A few things: since I can’t spend all my time blogging, I’ve not included book covers this time. A gift voucher should be on its way to your home address in the next week or so. Also, your names are in Inbox Order. 🙂
Thank you again for all your wonderful recommendations. We hope you’ll send in another 5 next year!
If you’re wondering what the Favorite Reads of the ABC Staff were in 2015, click here.
19.1.2016 Edited to add: Eveline Scholtes! Somehow her list never got to me, but thankfully it did get to our Sigrid who alerted me to the gaping hole where her Top 5 should have been. Sorry Eveline!
Ana Barbuta – Femke de Moor – Liselore van der Zweth – Helena Eher – Iris Kwakernaat – Maud Grefte – Lauren Hoeve – Tania Nemtzidou – Melissa Willard – Patty Friedrichs – Sara Raap-van Bussel – Carola van der Drift – Marjolein Balm – Eveline Verburg – Merel – Charlotte de Heer – Daphne – Darice de Cuba – Katie McCandless – Catharina – Jos – Tijmen – Kate Verhoeff – Didi Groenhoff – Harriet Winchester – Esmée de Heer – Alfi Yasmina – Daphne Bos – Oona Juutinen – Maris – Ben van Brummelen – Tess van Brummelen – Laura Baaijens – Dexter Kerr – Eveline Scholtes
The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison and Sarah Monette (ebook)
This was a surprising and lovely book. The main character is immediately sympathetic and it is fascinating to watch him trying to navigate the unfamiliar currents of imperial politics.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant – Seth Dickinson
Oh boy, oh boy, this was SUCH a good book. A hard-hitting, right-in-the-feels book. Great main character, great world-building, great plot. 10/10, would read more in this vein.
A toss-up between Half the World & Half a War by Joe Abercrombie and Uprooted by Naomi Novik (ebook)
I loved all three books. The first two are part of the Shattered Sea series, which I greatly enjoyed for its mild grittiness, powerful characters and well-paced story; the third is a stand-alone book inspired by Eastern-European mythology, well-written and with a surprising resolution.
The Culture series – Iain M. Banks (starts with Consider Phlebas) (ebook)
Very good world building and superb storylines. Favourites: The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, Excession, Look to Windward, Surface Detail.
2016 most anticipated title
Ah, so hard. A toss between Oathbringer (Brandon Sanderson, Stormlight Archive series #3) and Doors of Stone (Patrick Rothfuss, Kingkiller Chronicles series #3).
Femke de Moor
All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
This book was so beautiful and heartbreaking. Because it’s about depression I think everyone should read it.
Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira
One of the best books I’ve read this year. The letters to the dead are honest, real and the ending is so so sad.
Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith (ebook)
J.K. Rowling writes as Robert Galbraith and she really is such a fantastic writer. The story is well put together and ingenious. You’ll never guess the whodunnit.
The book I’m most looking forward to next year is: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard!
Liselore van der Zweth
The first three are, in a way, a sort of trilogy – a linear history of NYC, seen through the eyes of three extraordinary women.
Just Kids – Patti Smith (ebook)
Although I immediately bought this book at ABC when it came out 5 years ago, I never got around to reading it. Once in a while I would take it from the shelf with every intention of starting it, but I never did until this year. I was going to see Patti live in Paradiso and the week before, I dove into Just Kids and devoured it. Fresh and evocative, this loving portrait of a young Patti coming to New York, meeting Robert Mapplethorpe and developing as an artist is so full of life it almost leaps off the page. When I finished it, I immediately started M Train, which is a very different book, but just as wonderful.
Girl in a Band – Kim Gordon (ebook)
Ok, I must admit: I have never liked Sonic Youth’s music that much. But I did always admire frontwoman Kim Gordon, so of course I had to read her autobiography! Fun thing: Just Kids ends in the late 1970’s, when Patti leaves NYC for Detroit, and Girl in a Band starts in 1980, when Gordon arrives in New York from LA, thus forming a linear timeline. Also striking: both women actually viewed themselves as visual artists first and foremost and sort of ‘stumbled upon music as an afterthought! Girl in a Band is a great read: a history of a changing New York, an insight into what it’s like to be a part of a band and its ever-changing dynamics, and most of all an honest portrait of Gordon and her relationship with (ex-)husband and bandmate Thurston Moore.
Drawing Blood – Molly Crabapple (ebook)
This autobiography is one I’ve been looking forward to for years! Like Just Kids and Girl in a Band, this is a story about the development as a young artist, this time against the backdrop of the Noughties in NYC. We see Molly use whatever means she has to to support herself while honing her craft: working as an artists’ model, as a Suicide Girl and as a burlesque performer, finally hitting the big time as in-house artist for decadent nightclub The Box. In 2012, Molly became entangled in the Occupy movement and made a switch in her career, becoming a journalist and writer dedicated to the pursuit of social justice. Inspirational and absorbing!
Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer
A dark YA novel, set in a boarding school for troubled teenagers. Five of them follow a very special literature class, studying Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. But nothing is as it seems. Slowly, the five teenagers get to know each other and learn of each other’s troubled backgrounds, aided by the very special journal they write in.
ROOKIE yearbook, the fourth and final installment (ebook)
It’s my heart’s desire to ever have one of my articles published on the ROOKIE website, since it has the best writing on the internet. And diving into the colorful, glittering world of a ROOKIE yearbook is like talking to your best friend: you’re inspired, understood, challenged and held, all at once.
The book I’m most looking forward to reading in 2016 is Hard Light by Elizabeth Hand, the third book in the Cassandra Neary thriller series described as ‘Patti Smith meets Patricia Highsmith’. Elizabeth Hand is a gifted writer and Cass Neary is an anti-heroine after my own heart: fucked-up but not broken, and on the road to redemption.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (ebook)
This classic is excellent to make us think about some concepts and situations. It is a novel about prejudice told by Scout, a 6 year-old girl, which makes it a thrilling story, with an accessible language. Besides, Atticus is my new favorite character!
Orlando: A Biography – Virginia Woolf (ebook)
It seems like a simple biography of a fictional character, but it is much more than that! With elements of magic realism, society’s criticism and poetic language, the book caught me and enriched my life as a reader.
We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
It is a page turner! This excellent novel presents to us a teenager with some issues, a wealthy family who prefers hiding their problems, a mysterious situation, and a memorable end.
Looking for Alaska – John Green (ebook)
Another book that I couldn’t put it down! It’s a YA novel, with three main friends, including Alaska, a remarkable girl who changed the lives of the others, especially Miles. A beautiful story about friendship and complicated situations that sometimes we need to face.
The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty (ebook)
A woman found her husband’s letter, on which was written “Open after my death”, but he was still alive, and she was very curious. In that letter, there was a huge secret. However, throughout the novel we can see that everybody has their own secrets.
Air Awakens – Elise Kova
This book REALLY surprised me. It was a great read: character-driven, a magical fantasy world, and great writing. I absolutely loved the world the author created and its characters (and the second book, Fire Falling, was equally as good).
Stormdancer – Jay Kristoff (ebook)
Stormdancer is one of the most unique stories I’ve ever read. The concept of this story is just mind-numbing. It combines so many elements: Japanese myths, steampunk, high fantasy, dystopia, and a strong female character. It might seem a bit too much, but surprisingly it just worked. Everything about this book surprised me (in a REALLY good way), it was absolutely perfect and I loved it.
Graceling – Kristin Cashore (ebook)
This book was BEAUTIFUL. The romance is STUNNING, probably the best I’ve ever read. I have owned a copy of this book for forever, I finally read it and was a goner. I wish I could go back in time to tell myself to read it sooner. It was a wonderfull read that left me all warm and fuzzy inside.
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas (ebook)
Sarah J. Maas is a master with words. She’s one of my favorite authors EVER, and this “Beauty and the Beast” retelling was everything I wanted it to be and more. Beware for a beautifully twisted tale, beautiful world-building, and intriguing characters. Not that I expected anything less from her. It is such an exhilarating book and an epic start to a thrilling new series.
