I hope all my reading friends had a great New Years. I love this time of year because I love to post my favorite books from the previous year. I set a goal last year of reading 15 books and I wound up reading 19 books. I really liked most of the books I read in 2015, so putting a list together was difficult but I did it. Let’s start from number 1, shall we?
1) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugendias
One of my Facebook friends invited me to join a group that would read this one. So glad that I did. It’s a story about a girl of Greek heritage named Calliope who is born with a small penis. This book isn’t just about sexual identity. It’s about the many dualities we find in life. It’s also a story about immigrants and the American dream. I highly recommend it.
2) Les Liaisons Dangeruses by Pierre Choderlos De Lacos
In preparation for my trip to Paris, I thought I would read a French classic written in translation. I’m glad I picked this book. It’s a great talent of revenge and seduction. It’s told in a series of letters, but once you know who the main players are, you can really enjoy this novel.
3) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr
I read this book in high school, when I was obsessed with everything Kurt Vonnegut wrote. This is the story about Billy Pilgrim and how he survived the bombing of Dresden. Billy gets stuck and unstuck in time as well as space travel. It still is my favorite anti-war novel.
4) The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
I remember watching on Masterpiece Theater a series based on this book with Alan Bates. The title character, in a drunken rage, sells his wife and baby to a stranger at a county fair. Years later, even though he becomes a pillar of the community, his rash act comes back to haunt him. Thomas Hardy is becoming one of my favorite authors. I also recommend Far From the Madding Crowd by him.
5) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
I found my copy when I was in the middle of a book purge and was happy that I read this. I saw the 1993 film with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson but except for the budding romance that never blooms, I had forgotten most of the film. It’s a book about missed opportunities as well as seeing if you had performed your role in life with dignity, a main theme of the book. After reading the book, I want to see the film again.
6) The Beautiful Room is Empty by Edmund White
This book is technically a sequel to his 1982 novel A Boy’s Own Story but you can read it on its own. It takes place in the 50’s and 60’s. If the previous book was about coming to terms with your sexual orientation, the second book is about accepting yourself and living your life with pride. White is definitely a queer writer you should become familiar with.
7) Brooklyn by Colm Tobin
I decided to read this book before seeing the film. This is a gem of a book, about an Irish girl in the 50’s named Ellis who gets the chance to go to America and falls in love with a young Italian man. When she has to go back to Ireland because of a death, she winds up falling in love with an Irish guy. But it’s just more than a young woman torn between two lovers. It’s about your home vs the place you call home. It’s well written and takes you on an emotional journey with Ellis.
8) The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
This is the only memoir I read this year. It’s about a family that had to endure poverty and hardships due because of their parents. The father is an alcoholic and the mother is an enabler who tries to turn everything into an adventure. Parts of the book were heartbreaking. I know a lot of people loved this book but I just wanted to shake the parents. Still, the writing is top notch and in the end, it was the children who actually had their act together and was able to leave that environment.
9) Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
A lot of time I wind up reading mostly American or European novels. There’s a big world out there and this book takes us to Nigeria just before colonization. It tells the story of Okonkwa, a leader of men who rules is not afraid of using violence to get his way. It’s also about tribal life before Westerners settled and tried to convert the villagers. This book made me want to read more World literature. I will try to remember as we go through the new years.
10) Something Fresh by P.G. Woodhouse
Woodhouse was the master of the comic novel. This was the first in his Blandings series. If books taste like champagne, this would be it. You don’t have to read this book for meaning. It’s a charming novel that will make you laugh until the very end.
What do you think of my list? Have you read any of these books I’ve listed? What are your favorite books of 2015? As always, feel free to tell me in the comments below.