My favourite part of New Years is looking back on what I read the previous year. I flogged my Goodreads Reading Challenge by reading 44 books in total! You can follow this link to see my complete reading list (and feel free to ‘friend’ me so we can share recommendations).
I want to share with you all the books that wowed me in 2015. These are reads that I struggled to put down, that haunted my sleep, that refused to stop popping into my thoughts ever since.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
This dystopian story is about young clones bred for organ harvest. Although this sounds like the set up for a thriller, it is in fact a tender reflection on the characters’ emotional development from child to adult. Ishiguro writes beautifully and broodingly. Always subtle, Never Let Me Go has a lingering impact on your perspective of humanity.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Like Never Let Me Go, this is a social critique delivered through dystopia. In the future, the remaining handful of fertile women are allocated as birthing machines to the wealthiest men. Defiance has fatal consequences. The Handmaid’s Tale holds a mirror to society with its a prediction of the future. (Word of warning: if you have even the smallest seed of feminism in you, reading this book will make your ovaries explode.)
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
This book is all grit and gore. Through deceptively layered storytelling, we watch as our narrator is trapped in the mayhem (pun intended) of a rising anarchist group. This psychological thriller is as wildly entertaining and it is terrifying.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Ask yourself if you’re ready to face the consequences of reading this book. American Psycho is genius, surely, but you can’t unread it. Patrick Bates is rich, handsome, and well-connected. He’s also a psychopathic killer. The style allows you to slip into his claustrophobic stream of consciousness, de-sensationalising his actions until torture seems as ordinary as neckties and business cards.
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Now grown men, old neighbours reunite to remember the Lisbon sisters they worshipped in high school and try to understand the girls’ suicides. The changing of the seasons ties together this insidious story. While Eugenides’ tender narrative style is gorgeous, I feel that it’s the pervasion of colour and sound and smell that leaves the richest impression. When I remember reading The Virgin Suicides, I remember the deep orange of Autumn leaves and hear the beating of fish fly wings.
My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson
I understood the importance of this book when I reread it for an analytical essay. On my first read I was stunned by its poetic style – by Johnson’s skill at making love to language. On my second read, it was deep and raw and intensely personal. My Hundred Lovers explores the first fifty years of a woman’s life through one hundred things and people and places she has loved – a concept reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amelie – all artfully layered within this unforgettable book.
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
Media’s twisted truth and the scary reality of mob psychology is the basis of this confronting book. Vernon Little is charged with accessory for murder after his best friend massacres his classmates in a high school shooting. Told from his uniquely irreverent first person perspective, Vernon God Little is equal parts hilarious and horrible.
So those are the best books I read in 2015. These standouts were insanely obvious because of how they changed my view of the world. I’d love to hear your reading highlights from last year. Write to me in the comments and if you’re on Goodreads I’d love to see your Reading Challenges.
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