The Falconer – Elizabeth May (ebook)
Steampunk set in Scotland and a faerie-hunting protagonist. What more could I ask for? This book was intense and action-packed from the very first page. Such an unique and original story.
A book I’m REALLY looking forward to reading in 2016 is The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1) by Evelyn Skye. I’ve been excited ever since I read the synopsis for this one. I’m highly anticipating this one and have really high expectations, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t end up a dissapointment! I need to this book to be as bad-ass as the synopsis describes it to be!
More of Iris’s book love can be found on http://irisjexx.com.
Air Awakens – Elise Kova
Amazing characters, super interesting world and a great writing style. It has magic, a realistic main character and a charming (dark, tall and handsome) love interest. What more can I ask for in a fantasy book?
Perfect – Ellen Hopkins
While I’m not a fan of contemporary, this book and every other written by this author grips me by the throat and won’t let go of me. This book was no different.
Soulless – Gail Carriger
After reading this book (which is filled with funny, witty characters and creatures and a mysterious plot) I had to read the whole series back to back. If that doesn’t tell you this book is great I don’t know what will!
Title that I’m most looking forward to reading in 2016: Earth’s End by Elise Kova (Fire Falling, the sequel to Air Awakens, has such a cliffhanger I need to know what happens next!)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan (ebook)
This book was everything I hoped it would be. It was very much out of my comfort zone but I loved the mystery, adventure, and characters. It’s also about a few of my favourite things: books, bookshops, and technology.
Simon VS. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli (ebook)
I was at page 3 and immediately recommended it to my friend, because a line made me think of her, and she picked it up the next day and finished it before I did. I think that says a lot. Especially because I once bought her a book that I don’t think she has read yet.
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell (ebook)
I’d read Rainbow Rowell’s two YA books Eleanor & Park and Fangirl before I picked this up, and because Attachments follows adult characters, I wasn’t sure I would be able to relate. But it was the absolute cutest book! Definitely recommended for fans of Sophie Kinsella and chick-lit in general. Or just… books. RECOMMENDED TO EVERYONE EVER.
Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs
I’ve been following this series since it first came out and I can’t believe it’s over now. The Miss Peregrine trilogy is full of adventure, action, and excitement. And it gets more and more hilarious with every book!
The Bookshop Book – Jen Campbell (ebook)
This is a special book, and an important book. I was just getting out of a reading slump when I read this, and it pulled me out immediately. It made me appreciate physical bookstores even more than I already did. Love you, ABC. (Thank you, Lauren!!! XXX)
What I’m looking forward to in 2016: Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not. I’ve heard incredible things about it but I’ve been waiting for the paperback to come out… It’s been a good exercise for my self-control.
Stephen King’s Revival (ebook), I really enjoyed the whole setting of the story and the different ideas on life and death. After having read Revival, I thought that I would like to read something else by King, so I started with The Shining (ebook), and I concluded with Dr. Sleep (ebook). These books were real page turners, particularly the latter, I couldn’t just put it down. I felt like I was deeply immersed into the dark/gothic and supernatural landscape that King seems to draw so beautifully. The characters, the story, in general everything was delivered so perfectly that I was really sad when I finished reading the books. Needless to say, I read both books within a week.
Then, I read Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places (ebook). Although I didn’t really like Gone Girl, many of her readers might disagree with me; however, I really liked this one. Dark Places was really dark, original and different, and at the end, it even felt tragically ironic. I liked the plot, but honestly, (***spoilers ahead***) I found the heroine very feeble and poignant. She had retired from her own life so young, that it was a pity that she was the one that had survived that night, and not one of her sisters.
Last but not least, I read South of the Border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami (ebook). Now, what can I say about this writer that his name doesn’t say it all? I mean, I really love his books, his narration is incredible. You feel that you can really dive in this realistic, dim Japan of the 1970s and 1980s, where you listen to Jazz and talk about life and death in a such realistic yet laid-back way that is never dull. He elevates the concept of first love to such heights, that you wish you had experienced something similar, and if you hadn’t, you feel like you have missed something very important from your life. South of the Border, West of the Sun was melancholically delightful.
For the year to come I am looking forward to reading The Passport by Herta Müller. This book was reccomended by a friend, because she knows how much I like books that are politically-oriented.
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas (ebook)
This is a YA novel, a little fantasy-like. It’s not like any other YA novel, but like with most of them, the main person is a girl. An assassin. And that was the part that made me want to read this book. What I also liked, was that the writer didn’t decide that the girl could do anything. She’s still a human being. It’s also more action than romance, and it involves humour (sarcasm, which I like). She sort of falls in love with two guys, and both her and I cannot decide which one to choose! I have yet to read the rest of this series, but I already did love this one a lot!
Crimson Peak – Nancy Holder (this is a movie novelization)
I had seen the movie, and was absolutely in love. It’s a horror movie (and book!). But I also really adore the book, because it has more details than the movie itself (which is logical). I love how you can believe that the girl in this story is ‘doomed’, can see ghosts and obviously falls in love with the ‘bad’ guy. There’s a lot of character development, especially when it comes to Edith and Thomas.
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green (ebook)
Obviously nearly everyone has read this book, and so I thought: I should too! It was a beautiful book, an easy read too, and the part I loved most was when they visited Amsterdam. (***spoilers ahead***) The end is unexpected, I thought the girl would die first, but no.. Unlike others, I didn’t cry, because I think it isn’t worth crying over. It’s sad, but beautiful.
The Maze Runner – James Dashner (ebook)
Also an easy read. I couldn’t put it down. I did have a bit of a The Hunger Games and Divergent feeling at first when I read it, simply because at all three of these series they escape from something. Still, it was thrilling and exciting, perhaps a bit slow in the beginning, but once Thomas went into the maze, it all went a bit faster. I love how the writer invented this animal to guard the maze (Grievers), which is different from THG/Divergent.
The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes (ebook)
Normally I really do hate love stories, but this one (just like The Fault in Our Stars) is realistic. One part is set during World War I, while the other part is set in the modern days. The thread throughout the entire story is the painting of a girl. I found it a special book, since I’ve never read anything like this before. I also love how the main characters in both eras had to make decisions regarding the painting.
There’s also one book that didn’t make it to my top 5, but still is worth mentioning:
Black Widow: Forever Red – Margaret Stohl
This is a MARVEL novel, based on Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow), but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I had expected to read more about Natasha’s background; her youth, the Red Room, how she eventually started working for SHIELD.. Still, it was a good book to read, with a lot of action and unexpected twists.
Then, the one book I’m looking forwards to reading in 2016: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. This is another book in her Shadowhunters series, which I LOVE! I’ve read all the books so far, and I cannot wait for this one. It’s also my favourite book series (after Harry Potter, duhhhh…). It consists of The Mortal Instruments (six books), the prequel The Infernal Devices (three books) a guide they use in TMI and The Bane Chronicles. Lady Midnight is the first book in the sequel The Dark Artifices (which will contain three books).
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson
Examines what happens to ordinary people if their ill-judged posts on social media go viral and find an audience of pitchfork-wielding villagers baying for their blood. This book is funny, light, eye-opening, and makes you think twice about jumping on the re-tweet bandwagon.
Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates
Astonishing collection of aggression directed towards women and girls of all stripes. Makes for bitter reading, all 400 pages of it. A must-read for everyone who thinks feminism is a dirty word and no longer needed, and for those who know from experience that we have a long way to go yet.
This Book is Gay – James Dawson
This book is not for me. I am too old for it. It’s aimed at young people who are figuring out who they are and how to let the world know. (Just leaving the book itself lying around should do it; the massive rainbow on the cover can be seen from space.) Therefore I can’t really fault it for its cutesy teen speak and “yoof” lingo. I wish this book were around when I was a teenager. It would have made life a whole lot easier.
Murder Houses of London – Jan Bondeson (ebook)
Came highly recommended by the QI Elves on their wonderful No Such Thing As A Fish podcast. With a title like that, it should be ghoulish and grim, but it’s mostly a very interesting look at a city. It’s simply bulging with photographs and reproductions. Wonderful.
