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The Good, the Bad and the Unfinished of 2015

Hello everyone! 🙂

I had originally started writing this post on January 12th, which was pretty late already, but this and that happened and the post was left unfinished even though we reached mid-February.. I feel rather embarrassed about this, but I decided to finish this post anyway.

2015 started out really badly for me, with the loss of a very dear friend, but it contained some happy moments, like my university graduation, and, luckily, it continued rather quietly. Despite all that, I read 132 books in 2015, which is the most I’ve read in the last 4 years. Last year, I had written a post about The Most Disappointing Books of 2014, so for this year, I decided to include a little bit of everything.

The Good

When browsing through my list of the books I read in 2015, I never expected to meet so many great ones I really enjoyed and loved. Thus, instead of making a numbered list, I’ll just briefly talk about some of my most distinguished books of last year (I couldn’t possibly include them all, as they are way more than I thought..).

In 2015, I read some spectacular poetry, such as Study for Necessity by Joellen Kwiatek, Les Pensées by Lucienne Hollard McKay, Felicity by Mary Oliver and my absolute favourite, Salad Anniversary by Machi Tawara. I also read some stunning classic literature, such as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. The Book of Yokai by Michael Dylan Foster was my favourite non-fiction book of 2015, along with Jane Austen by Carol Shields, The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell and Writers & Society of Modern Japan by Irena Powell.

I could not fail to mention the writings of Petya Dubarova, a 17-year-old Bulgarian girl, who wrote magnificently but took her life way too soon. Only two collections of her poetry, short stories and prose have been published, and the edition I came across was a Greek translation of various writings of hers which were probably taken from both her collections.

Other wonderful reads were Confusion by Stefan Zweig, Silk by Alessandro Baricco, The Tears of Dark Water by Corban Addison, Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn. The first volume of Descender by Jeff Lemire was one of the best graphic novels I read in 2015 and In Search of Lost Dragons by Élian Black’mor, even though not a graphic novel per se, was definitely one of the most impressive books I’ve encountered. Lastly, I ventured in the realm of audiobooks and I declare The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer one of the most comforting and most empowering books I listened to. I’m glad I listened to it first, because Amanda narrates it herself and there are also some songs incorporated here and there, so the experience of this audiobook was very fascinating.

The Bad

Compared to other years, 2015 was a very lucky reading year, since there aren’t but a few disappointing reads. Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara was the greatest disappointment of the year. Night Train to the Stars by Miyazawa Kenji and Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot were also not as impressive as I expected them to be, but they were not at all bad.

The Unfinished

I dreaded reaching this category. Sadly, I never managed to finish The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, a challenge I undertook along with Marina Sofia and Rowena. It was a rather daunting read and even though it was enjoyable in its own way, it just got left aside and forgotten over other reads.. I do plan on continuing it this year, and I hope to have finished it by summer at least.

That was my insanely belated 2015 wrap-up. Overall, I had one of the best and most exciting reading years. I don’t want to make any commitments for 2016, since I know I may not fulfil them, but I definitely want to attempt finishing Tale of Genji and, of course, I also plan on participating in Reading Ireland Month again this year.

I hope you all have a brilliant reading year in 2016 🙂

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Books of the Year 2015 (Part Three)

The third and final part of my showcase of favourite books read last year is here!  Whilst I haven’t quite been able to make this list up to a nice, rounded 75, I hope that you still find something (or things!) of interest.

51. The Moving Toyshop – Edmund Crispin (fiction; Vintage) – thoughts (BookTube)
52. The Collector – John Fowles (fiction; Vintage)
53. The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am – Kjersti A. Skomsvold (fiction; Dalkey Archive Press) – thoughts (BookTube)
54. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky (fiction; Penguin)
55. The Aspern Papers – Henry James (fiction; Oxford World’s Classics)
418ame2gt4l-_sx309_bo1204203200_56. A Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals – Virginia Woolf (non-fiction; Pimlico)
57. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity – Marshall Berman (non-fiction; Verso)
58. Public Library and Other Stories – Ali Smith (short stories; Penguin) – thoughts
59. Dimanche and Other Stories – Irene Nemirovsky (short stories; Virago)
60. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver (fiction; Serpent’s Tail)
61. The Children Who Lived in a Barn – Eleanor Graham (fiction; Persephone)
62. Dept. of Speculation – Jenny Offill (fiction; Granta)
63. Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner (fiction; Virago) (re-read)
64. The Charleston Bulletin Supplements – Virginia Woolf and Quentin Bell (non-fiction; British Library)
65. How Late It Was, How Late – James Kelman (fiction; Vintage)
66. The Death of Bees – Lisa O’Donnell (fiction; Windmill Books)
67. All the Days and Nights – William Maxwell (short stories; Vintage)
68. The Chateau – William Maxwell (fiction; Vintage)
69. Nightwood – Djuna Barnes (fiction; Faber & Faber)
70. Streetwalking the Metropolis: Women, the City and Modernity – Deborah L. Parsons (non-fiction; Oxford University Press)
71. On Not Knowing Greek – Virginia Woolf (non-fiction; Hesperus)
72. Truth is Not Sober and Other Stories – Winifred Holtby (short-stories; Blackthorn Press)

 

Which were your top books of 2015?

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Books of the Year 2015 (Part Two)

Following on from yesterday’s post, here is the second part of my favourite reads of 2015.

