I completed 116 books in 2015 — 86 print and 30 audio. Here is the spreadsheet.
Among the standouts in AUDIO, in no particular order:
A GOD IN RUINS – by Kate Atkinson; read by Alex Jennings. The English 20th century as lived by the extraordinary Teddy Todd. It’s not necessary to have read LIFE AFTER LIFE before reading this, but I recommend you do anyway.
THE CASUAL VACANCY – by J.K. Rowling; read by Tom Hollander. I was completely enthralled by this intricate portrait of a tiny English village whose social and political pot is boiling over.
STATION ELEVEN – by Emily St. John Mandel; read by Kirsten Potter. What happens to the world, and the experience of being human, after a sudden flu outbreak instantly reduces the global population to a fraction of itself? What roles do art and hope have to play?
FUNNY GIRL – by Nick Hornby; read by Emma Fielding. Small-town girl rises to fame as sitcom sensation Sophie Straw in Swingin’ 60s London, with resulting hilarity and heartbreak.
THE NOBODIES ALBUM – by Carolyn Parkhurst; read by Kimberly Farr. A middle-aged novelist, who has mined her personal life for the kernels of her popular stories, tries to piece together where things went wrong between her and her grown son when he is arrested for murder.
Among the standouts in PRINT, in no particular order:
OLIVE KITTERIDGE – by Elizabeth Strout. Impossible to describe this focused yet kaleidoscopic novel in any way that does it justice. Olive and the people around her tell the story of what it is to be human in a way that struck straight at my core.
MINK RIVER – by Brian Doyle. In stunningly beautiful prose, Doyle weaves a small, exquisite tapestry of a diverse little community of lovable eccentrics.
THE THINGS THEY CARRIED – by Tim O’Brien. The classic novel of the Vietnam War that famously tests, bends and stretches the boundaries between fact and story, truth and fiction.
THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB – by Will Schwalbe. A man’s memoir of the last two years of his mother’s life and the books they read together while she’s dying. A powerful illumination of the role story can play in a life, and its relationship to mortality.
Some numbers of note:
- Breakdown by book’s intended audience:
- Adult: 87
- Children: 18
- Young Adult: 11
- Fiction 101 vs. Nonfiction 15
- Twelve were re-reads.
- Average number of books completed per month = 9.66
- Month with the most books completed: March (13)
- Month with the fewest books completed: July (6)
- Average audiobooks per month: 2.5
- Average print books per month: 7.16
- After ungenrefied fiction, Crime/Mystery takes the prize for most-read genre at 41 titles.
In the course of my reading year, there were a lot of books I really liked, quite a few that were just average, and some that I would call not so hot. In other words, a typical year.
What the numbers do not reveal is the sizable number of books that I started but gave up on. Starting in 2016, I will attempt to find a manageable way to track those as well. I am not one to stick with a book if I don’t absolutely have to; if it’s not working for me, I put it down. Life is too short, and there are too many excellent books.
In 2015, I continued reading/listening to several series of which I am very fond, with some really stellar entries in all. Here are the highlights:
Gaius Petreius Ruso series by Ruth Downie: CAVEAT EMPTOR and SEMPER FIDELIS, both on audio, read by Simon Vance.
Charlie Zailer/Simon Waterhouse series by Sophie Hannah: THE CARRIER. Also note that I started listening to Book 9, WOMAN WITH A SECRET (published in the UK as THE TELLING ERROR), read by Julia Barrie & David Thorpe, in December 2015, and am midway through it now.
Benny Griessel series by Deon Meyer: THIRTEEN HOURS on audio, read by Simon Vance.
Breen & Tozer series by William Shaw: THE KINGS OF LONDON (Book 2). Book 3, A SONG FOR THE BROKENHEARTED, drops here in the US in a few weeks.
Department Q series by Jussi Adler-Olsen: THE MARCO EFFECT and THE HANGING GIRL, both on audio, read by Graeme Malcolm. THE MARCO EFFECT is my favorite so far in this great Danish crime series.
Sean Duffy & the Troubles series by Adrian McKinty: GUN STREET GIRL. I’m excited about Book 5, RAIN DOGS, coming in March. I love these in both print and audio, and I plan to do an audio re-read of GSG before reading RD.
Rivers of London/Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch: Did an audio re-read of BROKEN HOMES, then read FOXGLOVE SUMMER. I hope to audio re-read FS just prior to reading THE HANGING TREE when it finally hits the states this spring. These books are amazing, and getting a refresher by listening to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith perform one is pure pleasure.
Longmire series by Craig Johnson: I read three of these in 2015. KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED, ANOTHER MAN’S MOCCASINS, and JUNKYARD DOGS.
Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom: The long-awaited LAMENTATION did not disappoint.
Brigid Quinn series by Becky Masterman: I started and continued this excellent series, with RAGE AGAINST THE DYING, followed by FEAR THE DARKNESS.
Emmanuel Cooper series by Malla Nunn: Another fine series I started and continued, with A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE, followed by LET THE DEAD LIE.
Tiffany Aching series by the late, great Terry Pratchett: THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN on audio, read by Stephen Briggs. The final segment of Tiffany’s story, published posthumously. Sigh.
So — onward and upward and into 2016, with more wondrous reading ahead.