The Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

I know I keep bleating it during every post I write, but my reading year isn’t exactly prolific this year, partly due to my new and demanding job, but mostly due to the three months I spent reading almost nothing but War & Peace. 

Having said that, some of the books I’ve read in the first half of 2015 have been wonderful and they deserve a few minutes in the spotlight. As always, I’ve only included the books I’ve read for the first time this year and I’ve split them into two categories – the books that immediately jumped to mind when I started writing (gold), and the ones I had to scout for in order to finish the list (silver).


Gold 

1) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This. This this this this this. I loved this book and its inherent geekiness. A unique plot that includes prolific references to fantasy novels, video games, 80s music, cult films… I dare anybody not to love this. Somebody drives an Ecto-1, for God’s sake.

‘I honestly believe that one of the best feelings in the world is being five pages from the end of a truly amazing book. When it’s 2am and you desperately want to finish it, but then you also don’t want to finish it, because then you’ll have finished it and what will you do with your life?’

2) The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon  
 
It seems that the unintentional theme of this list will be ‘books I didn’t want to read, but read anyway, and were amazing.’

I finished the second book, Dragonfly in Amber, yesterday and, while I didn’t like it quite as much as the first book, it was still wonderfully immersive and I can’t wait to pick up the third installment.

‘There’s just something about the tone of the book that infers a touch of respectability to a plot that could turn very silly very quickly. There’s a pervading atmosphere throughout, whether Claire is on an isolated Scottish moor or in a bustling castle kitchen, it always seems so real.’

3) Austenland by Shannon Hale


I actually did the unthinkable in relation to Austenland and saw the film first. True to the theme stated above, I didn’t want to watch it in the slightest, but I did (albeit under duress) and ended up loving it so much I bought the book.

They’re actually very, very similar, to the point where it took me a while to get into the novel just because the film was an almost verbatim copy. By the end, though, I was hooked and giddy for days.

I put down the novel smiling like a child (albeit a child who is ill-advisedly allowed to read adult romance and has an obsessive understanding of Jane Austen). It’s just such a lovely, uplifting book that restores your faith in happy ever after.’

4) Redshirts by John Scalzi

I love books like these – where you’re involved in the storytelling, or the creation of the novel is part of the overarching plot. It’s, like, so totally meta?

This is part Star Trek parody, part sci-fi time travel novel and it’s brilliant. Very unique but occasionally quite philosophical.

Redshirts is so much more than a parody. It’s funny, clever, occasionally philosophical and really made me care about characters I expected to be two-dimensional and flat.’ 

5) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Laura bought this as part of my spookily-themed Christmas present, along with Horrorstör.

There’s just something about vintage horror stories that’s wonderful. They don’t need gore or violence to freak you out – they manage perfectly will with the odd creaky stair and mysterious footprint.

This reminds me quite a lot of The Woman in Blackthe ending is different, but just as spine chilling.

Silver

6) The Three by Sarah Lotz

This is an odd book that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as popular as it should be, although I assume the larger majority isn’t really in the mood for a novel about creepy plane crashes right now, as it does seem to be a running theme in the RealWorld news.

Still, I really do recommend The Three. It’s creepy, mysterious and will make you look twice at any children in your life.

‘At the risk of sounding overly hipster again, I loved the whole meta book-within-a-book thing. It was really detailed and perfectly thought out – clearly a lot of effort had gone in to making it work. It’s impressive.’

7) Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Aaaaaaaaaaand speaking of creepy children…

I’d had these book for literally years before I eventually deigned to read it, but I loved it. It’s very, uh… detailed with its descriptions of 15 year olds murdering each other, but it’s actually more of a character study. Admittedly with shotguns and garottes. 

I don’t think I want to watch the film (like… ever) but I did enjoy the book a surprisingly large amount.

8) Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolic Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy

Doesn’t everybody have a non-fiction book about rabies on their ‘Best Of…’ lists!?

As rabies is obviously quite a niche topic, the book branches out into all sorts of topics – vampires, werewolves, hunting dogs, vaccines, Edward Jenner, etc – and it’s fascinating.

My favourite part was the chapter dealing with Louis Pasteur who not only vastly developed the field of vaccination and pasteurisation (well, obviously – the clue is in the name, people) but created the first ever effective vaccine against rabies.

9) My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Another book that took me forever to read (I told you there was a running theme to this list).

It’s just a lovely, lovely book. The lengthy descriptions of local wildlife weren’t always for me (and yes, I know that’s kind of the point of the book) but it’s worth reading just for the anecdotes about Mr Durrell’s family. Parts of this book are absolutely hilarious, to the point where I was actually crying.

‘Having said that, I loved this book from the first page when it made me laugh out loud on a train, and I immediately texted Ellie to let her know I loved it. It’s funny and light and will just generally cheer you up, no matter how miserable you feel.’

10) The Help by Kathryn Stockett

*holds up ‘I’ve had this forever…’ sign*

I only read it because it was the book chosen for Bex’s Book Club one month. Admittedly I think it was my choice, but I needed an excuse to finally pull it down from the choice!

It’s a little sledge-hammery at times, but I ended up getting way more into this than I expected. It’s a slow build that depends heavily on characterisation, but the latter is done very, very well indeed.

Which books have you loved in the first half of 2015?

Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Outlanderrrr, woooo! The first two books are basically one book in my head. Voyager (third book) was my least favorite my first time reading the series, but has become one of my favorites. (Fourth one, Drums of Autumn, I think is the slowest). Can't wait to see what you think!

    Oh, and Battle Royale – I saw and liked the movie! I have the book but haven't read it, so this is encouraging 🙂

    1. admin says:

      I've managed to keep them separate quite well so far, but I imagine that will change after I've read a couple more!

      I heard that they end up in Civil War America, which isn't really My Thing, so I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm obviously going to read it anyway :p

      I do recommend the Battle Royale novel, although I haven't seen the film yet.

  2. I loved Austenland and the movie! Cheesy but cute and funny 🙂 – Maggie @ macarons & paperbacks

    1. admin says:

      Oh, I loved the movie too! It stuck really close to the book.

  3. Ellie says:

    So, I've read and loved three of these, got another five and really want to get hold of one, possibly both, of the remaining two. I'll leave you to work out which is which while I go and get all excited about how many good books I apparently have waiting for me! 😛

    1. admin says:

      Alright, hmm.

      You've read and loved:
      My Family and Other Animals
      Outlander
      Austenland

      I know you OWN Ready Player One and Rabid, at least. You probably also own The Haunting of Hill House.

      And I reckon you WANT Redshirts?

      How did I do!?

  4. Ready Player One! And Outlander! And The Haunting of Hill House!! Obviously a great list.

    Good work on reminding me about Redshirts and The Three too. There's something about The Help that just doesn't appeal to me though. I realise that this makes me sound utterly ignorant but it just seems kind of…not very interesting? I don't know. It's never quite made it on to the list of things I want to read.

    1. admin says:

      RPO is STILL the best book of the year so far. My pre-order of Armada arrived today (the second book I've ever pre-ordered in my life) and I'm REALLY excited about it.

      No, it doesn't make you sound ignorant. I wasn't overkeen on reading either, which is entirely why I selected it as my Book Club choice. I'd only bought it because it was 50p from a charity shop and then failed to read it for two years :/

      It's good though, I was surprised. It's less about what you'd think, and more about a wannabe journalist writing a book.

  5. Bree says:

    Too bad you didn't listen to the audio version of The Help. It is fantastic. I thought it was so much better than reading the book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *