My Best Reads of 2015

2015 was an interesting reading year for me. According to my Goodreads my average rating was 2.8 out of 5, my lowest yet. I’ve read 115 book at the time of writing, my goal was 200 but then university decided that it was more important, how rude. My rating distribution looks like this:


It’s a very bottom heavy chart. I don’t know whether I’m terrible at picking books to read or just very hard to please. I’m thinking it’s the latter. Picking the best books I read this year wasn’t very hard, since only 19 of the 115 books I read received a rating higher than three-stars. Instead of writing all new reviews, the text that will accompany the books of this list are paraphrased from my original reviews which appeared on Goodreads. I will include a link to my full original review at the end of every piece. So I present my list in no particular order, enjoy.

1. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

In this short novel, we meet Bride. A young woman who, as a child, testified in a court case which led to the imprisonment of an alleged child abuser. Twenty years later, Bride tries to make peace with the woman whom she sent to prison. Morrison imbues this novel with her renowned mastery of prose which allows the reader to sweep through this novel in only a sitting or two. This novel is a well-wound timepiece with every cog (characters, narrative, emotion) working off each other in perfect harmony and synchronisation, in the end altogether forming a beautiful work. (Full review)

2. The Story of the Night by Colm Tóibín


Split into three parts, we follow Richard’s journey from Argentina during the Falklands War, through the entire decade, up to the AIDS crisis of New York in the late 80s. It goes from Giovanni’s Room to Angels in America and it thoroughly deserves those comparisons. The Story of the Night is the unknown Irish classic. Richard’s story is memorable, funny, and utterly heartbreaking. (Full review)

3. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa


Anzaldúa writes very personal but powerful essays on what it means to be Chicana and what it’s like living in a country in which she is seen as a second or third class citizen. Her poetry is political but highly readable and perfectly complements the essays in this collection. (Full review)

4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller


Rarely has a piece of literature ticked so many of my boxes. Satire, farce, gallows humour, irreverence, it’s as if this book were written entirely for me. I loved every word on every page of this book. I cannot find a single minuscule fault anywhere within the narrative or the prose or the characterisation or the flow or the humour. (Full review)

5. Selfish by Kim Kardashian West


Throughout Selfish we watch Kardashian transform from a B-list socialite who was trying to fight off the release of her sex tape to the multi-billionaire powerhouse that she is today. Everyone knows the name Kardashian, whether you like that fact or not. Page after page we learn more about Kardashian. We also find that she is more than willing to make herself the butt of the joke. Selfies where she is bright red with sunburn or pulling a face and crossing her eyes behind her mother Kris show that this is not a naval-gazing glorified paper Instagram, it’s a dossier of Kimberly Kardashian West. (Full review)

6. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov


Nabokov constructs an entire narrative, complete with rounded characters and locations, within the line-by-line commentary of the poem. It is wonderful. I cannot sing its praises any higher. Like in Lolita we are introduced to a less than admirable, unreliable narrator Charles Kinbote. Slowly he begins his commentary on his friend’s poem, Pale Fire. However, as the footnotes pile up, we stray further and further away from academic citation and we are plunged into Kinbote’s megalomaniacal and deranged mind. (Full review)

7. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee


Reading the first page of this novel you are immediately dropped into the familiar prose and voice of Lee’s masterwork. Maycomb is alive again in your hands. (Full review)

8. The Devil in the Flesh by Raymond Radiguet


The torrid love affair is depicted with all the difficulties and foibles that we find in many of these “forbidden love” novels that saturated 19th-century France. However this one differs because it feels fresh. One must remember that this was written by a teenager so the teenage voice of our main character is truly a teenage voice. This isn’t some white guy in his mid-30s trying to depict teenagers having sex, this is an actual teenager writing about what he knows and through that we discover one of the most believable and relatable teenage voices in fiction. (Full review)

9. The First Bad Man by Miranda July


This novel is definitely weird. It’s different. There isn’t a single sane character in there. It’s like an episode of Kath & Kim but also not like that at all. Margaret Atwood meets Woody Allen in this novel but not in the way you want. (Full review)

10. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James


A Brief History of Seven Killings is never an easy read. From whole chapters written in Jamaican dialect to brutal murders and mutilations being described in minute detail. When Steinbeck discussed The Grapes of Wrath he said, “I’ve done my damndest to rip reader’s nerves to rags; I don’t want him satisfied”. I feel this quote also applies to James and this novel. He is a brutal writer, the dots above the Is are bullet holes and stems of his Ts are sharpened and ready to kill. Blood imbrues the pages of this novel and you are always caught off guard. (Full review)


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