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My Year of Reading, 2015

It’s Christmas Eve, and I think that I can safely say that I’m on my final read of 2015. I have achieved my goal of reading a better mix of books by men and women and by reading outside my comfort zone, but my taste remains the same: books that explore the wonder and the curse of being human.

I thought I’d share with you some of my highlights. If you click on the links (reviews, plus a few interviews), you will notice an unashamed bias towards 4 and 5 stars reviews. This is because my policy is to only review books that I want to become a genuine cheerleader for. If I think that a book deserves a 3 (which, in my case, would  mean that I thought it was good but that it just wasn’t for me), I don’t review it. I also admit to not reviewing every book that I think deserves 4 or 5 stars. Sometimes because there is nothing that I can usefully add to what has already been said. Sometimes because I find it impossible to put into words what a book means to me.

Big Biographies

I adore a big biography. Those I select are normally connected to my current work in progress, so the list below may give you an insight into the subject-matter of what will become my next release.

Vivienne Westwood, Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly

The Life of Kenneth Tynan, Kathleen Tynan

Edith Sitwell, Avant Guard Poet, English Genius, Richard Greene

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted, Andrew Wilson

Teaser: You can find more clues over on Pinterest.

Books so good I read them twice

This category is a little unfair (and not just because I have cheated). Some books are complete. You close the final page and think ‘Ah! that was the perfect ending.’ But some endings are so clever that you think ‘I need to go back to the beginning to see how the author did that.’ And then there are novels that are non-linear. Events don’t happen in a strictly chronological order. You never actually finish the story because you remain within it. When done well, you don’t want to leave.

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mantel. I simply didn’t know how to follow it.

All of my own books (proofs for my new bookshop editions). Cheating, I know, but for six (long) weeks I read nothing but my own writing.

New books! medium

New discoveries

The Crossing, Andrew Miller. An example of a book I adored but didn’t review because, when I logged on to post something, I discovered that Roz Morris had already said everything I wanted to say. Here is the link to her review.

The Coincidence Authority, John Ironmonger (My new favourite author and a guest on the blog)

Not Forgetting the Whale, John Ironmonger

Not forgetting the Whale

The Notable Brain of Maxamilian Ponder, John Ironmonger

Sail Upon The Land, Josa Young

The Chase, Lorna Ferguson

Blue Mercy, Orna Ross

The Snow Queen, Michael Cunningham

All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

We are all Completely Besides Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler


Human Rites, JJ Marsh

The Children Act, Ian McEwan

A Spool of Blue Thread, Anne Tyler

May We Be Forgiven, A M Homes

Jack, A M Homes

Things We Have in Common, Tasha Kavanagh

After The Sucker Punch, Lorraine Devon Wilkes


One Night At The Jacaranda, Dr Carol Cooper

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey

The White Lady, Jessica Bell

Lucy Jim, Kingsley Amis

The Better of Two Men, JD Smith (currently reading)

I am part of everything I have ever read


Old friends – Books I re-read in 2015

I recently heard John Boyne speak. He named  Cider House Rules by John Irving as one of only four books that have influenced his writing. My list would be longer, but Cider House Rules would most certainly feature on it.

Cider House Rules, John Irving

Cal, Bernard McLaverty

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (author) and Michael Henry Heim (translator).

The Hand that First Held Mine, Maggie O’Farrell


Clew, Lucy Furlong

Solace, Colleen Mills (I loved this so much I gave a cover quote for it.)


Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford, edited by Charlotte Mosley

Over to you!

I’d love to know which books you’ve enjoyed this year, or of any reading goals you’ve set yourself. Meanwhile, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and see you in 2016!

One comment

  1. Thanks for the reviews. My only complaint is that my reading list just got a lot longer. I haven’t read any of those you’ve highlighted but I do like John Ironmongers work and someone else recommended Not Forgetting The Whale, so the universe is telling me to read that one.

    My top 3 reads of the year (my only 5 stars) are:
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – a wonderful satire, which I’d been wanting to read for years. I was not disappointed. A Riot of a book, full of surprise and humour, but with a dark, satirical vein running through it.
    HHhH by Laurent Binet – a beautifully written and engaging story (based on fact) about the attempted assasination of Himmler in Prague. Binet defies genre in this work and it combined accurate historical account, with fiction, journalism and almost, memoire. Truly innovative.
    A Riot of Goldfish by Kanoko Okamoto a little book, but such an exquisite study of character. The story tells of the pursuit of the perfectly bred goldfish (culturally important in Japan) but the real story are of the characters involved. They are so acutely observed and I loved it.

    but close behind:
    Elena Ferrante My Brilliant Friend – the first in the Neopolitan trilogy; a lovely examination of friendship and growing up
    Early One Morning by Virginia Baily – a great story, gripped me from the start
    Belinda Seaward The Beautiful Truth – lives and events slipping between wartime Krakow and the modern day – thoughtful and moving

    Wishing you a very happy Xmas,and a successful writing (and reading) year ahead

    Comment by Ian Hobbs on December 25, 2015 at 8:54 am