2015: A Year in Reading + January 2016 Reads
2015 Reading Year:
Short Story Collection: 3
Poetry Collection: 1
Essay/Non Fiction: 2
Graphic Novel: 3
I think I did okay in 2015. While I seem to be reading less and less each year, but still 31 ain't too shabby. Besides I read some pretty good stuff. So here's my top ten books of 2015. That is, books read during the year 2015 and not necesarily books released during said year.
Top Ten Fiction Books of 2015:
1. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending came like a tornado. It sort of upended how I look at life. You know, like after you've read it, you hold your hands up to the heavens and you give a despairing cry of something along the lines of: What does life even mean?! What does my existence mean?! Then thunder, then lightning, then a massive downpour, and then you see Ryan Gosling hauling a canoe, and then you...this is moving in another direction, a different dream. Haha.
2. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - Perdido Street Station is one of those books that would make an awesome monster movie. Guillermo del Toro should get to it. The world Mieville created is sprawling and intricate. The story is not your run of the mill dystopian fantasy of some chosen one going on a monomythic journey. Instead it is made richer by tackling the tricky gray areas of theology and science and morality. And well, it is a hang-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat story as well.
3. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - Sometimes there is such beauty in subtlety and quiteness and understatedness. And Remains of the Day are all those three things. The prose flows like a soft breeze and the story is about memories and aging and choices, and it is equal parts sad and hopeful.
4. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell - It's not surprising to see a David Mitchell on this list because I love the guy. And I just realized that I am terrible at endorsing Mitchell to people. I mean, I couldn't properly explain Cloud Atlas, and it is the same way with Ghostwritten. So I say: There is this story and it's kind of interconnected to this other story, but not really. And then there's a Zookeeper who doesn't really keep a zoo. I just can't. But Mitchell is a madman and he is brilliant. That's all I can say.
5. Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago - I had a tough time getting through this, to be honest. Saramago's writing is pretty darned dense. The structure takes some getting used to. But it ultimately turned out to be a rewarding reading experience because the second half is just mind-blowingly strange and devastating. I was, somewere in act two, an avid shipper of death and the cellist dude.
6. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - High Fidelity is ace. Or brill as the Brits would say it. Rob Fleming has some witty, hilarious and droll observations about relationships, and life in London, and of course music and other people's musical tastes. He is a character that takes some getting used to, or maybe even not at all, and if the latter is indeed the case, just go see the movie adaptation, and think about John Cusack, and all will be well.
7. The Absolutely True-Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - This book should be 'unbanned'. It is such a good-natured, positive, candid, earnest and funny read. It tells of a story that is relatable and universal, and I am sure kids will take away nothing but kindness from it.
8. Ubik by Philip K. Dick - Ah loopy, loony, screwy Ubik. This was a blast. I am glad it is less dense than what I initially thought it would be. But the story is still complex enough for it to be one heck of a mind-bending sci-fi read.
9. Monstress by Lysley Tenorio - I love the the variety of characters and setting and tone and mood in the various stories in Monstress. Tenorio writes compelling characters and it is heartbreaking to see their glittering American dreams turn murky.
10. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri - Jhumpa Lahiri writes all the nine stories with clear-eyed grace and simplicity that they feel as intimate as a whisper, resulting in an effect that is richly emotional. She is a lovely discovery this year.
Special Mention - Graphic Novels:
1. Mythology Class by Arnold Arre - I am so happy to read such an engaging story as Mythology Class. I think it is a world class comic book. I sort of forget how rich Philippine folklore can be, and Mythology Class reminded me of that. And because this has the most amazing chase sequence I have ever in a graphic novel.
2. Sandman Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman - You've probably heard of Sandman at some point. They say this is the graphic novel to recommend to girlfriends or girls in general who turn their noses up at graphic novels, or are reluctant to get into them. I don't particularly know why. Perhaps I missed some feminist ideals here and there? I don't know! Besides this is just the first volume. And I am rambling! I don't really need any convincing when it comes to anything Neil Gaiman or comic books. Anyway, I digress. Sandman is an absorbing read with a complex story and detailed worldbuilding. It is dark and scary and unsettling and sometimes viscelrally violent. It is amazing.
3. Stitches by David Small - This is one of those things that is just painful to read. Family abuse is a tough subject to get through, and even more so when you have David Small's illustrations that enhance that feeling of claustrophobia, of being trapped in a home where you are not safe, where your well-being is of the least import. The bubbling tension can be so palpable even in the drawings of empty hallways, of the family dinners wrapped in silence.
For my January Reads, I got two lined up.
1. The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber - The Book of Strange New Thangs is shaping up to an interesting and engaging read. And I am loving the audiobook narration.
2. Lizzie Bright and Buckminster Boy by Gary D.Schmidt - I got a used copy which has been staying on my shelf for awhile now, and I thought it'd be nice to get back to kidlit. I roped in Meliza of Mecanism for a read along.
The End! Exit stage right.
The End! Exit stage right.