I’m looking forward to reading The Victorians by Jeremy Paxman. It’s been sitting on my shelf gathering dust since it was published 5 or so years ago. 2016 is its year.
Sara Raap – van Bussel
The Hyperion Cantos (Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, Rise of Endymion) – Dan Simmons (ebooks here, here, here, and here)
I am someone who loves science fiction. Not so much the space-war stuff, but discovering alien life and the weirdness associated with it. This series of four books has a pilgrimage to a weird planet, with a long history and strange things happening. Even though there is a conclusion at the end of book one, the other books add even more to the story. Recommended for those who love a long history of strange planets and weird things happening with time.
The Testimony – James Smythe (ebook)
One of my favourite writers is James Smythe. He writes science fiction, but it takes place in our time or near future, and only a small thing is new or strange. In this book it is a voice that (nearly) everyone hears that says a few things. The whole book deals with how everybody on earth reacts and what happens just because people hear a voice.
Lock In – John Scalzi (ebook)
Scalzi is another favourite, I like his humor and writing style. In this book there has been a very contagious disease that has left some people locked in (unable to speak or move, but aware). They can use robots or other humans to take part in daily life. The cool thing about this book is that that isn’t even the main subject of the story, in its heart it is a standard detective thriller with conspiracy and murder that needs to be solved.
Revelation Space – Alastair Reynolds (ebook)
If you like long history and science fiction, look no further than Alastair Reynolds. This is first book in a series, and deals with weird alien races and archeology. I love that combination and the realisation that we as the human race are so young.
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh (ebook)
After all that science fiction I do like to read a classic. This is a very British book taking place from 1923 until during the second world war and is about the English upper class, love and tragedy. I just love the language used and the story itself was also really good.
Looking forward to reading in 2016: I am mainly looking forward to continuation of series (that may not even be published 2016). The City of Mirrors (Passage 3) by Justin Cronin (Dystopian Vampire future), Fall of Light (Kharkanas 2) by Steven Erikson (Epic fantasy with great gods), The Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicle 3) by Patrick Rothfuss (Amazing fantasy) and of course The Winds of Winter (A Song of Ice) and Fire by George R. R. Martin (Need I say more).
The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest – Cixin Liu
Naming two books is cheating. But these books are so good! I loved the first one, which I read in April. I immediately placed a preorder for the second book, and it was even more amazing. I was completely blown away.
The Letter for the King – Tonke Dragt (ebook)
Like every other Dutch kid, I read this book when I was a child. I don’t remember much about reading it but I must have loved it. I got the Dutch hardcover edition for Christmas last year, a gift from my mom, and I finally got around to reading it this year. It’s gorgeous, and I’m happy it has been translated to English so a wider audience can finally enjoy this book!
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel (ebook)
Ironically I read this book when I was suffering from the flu 😉 I love how the author cleverly connected three different time periods, and different characters. The story was completely believable as well. Definitely a must-read for fans of dystopia.
Shadow Scale – Rachel Hartman (ebook)
The first book in this fantasy duology, Seraphina, was one of my favourite books in 2013. Book two didn’t disappoint! Hartman managed to bring this duology to a satisfying ending, and she has promised us there would be more books in Seraphina’s world. I can’t wait! If you love dragons, fantasy, amazing world building and a variety of characters, these books are awesome.
Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers – edited by Michael Emmerich
I was happy to see that Sigrid mentioned this book in her Gift Ideas blog post. It’s an interesting collection of Japanese short stories by a variety of authors. If you’re a student of Japanese it is especially interesting; the level is just right for those who want to try reading Japanese literature in its original language. The way the book is set up works perfectly too, with the Japanese text on the right page, and a basic translation to help you out on the left page. There are language notes in the back of the book, as well as a list of vocabulary. And the selection of stories is excellent!
Looking forward to in 2016: Death’s End by Cixin Liu. After finishing The Dark Forest, how could I NOT be looking forward to Death’s End?!
The Life Intended – Kristen Harmel (ebook)
A story of a music therapist who has mysterious foreboding dreams, that later on start to happen in the real world in a way you can’t imagine. She gets to help many children until one day she is on the brink of becoming a foster mother for a girl in need and she discovers the message of her dreams. And a secret that her husband never told her.. The plot was downright brilliant and magical. I never have read so many AMAZING plot twists in a book, the end was just fabulous as it comes clear what the message of Kate’s vivid dreams was.
Re Jane – Patricia Park
I have a weak spot for novels between cultures set in New York City. And this was my favorite of this year. This is the story of twenty year old Korean American Jane, set in Flushing Queens, who is unhappy as a helper in her uncle’s grocery store. She becomes a nanny for the Mazer-Farley family, who have a young daughther who is adopted from China. She lands in a world that is completely different from her own. Something forbidden blooms up between Jane and Ed Farley. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind. I recommend reading Re Jane as it is beautifully written, has interesting main characters and all along the backdrop of New York and South Korea.
Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone
Samantha is a teen suffering from OCD, and she feels out of place in her new high school, for which she gets therapy and medication. Then during lunchtime she meets Caroline, who invites her to a secret poetry club, Poet’s Corner, in the basement of the school. She gets to know a guy from the poetry club, A.J., and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. She can be who she is with A.J.. But later on, when A.J. asks Samantha how she found out about Poet’s Corner and she answers that Caroline introduced her, something strange happens. A. J doesn’t know Caroline and it seems like Caroline doesn’t exist anymore and has vanished into thin air. I was completely blown away by the gripping and impressive story of Every Last Word. (***spoiler ahead***) Especially when that big plot twist happens somewhere near the end, when Samantha finds out that Caroline doesn’t exist and why..
The Cake Shop in The Garden – Carole Matthews (ebook)
Fay Merryweather was the caretaker of her ill mother for years, but when her mom dies, she finds out that not she but her absent troublemaker sister Edie inherits the house and a dark family secret comes to surface. The cover of the book might make you believe this is a sweet and cozy chick-lit romance novel, but it is everything but that. The Cake Shop in The Garden is a book that just blows you away! It is filled to the maximum with brilliant and unexpected plot twists and turns and a colorful cast of characters that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is just almost impossible to put this book down!
Letters To The Lost – Iona Grey
In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. I was completely hooked to this very moving WWII story of Stella, Nancy and Dan. At first I didn’t know what to think of the story and the way it was written, but then I continued reading and it completely hooked me. The story of Stella and Dan was romantic, but mostly very tragic as in the end, nothing goes as as planned and as they wished it would go. And as a reader you just want for them to have a happy ending!
The book I am looking most forward to in 2016: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.
More of Marjolein’s book love can be found on www.marjoleinbookblog.blogspot.com.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (ebook)
Recommended to me by Iris. I have never before read an environment-driven story but it’s so beautifully done. If you think in pictures, like me, this book will blow you away with inspiration.
Girl Online – Zoe Sugg (ebook)
I’ve been following her vlogs for a while and really enjoyed reading her story while spotting the parallels with her own background. It’s one of those books you expect nothing of but end up enjoying more than you thought!
Stormbird – Conn Iggulden (ebook)
This was a birthday gift from my brother picked at random. But I very much enjoyed the descriptions of scenes and characters and while I was always curious about what was going to happen next, it wasn’t a disaster if I didn’t get around to reading for a while (which sounds like a bad thing, but to me it’s a big plus if you can still remember what the book was about after taking a break!)
Sherlock Holmes stories – Arthur Conan Doyle
Finally picked up the original Sherlock Holmes stories and have been reading those here and there and in between. I know I’ll get the side-eye of disapproval for reading these áfter watching BBC’s Sherlock, but I’m actually really enjoying all the references and parallels I can now finally understand. Both the books and the series instantly became more fun for me!
I enjoyed reading this one partly because it’s so different from the movie. Not that I didn’t like the movie, but in a weird way it’s refreshing to start reading a story you think you know and still be surprised with the plot.
