Books I read in 2015
I read 26 books for pleasure in 2015.
Bold = favorites
* = rereads
- 10:04 (Ben Lerner)
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Anna Bond) *
- All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
- Autobiography of Red (Anne Carson)
- Case Histories (Kate Atkinson)
- Glory (Vladimir Nabokov)
- Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger)
- Paper Towns (John Green)
- Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout (Lauren Redniss)
- Speedboat (Renata Adler)
- Survival in Auschwitz (Primo Levi)
- The Days of Abandonment (Elena Ferrante)
- The Enchanted April (Elizabeth von Armin)
- The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
- The Good Lord Bird (James McBride)
- The Lost Daughter (Elena Ferrante)
- The Neapolitan Novels (Elena Ferrante)
- My Brilliant Friend
- The Story of a New Name
- Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
- The Story of the Lost Child
- The Secret History (Donna Tartt) *
- The Story of My Teeth (Valeria Luiselli)
- The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Joan Aiken)
- Troubling Love (Elena Ferrante)
- Vacant Possession (Hilary Mantel)
- Veronica (Mary Gaitskill)
The goal: This year is probably the first year in my life that I've read more books by women than by men (18:8; last year, it was 9:15). I don't think I would have achieved this goal if I'd not been intentional about my reading. The plan is to continue this goal in 2016 as well.
Best books I read this year, by far: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. Holy smokes. They exceeded the hype and led me to read as many Ferrante books I could get my hands on, plus essays and interviews.
Best surprisingly great book: 10:04. I told myself I would refrain from reading books about white male writers in Brooklyn written by white male writers in Brooklyn, but I made an exception for this one, and I'm glad I did. It was extremely clever.
Books that made me uncomfortable: Veronica and Troubling Love were both so viscerally told. I loved Veronica, which was acidic and awkward and astonishing. Troubling Love, Ferrante's first novel, is "a smelly book," as described by a New York Times critic, and I'm not sure I'd re-read it.
Book that disappointed: I looove Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell books. But it was a chore to finish Vacant Possession. And I adored Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, but Case Histories was forgettable. Lastly, I rolled my eyes so many times at Paper Towns, but what was I doing reading YA anyway. I'm an old.
Book that made me stare out the window for a long time after finishing it: Autobiography of Red. It inhabits that perfect space of sad–funny, and some of her lines made me go "oh shit" out loud. I also got to see Antigone at BAM this year, adapting her translation, Antigonick, and it was just as incredible as I'd hoped. I'm late to the party on this one, but oof, have I got a giant literary crush on Anne Carson. You'll see more of her on next year's list.