This post is part of a series of posts in which students of the English Seminar present their favourite books they have read in 2015. The lists are not restricted to books that were published this year. If you want to participate as well, send your list to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s list comes to you from Stephanie Heeb.
Another year past, so the time has come to think about my favourite books I’ve read in 2015. According to Goodreads, I’ve read 32 books this year (so far), which is a fair average for me. What is more surprising is that my choices were somewhat unusual compared to what I normally read: I’m usually the kind of girl that alternates between something they would assign you to read at university and what I call my guilty pleasure, usually chick-lit romances. But this year I branched out and read short story collections and even non-fiction books, all of which I enjoyed. So without further ado, here are my top five books of 2015.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
As a child, I was obsessed with children’s crime fiction and would read entire series back to back. As an adult (supposedly), I kind of forgot that this genre existed, until I read this book recently. In this novel, supermodel Lula Landry falls to her death in what is presumed to be suicide. Private investigator Cormoran Strike is then hired to prove the contrary, with the help of his new assistant Robin (a character I particularly enjoyed). The book reminded me of how much fun it is to piece together all the clues you’re given – only to find out that the solution is a totally different one to what you had imagined. I admit to only picking this up because J. K. Rowling wrote it, under the alias of Robert Galbraith, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it has motivated me to read more crime fiction next year.
Watching the English by Kate Fox
Kate Fox’s book Watching the English is a popular approach to analysing the English from an anthropologist point of view. As a person who is often in the company of British people, although mostly not English, this book explained so much to me. If you’ve ever wanted to know exactly why the English start every conversation by talking about the weather or why queue jumping is a deadly sin, give this a read. Although non-fiction, and sometimes fairly scientific, the book is written in a way that is enjoyable to read for anyone.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Sadly, I saw the film adaptation before I read this book. I say sadly only because I wish it had been the other way round, not because I didn’t absolutely love the film. It follows the story of a married couple before and after the wife, Amy, goes missing. The book is split into two parts, the first of which will drive you crazy, because your brain will have a hard time figuring out what side to be on. I found that both the film and the book managed to confuse me to no end and I loved how that was translated onto screen. All in all, it was an enjoyable read that made me terrified of getting married, ever.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
Only Ever Yours is one of the only YA books I read in 2015, but I am so glad I did. It’s a dystopian book that describes a world in which women are chemically produced, trained and then divided into three categories: companions, which can be read as wives, concubines, a form of prostitutes, or teachers, the lowest category of them all. I read this book in one long sitting, on one of many rainy days on holiday this summer. I was unable to do anything for hours afterwards. This book is horrifyingly disturbing, mainly because so many of the things the girls have to go through are extreme versions of what happens in today’s society. It doesn’t have a happy ending, which makes the book all the more disturbing, nor does it include the revolution so typical for the dystopian genre (of which I am glad, as I tend to dislike the revolutionary parts). If you are looking for something that will make your inner feminist outraged, this is the book for you.
A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan
This was without a doubt my favourite book this year. A Portable Shelter is a collection of short stories that is framed within the setting of two mothers taking turns in telling stories to their unborn baby in one of the mothers’ bump. The stories themselves are re-workings of Scottish myths, some of them disturbing, others less so. Their style is very varied, but I can truly say that I loved each and every single story. A Portable Shelter is the perfect name for this book; whenever I have it with me, I can delve into one of these magnificent stories and hide from the world.
Honorable mention: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay
Okay, no, I did not read Harry Potter this year. Well, I did, but since it was probably around my 34th reread, I wasn’t going to count it. But then this beauty of an edition was released (and kindly gifted to me by my mother) and I feel like it definitely deserves an honorable mention. As the text itself will be familiar to many, if not all, I shall just say a few words on the illustrations: they are stunning. And that is all you need to know. If you are a true Potterhead, this book is definitely worth its price.