My top 5 favourite reads of 2015 in no particular order (A little disclaimer, I rarely cry because of a book so when this does happen I know the book is really good!):
Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard (ebook)
One of the best books I read in a long time! Ever since I read the description of it way before it was supposed to be released I’ve been anticipating it. Together with Winter by Marissa Meyer and Armada by Ernest Cline, Red Queen became one of my most anticipated releases of 2015 and it didn’t disappoint. I love Mare and her friendship with Kilorn. I’ve always loved special abilities like magic and the like but Red Queen took everything I love in a book and made it its own.
Cress – Marissa Meyer (ebook)
The Lunar Chronicles quickly became one of my all-time favourite series. I love sci-fi, dystopia, YA, and fairy tale retellings. And the way all these genres are mixed in the Lunar Chronicles was very surprising and new for me. I loved every moment reading Cinder and Scarlet, the first 2 books in the series, and didn’t stop loving when it came to Cress. I especially love how every book focuses on a new character, a new fairy tale. I’m ashamed I haven’t read the novella Fairest or the 4th and final book Winter, I think I just want to postpone the ending of this amazing series but I don’t know how long it will take for me to devour those last 2 books in the series.
Made You Up – Francesca Zappia (ebook)
This was a completely different read for me. Dystopia is my favourite genre so I’ve read more than enough books in that genre. But Made You Up is a mental health contemporary YA, something I’ve read nothing of before. It was such an eye-opener for me. I know a lot about mental health but I wasn’t prepared for what went down in this book. I had to hold back my tears during the entire last part of the book, mostly because I was reading it in public, but when I finished Made You Up all I wanted to do was cry my eyes out. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I had to tell everyone about it, which was really hard because when I wanted to talk about it I wanted to cry.
Saga, vol. 4 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (ebook)
This is the best graphic novel series I’ve ever read. Everyone I know who has read it loved it and it deserves all the hype it gets. Trying to explain why I loved every single volume is as hard as explaining what Saga is about. Every time I try to explain what Saga is about to friends I end up saying “I don’t know how to describe Saga, just read it! Trust me, it’s amazing!”
1984 – George Orwell (ebook)
Thanks to my best friend I read 1984. I kept recommending Ready Player One to him and when he finally read it and really liked it he wanted to recommend me his favourite books, 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell. I read both and loved both but 1984 had a bigger impact on me than I thought possible! I was glued to the pages and didn’t let go of it until I was done reading. I think this is by far the most intense read of 2015 for me and it has such an important message as well. I’m so glad that I read it and when I have kids of my own and they are old enough, I want them to read this amazing work of art.
De Boekendief – Markus Zusak (English title: The Book Thief) (ebook)
I was hesitant to read it because I got the Dutch edition and I haven’t read a Dutch book in a year. But I’m so glad I did read it and because it’s such an important book I had to mention it. The story opened my eyes to a new genre I wouldn’t normally read and now I want more of that genre. It almost made me cry at several moments, and that’s a big thing for me.
Armada – Ernest Cline (ebook)
I’ve been looking forward to reading this from the moment it was announced that Ernest Cline had a new book coming out. He instantly became my favourite author after I read Ready Player One in 2014 and have been dying to read his new book Armada. Armada got a lot of negative reviews when it came out and a lot of people I trust said it didn’t live up to their expectations. I am so glad that I did really like it so I had to give this book some extra love and mention it.
Looking forward to reading in 2016: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. Do I really have to explain why I need the sequel of one of my favourite books of 2015 in my hand like right now!? I seriously can’t wait for this beauty to be mine! It comes out February 9th 2016.
H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald (ebook)
I really loved this book. It tells the story of how Helen deals with the loss of her father whilst training a goshawk. The book gives a good inside into this magical world. It’s also beautifully written and gives you nice quotes to think about.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo (ebook)
Ok, this book really was a life changer for me! It’s also really interesting how she describes her relationship with the stuff she owns. Can’t wait for her next book!
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante (ebook)
If Jonathan Franzen says that you should read Ferrante, you read Ferrante. What can I say? It’s everything you want in a book. It perfectly describes the relationship between two young friends in Napoli and how they cope with love, loss and new stages in their lives.
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour – Joshua Ferris (ebook)
We read this book for our book club. It’s a funny and interesting read about a cynical dentist that gets impersonated by someone else on the Internet. When he finds out a whirlwind of religion craziness comes upon him.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (ebook)
A modern classic for a reason. It’s a real page turner if you ask me! This dystopian story really scared me and gave me a lot to think about regarding feminism.
Charlotte runs the Bored to Death Book Club together with Esmée.
Asking For It – Louise O’Neill (Only Ever Yours by her is also amazing) (ebook)
This is honestly a gut-wrenching story and what makes it so stunning is that the story is very realistic and that the things that are described in the books are things that happen in real life. It’s about a girl from a small Irish town, at a party she’s raped and abused and the story follows the aftermath. Louise is probably my favourite author at the moment.
The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon (ebook)
It took me a little while to get into this book (about 50 pages) because it’s so different from other stories and the world building needs to take place. But this story is amazing and it’s such a good read. I haven’t read the second installment yet (the paperback version that matches my Bone Season copy isn’t out yet and I just.. I can’t buy one that doesn’t match, that hurts) but I am sure that it’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait to see where this series is going.
Vicious – VE Schwab (ebook)
VE has a shared first place with Louise, I LOVE her writing and I haven’t read a book by her that I didn’t love just yet. I loved Vicious because it shows villians/anti-heroes in a new light. It has a new take on supernatural powers and what it means to be good vs evil.
Cinder – Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles in general are amazing) (ebook)
I stayed away from fairytale retellings for a while because I always felt that they would never live up to the real thing, but so far the Lunar Chronicles hasn’t disappointed me yet. The characters are so much fun to follow and I just got Cress and Winter for Christmas and I can’t wait to read those in 2016!
Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead (ebook)
If I believed in such a thing as guilty pleasures (I don’t, one should never feel guilty for getting pleasure from something) this would probably be it. I loved this book and tore through the second and the third one right after, they’re just so addictive. It’s fast paced, it’s funny, and the only reason I haven’t torn through the rest of the series is because the ending of the third book was slightly emotionally damaging and I can’t handle it right now. But the books are so so so good.
As for 2016, I really want to finally read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I had them planned for 2015, but it didn’t happen unfortunately.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I think I was sold just on the cover and title but this book is amazing. If you are a kid from the 80’s (or before) you’ll recognise how it was to grow up in an era without internet, 100 TV channels and mobile phones. The book is set in the 80’s in the USA, it’s about two Mexican-American guys that meet and become best friends. Aristotle or Ari is an angry teenager who struggles with the lack of bond between him and his father and suffers from the fact that his older brother is in prison. Dante on the other hand is a smart guy from
a happy family. Two opposites who meet and connect with each other. We follow the development of the friendship between Ari and Dante, plus the personal struggle of Ari. I kept waiting for the story to become another standard LGBTQ drama, but this one has a very surprising plot.
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
If you are into fan fiction, writing, and Harry Potter you’ll love this book. Cath and her twin sister Wren are big fans of the Simon Snow series. They have been writing fan fiction together since they were teenagers. When they go to college Wren decides she wants to be on her own and be her own person. Cath starts college on her own without Wren by her side, still loyal to the Simon Snow fandom. Left without Wren we see how Cath deals with becoming her own person instead of one of the twins. This book has so many facets: college life, family drama, depression and of course Simon Snow. It’s basically a coming of age book set in ‘real life’. It’s a nice easy read and it doesn’t get boring.
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius (ebook)
After reading Philosophy for Life by Jules Evans last year I learned about Stoicism and I bought Meditations. This is one of those books that you read just at a time in your life when you need to read it. Aurelius was an Emperor of Rome and a Stoic. He wrote Meditations for himself without intending to share it with anyone. I have read some Seneca and Epictetus, but Meditations is my favourite. I read this book with gusto, a lot of old philosophy text is a bit dry. But Aurelius’s writing managed to captivate me. Keep a pencil handy when reading, there are lots of good texts you’ll want to highlight and remember.
