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03 January 2016

2015 Reading Round up! Every year I post this and I get more and more depressed because I read less every year. Sigh.

Nonetheless, here is the list of books I read this year. What did you read? (you don't need to provide a list!) Any standouts? Favorite fiction? Favorite non-fiction? Any disappointments?[More:]

1-10. Doing a Pratchett re-read. The first 10 Discworld books.

11. Without you there is no us: My time with the sons of North Korea's elite -- Suki Kim.

12. Written in my own heart's blood -- Diana Gabaldon. I'm so sick of the Outlander books, but I'll keep reading them.

13. The Goldfinch -- Donna Tartt. Biggest disappointment.

14. Yes Please -- Amy Poehler. Totally biased, I love her and my friend is her editor. So.

15. Let's explore diabetes with owls -- David Sedaris.

16. American on Purpose -- Craig Ferguson.

17. Girl walks into a bar -- Rachel Dratch. I like her, but I couldn't stand this book. I still haven't figured out why.

Was on a bit of a run of books by comedians, obvs.

18. Elizabeth is missing -- Emma Healey. Sad and well written.

19. The cause of all nations: An international history of the American Civil War -- Don H Doyle. Really really good. Learned a lot and the author had an engaging style.

20. Hellhound on his trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin -- Hampton Sides. Gripping.

21. Choose your own autobiography -- Neil Patrick Harris. I was neutral about NPH until I read this and now I think he's an ass.

22. Live from New York: An uncensored history of SNL. Updated version.

23. The crown of dalemark -- Diana Wynne Jones. I love her and I liked the other books in this series, but this one fell flat for me.

24. Inherent Vice -- Thomas Pynchon. Felt like Pynchon channeling DFW, but that's fine. Enjoyable enough.

25. Bad Feminist -- Roxanne Gay. Essays were hit or miss for me, but when they hit they were good.


25 and 2/5 of them were re-reads. Oh well. More reading is one of my resolutions this year, so better get on that.
Of the books on gaspode's list, the only one I've read (though it was a few years ago) is Inherent Vice. I agree with "enjoyable enough." I'd like to see the movie one of these days.

Rather than review the year, here's what I've read in the last week. I spent Tuesday on planes and in airports, and I've had a nasty cold since then, so there's been lots of enforced downtime.

Cassandra at the Wedding -- Dorothy Baker
Americanah -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Dept. of Speculation -- Jenny Offill
Speedboat -- Renata Adler
and most of the 2012 edition of Best American Essays

A friend mentioned the other day that he was up for re-reading David Copperfield and Anna Karenina this year. I think that sounds appealing.
posted by tangerine 03 January | 14:58
I beat my reading goal of 80 books last year. Some of the standouts were also damned depressing nonfiction -- Bloodlands, KL, a History of the Concentration Camps, Ravensbruck, Lost, the Search for Six among Six Million, Ghettoside, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, and Missoula -- but there was also In a Sunburned Country, One Summer, and all of Maya Angelou's autobiographical books, and some great fiction too, including The Goldfinch (the first by Tartt I've liked!), all the Robert Galbraith novels to date, Fifteen Dogs, The Martian, The Painted Veil, Maus I and II, The Children Act, The Thing Around Your Neck, All the Light We Cannot See, a lot more Michael Connelly Novels, and some more J.D. Robb novels.

