We’ve gathered a few more of our many librarians’ favourite books of 2015. Let us know your own picks in the comments!
My favourite books this year have been biographies. My life in houses by Margaret Forster gives an interesting account of the author’s life based around the houses she has lived in – quite as much a potted social history of England as well as an autobiography. I also enjoyed Kitchen privileges by Mary Higgins Clark – a captivating and humorous story of the very likeable American thriller-writer. My favourite novel was Something to hide by Deborah Moggach – fast-paced, well written, ingenious plot and interesting settings – London, Shanghai, Texas and West Africa.
All the light we cannot see : a novel / Anthony Doerr.
This novel intertwines the lives of a two young people, a blind French girl and a young German boy, caught up in the horrors of WW2. Told with great sensitivity and imagination, from both sides of the conflict.
Gone girl / Gillian Flynn.
I finally remembered to try this book, late to the literary party as usual. It kept me up, it kept me guessing, it kept me frantically turning pages. My workmates (who’d all read it!) gathered round in the break room watching with big grins,saying things like ‘You try and guess the ending, and we’ll laugh at you’. But I could never have guessed it, and I didn’t. You have to read it.
Room by Emma Donoghue was by far the best book I read in 2015 and unlike anything else I’ve read before. Raw and honest, the story captivated me from the very beginning and was very hard to put down! I’ve recommended it to at least 10 library users since.
Slade House : a novel / by David Mitchell.
For Christmas I got myself the latest from David Mitchell, Slade House. I like his style of writing, as well as the new worlds of imagination that he opens up, and this one did not disappoint.
Having now read Radioactive by Lauren Redniss, I can definitely say it is one of my favourites in a long time. It is a very interesting biography of the Curies, but mainly Marie, where science and love have an equal part, told in a sophisticated picture book format. The book is cleverly divided into chapters that refer to and illustrate the different stages of nuclear reaction. Marie Curie’s life is punctuated by stories of events and facts surrounding the effects of nuclear power & radioactivity to this day. Beautifully illustrated with cyanotype collages, this is an engrossing read and a visual feast that I would highly recommend to anyone. To top it all off, the book cover glows in the dark. How magical is that!
You can watch Lauren Redniss’ TedX talk eloquently explain the concept and design of this unique book.
Look who’s back / Timur Vermes ; translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.
A satirical German novel about Adolf Hitler waking up in a very transformed Berlin (run by a woman no less!) where everyone takes him for a very convincing actor, shooting him to internet then television stardom. Very comedic with Hitler’s obvious confusion as to his circumstances, as well as touching on modern German politics where some of Hitler’s populist attitudes are taking off, particularly where immigrants are concerned.
My favourite book of 2015 was Voices from Chernobyl: the oral history of a nuclear disaster by Svetlana Alexievich (translated by Keith Gessen) – Alexievich has collected personal accounts of the disaster, arranging them into monologues. The result is a fascinating, if often horrific, view of one of the major disasters of the 20th century.
The other book I thought ruled was Zone by Mathias Enard (translated by Charlotte Mandell) – one big 500 page sentence about 2000 years of (really) bad stuff in the Mediterranean. Don’t be scared by people saying it is strictly for English Professors, it is a wonderful and insightful read.
M Train by Patti Smith is the favourite book I recall from last year. I knew going into it that I’d probably enjoy it, having loved her Just Kids memoir. But I loved this book even more for its stream of consciousness style, riffing on her travels (including the search for good coffee), her love of detective shows, and her discovery of the joys of Rockaway Beach and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
Being mortal : illness, medicine and what matters in the end / Atul Gawande.
Gawande fairly and thoroughly assesses and critiques the geriatrics industry and US attitudes to an increasingly older population. At the very centre of this well written book are touching and humane case studies of older patients and direct family adding substantial pathos and depth to revealing statistics and medical stories.
Never moves far from direct human experience, and at its best, often prompts honest self-reflection from the reader.
Our endless numbered days : a novel / by Claire Fuller.
Beautifully written novel dealing with a brutal coming-of-age, as a girl who lives with her father in the deep forest discovers that the world is not as she has been told.
The first foods book : 130 yummy recipes from weaning to the big table.
It’s not just a receipe book, it also has colourful photos of children eating. If you show this book to your toddler during meal time, you will find feeding time much easier!