Veronica Mars Book 1: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line and Veronica Mars Book 2: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas
Veronica Mars was the only series I was following and now finished. Still haven’t found a book series that keeps me coming back to it. Having seen the series and the movie I also ‘had’ to read the books. The books pick up where the movie left off. Which is 9 years since Veronica Mars left Neptune for Stanford university. I found the first book better than the second one but they both remain faithful to the characters and the film noir mood that made the series such a success. If you like series, the young adult genre and film noir you should give Veronica Mars a try: 3 TV seasons, one movie and two books. Enough to fill many free days and weekends.
Wolf in White Van – John Darnielle (ebook)
This was the first book I read with my beloved book club, so it will always hold a special sentimental place in my heart. Weird, nonlinear book about a character who felt both relatable and completely original at the same time. Loved it.
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace (ebook)
After many years of intentionally avoiding reading Wallace, I finally decided it was time to take on the white whale, if for no other reason than so I could tell everyone precisely why I didn’t like it. Except I did like it. The man was very obviously a genius and I feel like a chump for avoiding him for so long.
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell (ebook)
What a delicious little piece of pie this was. As much as I think YA deserves a seat at the literary grown-up table, it still feels like indulgent reading. As indulgences go, Carry On was a very satisfying one.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman (ebook)
I don’t think there’s anyone to whom I wouldn’t recommend this book. I don’t usually enjoy scary books, but I was completely captivated by this one. It’s perfectly paced, frightening and warm, and with a host of interesting female characters.
Tonio: A Requiem Memoir – Adri van der Heijden (ebook)
Tonio’s tragic death was all over the news when it happened. I was very impressed by it; 2 famous parents losing their only child. Imagine having to mourn with the whole of the Netherlands watching! Moving and honest story of a desperate father.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie (ebook)
My grandmother looked a lot like Agatha Christie and was also a big fan. When she started to get dementia, she forced herself to read an English-language book every week; many of those were Christie’s. Every year around my grandmother’s birthday I read a Christie: The Mysterious Affair at Styles was her first book.
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger (ebook)
In a way, this story is a very typical romance. In another way, it definitely isn’t, since one of the two main characters is a time traveler. This book sucks you in and stays with you.
Sightings: The Gray Whales’ Mysterious Journey – Brenda Peterson & Linda Hogan
Beautiful story, based in reality. Written by two women, which you can tell when you read it: the tough sturdiness of whales, written and described in feminine voices.
South: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition 1914-1917 – Ernest Shackleton (ebook)
Interesting question: what is true and what is not? The adventurers of the early 20th century had few to no witnesses and could pretty much write whatever they wanted – which some did. Various subsequent expeditions did show, though, that Shackleton was one of the more reliable reporters of his own failure…
The Wooden Horse – Eric Williams (ebook)
A classic escape story from WWII: a British pilot escapes a POW camp through a tunnel and then travels through Poland via Sweden to England. Apparently, this story is based completely on true events. Recommended for its dry English wit (and happy ending).
The Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy (Mutiny on the Bounty; Men Against the Sea; Pitcairn’s Island) – Charles Bernard Nordhoff & James Norman Hall
Craftily written books: The famous ‘mutiny on the Bounty’ is described from three completely different points of view (a little bit like the four gospels in the New Testament). First, one of the mutineers tells the story, then a non-mutineer, and finally a midshipman who wanted to remain loyal to his captain, but couldn’t due to circumstances and was condemned to death but acquitted in the end. The remarkable thing is that all of them explain why they want to record the story of the mutiny; the mutineer himself, for example, was illiterate at the time of the mutiny!
Battles with Giant Fish – F.A. Mitchell Hedges (only available through our supplier of second-hand books)
The author of this book is known as a notorious liar, deceiver and narcissist. He is a typical lower-class Englishman who desperately wants to be recognized by the scientific community: in the 1920s he made all kinds of claims, of which most (if not all) have been disproved scientifically. While fishing, he finds himself in the company of all kinds of Big Names, including high-ranking military people, presidents, etc. Except that none of it is true.
The Prince of Mist – Carlos Ruiz Zafón (ebook)
A creepy book about a boy named Max, who moves to a house with many secrets. 25 years ago, a ship went down and the wreck is still there; it appears to be connected to the house somehow. The author does a really good job of building suspense: you almost don’t want to continue reading, but you have to know what happens next.
The Letter for the King – Tonke Dragt (ebook)
My sister read one of Tonke Dragt’s other books (Torenhoog en Mijlen Breed, no English translation available – yet) to me years ago. It really got me into her writing style, which is imaginative and unique. This book was written in the sixties, but is still great for readers today.
Ghost Hunter – Michelle Paver (ebook)
The final part in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. This series is set in prehistoric times and is about a boy named Torak and his ‘brother’ and best friend Wolf (who is an actual wolf). It’s maybe not the best book in the entire series, but it’s a satisfactory ending to the story.
Stravaganza: City of Ships – Mary Hoffman (ebook)
This is the second-to-last book in the Stravaganza series. It’s about Isabel, who has always felt as if she’s living in the shadow of her more confident, more popular twin brother Charlie. But when she discovers she is a stravagante (she can travel to an alternate, historical version of our Italy), she needs to step up.
Krabat – Otfried Preussler (ebook)
This is an old book, originally written in German. It’s about Krabat, a young beggar boy, who becomes an apprentice of an old miller. The miller isn’t exactly harmless, though: he seems to have some kind of pact with the devil… As a reader, you’re in the dark for a large part of the story, which adds to the unsettling vibe. The descriptions of working in the mill are very detailed and interesting.
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn (ebook)
I remember finishing this book and just sitting there, utterly speechless. This book blew my mind – Gillian Flynn really messes with your head in this book in a very good way!
Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson (ebook)
I had put off reading this book for almost a year and I regret that so much! This is the story of Tiger Lily, the girl Peter was with before he met Wendy. Even though I already knew how this book would end, it still hit me so hard that again, I just sat there and couldn’t speak. I’m pretty sure I was also crying by that point..
Winter – Marissa Meyer (ebook)
This was the conclusion to one of my favourite series and it did not disappoint. The storylines intertwined beautifully and everything that needed to be said, was said. I’m completely satisfied with the ending of all the characters’ stories.
The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johanson (ebook)
I read this book the same reason I think many did: Emma Watson had raved about it, so, naturally, I had to read it. This is a fantasy story but instead of focusing on action, this book was much more centred around the political side of ruling a kingdom, which was a very interesting turn of events.
Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas (ebook)
This was probably my most anticipated release of 2015 and after reading it, that was only fair. The characters go through tremendous development, the storylines intertwine in a way I hadn’t seen coming and well, a lot happened. It was a fantastic read.
I find it really hard to choose my most anticipated release of 2016; there are two titles fighting for place number 1. To bring a little diversity into my list, I’ll go with Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. I love the Shadowhunter world she has brought to life in her many books and I can’t wait to see where she’ll take us with this new story. Her books haven’t ever let me down so I’m pretty confident in saying that this one will be amazing, as always!
(The other book is the fifth, untitled book in the Throne of Glass series.)
A list on politics, war, genocide and depression. Despite the dark subjects every book on this list made me incredibly happy to have read it, each in it’s own peculiar way.
Meester Mitraillette – Jan Vantoortelboom
The best reason to read this book are the first sentences. Wait, but there can only be one first sentence, right? Nope, there are plenty, because Jan Vantoortelboom creates a first sentence that could have been written by W.F. Hermans himself for every single chapter. (If you don’t know who W.F. Hermans is because you’re not Dutch I’m sure ABC can solve that problem.)
Meester Mitraillette starts at the outcome: the execution of a Flemish school teacher turned soldier taking place under the blue Belgian sky hanging over The Great War. If the first three pages don’t catch your attention I don’t know what will. And where giving away the outcome can be a trap leading to plot problems for some, Vantoortelboom has no trouble at all pulling this off. The book hasn’t been translated yet, but a little birdie called The Internet told me publisher World Editions (linked to De Geus) has an English translation planned for 2016. The beauty in this book for me was in style, beautiful sentences and that lovely Flemish accent that you can’t help hear in your head while reading. A huge challenge for the translators. Let’s hope they can make it work.
