A year in books: 2015

2015 wasn’t the best reading year for me. I struggled with a large and lengthy reading slump around the middle of the year, and while I think it has passed, I have to say it doesn’t necessarily feel like my reading has picked up and resumed its earlier pace. I gave myself quite a hard time about it—I hated not blogging, not having any books I wanted to write about, and being disinterested by reading as a whole —and it took me a little while to remind myself that I read and blog for fun and there’s no point in beating myself up about it, and to remember to be kind to myself. I suppose when reading is such a large part of your identity, the realisation that you’re not really enjoying it changes things in a way. But anyway, on to my favourite books of the year. One thing the reading slump has meant is that it’s been relatively easy to pick! Clicking on each book’s title will take you through to my original review, if you fancy a read!

H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald
Jonathan Cape, 2014

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

This was the first book I finished in 2015 and I still think about it. Macdonald’s writing is simply beautiful and wonderful; the way she articulates her grief and loss is remarkable. I love the vividness of her writing, the way it instantly makes the scene appear around you. If I had to pick just one favourite from last year, it would be this book. I’d reread it in an instant.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

the secret history

The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Penguin, 1992

The second Donna Tartt novel I’ve read, and it’s one I love. One of the things I remember most about this book is the way in which Tartt drew me into the group and mesmerised me by feeding me glimpses of these intriguing people. I liked how the book made me think and placed me in a curious position: one where my preferred characters shifted and whose ‘side’ I was on changed too until I realised I wasn’t on any of them. Tartt’s writing is wonderful, too.

Diving Belles by Lucy Wood

Diving Belles Lucy Wood

Diving Belles – Lucy Wood
Bloomsbury, 2013

It was quite a tough call between Wood’s short story collection Diving Belles and her debut novel Weathering because both are excellent. I opted for Diving Belles simply because I love how the collection is all linked by the Cornish coast, and how Wood has weaved mythology, magic, folklore and the sea into this wonderful set of stories. The stories remind me of old tales perhaps told around a campfire, myths that are bedded deeply into a place. There were many stories I loved and many have lingered in my mind.

June Gerbrand Bakker

June – Gerbrand Bakker Harvill Secker, 2015

June by Gerbrand Bakker

As with Bakker’s other novels I loved the sparseness of the prose in June, the spaces between what is said and left unsaid, and the palpable tension this creates. It’s a resonant novel and one I still find myself thinking about it. I loved the cast of characters and the non-linear storyline which moves between past and present and different characters’ days.

The Art of Asking Amanda Palmer

The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer
Little, Brown, 2014

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

This is a book which made me look at my life and why I find it difficult to ask people for people and why this can cause me quite a lot of anxiety. It certainly made me feel that I’m not alone in this. Most importantly, it’s a book which has made me take action – I’ve been making a conscious effort not to worry about asking for help and instead place myself in that somewhat vulnerable position where I can ask for help and it’s okay if people say no. It also spurred me on to submit some of my fiction writing to magazines.

Peter and Alice John Logan

Peter and Alice – John Logan Oberon Books, 2013

Peter and Alice by John Logan

Can I put a reread on this list? I’ve decided I can. Peter and Alice is one of my favourite plays and rereading it last year reminded me why. It’s a compelling play which looks at the two people who inspired famous characters from fiction: Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Peter from Peter Pan. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking piece of writing, and a moving and imaginative play.


Have you read any of these books? If you’ve written a post on your top books of 2015, please link it in the comments!



15 thoughts on “A year in books: 2015

  1. Sorry to hear about your reading slump, Gemma. I can appreciate how frustrating that must have been for you – here’s hoping 2016 is a better one.

    Returning to 2015 for a mo, I’m so pleased to see H is for Hawk on your list. It really is quite a remarkable book and I’m glad you loved it too. Gerbrand Bakker is a wonderful writer. June passed me by last year, so I might try to catch it later this year. I really liked his other two, The Detour, in particular.

    As for my own favourites, there’s a link to my round-up here if it’s of interest. Wishing you all the best for the year ahead.


    • Thank you Jacqui. I really hope you enjoy June, I’d love to know what you think of it when you get round to reading it. I’ll have a read of your post now 🙂 Best wishes for 2016!

  2. It sucks that you’ve been in a reading slump, but I’m sure eventually you’ll get through it. I had about a year a while ago where I hardly read at all, and I just couldn’t get into any books, but eventually it just passed and was back to my usual self.
    The Amanda Palmer book looks really interesting. I absolutely HATE having to ask people stuff, to the point where I’ll got to drastic lengths to avoid it, so I’ll maybe have to check that one out.

  3. Fab list. The first three are at the absolute top of my TBR and I feel even more excited now I’ve seen them in your top 6.
    I completely sympathise with both your reading slump (which I feel I also had at a couple of points last year – mainly since many of the books I read were distinctly average) and also unnecessary pressure on yourself to blog. I tied myself up in knots a couple of years ago with both my blog and a tsunami of ARCs until I put my foot down and decided it was much more important to adore my reading than be so stringent with silly review/posting goals.

    • I hope you enjoy them! Would love to know what you think of them. Yes, absolutely, it’s so important to enjoy reading. Taking away unnecessary pressure on yourself to post reviews etc certainly helps with this, I think.

  4. I find blogging is a double-edged sword. Sometimes the ‘need’ to fill the blog can inspire me to get reading when I’m in a slump, but sometimes the self-inflicted pressure can actually work in reverse, almost making me resent reading! I’m getting much better at taking breaks whenever that happens – a couple of weeks is usually enough for me to get back to feeling enthusiastic, but we do tend to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure, don’t we?

    I haven’t read a single thing on your list except The Secret History, years ago – but I’m off to investigate Diving Belles, which sounds great!

  5. I haven’t read any of those books but I have been waiting patiently to read H is for Hawk. I recommended it to my reading group and, whew, they agreed so we will be reading it for our March meeting. I am so looking forward to it.

    Sorry about your slump. I didn’t quite have a slump but circumstances conspired to make it a difficult reading year. I hope we both have a better year in 2016!!

  6. Ooo, I so wanted to see Peter and Alice, I didn’t even think of reading the play instead and now I shall 😀

    The Secret History is one of my favourite novels, and definitely my favourite of her three.

  7. Some great books there, even if you didn’t read as much as you’d hoped (a problem I’ve had in previous years myself). Diving Belles is on my end of year list too which I just posted up at mine. I’m delighted to see it here – it’s a great book and deserves a lot more exposure (and I see you sold FictionFan on it).

    H is for Hawk really is something I need to pick up. Thanks for the reminder on that too.

    • I’m glad you liked Diving Belles, it’s great; I’ll check out your list now 🙂
      I’d highly recommend H is for Hawk, I hope you enjoy it if you get around to it – would love to know what you think.

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