As I said in my previous post, this year I’m planning on getting back into doing more book related posts, so I’ve decided to make a start on that by discussing my favourite books of 2015. I read a lot earlier this year and over the summer, but I’ve been shamefully slow with what I’ve been reading over the latter part of the year. Sometimes life just takes over too much! Over 2016 I’m planning on breaking that habit and reading a lot more, but for now here are my favourite books from this year.
The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
I had been meaning to read this for so long – since my sister read it in school 4 years ago and recommended it to me. This year I finally sat down and read it, and I wasn’t disappointed. It follows young “Greasers” as they come into conflict with local “socs” who look down on greasers for their place in society. The protagonist, Ponyboy, comes into danger when someone takes this conflict a too far and he is forced to leave his home with his older brothers and live as a runaway. I found the ending a bit lacking – I expected somewhat more of a climax – but overall I though roughly enjoyed this book and I intend to watch the film with Leonardo DiCaprio sometime soon!
Loving Amy – Janis Winehouse
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Amy Winehouse fan, so when I saw this book I had to read it immediately. It was absolutely heartbreaking as a result of Amy’s tragic ending, especially coming from a mothers perspective. However it also gave great insight into her early life, and her personality growing up which was funny and entertaining, as well as her development as a teenager and young adult behind the scenes. I loved how this book depicted a completely different Amy than the media did, and I really loved getting to know the real Amy somewhat better while reading it.
The Rescue – Nicholas Sparks
I’m addicted to Nicholas Sparks books, and I’ve probably read the great majority of them at this stage. When I was in Alaska over the summer and I saw one of his books I hadn’t read in a swap shelf, I jumped on the chance and swapped the not so great book I had just finished (The Gift, by Cecelia Ahern, which was so unrealistic and nonsensical to the point of hilarity) and I got “The Rescue” in return. I devoured this, and it quickly became my favourite Nicholas Sparks book. It follows a struggling mother and her young boy who has not developed as he should have for his age, as they meet and grow attached to a local fireman who comes to the boy’s rescue in an accident during a raging storm. A bond quickly forms between the mother and the fireman, but it comes under threat when it becomes apparent that he has commitment issues as a result of a previous relationship. This book was full of twists and turns until the very end, and it had a perfect variation of both happy moments and devastating ones – I even shed a tear at one point. I happened to find this book by chance, but it was definitely my one of my favourites of this year.
My Week With Marilyn – Colin Clark
This was another one I found by chance, this time in the local second hand shop for €5. I didn’t know that much about Marilyn Monroe before reading this, but I found this book so fascinating and I really wanted to know more about her after reading it. This book was written by Colin Clark, and it’s a true story which follows Colin, who is a young errand boy on a film set for a Marilyn Monroe film, as he helps her to emotionally escape from the pressures of her life and falls in love with her in the process. It was extremely interesting to see how everyone in Marilyn’s life wanted something from her and how this naturally caused dominating trust issues for her. I also watched the film after reading the book, and I adored Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Colin Clark.
The Land of Stories “Beyond the Kingdoms” – Chris Colfer
I’ve been waiting to read this book since finishing the previous one which ended on a massive cliffhanger, and when I found it in Munroe’s bookshop, Vancouver Island, I bought it immediately. I definitely wasn’t dissappointed! Chris Colfer writes in a style which is completely captivating and engrossing, and transports the reader to the world he’s created. In this case this world is The Land of Stories, where classic fairytales exist and the heroes and villains that we know and love have whole lives, marriages and babies since their stories left off. Although this addition to the series didn’t have a massive climax, it does build the tension towards the end of the series, and finally gives some answers as to who the dreaded “masked man” is. The protagonists, Alex and Conner, have been sucked into this world and are under pressure to help save it before it’s too late. Although this book is probably aimed at someone slightly younger than me, I feel that people of all ages can enjoy this series as we’ve been surrounded by these classic fairytales such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood growing up and it’s really interesting to see Colfer’s take on where they are now.
Amy, 27 & the 27 Club – Howard Sounes
This was another absolutely fascinating read, which depicted both Amy Winehouse’s life but also that of the other members of the “27 Club”; Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, and Brian Jones. It also examines the actual existence of the 27 club, and discusses experiments done as to the connections between the deaths, which are in reality symbolic connections rather than more meaningful than that. It was tragic to read about each members of the “club”s struggles with addiction and it’s ultimate toll on their lives. While this book was devastating and heartbreaking to read, it gave me as a reader more understanding into both the talents and the tragedy experienced by these musicians.
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
I gave reading this a go when I was 14, but I found it too complex to finish. After I moved school, however, I ended up doing it for one of my leaving cert texts and I absolutely loved reading it! The plot was extremely complicated, so actually studying it probably helped me to follow it and keep up, and also increased my understanding of the full meaning, subplots and themes. The heartbreaking relationship between original Cathy and Heathcliff kept me encapsulated by the world of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, as well as opening the door for the character of Hareton to become a later favourite. I also loved the fact that it was set in the 1800s, a completely different time, yet did such a good job of showing the reader what life in this time was like. Although this is Emily Brontë’s only book, I definitely plan to read some of those by Charlotte and Anne this year, as they take place in the same gothic era.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
I wanted to read this for a while, and I finally got into it as I was procrastinating at supervised study and had a million better things to do, but chose to read for a while instead. Again, I was captivated by this story of another era, another time, in which Elizabeth Bennett is looking for a suitor, and falls in love with the most horrible man at the dance. This love-hate relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy acts as a catalyst and drives the story to its intense climax. After I got used to the different style of writing I was completely absorbed and could not put this book down.
Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
I didn’t expect much from this, after hearing very mixed reviews, but it exceeded my expectations completely. While it was nowhere near the standard of a classic, I really enjoyed reading it nonetheless. Anna & the French Kiss follows the character of Anna as she is sent to boarding school in Paris, where she doesn’t know anyone or anything. Anna makes friends quickly but her happiness is threatened when she comes into conflict with some of the people in her boarding school, and love complicates everything along the way. This book is witty, entertaining and sad at some points, and definitely made a good read.
These are just some of my favourites from 2015, but there were so many more I also enjoyed. I’m in the middle of reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tart at the moment, so I’m sure that will be one of this year’s favourites. I also got a few books for christmas, such as “Robert Galbraith” (J.K. Rowling)’s new book, which I can’t wait to get into next. As I mentioned previously, I’m also planning on doing a reading challenge this year and making a reading list, so keep an eye out for a post with more details of that!