Favorite Books read in 2015:
I read some good books as well. This isn’t a “best of” 2015 because I read very few books published last year. I’m in a book club that reads older books so I’m a little bit behind on current best sellers. I like books of all genres. In addition to a lot of “pure fiction”, I read a fair amount of non-fiction as well as historical fiction, Young Adult novels and some Science Fiction. Below are some books that I really enjoyed last year in no particular order.
1. Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (not to be confused with Dan Brown). Ok, this was the third time I have read it but since I led a book club discussion about it this year I figure I can put it on my list. I’ll just say you’ll never find a book filled with more heart. It is about the U of Washington 1936 crew team that won the Olympic Gold Medal by overcoming more obstacles than can be imagined. If you are a lover of crew, you will have read it. If you are a lover of the “narrative non-fiction” style of writing, you should have read it and for all others – just read this great book.
2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. All right, you may have noticed a trend here “Narrative Non-Fiction”, “1936 Olympics” and you would be right. I love this style of writing and Laura Hillenbrand (also wrote Seabiscuit) is the master of it. This is the story of Louis Zamperini, child of the depression, Olympic runner and WWII prison camp survivor. An amazing book and story.
3. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz. This was a shocker to me. I swore that when I heard Stig Larsson’s estate was going to publish another Lisbeth Salander book that I would boycott it as his common law wife received nothing from his estate. She actually has parts of another couple of novels on his computer, which I was willing to wait for. But the years went by, she showed no signs of publishing the books, stories came out that maybe his estate wasn’t all in the wrong in it’s legal battles with her and then the reviews came out for the new book and they were good. The book was really enjoyable and I felt that the new author preserved the essence of the characters. I hope the books that were left on the computer will someday be published but until then, I’ll keep reading David Lagercrantz!
4. Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel. Both of these books won the Mann Booker award for the best British novel. I confess to having tried to read Wolf Hall a couple of times prior to last year and couldn’t get through it. For whatever reason, I read both Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies with no problem this year and they really are works of art. The prose is on a higher level than just about anything I have ever read. For the author to make Thomas Cromwell a sympathetic figure to the reader is a challenge only Hilary Mantel would attempt and she has done it brilliantly.
5. The Secret Place by Tana French. This is book 5 in the Dublin Murder Series and I love these books. Ms. French uses a different investigator to solve the mysteries in each novel although they are all members of the Dublin Murder squad. This keeps the characters fresh and interesting and she doesn’t fall into the pitfalls of other mystery writers who use the same old lead character in book after book. Check her out if you like mysteries.
6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This is a “Gone Girl” type of book and really pretty depressing but well done. Emily Blunt is going to play the girl on the train in the movie so you may want to read the book before it comes out.
7. You know when the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon. This was another complete shock to me. It is a series of short stories about life on an Army base. I am not a fan of short stories but since this was assigned in my book club, I read it. It was great. Each story was moving and well written. A real gem.
8. The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman. This concludes the Magician’s trilogy, which is a Young Adult series often referred to as the “adult Harry Potter” as it is about a group of Magicians who attend a college of Magic. The series is pretty dark but this book successfully wraps up the story. The Sy Fy channel is starting the TV series this month so if you are interested in the TV show, or just like the idea of a “dark Harry Potter”, read the trilogy.
I read a bunch of other stuff this year but none of it particularly noteworthy. I am hoping for better this year!!!