The Night Book – Charlotte Grimshaw (currently only available here as an ebook)
Going on holiday to New Zealand and want to read a local author during your travels? (Or thinking you should once in your lifetime read a New Zealand author?) This is a lucky grab I took in a bookshop in Auckland. And what a lucky grab that was. The Night book follows a PM-candidate, his wife and the people surrounding him during election time. A catching plotline, but in reality it is a critique on New Zealand political culture in general and the relation between Pāhekā (people of British / European descent) and Māori in particular. Where the political culture part is entertaining because a lot of it is applicable all throughout the western world (with some interesting New Zealand details telling you something about society) the Pāhekā- Māori issue is interesting because it explains a lot. There is only one Māori character in the book, which corresponds with the strikingly few Māori a tourist gets in contact with on the road. Travelling the country the question “Where are they?” popped up many times, and this book offers a slight peek at the answer.
ISIS: The State of Terror – Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger (ebook)
Let’s start with this: do not read the whole book. Read the chapters written by Stern thoroughly, but only leaf through those written by Berger. These are the good parts (which form the majority!) and a simple guide to skip the lesser bits: Stern explains in a very clear fashion how ISIS came into being, where it came from, where it itself thinks it’s heading and what Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and the American policy in Iraq have to do with its birth. If you want to understand more of ISIS than it being “them scary Muslims in black” this book is your friend. Not only does the book take you through ISIS history and hate/love relationships with other terrorist organisations, it also guides you through ISIS theological theories in the text as well as the very clear appendix. On top of that the book explains where ISIS theology is different from regular Islam theology and why Sunni Islam and even Salafism are not scary in themselves, but only in this particular form. Nuance, love it. The Berger parts then… Berger explains how ISIS succeeded in using social media as a powerful weapon. Interesting in itself because it created a new style of recruitment, it affected the structure of the organisation and we can expect this relatively new weapon to be used in similar ways by similar groups in the future. Unfortunately Berger thinks he needs to explain what a hash tag is. Too long, too many repetitions, too slow. Leaf through the social media parts, and you’ll get the picture.
Ordinary men – Christopher R. Browning (ebook)
This case study on how ‘ordinary men’ turn into genocidal killers is a classic in the genre. It tells the story of a German WWII police battalion consisting of men that were either too old to enrol or didn’t want to go to war and hoped joining the police would allow them to stay out of the army. Not your regular SS-fanatics. But the battalion was relocated to Poland, and there these ordinary men took up the task of making several villages Jüdenfrei. This profound study sheds light on the group process that led to normal people killing normal people because higher ranked people told them to, even if many of them did not want to perform this task. Let’s be clear here: this book is not an excuse for anyone taking part in genocide. It’s a sketch of a process that might us help to understand how this happens. Will you have a complete understanding of how normal men turn into war criminals once you’re finished? No, and we might not be able to solve the puzzle of prevention for a while to come. This book certainly is a very interesting piece of that puzzle. The regular warning for this kind of study applies: lots of gruesome details. You have to be able to cope with it, but the lessons learnt are certainly worth it.
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (ebook)
I’ll keep this one short. If you love literature and have an interest in depression for whatever reason this title has probably been on your to-read-list for a while, just like it was on mine for a couple of years at least. Pick it up, it’s brilliant.
Title I’m looking forward to: A Brief History of Seven Killings – Marlon James. Why I’m looking forward to this? Because it’s a Man Booker Prize winner, so it must be good. And because I know nothing about Jamaica, and expect to learn a lot. Can’t wait!
The Almost Nearly Perfect People – Michael Booth (ebook)
I traveled around Scandinavia for the first time between September and November of last year (2015) and found this book to be a great read along the way. I visited all the countries the author mentions in the book (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland), being sure to read each section just before I arrived in the different countries. I found that it gave me interesting extra insights into the intricacies of the varying cultures. I read many other travel guides before I went, but this book was by far the most educational and fun!
The Year of the Hare – Arto Paasilinna (ebook)
I bought this book, along with Paasilinna’s other well-known novel The Howling Miller, to read while I was in Finland as they had been described as great works of Finnish literature. I enjoyed them both, but The Year of the Hare was my favourite. In Australia in the final year of high school we compare several texts, and I felt that both of these books would be a great companion to Camus’s The Outsider, as they all have existential themes of people just wanting to live as they choose (with other people determined to stop them).
Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick deWitt (ebook)
A somewhat bizarre gothic-style novel that led me through twists and turns – I was never sure exactly where this book would end up (certainly some surprises along the way). I was slightly disappointed that the puppy didn’t have a bigger role, though!
A Wolf Called Romeo – Nick Jans (ebook)
I work in a public library and have reserved this book numerous times over the last year or so, but never quite had the chance to read it. After returning from Europe I finally got around to it! Based on a true story set in Alaska, in a medium-sized city called Juneau, a lone large black male wolf decides to make the outskirts of the city his home. This is particularly unusual as this wolf loves to play with the local dogs, and soon he becomes something of a celebrity. The author was privileged to live near one of the areas that the wolf chose to frequent, and was able to observe him throughout his many years living in Juneau. There is always an element of danger for a wolf living so close to a populated area, and the feeling of impending doom for the friendly wolf is present throughout the book. A fascinating look at a unique encounter between humans and a wild wolf.
Almost Sincerely – Zoe Norton Lodge (not available through any of our suppliers at the moment, sorry!)
Zoe Norton Lodge is a presenter on the Australian TV comedy show The Checkout (exposing the dodgy things that corporations do to try and trick consumers). In this book she hilariously describes growing up in Annandale, a suburb in the inner west of Sydney. No relative is safe – not her drunk Welsh father, her ever-watchful Greek mother, her little sister, or her Greek grandparents. By no means is this a polite book (shockingly profane, in fact, in some areas), but Zoe tells it like it is and she certainly can be funny. I think that people from Sydney would probably get the most out of this book, but I live in Adelaide (thousands of kilometres away), and was still able to relate, so I doubt international readers would have too much of an issue.
Waiting to read: The Winds of Winter – George R. R. Martin. Let’s face it, there are a lot of people waiting for this book, not least because we are afraid that the TV series (A Game of Thrones) will sidetrack far away from where Martin is intending to go with the story. I finished the previous book of the series in 2013, and I am anxiously hoping that the author will come through for the fans with the publication of this book (which has continuously been delayed) in early 2016.
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller (ebook)
This book is so funny. Talking about this book just makes me want to share all the jokes that are so strange and hilarious and weird with anyone who will listen. I love just telling people this book is funny, because it will lure them into a sense of safety about reading it. They will pick it up and be completely unprepared for the terrible, gut wrenching feelings that are about to come their way. Together with the movie Come and See, this book has been one of the worst-best media experiences of my year.
Gilead – Marilynne Robinson (ebook)
I’m going to start buying this book for everyone I know. While I think Catch-22 isn’t a book everyone will like, I feel that Gilead is one of those books that connects so many different people, all because they loved this novel. It’s filled with beautiful lines and it made me want to underline my favorite sentences and scrawl in the margins. When I finished it I felt like re-reading it immediately and I’m pretty sure I’m going to back to this novel a lot.
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab (ebook)
This book made me believe that there was still another fantasy series out there that I could love again after loving The Magicians. The characters and the setting are so vibrant that I find myself thinking about traveling to all the different Londons way too often. I liked this book so much that I soon will own two copies of it, so that should say something.
Get in Trouble – Kelly Link (ebook)
I found a new favorite author this year. Get in Trouble is Kelly Link’s first adult story collection, but she has written so much that I haven’t even skimmed the surface. Her stories are fantastical, magical realism, just like I would want to write them. Her work is clever and emotional and interesting and I’m only a little jealous, but mostly very impressed.
