I’ve finally got around to participating on another ‘Top Ten Tuesday’- the weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I recently discovered this meme and decided I’d participate in weeks I found particularly interesting. As this week asked us to write a post I’d already been planning anyway it was too good to miss. So, without further ado, here’s the top ten books I’ve read in 2015:
10. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Out of all the books on this list, this is the only work of fiction included that was actually published this year. I thoroughly enjoyed this book for two reasons. Firstly, it contained quite possibly the best twist I’ve ever read. Secondly, it was a thriller with a villain so well-written he genuinely unnerved me. This was a stand-out book for me, mostly because it’s not often I find a thriller properly frightening. I don’t think I would have found this particular novel so unnerving if it wasn’t so brilliantly written!
9. Beneath the Surface by John Hargrove
This is another book that was published in 2015, and is one of two non-fiction books released this year to feature on this list. Being an animal lover I found this novel both incredibly moving and hard-hitting, especially because it focuses on a high-profile example of animals being mistreated. I deplore everything to do with SeaWorld and loved this book as it dared to speaker out against the organisation. Moreover, the fact Hargrove is a former SeaWorld orca trainer means the book is filled with poignant tales of the fascinating animals in both darker and happier.
8. Walking the Nile by Levison Wood
This is the second of 2015’s non-fiction selection on this list. I thoroughly enjoyed the TV show this book is based on, and loved the entire concept of a book recounting a good old-fashioned adventure. Few books have ever made me want to travel so much or inspired me to such an extent. It was also interesting from a political view, as it used a tale of adventure to highlight some of the ongoing political issues in Africa. I finished this book feeling that, although I’ve never actually been there, it would be a shame if such a beautiful continent never properly recovers from the strain put upon it by a combination of war, corrupt politics and extreme poverty. One can only hope the situations in countries such as South Sudan, Egypt and Libya are resolved before they can escalate.
7. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Like I let you go, I was particularly impressed with this book because I enjoyed it despite the fact it came from a genre I don’t normally enjoy. Science fiction has never been a genre I’ve enjoyed, yet this book was so imaginative and inventive I couldn’t help becoming embroiled in the storyline. I was impressed by the way Wyndham created his own dystopian hierarchical society and managed to deal with issues from racism to sexism within said society. I sometimes stereotype science fiction as being somewhat unimaginative, but this was definitely the novel that proved me wrong!
6. Joyland by Stephen King
This is yet another suprise as, with the exclusion of The Green Mile, I never thought I’d love a book by King quite so much. I would have been especially surprised to hear I’d love one of his modern efforts quite so much. Even though I read this book way back in January, it stands out as one of the easiest and most gripping books I read this year. Simply put, the idea of a murder mystery set against the idealistic background of a fairground appealed to my dark sense of humour.
5. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
This has to be one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. Unlike your normal third rate novel telling the life story of a reality television star, this novel tells a story worth telling. Malala’s journey, which has taken her from being shot for standing up for girls’ rights to education to speaking at a meeting of the UN in New York, is so amazing one couldn’t begin to make it up. I’ve spoken about how I’m far from being a feminist on this blog before, however I will make an exception for the type advocated by Yousafzai. Since reading this book, I feel that I’m a more enlightened person on how imperative it is that every girl, and indeed every child, in our world has a right to an education.
4. Dodger by Terry Pratchett
This book was so absurd it was brilliant! Everything about it was over the top and eccentric, yet it came together to create one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Its protagonist, the titular Dodger, was as eccentric as the rest of the novel and proved to be one of the most memorable characters I’ve read. If you liked a loveable rogue, then this is the book for you! This was the first book by the late but great Terry Pratchett I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last!
3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Yet another book that makes me proud to be a girl! This is a woman who has hit rock bottom then clawed her way back to where she is today, managing to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on the way. In the literal sense, Wild is the story of Strayed’s gruelling hike, however I was more interested in the spiritual transformation Strayed went through on the PCT. Readers will find themselves willing her to succeed and delight as she recalls how her adventure helped her grow as a person.
2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
I knew from the off that was going to adore this book- historical fiction with the added bonuses of being Japanese and beautifully written can never be bad! What I didn’t realise about this novel was that it would contain the most realistic characters I’ve ever read. I expected a simple character study of a geisha with a few facts thrown in hear and there, yet this book seemed to include a character I could relate to almost everyone in my life. The novel regularly transitioned effortlessly from making me angry to making me sympathise with its protagonist Sayuri. Incidentally, Sayuri was one of the best female leads I’ve encountered in a novel. I particularly liked the way the novel told us her life story, spanning from her childhood to her last days.
1. The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde
How could over a thousand pages of Wilde, some of which I’d read before and some of which was new to me, be anything other than sheer perfection? This was without a doubt my book of 2015! For literature lovers like myself, there is no description more beautiful than Wilde’s. Reading his work is the literary equivalent of time travel- he was one of a handful of authors gifted enough to transport his reader to any time or place with just a few lines of prose. Everything in The Collected Works… is just brilliant, although my favourite play The Importance of Being Earnest, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, Vera and The Picture of Dorian Gray are particularly good. This is definitely an ideal book for lovers of Victorian literature, or indeed a good novel in general!