What’s the current state of your bedside stack? If you’re anything like me you don’t mind a dust-gathering pile of reading matter beside the bed. It’s comforting, promising; a pleasing work-in-progress. At the moment, I’m stuck into the new Coco Chanel biography (with a fictional side of new bestseller Versions of Us). I find I get a lot more reading done during these darker winter months. Predictably, it’s when I tend to turn more inward and find solace in the pages of somebody else. So in the interests of sharing, I thought I’d list the books I read in 2015 and what I thought of them.
Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris
I love most things by this writer, but while staying in a holiday cottage last Christmas, I found this on the bookshelf and realised I’d not read it yet. One of her best: France, food, family, wartime!
The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
Amazing debut novel, hope she follows up soon. Spooky, sexy and set in 17th century Amsterdam – a historical landscape I was curious about. I felt ever so slightly let down by the ending but would still strongly recommend.
The Bees – Laline Paull
I have a really keen fascination with bees so this was just the sort of imaginative yet fact-based, dystopian fantasy novel I have been wishing someone would write for years. Loved it!
Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
Hands up, I saw it on the telly and finally attempted to read it. It’s exquisitely written but so dense, I only made it a quarter of the way through before I turned to something else. I feel a bit guilty about that. Instead I made Greig read it for me and he stoically ploughed through it to the end, pronouncing it very good.
Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier (re-read)
I read this when it first came out about five years ago – I adore anything by this writer. We went on holiday to Lyme Regis at Easter (where the book is set) so I took it along for a re-read and enjoyed it even more.
Funny Girl – Nick Hornby
I’m afraid I didn’t finish this. Found it far too light and unconvincing in comparison to his earlier works.
The final testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix – Paul Sussman
A weird, wonderful and very funny book. I won’t try to describe it, just try it!
To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
All the press about her new book shamed me into reading the original for the first time. So glad I did, it’s a classic for a reason but I enjoyed it so much I now daren’t read the follow-up for fear of spoiling this book’s perfection. Sorry Harper.
In the Unlikely Event – Judy Blume
Another long-awaited book from a literary heroine of mine. Like most women my age, I grew up with her stories. This is quite different but still has her DNA, albeit written for adults. It wasn’t the best book I’ve read all year but I hope it spurs her on to keep writing more as I will always want to read her work.
The Talented Mr .Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
You may know the film, beautifully directed by Anthony Minghella. The book is even sharper and more intelligent. Made me vow to start reading more of her back catalogue and maybe some more crime generally.
The Taxidermist’s Daughter – Kate Mosse
Very good, as expected. Shorter and tauter than some of her earlier books. Nicely gothic and creepy, it was the perfect autumn/winter read.
The Teaplanter’s Wife – Dinah Jeffries
I’ll not lie, this veers a little too far into the hearts and flowers territory of romantic fiction for me but I enjoyed it. Jeffries’ first-hand experience of Ceylon, means this book has a really vivid sense of place and it’s nice to be transported somewhere totally different. The story is quite a touching one too by the end.
The Taming of the Queen – Philippa Gregory
A birthday present from my mum, this is Gregory’s latest offering from her Tudor series and gives a great insight into Henry VIII’s final years with his last wife Kateryn Parr (Gregory’s spelling). Me and my mum love this kind of stuff!
Pretty Honest – Sali Hughes
Got it for Chrimbo, last year (2014) and enjoyed it but feel like I should re-read – this sort of beauty advice never goes out of date.
The Little Book of Mindfulness – Corinne Sweet
All very well, but easier read than done. Must try harder this year!
Paris Street Style – Isabelle Thomas
Fun and really quite informative little book. Makes me want to plan a trip to Paris every time I flick through it and it would certainly help as it has plenty of contacts/tips.
Hey Natalie Jean – Natalie Holbrook
Loved this and actually read it all, cover to cover, though I think you’re meant to dip in and out. A collection of essays taken from and inspired by her blog, I love this woman’s writing and her style.
So that’s it, as you’ll see I’m not the world’s most prolific reader these days (I blame the kids and Netflix and blogging) but I still love losing myself in a good book, so I hope this inspires you if you haven’t already read them. Please drop me some new reading recommendations in the comments.