The Ghost Network – Catie Disabato
This book combines my love for Taylor Swift with my love for adventure stories and my love for pop culture. I feel like this book might have been written just for me, hitting so many of my interests. Now, I know this book is not going to be for everyone. It’s a very ‘now’ book, appealing to a very specific group of internetty, pop-culture pop-princesses, but still worth a shot if that doesn’t describe you. Disabato’s writing is very exciting and the tale she spins will make you sit behind your computer for hours, just to check what is and isn’t real.
I’m looking forward to A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, part two of The Darker Shade of Magic Series. Luckily it’s coming out in February, so I won’t have to wait too long to see what happens next.
Esmée runs the Bored to Death Book Club together with Charlotte.
The Girl with All the Gifts – M.R. Carey (ebook)
Stunning. I cannot believe I am saying this to a book about zombies. I am hoping for a psychiatrical story of mentally-deviated children, but several pages into the book, I let out a swear word. But it’s too late, I was already hooked. And the ending! It makes me rethink about my narrow definition of a human being.
Three Parts Dead – Max Gladstone (ebook)
Book 1 (in chronological date of publication) in the Craft Sequence series. Awesome. An intricate and beautiful story about faith and love. I never thought I’d like stories about magic and deities this much. This book kind of reminds me of Pratchett’s Small Gods, in which gods can die or be weakened by their devotee’s (lack of) faith.
The Mirror Empire – Kameron Hurley (ebook)
Book 1 of the Worldbreaker Saga series. An ambitious dark fantasy. Impressively original worldbuilding. Parallel (mirrored) worlds with portals between them opened with (a lot of) blood! Badass female characters (in a world with up to 5 genders, and no concept of hetero/homosexualism)! Carnivorous plants! Weapons consist of plants coming out of of the wrist! Vegetarian cannibalism! Magical power that depends on the moons! And so much more.
It is a complex and difficult read (I had to go back several times to re-read some parts), but in general, this book is brilliant.
Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch (ebook)
Book 2 of the marvelous Gentleman Bastard series. When I got to the conclusion of all those two years of hard work, I can only say: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT??? And the bromance! “He swims, I swim.” And the last part: “And what if you…” “When I do I do,” said Locke. “Forgive me.” “Yes,” said Jean. “And no. Never.” How can one not fall in love with these Gentleman Bastards?
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss (ebook)
Book 1 of the Kingkiller Chronicles series. I give this book a 4 star rating because of the fun story of the University: the admission tests, the classes, the skills to be learned, the hanging out with good friends, the colourful teachers, the hard times Kvothe had as a student while having no money at all, and the LIBRARY (or let’s say the lack of a long description of it!)
The Thousand Names – Django Wexler (ebook)
This military fantasy book is so fascinating, part of the Shadow Campaigns series. This series is one of a few where I bought Book 2 before I even finished Book 1. It is such a page-turner. We are invited to get to know the characters, and even before I get to a fifth of this book, I like the characters too much I am afraid they’re going to die. Against my usual rigid rule of never peeking into future pages, I did it two times in the middle of intense battle scenes.
And lastly, 1 title I am looking forward in 2016 is: Scott Lynch’s The Thorn of Emberlain (Book 4 of Gentleman Bastard series).
Cinder – Marissa Meyer (ebook)
This is a sci-fi retelling of “Cinderella”. Yes, there is a prince, a ball and an evil stepmother, but there are also cyborgs, androids and spaceships! It was a great retelling, but also a terrific story on its own. This storyline continues in the following three books, in which new characters are introduced with their own retelling. The writer has written an excellent plot for this series.
Misty Falls – Joss Stirling (ebook)
This book is a continuation of the Benedicts series (Finding Sky, Stealing Phoenix, Seeking Crystal). This book will be more fun if you’ve read the first three, but it isn’t necessary. Misty is a niece of Crystal and in this book she will meet her soulfinder (like in the other books), but there is also a looming danger (like in the other books). So…it is a lot like the other books. Do I mind? Absolutely not!
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
This book was amazing and, for me personally, confronting. In the first half of the book I could identify myself with the protagonist a little too well in certain aspects. Cath is an introvert and has a lot of social anxiety. She goes to college and sees that her twin sister becomes a different person. The biggest thing in her life is Simon Snow (a sort-of Harry Potter) and the immensely popular fanfiction she writes about Simon Snow, named Carry On. Then there are boy-problems, father-problems, mother-problems and of course Cath’s own problems. Note: This is actually a funny book! To be more precise, it is a Rainbow Rowell book: cute, great dialogue, kissing (and some problems).
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell (ebook)
Sounds familiar? This is the name of Cath’s fanfiction from Fangirl. Only, it isn’t fanfiction anymore. Rainbow Rowell wrote her own Simon Snow story and it is great! The world has a fun magic system, but the story is still more focused on the cuteness, the dialogue and the kissing. You don’t have to have read Fangirl before reading this.
Soulless – Gail Carriger
A short summary for this book: Victorians, supernatural creatures and sass. I really liked the humour in this book. The author does use a lot of ‘old-fashioned’ words and therefore a dictionary may be required if English is not your native language (like me). Please don’t let that discourage you, because it is a fun read.
The title I am looking most forward to read is Chain of Gold from Cassandra Clare, but this book will probably be published in 2017, so I will have to survive with Lady Midnight from Cassandra Clare, which will come out this March.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club – Genevieve Valentine
12 mysterious girls spend their days locked up on the attic by their father and their nights dancing Charleston in the speakeasies of New York… Anything written by Genevieve Valentine is pure magic, but this retelling of an old fairy tale is particularly brilliant.
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel (ebook)
A post-apocalyptic novel not so much about survival as it is about Shakespeare; about a traveling theatre troupe and their memories; the purpose of art; and the museums of the past we build for ourselves. Dreamy and haunting, Station Eleven lingered in my mind for weeks.
The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory – Stacy Wakefield
The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory is one of those books that is far from perfect but that grips and keeps a hold of your heart nonetheless. Set in 1990s New York of punk shows and squatted houses, with its theme of girls growing up strong and independent, this is a novel impossible to resist.
Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill (ebook)
Those who think YA is meaningless fluff have never read a word written by Louise O’Neill. A near-dystopian examination of what it’s like to be a girl in a world obsessed with beauty, thinness and social media, Only Ever Yours is viciously sharp and almost painful to read.
Rat Queens – Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch & Stjepan Sejic (ebook)
This comic is pure girl power: four potty-mouthed female warriors kicking ass and taking names. The Rat Queens go on drunken rampages, talk about their sex lives and get into all kinds of trouble. Every girl who ever played Dungeons & Dragons simply needs to go and get their copy of Rat Queens RIGHT NOW.
In 2016, I look forward to adding some more girl power to my reading list, starting with Louise O’Neill’s new novel Asking For It and the upcoming Vol.3 of Rat Queens.
The Road – Cormac McCarthy (ebook)
A beautifully told story which focuses on short moments and events in the lives of a father and son in a post apocalyptic world. (Best find in the books-per-weight sale.)
The Edge of the World – Michael Pye (ebook)
Non-fiction book about the role the North Sea played in the shaping of Western society. It made me think about a lot of things I took for granted about how and where Western society formed and how cultures collide and merge.
Cradle to Cradle – Michael Braungart & William McDonough (ebook)
Non-fiction book which descibes a philosophy of designing and building which seeks to be in balance with the enviroment. A philosophy which needs to grow fast if we want to keep our world for a long time.
Collapse – Jared Diamond (ebook)
A non-fiction book about the collapse of societies in the past. It gave me new views on history and served as a serious warning about how to deal with the world and its finite resources
Looking forward to: The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene. Non-fiction about string theory for noobs like me.
The Incal – Alejandro Jodorowsky
A very beautiful and original sci-fi story, with fantastic, clean artwork from Moebius. The best parts are the beginning and the end, which are very well tied together.
Before The Incal – Alejandro Jodorowsky
A must-read for fans of The Incal, but not as good. The story is more toned down but it’s still very interesting to read the origin story to The Incal.
