So, that was 2015 in books was it? My hat a fine year it was too, so harrumbles all round. However, there’s depth to be explored here beneath the comic effect, so let’s dig down to what it meant for me.
My goodreads 2015 year in books tells me that I read sixty one books, and they seem a reasonable mix of non-fiction history, crime, science fiction, fantasy and the dread cove that is literary fiction. The overarching theme of this is though that 2015 was the year in which I was firmly dragged down into the whirlpool of science fiction and fantasy literature, more on that later though, so let’s pick up a few highlights shall we?
Starting with crime novels’, apart from the wonderful comfort reads that are the works of Jasper Fforde, especially the Thursday Next series, my pick of my 2015 crime reading was definitely The Ghost Fields , the seventh in the Ruth Galloway series by the superbly talented Ellen Griffiths. Ruth is just well Ruth, not perfect or totally likeable by any means, but fully realised and human, and it’s this humanity that has you rooting for her throughout the novel, especially with the equally flawed but sympathetic DCI Nelson, so great crime writing with archaeology, what’s not to love?
Literary fiction was another goldmine, Marlon James’s Booker Prize winning sprawling masterpiece A History of Seven Killings was everything you would hope it might be, as was it’s predecessor in the Booker winning stakes, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was an enthralling read from first page to last.
Non fiction though is where we begin to hit the real first class gold with Helen Macdonald’s ‘H is for Hawk. As I said in my review, it is an achingly personal beautiful book, dealing with love, loss, depression, goshawks and much else. To read it is almost to feel like one is intruding on the author’s private space, and you feel an improved slightly different person for having read it.
So then, on we come to sci fi and fantasy, an area in which as mentioned above, I have well and truly become sucked into this past year, through immense works like City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice‘ and Ancillary Sword, and the masterpiece that is N.K. Jemisin‘s The Fifth Season. I’ve also entered the apparent goldmine that is Chinese science fiction through Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem. Sci-fi and fantasy lit are diverse worlds that I can’t wait to explore deeper in 2016.
Before signing off though, there were in my reading this year, some works that set their authors as for me, what Russell Hammond might refer to as ‘Golden Gods’ and in this case it is China Mielville with Perdido Street Station, who takes the 2nd spot on my pantheon. However, and this is purely a matter of personal taste like ranking your favourite otters or hats, just edging him to the top spot are the duo of Ned Beauman and Nick Harkaway, both Boxer Beatle and Angelmaker confirmed that for me their status as the best British authors out there.
So, in conclusion, a wonderful year, and you may have noticed that I tend to wear my passion on my sleeve when discussing the books I’ve read. Well, that’s just how I am with art I love, and frankly like CJ doing the jackal, some things just are. And with that goodnight and good luck, and onward to 2016’s reading delights.