26. Save Me the Waltz – Zelda Fitzgerald (fiction; Vintage) – thoughts
27. Bastard Out of Carolina – Dorothy Allison (fiction; Penguin) – thoughts
28. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote (non-fiction; Penguin) – thoughts | thoughts (BookTube)
29. The Iceberg: A Memoir – Marion Coutts  (non-fiction; Atlantic Books) – thoughts (BookTube)
30. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran (fiction; Ebury Press) – thoughts (BookTube)
31. Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th-Century Women Writers – Lesley McDowell (non-fiction; Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd.) – thoughts (BookTube)
32. The Little Friend – Donna Tartt (fiction; Bloomsbury) – thoughts (BookTube)
33. J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys – Andrew Birkin (non-fiction; Yale University Press) – thoughts (BookTube)9781447241218
34. Bid Me to Live – H.D. (fiction; University Press of Florida) – thoughts (BookTube)
35. Hold Your Own – Kate Tempest (poetry; Pan Macmillan) – thoughts (BookTube)
36. H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald (non-fiction; Vintage) – thoughts (BookTube)
37. Hostages to Fortune – Elizabeth Cambridge (fiction; Persephone) – thoughts (BookTube)
38. How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran (non-fiction; Ebury Publishing) – thoughts (BookTube)
39. Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud (fiction; Penguin)
40. Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism – Andrew Thacker (non-fiction; Manchester University Press) – thoughts (BookTube)
41. Living – Henry Green (fiction; Vintage) – thoughts
42. The First Person and Other Stories – Ali Smith (short stories; Penguin)
43. Tales of the Islanders – Charlotte Bronte (fiction; Hesperus Press) – thoughts (BookTube)
44. Death on the Cherwell – Mavis Doriel Hay (fiction; British Library Crime Classics) – thoughts (BookTube)
45. Fish Can Sing – Halldor Laxness (fiction; Vintage) – thoughts (BookTube)
46. Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff (fiction; William Heinemann)  – thoughts (BookTube)
47. Stoner – John Williams (fiction; Vintage) – thoughts (BookTube/blog)
48. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf (fiction; Penguin)  (re-read)
49. The Panopticon – Jenni Fagan (fiction; Windmill Books) – thoughts (BookTube)
50. Saplings – Noel Streatfeild (fiction; Persephone) – thoughts (BookTube/blog)

Stay tuned for the third and final part tomorrow!

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Books of the Year 2015 (Part One)

It is perhaps a little late to be posting a list of the best books which I read in 2015, but with going on holiday and starting back at University, I haven’t really had chance to collate anything as yet!  I began some not so good books last year, certainly, but since I decided to give up on reading tomes if they have failed to hook me by page fifty, I can honestly say that my final reading list for the year was filled with some absolute gems.  I have split this into three parts so that I can really make the most of book recommendations (and I’m sure it will be refreshing to not have to read yet another ‘One From the Archive’ post for a few days!).

The books below are in no particular order, other than they follow the pattern in which I read them in.  I haven’t split them up into fiction or non-fiction, or different genres, so please forgive me if you are a more organised reader than I!  I believe that all of the following reads will grip and intrigue, and the stories which they present – made up or otherwise – are sure to stick with you for some time.  Rather than copy the blurbs, or write my gushing thoughts about them, I have merely typed up a little list, but if blog reviews exist, I have linked them accordingly.
1. The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky (fiction; Wordsworth Classics) – thoughts
2. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt (fiction; Little, Brown and Company)
3. When I Forgot – Elina Hirvonen (fiction; Granta) 9781846148484
4. The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri (fiction; Bloomsbury)
5. Through the Woods – Emily Carroll (graphic novel; Margaret K. McElderry Books) – thoughts (BookTube)
6. Ragnarok – A.S. Byatt (fiction; Canongate)
7. East of Eden – John Steinbeck (fiction; Penguin) – thoughts (BookTube)
8. The Years – Virginia Woolf (fiction; Oxford World’s Classics)
9. Tove Jansson: Work and Love – Tuula Karjalainen (non-fiction; Penguin) – thoughts
10. Diving Belles – Lucy Wood (short stories; Bloomsbury) – thoughts (BookTube)
11. A Murder is Announced – Agatha Christie (fiction; HarperCollins)
12. Cold Spring Harbor – Richard Yates (fiction; Vintage) – thoughts
13. Confronting the Classics – Mary Beard (non-fiction; Profile Books Ltd.) – thoughts (BookTube)
14. Fun Home – Alison Bechdel (graphic novel; Houghton Mifflin)
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien (fiction; HarperCollins) – thoughts | thoughts (BookTube)
16. A Very Long Engagement – Sebastien Japrisot (fiction; Vintage) – thoughts (BookTube)
17. Family Roundabout – Richmal Crompton (fiction; Persephone) – thoughts (BookTube)
978000723020418. Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin (fiction; Penguin) – thoughts
19. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel (fiction; HarperCollins)
20. Someone at a Distance – Dorothy Whipple (fiction; Persephone) – thoughts
21. A Russian Journal – John Steinbeck (non-fiction; Penguin)
22. Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman – Friedrich Christian Delius (fiction; Peirene) – thoughts (BookTube)
23. Her – Harriet Lane (fiction; Orion) – thoughts (BookTube)
24. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie (fiction; HarperCollins) – thoughts
25. Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis (fiction; Vintage)

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow!