The End of Year Book Survey 2015

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Hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner, as always.
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Number of books you read: 63
Number of rereads: 9
Average date of publication: 1952
At first glance, this looks fairly appalling for me. I haven’t read this few books since 2009 – my numbers are usually in the early 100s. Still though, there’s no getting around the fact that I spent three months reading War & Peace and six months on Moby Dick. I also read The Canterbury Tales, The Woman in White and a few other heavy classics, now I think about it.
Maybe my total isn’t so bad after all. It is going to make for a very repetitive survey though…

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1. The Best Book of 2015
This wasn’t even difficult. In fact, after I read Ready Player One way back last January, I immediately wanted it to be the end of the year, just so I could talk about it for this question.
This was book was perfect in every single way, and I suspect it will pop up for a lot of the questions below. It’s perfect, and geeky, and references Hitchhikers Guide, Pern, Ghostbusters, Middle Earth and a million other old school fandoms that I love, whilst having an excellent and riveting overarching storyline.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did? 
And that leads me to Armada, also by Ernest Cline.
I was so relieved after I turned the final page of Ready Player One, because THANK GOD the author had another book coming out just a few months later. I’d be able to get my fix of genuine amazingness. 
Except not. I intensely disliked almost everything about this book, which hurt all the more because I expected it to be great. The plot is silly and makes absolutely zero sense, and the narrative and dialogue is lazy. 
I felt slightly traitorous writing such a negative review, but there were honestly no positive characteristics at all and that sucked. 

3. Most surprising book of 2015?
 
I know, right? I’m surprised it made it onto this list under any category.
I think we all had pre-conceived notions of War & Peace though, most likely because of it’s ridiculous length. Seriously, I made the mistake of reading a physical copy and ended up with dints in my knees from where I propped it up. 
Still though, it’s surprisingly good. I mean, it definitely had its slow parts where they sat around discussing Russian farming for just a tad too long, but there was more court gossip and scandal than I expected and on the whole I sort of enjoyed reading it and I never thought I’d say that.  
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2015?
And the repetition begins.
I recommended Ready Player One to pretty much everybody. If you walked past me on the street or had the misfortune to sit next to me on a train, I recommended this to you.
Charlotte read it (and she loved it too) and Ellie keeps threatening to read it any day now, so I guess I achieved my objective somewhat.
Just thinking about this book makes my stomach hurt with the Happy Book Fuzz. 
5. Best series you discovered in 2015?
I only actually read two series this year – The Lunar Chronicles and The Mortal Instruments.
After a slight hesitation,, mostly because I read only the first book of The Lunar Chronicles and all three of The Mortal Instruments, I decided that the former had to win it.
It’s more unique, more engrossing and did not contain any plot twists that made me want to bash my head in with a brick. I mean, I liked the Shadowhunter books, but that head-bashing inclinations are never a good sign.
As it happens, I’ve just finished Scarlet, the second book in the series and it’s great. I definitely made the right choice.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
 
Oh damn it! I forgot about the Outlander series when I was typing out my answer to the above. I seem to only think of ‘series’ as applying to YA and forget that adult books come in series too!
Well, I’m going to keep Cinder where it is because I did really like it, and use Diana Gabaldon for this question, which is very similar. She’s a new author I discovered… which means I will be reading the rest of the series.
In fairness, I’ll probably look at her other books when I’ve finished with the time-travelling Scottish people.  
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? 
I don’t have many comfort zones because I’ll read almost anything. That said, I tend not to read an awful lot of contemporary YA. I didn’t like teenagers when I was one, so they’re hardly likely to have grown on me now that I’m a decade more irritable.
Then Bex reviewed We Were Liars and I rushed straight out and bought it, almost literally. I read it immediately and was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book. It wasn’t perfect and I have mixed feelings about the twist ending (just read my vague yet explanatory review), but I’m tempted (well, almost tempted) to have a poke around and see what other books of this genre I’ve been snobbishly avoiding. 
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2015?
I struggled a little with this one. I don’t read many books that could reasonably be considered ‘thrilling.’ Going with ‘unputdownable’ though, it had to be Ready Player One. I read this every spare second I had and when I wasn’t reading it, I definitely wanted to be.
It’s action-packed and fast-moving, and I desperately needed to know the ending… whilst at the same time not wanting it to end.
 