I am on Goodreads as Catherine I . . .
posted by bearwife 03 January | 17:35
Grad school totally consumed me- per GoodReads, I only read two books in 2015, and one was from post-school (a breeze through the Elizabeth Smart story). I'm also still working on the Hamilton book, which I hope to finish soon.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 03 January | 18:24
New or new to me fiction:

1 The Best American Short Stories 2013
2 Best European Fiction 2013
3 When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
4 The Street & Other Stories by Gerry Adams
5 The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puértolas
6 The Waitress, the Whiskey & the Handcuffs: Part 1 of The Ruby Chronicles by Les Becker
7 The Best Early Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bryant Mangum (Editor)
8 Trimalchio: An Early Version of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, James L.W. West III (Editor)
9 Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald
10 The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse (Flavia de Luce #6.5) by Alan Bradley
11 As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7) by Alan Bradley
12 The Best American Short Stories 2014
13 The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
14 Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
15 The Town Slut's Daughter by Heather Haley
16 After the Quake by Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (Translator)
17 How I Became a Nun by César Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
18 Cover Before Striking by Priscila Uppal
19 The Wilds by Julia Elliott
20 Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
21 The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (Translator), Alfred Birnbaum (Translator)
22 Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother by Priscila Uppal
23 The Awakening and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin
24 Under the Ribs of Death by John Marlyn
25 Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
26 Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie
27 The Town Slut's Daughter by Heather Haley
28 Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
29 Hapworth 16, 1924 by J.D. Salinger
30 The Complete Uncollected Stories by J.D. Salinger
31 Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
32 The Collected Stories by Eudora Welty
33 The Drop by Dennis Lehane
34 The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
35 Chrome Yellow by Aldous Huxley
36 Here Is Where We Meet: A Story of Crossing Paths by John Berger
37 Varieties of Exile by Mavis Gallant
38 Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
39 Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, Alfred Birnbaum (Translator)
40 Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment
41 The Best British Short Stories 2014
42 The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout
43 Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis
44 The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie M.G. Schmidt, David Colmer (Translation)
45 No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
46 The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
47 A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
48 Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
49 Mislaid by Nell Zink
50 Basic Black with Pearls by Helen Weinzweig
51 10:04 by Ben Lerner
52 Honored Guest by Joy WilliamsThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
53 Ask by Aelius Blythe
54 How Best To Avoid Dying: Stories by Owen Egerton
55 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
56 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
57 Alys, Always by Harriet Lane
58 New Australian Stories 2
59 Acquainted With The Night, And Other Stories by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
60 I'm Losing You by Bruce Wagner
61 Daddy Lenin and Other Stories by Guy Vanderhaeghe
62 Bullseye (Will Robie #2.5) by David Baldacci
63 American Innovations: Stories by Rivka Galchen

Some high points:

Basic Black with Pearls by Helen Weinzweig - I can't believe I did not hear of this writer until this year. She was ahead of her time. At last her books are coming back into print.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson - A follow up of sorts to Life After Life. I knew where it was going to end up very early on but the ride was so good it didn't matter a wit.

Varieties of Exile by Mavis Gallant - Just some masterful stories.

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link - From what I'd read about Link's books I didn't think I'd like them but I read 4 of them. Fantasies with real people in them.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid - Horrid people doing nasty stuff. But well worth reading anyway. Winner of the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature.

The Town Slut's Daughter by Heather Haley - North American punk in the late 70's and 80s. Great story and it was fun to see some people I knew back in another life show up on the pages of a novel.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie - Another Canadian writing about horrid people doing nasty stuff. A sort of retelling of the Kurt Cobain myth. Part fantasy, part fan-fic, part poetry, part love song to addiction.

Low point:

Hapworth 16, 1924 by J.D. Salinger - Shit monkey on a swizzle stick this is horrible self indulgent tripe. Took me longer to read than Steven King's The Stand.

I didn't list my non fiction reading but here are a few stand outs:

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks - A flawed, decent, and interesting person.

Life Itself by Roger Ebert - See above.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - If you haven't read it you should.

Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad by Alison Wearing - A daughter's view of her mid twentieth century father's journey toward accepting his life.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King - North American history from the other side.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - See above but with a shorter time frame.

posted by arse_hat 03 January | 20:00
In no particular order:
Congratulations by the way, George Saunders
On Such a Full Sea, Chang-Rae Lee
City of the Dead, Claire Dewitt
Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon (This book was the year's big winner)
Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
Less Medicine, More Health (7 Assumptions that Drive Too Much Medical Care), H. Gilbert Welch
The Invaders, Karolina Waclawiak (Horrible, terrible book, I was mad the whole time I read it)
All four Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Love and Those Who Stay and the Story of the Lost Child) - I inhaled these books
Good Omens, Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman
Dreamland, Sam Quinones - This is by far the best non-fiction I read all year.

