an impulse buy that I bought at the till. Believe it or not, this was the first David Nicholls book I have ever read and I really loved it. It put such an interesting twist on a normal love story as it was written from the man's perspective! (Just consider for a second how rare that actually is.) The main character was so endearing and it was a joy to read!
9) The Way You Look Tonight - Richard Madeley
Aaaand this was a case where marketing didn't go so well! I think Madeley has made a huge mistake with the cover of this book! Let's be clear, it is most definitely a crime novel, but I would forgive you for assuming that it were a trashy romance novel, given the cover! In fact, I even saw it in the romance section of one Waterstones store! The problem is, crime novels invariably have a lot of black on the cover! I was intrigued by this book though, in one of my sessions where I spend hours in book shops reading the blurb of books that I normally wouldn't pick up - trying to challenge my 'judging a book by its cover' habit. I am so glad I did, because the plot is so full of suspense and intrigue and it just amazing! I have since given this book to my Mum, who loved it so much she wants to read his next novel! So seriously...go and pick this book up! Don't judge this book by its cover, give it a go!
8) Intrusion - Ken Macleod
I really do need to read more SciFi, as this book was a great example of how fab it can be! I am a sucker for a book with good (and accurate) scientific references, (yes, I am a geek!), so this book had me hooked very early on. The story of a future world where all genetic defects can be eradicated with a pill. But...who decides what is a defect and what is a genetic advantage? When the lines are blurry, one woman fights to save the genetic diversity of her child. Such a thought-provoker!
7) The Shock of the Fall - Nathan Filer
Okay I am sorry, I am sure you are completely sick of hearing from me about this book, but it is just amazing. It is one of those books you can't help but just want to give to everyone you know and wait for them to finish so you can both hype about how amazing it is! It is an amazingly written story of a boy suffering with schizophrenia from Filer, who has witnessed the effects first-hand. A real page-turner which can very easily be devoured in one sitting!
6) The Bourne Original Trilogy - Robert Ludlum
I have always been a big believer in reading the book before I watch a film, so when my boyfriend said that I had to watch the Bourne films, I decided to read the books first and ordered the first three online. They seemed like a good place to start as they are the only ones written by the original author, Robert Ludlum, as far as I understand. When they arrived, I couldn't believe how long they are - seriously, these books are monsters! So they sat on my bookshelf for a very long time. However when I had a few weeks spare before going back to uni, I decided to attack them. It is the mark of a fantastic book that they kept me completely hooked throughout all three of the monsters! They were so fantastically written, with suspense and plot twists everywhere! Oh, and also....just in case you didn't know, the plots of the books are entirely different to those of the films! I don't understand why the person with the film rights decided to do that, but okay! At least now the films will still hold some mystery for me!
5) The Accident - CL Taylor
Most of the crime I read is focused around spies or government conspiracies or big murderers or drug cartels. This was the first book in a long time that I read and was about one mother trying to solve the mystery of her daughter's coma. Much more of a localised crime story and I was right there along with her, feeling the frustration as she hit dead ends and the excitement with every success! A really great book!
4) Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig
Yes, yes, regular readers of my blog will once again sigh at the shameless name-dropping of Matt Haig, who features in almost every blog I write. I can't help it, I just love him. I had read The Humans (stay tuned) before this, which I absolutely love, but it wasn't until I read this that I loved Matt Haig as a person. The bravery and cut-throat honesty displayed in the writing of this book is just astounding. He gives an account of his struggle with anxiety and depression, as well as glimmers of hope and advice for anyone who suffers themselves or has loved ones who are suffering. It really is just perfection and I will never cease to applaud Haig for writing it.
3) The Humans - Matt Haig
I told you to stay tuned! Like I have said, I loved 'The Humans'. In some ways, it is quite similar to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - how would you explain to aliens what it is to be human? Well, I thought I knew until Matt Haig threw this book into the mix! His 'outside', alien perspective on human life is funny, endearing and thought-provoking - just WOW. I am sure this book will stay with me for a very long time.
2) The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Yes, I am a bit behind the times on reading this one, but luckily my A-Z challenge of 2015 gave me the push I needed to pick up my copy and give it a read. It deserves such a high status on this list because it is the only book I remember which has given me such a strong emotional reaction not only whilst reading it, but for hours and possibly even days after! It truly was a 'book hangover' - I wouldn't recommend reading it before going to an Ed Sheeran concert, like I did! PS...the imagery alone is a work of literary masterpiece!
Ohhhh these books!! I am so obsessed with this series and cannot believe it is as little-known as it is because it is just incredible! It is the only series since Harry Potter for which I eagerly await the release of the next instalment each year! They never ever disappoint! The suspense and the drama and the action and the love and the destruction...just - GAH! READ THEM!
So, that is my 2015 year of books! From now on I am going to try and be a bit better at reviewing my favourite books on here. I would love to take-on another challenge in 2016, to add to the A-Z challenge I did in 2015, so if anyone has any ideas please let me know in the comments below!