9. Book you read in 2015 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
You already know the answer to this, I promise you.
I don’t usually reread so soon, but I wanted to reread it before I’d even finished reading it the first time, so I might give in towards the end of the year. God I love this book. 
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
11. Most memorable character in 2015?
I feel kind of bad that it’s taken me eleven questions to bring up We Have Always Lived in the Castle, because this book is perfect.
The character in question is Merricat Blackwood, the somewhat unreliable narrator of the novel. She buries precious objects in the ground to protect her and her sister, who was acquitted of the murder of the rest of the family, from the nearby villagers and has a ‘unique’ outlook on their situation. It’s written in such a way that you can’t tell whether Merricat is a little bit ‘off,’ or whether the problem is with the rest of the world.
Either way, she’s written beautifully. 
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

And thus it will do nicely for Question Twelve!

But oh, it’s so beautiful. And awful. And tragic. And wonderful. And ARRRGGH. Please read this.

13. Most thought-provoking/life changing book of 2015?

I wouldn’t exactly call Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science life-changing, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.

This is an informal, very accessible collection of several essays about the world of surgery and why things go wrong. More to the point, it’s about how difficult it is to actually prevent things from going wrong, when people need to train and experiments need to occur in the name of progress.

It really made me think about all the misconceptions constantly circulated by the less reputable newspapers and now they really don’t do a lot to aid medical advances. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

This could apply to a lot of the books on this list, but it’s probably to most relevant to the Outlander books. The first book, Cross Stitch, has been on and off my wishlist for quite literally years until I stumbled across a review of somebody I trusted and finally gave in.

Essentially I could have read this book years ago, and then I’d already know what happens by now!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I’ve been a little remiss with my blogging this year, which means I haven’t been keeping notes and quotes of my books quite as diligently as normal.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy got me out of a tight spot earlier this year (and several times in previous years) so I’m going to leave you with a Douglas Adams quote because they’re always brilliant.

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.” 

16. Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2015?

 Both my answers here feel like cheating as you can’t really count either as a normal book.

Longest: War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Shortest: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

17. Book that shocked you the most?

Shocked me the most? Hmm. Oh, I know, Cross Stitch.

It sounds like a weird choice, but there was a plot twist revealed at one point that actually made me gasp out loud and reach for my phone to text Charlotte. What did we do before we had phones and couldn’t bother our friends with our incessant ramblings about books you’ve both read!?

 I totally didn’t see it coming at all and I thought it was ingenious.

I think the repercussions of that twist could have been dealt with a little better in the second book, Dragonfly in Amber, but I really did enjoy the first unveiling. 

18. OTP OF THE YEAR

I know I’m supposed to put Jamie and Claire from Outlander here, but I don’t like the way he treats her so I’m going to be stubborn and refrain. A lot of other people have put Celaena Sardothien and Rowan from Queen of Shadows, but I don’t like them either. God I’m fussy.

Unfortunately I can’t come up with any other options. I’m clearly a miserable old bint who’s going to die alone. 

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
 
This should be easier, at least. A good platonic relationship can really make me fall in love with a book.

This time I am going to cite Queen of Shadows, but because of the friendship between Celaena and Lysandra, not the poncey elf dude. Their rivalry was based on a misunderstanding that is suddenly rectified, which makes their eventual reliance on each other all the more lovely. With added doses of sarcasm and snide comments, obviously.

They were always, always there for each other, despite their history. 

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Woman in White is really the only option as it’s the only book whose author I’ve read before this year and that I actually liked. Still, it’s not just a choice out of desperation. It really does deserve to be on this list as it’s an amazing book. 

I read The Moonstone a few years ago and liked it, but The Woman in White is somehow even better. It has the same clever changing perspective device as The Moonstone but it also has a creepy house and murderous plots. I want to track down the rest of Wilkie Collins’ books this year just because they’re so all-engrossing and deliciously atmospheric.

 21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure.
 
Again, I’m short of options, but We Were Liars still definitely deserves this spot.

Bex’s super-enthusiastic review is quite literally the only reason I bought and immediately read this. I’d already looked past it hundreds of times in bookshops and dismissed it as another contemporary YA novel. 

I’m really glad I trusted her recommendation though, becau
 se this book is great. She’s my Book Twin for a reason 🙂 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

I don’t really go in for fictional crushes much. They all tend to be a bit too perfect. The two fictional men I did have a thing for have been written out of the series in the latest installment, about which I am not at all bitter. Damn it, Sarah J. Maas!

So who does that leave me with? Okay, it doesn’t. There’s literally nobody from 2015’s books that isn’t insane, old or just generally an arse. It says a lot that the closest contender is Hercule Poirot and let’s just not go there…

23. Best 2015 debut you read? Best book you reread in 2015?

Oh yay! Now this isn’t a struggle at all. In fact, I’m spoilt for choice! This year I reread three of my favourite books – The Prestige, 84 Charing Cross Road and The Night Circus.

I loved them all, but I’m going to have to go for The Prestige. This book is perfect and I just want to lick it.  I can’t believe none of you have read it yet, which is an offence upon which I take much umbrage!

It’s amazing and I already can’t wait until my next reread. The film is also actually suprisingly good, although the ending is very different. Eh, High Jackman, I’ll cope. 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I nearly gave this to Ready Player One, because there are so many different worlds in that book and they’re all vivid and all wonderful.

In fairness though, it really has to go to the Outlander books. Even when the characters are just sat around cleaning out their medicine cupboards, the world feels so damn real that you might as well just be there.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

But this can only go to Ready Player One!

This book made me so damn happy that I grinned almost the whole way through. Everytime somebody drove past in an Ecto-1 or drank a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, I’d start all over again.

It should really just have gigantic smiley faces plastered all over the damn thing, it’s that sort of book. I admit the cover looks a bit bleak, but I honestly can’t remember any book amusing me quite this much. It’s so perfect! 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is just awful. Awful awful awful. I mean, it’s amazing, but it’s heart-wrenching and sad and lovely and a million other different emotions.

I can’t remember if I actually cried, but it’s probably a safe bet. The other day I cried because I couldn’t quite reach my blanket, so it’s highly likely something like this set me off.

Sigh. Poor Constance and Merricat. 

*cries* 

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I could never really figure out what this question was asking in previous years, but this year I have a book that fits perfectly and I’m not even really sure why. It’s just gem-like, somehow.

This is a lovely little book about village life, but with a twist. It’s the kind of book you want to snuggle down in front of the fire with and muse on how nice people are really. It’s charming, but with some satirical little comments that renders it still relevant to 2015.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I know I seem to be using We Have Always Lived in the Castle for all of the more miserable questions, but it is a good book, I promise!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?  

Oh, it totally means I didn’t like it.

There’s actually a dint in my book from one of the times I slammed this down too hard.

It’s alternately boring and gross. It’s more of a collection of articles about how to go whaling in completely unnecessary detail. There’s an article about the different types of rope you need and two about the correct way to behead a whale… isn’t that useful?

I really don’t understand how this has become a classic.

That’s all, I suppose. See you next year!         

Comments

  1. Ellie Warren says:

    I was warned off Armada by a trusted source. It sounds like he was a bit of a one hit wonder. I'll stick with the warm glow of Ready Player One in my memory rather than sullying it 😉

    1. admin says:

      Yeah, I wish I hadn't read it, to be honest.

      Thankfully the two books are so different that reading Armada hasn't soiled by memory of Ready Player One, because I don't really connect them in my head.

  2. Etudesque says:

    I LOVED Ready Player One so I'm bummed that Armada didn't deliver. I probably won't be reading it any time soon since I have a million other books on my TBR list.

    I look at our War & Peace weeks fondly because the book was surprisingly enjoyable and we all had fun hating on the nefarious Anatoly together. Moby Dick? Not so much, ha!

    Can't wait to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and thanks for the fair warning. I'll have a box of tissues at hand! :'(

    1. admin says:

      I know, wasn't it amazing!? I sort of wish that I HADN'T read Armada, but it hasn't spoilt Ready Player One for me. I'll still read anything that Ernest Cline publishes, but I won't be as excited.

      Haha, I feel exactly the same! I never expected I'd have fond memories of reading War & Peace!

      Oh Nahree, it's so good! I don't think I cried, I more stared into the middle distance out of sheer shock.

    2. Etudesque says:

      Ah, the middle distanced gaze… reserved for the deepest of deep shocks. A classic.

  3. Ellie says:

    Was the Cross Stitch moment one involving a feisty character's arm? BECAUSE OMG HANNA. (Hopefully this doesn't give anything away but would be obvious if you'd already read it.)

    Also I'm totally still going to read Moby Dick. And Moby Duck, which is what I just accidentally typed. ALL THE MOBY D*CKS. Weirdly none of you have managed to put me off at least trying it, probably because I already own it and because a couple of people I ALSO share reading tastes with rave reviewed it before you got in there. Good try though. 😛

    1. Etudesque says:

      Noooooo girl, don't do it! We valiantly tried to readalong together and I died out at sea, in the murky Waters of Verbosity. Rather, I jumped ship.

    2. admin says:

      It was, yes. And very nicely (yet vaguely put). I distinctly remember being all *shocked face*.

      Oh, don't. Just… *strokes hair lovingly* Please? I do want to read Moby Duck though. Didn't I make you buy it in a Chesterfield charity shop?

      Yes, Nahree jumped ship AND SHE WAS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED.

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