These are just the books on my kindle, and because I am so bad about updating Good Reads, I can't find the nearly equal number of books I read from the library.

It wasn't a great year for reading, I spent far too much time on Metafilter. I need to read more in 2016 and spend less time on the Blue.
posted by msali 04 January | 10:27
The best books I read this year:
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (I HATED all of the self-indulgent, annoying characters, but the writing was so gorgeous!!)
Barbarian Days: a Surfing Life by William Finnegan (vicarious read about surfing)
The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien (classic! controversial!)
The Dark by John McGahern (classic! controversial!)
The Green Road by Anne Enright
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Lock in by John Scalzi
posted by initapplette 04 January | 15:45
I'm impressed by all you people who keep track of what you read. I never have (except while I was in grad school), but I'm wondering whether I should rethink.

My year's reading didn't overlap much with other people's -- Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend might be the only one. A few are on my probably/upcoming lists, but maybe that's material for a later post.
posted by tangerine 05 January | 15:16
My goodreads link.
posted by bearwife 05 January | 17:57
In the order I finished them (in reverse) as dumped from goodreads:

Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The End of Mr. Y, Scarlett Thomas
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
When I Was a Child I Read Books, Marilynne Robinson
Purity, Jonathan Franzen
In the Light of What We Know, Zia Haider Rahman
"The Dark Forest (Three-Body, #2)", Liu Cixin
Stealing God's Thunder: Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Rod and the Invention of America, Philip Dray
"The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood", Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Flick, Annie Baker
Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
"The Lives of Tao (Tao, #1)", Wesley Chu
"Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)", John Scalzi
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, Sarah Manguso
I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb
The Fire Gospel, Michel Faber
The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber
"The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning", Jonathan Sacks
My Antonia, Willa Cather
"The Three-Body Problem (Three-Body, #1)", Liu Cixin
Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan #1), Laura Lippman
The Most Dangerous Thing, Laura Lippman
Delicious Foods, James Hannaham
"Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4)", Tana French
Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything, Barbara Ehrenreich
No One Belongs Here More Than You, Miranda July
The Hunted, Elmore Leonard
Playback, Raymond Chandler
Something Happened, Joseph Heller
52 Pick Up, Elmore Leonard
The Moonshine War, Elmore Leonard
Stoner, John Williams
Atmospheric Disturbances, Rivka Galchen
Do You Need a Guru?, Mariana Caplan
A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick
Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy, Thomas Nagel
The Yellow Wall-Paper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Long Division, Kiese Laymon
Kipper's Game, Barbara Ehrenreich
At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Bill Bryson
"Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3)", Elena Ferrante
"Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned', Lena Dunham

With the exception of the Salinger, these were all first reads.
(I read Dept. of Speculation twice but only because I reread it immediately after finishing it)
Some were amazing.
Most were worth reading, though some barely.
Some I already can't remember.
I noticed overlaps with other posters: Ferrante, Scalzi, Coates, Offil, July, Galchen
posted by Obscure Reference 05 January | 20:02
I am also impressed with tracking books that are read - I'm inspired, and maybe will start this year! :)
posted by needlegrrl 06 January | 08:33
GoodReads makes it really easy. I just noticed that it will sync up with my new Kindle model, so anytime a new book gets opened on the Kindle, it asks me if I want to mark that I am reading it in GoodReads. I like that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 06 January | 11:24
When you finish the book, the Kindle will prompt you to rate it, too. So handy.
posted by bearwife 06 January | 13:50
Pictures of your interesting pbooks || The History of Farting for Money