Book recommendations 2015

Tuesday, 5 January 2016
This is a bit of a departure from the norm, sharing my bookshelf rather than my kitchen.  I'm feeling rather disappointed with my books read this year.  I'm finding, towards the end of the year, that I'm managing to get a bit more reading done but generally it is dire.  I've taken on teaching a new subject at school which has involved a bit of dipping in a lot to different books and not really finishing any.

I have to be honest - I've been delving more into the realm of audiobooks.  I've found them helpful when taking long walks with Roo to and from the school run when she's been asleep.  It all started with Audible's rather engaging adverts on the Girl on the Train


So it's probably not a surprise that the first book on my list is, in fact, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  

I listened to this in gulps.  I listened to this at every possible opportunity.  I love narratives that are told from multiple perspectives and this did that.  I was a little bit ahead of the key characters towards the end in puzzling it out but not as far ahead as I have been in other similar books.  Rachel, the protagonist, commutes every day.  Every day she people watches, imagining the life of a couple she sees every day.  Clearly wishing that she could be them.  Jess and Jason live an idyllic life.  Until one day, when Rachel sees something that she knows changes everything.  When 'Jess' is reported missing, Rachel realises that she has to share what she knows.  

Pure escapism but well worth a read.

The theme of unreliable narrators is continued with my next recommendation.  Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey, is one that was discussed on television some time ago.  I want to say on the Review Show but I think it was publicised after that finished.  It's the story of Maud.  She has dementia.  

Healey gives you an insight into the mind of someone with dementia and it's heartbreaking.  It's unbearable sometimes - where no-one will believe her even when she tells the truth.

Ultimately, it's another mystery... but it lacks the on the edge of your seat thrill that Girl on the Train brings.  It's a little more touching than that. Elizabeth is Missing was the Costa First Novel Award Winner in 2014 and I can understand why.  It's ambitious and worth a read.

In a departure from the norm, a bit of non-fiction for you.  Amy Poehler's Yes Please isn't laugh out loud funny but is clever and smart and intelligent.  Yes, it's all of these synonyms wrapped into one.  It's knowing, it's honest and you should absolutely listen to it right now.  Get the audio version - Poehler reads most of it herself, with interjections from various people in her life and Patrick Stewart reading haiku.  It makes insightful and honest comment about motherhood and I both really want her to be my friend and would feel utterly terrified if she were.  

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King was one that intrigued me.  While I'm not recommending it because it was fantastic, I think the premise and the execution are well worth a punt if you read the Shining.  I do wish I'd read it a little more recently but it probably didn't matter.  It's been years since Danny escaped the Overlook Hotel.  He's still heavily affected by the events there but begins to be distracted by Abra Stone, who has the brightest Shining he's ever experienced.  

Last up this year harks back to my 2013 recommendations.  I finally got to the end of Hugh Howey's Wool trilogy.  I found Shift a little hard going and found myself getting slower and slower when it came to finishing Dust.  I just didn't want it to be over.  I feel a bit bereft that it's done.  If Wool was clever then I'm out of superlatives to explain Dust.  I've tried rewriting this sentence many times over but I just can't come close.  Howey is creative and Dust changes everything.  Seriously - if you haven't started Wool off the back of my recommendations and haven't been bought it by me (you are highly likely to have done so if I could have done) then get started now. 

I'm ending off the year with Anne Tyler's Man Booker Prize winner A Spool of Blue Thread and listening to The Martian by Andy Weir.  Both engaging in their own right.  

What would you recommend this year?


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