Metabarons Ultimate Collection – Alejandro Jodorowsky
The most crazy and intricate story line I’ve ever encountered within a single graphic novel. All panels are watercolored with lots of detail and care.
Watchmen – Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
One of the most well-thought-out stories I’ve read. With lots of characters, each with their own story but still good character development
The Amazing Screw-On Head – Mike Mignola
One of Mike Mognola’s lesser-known books. These short stories are each very original and can be interpreted in your own way. The artwork is very simple but has its charm.
Looking forward to read in 2016: The Final Incal – Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Het Meisje met de Parel – Ben van Brummelen (illustrator), Ton van Reen (writer)
A children’s book about the painting ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring‘ by artist Johannes Vermeer. This little book is illustrated by my brother Ben van Brummelen! 🙂 It has gorgeous, warm tones; a vibrant colour palette; and the images have an oil pastel look to it. In addition, the illustrations give a funny, playful, even controversial twist to the renowned artwork.
The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera (currently only available as an ebook)
Beautiful novel, accompanied by a beautiful film (same-titled), about the native Maori tribe of New Zealand. Whale Rider weaves together traditional tales, ancient beliefs and modern-day struggles, like globalisation and feminism. The film is a tearjerker, the novel is sweet and fun; both are very unique and inspiring.
Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart #9) – Émile Zola (ebook)
An interesting combination of descriptive, detailed, frank Realism and grand mythical metaphors. On the one hand, Nana is a decadent demon, a selfish money-monster and man-eater. On the other hand, the reader comes to feel for this poor prostitute, objectified and abused by high class women and men. In the novel, Nana is compared to a fly, born from the dungheaps of society, who takes flight to enter the windows of aristocrats and infect those unworthy. Nana is therefore also a political critique on inequality.
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez (ebook)
Both the whole of humanity ánd the particularities of Latin America are synthesised in this novel, packed brimful with characters and events. A lovely example of Magical Realism: a genre that enchants the trivial, whilst making the magical seem mundane.
The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman
Mentioning a graphic novel is vital to any good favorites-list of mine! Maus has raw, dark and minimalistic illustrations, which fits the painful story of the author’s father: a Jewish WWII survivor. The graphic novel is of course heartbreaking and terribly shocking, but also personal and down to earth, with a subtle touch of silly jokes to get you through the hard parts.
The title I’m looking forward to reading in 2016: Basquiat and the Bayou – Franklin Sirmans. A book about the wonderful artist Basquiat, based on an exhibition of his in New Orleans. It has great pictures of his artworks, and also text throughout, so it’s both a visual pleasure ánd a nice read!
Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn seems to be perfect for fantasy fans and newbies alike. It has fantastic worldbuilding, a lot of action, some politics, a dash of romance, and very witty banter between wonderful characters. It’s the first in a trilogy, but Sanderson actually has three more trilogies planned in the same world, all set in different times. You don’t have to commit to reading all, but it definitely gives you something to look forward to if you do get hooked after Mistborn.
Unlikely Friendships – Jennifer S. Holland (ebook)
I don’t think anyone could leaf through this book and not feel happier afterwards. It’s filled with stories and pictures of friendships between animals of different species. Some combinations are more interesting than others, but all of them are uplifting and heartwarming.
Pantomime & Shadowplay – Laura Lam (ebooks here and here)
This is such a riveting and magical adventure! One of the very few things I dislike about these books is that it’s so open-ended yet the final part has yet to be released. The writing is wonderful, the story is very refreshing and the characters are likeable and layered. Though I saw the main character’s “transformation” coming in the first book, the author does know how to make a story twist and turn.
The Catwings series (starts with Catwings) – Ursula K. LeGuin
These books may be short, but they are beautifully illustrated and tell wonderful tales of friendship and adventure. Also, it’s a series about winged cats, so what’s not to love?!
The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin (ebook)
If you ever wonder if making little changes in your life and habits can make you a lot happier, then this is a book you should read. Gretchen Rubin dedicated an entire year to finally trying all the things she’d always wanted to make time for. If you want to commit to a big Happiness Project of your own you can follow her tips and find resources on her website. Or you can just read about her experience and see if it sparks any ideas you could implement more casually. This would be a great book to start your year with if you hope to tackle any resolutions.
And lastly, the book I’m most looking forward to in 2016: The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett. The final installment of the Tiffany Aching series and Terry Pratchett’s very last book. It took a lot of willpower, but I made myself save this book for those gray and dreary post-holiday days, because I knew that’s when I’d need it the most. I hear it’s not quite as polished as the first four books, but from what I can tell (after reading the first part), it is still a worthy ending to a truly wonderful series.
Our Band Could Be Your Life – Michael Azerrad (ebook)
This book explores the myths and stories of several prominent bands within the ‘American Indie’ music scene of the nineteen eighties (such as Black Flag and The Minutemen). The book provides some incredibly intriguing, often funny yet sometimes disturbing vignettes of ‘life on the road’.
Wolf In White Van – John Darnielle (ebook)
John Darnielle (pronounced as ‘darn eel’) is most commonly known for being the singer and lyricist of the band The Mountain Goats. Based on the narrative storytelling style lyrics for which he is known, one could easily think that Darnielle is a novelist turned musician. Yet, Wolf In White Van is in fact Darnielle’s first shot at writing a book! Songwriters aren’t always necessarily good novelists, as exemplified by Morrissey’s recent attempt with the now
infamous novel List of the Lost. Wolf In White Van, however, is completely in sync with the styles and themes of the rest of Darnielle’s body of work: celebrating the everyday by providing a mysterious, engaging look at the blandness of life in American suburbia. I definitely recommend this book!
A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths – Tony Fletcher (ebook)
There’s a ton of books written on The Smiths. What makes this book interesting is that it tries to portray or rather explain the existence of The Smiths by looking at the history of Manchester and British music of the twentieth century. A Light That Never Goes Out gives a contextual understanding of why The Smiths formed and why they became popular.
It’s an incredibly interesting read!
An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist – Nick Middleton (ebook)
I’ve always had a fascination for regions and cultures that fall between the cracks of modern world borders. An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist is a beautifully illustrated book that provides encyclopedic information about the smallest, strangest and most obscure non-countries on earth.
Unprepared To Die: America’s Greatest Murder Ballads And The True Crime Stories That Inspired Them – Paul Slade (ebook)
I’m currently in the midst of writing an essay on murder ballads of the American South. There’s surprisingly little literature written about this particular American musical tradition,
so I was incredibly happy to see that a book would be published exploring the American murder ballad. After getting into contact with the author Paul Slade to ask him some questions for my research, I soon picked up the book at The American Book Center! Very interesting and fun to read!
A book I’m really looking forward to reading in 2016 is Perfect Sound Forever by Rob Jovanovic, about the band Pavement. I’m a huge fan of their music, and I only just discovered there was a book written about them and that it’s available at the ABC!
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
As a student of English and a self-professed Fantasy and Tolkien geek, reading any of the professor’s works is always a great experience for me. The thought and detail that has gone into creating not only a wonderful, epic saga, but also an entire world with a rich history and different languages, is a wonder to behold. It was not the first time I read this book, and it will certainly not be the last.
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
After some (a lot of) persisting on my mother’s part, I finally picked up a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. I’m glad I did, as it is clear why the novel is a classic. Although the book is over 50 years old, it is still extremely relatable, as well as funny and sad. Truly a recommendation for anyone who ever feels tired of the world around them, and for everyone else.
The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness (ebook)
I saw this book in the bookstore years ago, but never felt the urge to pick it up. I finally got round to reading it this year, and it’s one of the best Young Adult novels I have read in a long time. It’s a real page-turner, with an intriguing plot, interesting characters, and NO UNNECESSARY ROMANTIC SUBPLOT!!
The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J.K. Rowling (ebook)
Some of the things I always love(d) about Harry Potter are Rowling’s wonderful characters, her witty writing style and her eye for detail. Luckily, she has carried this over into her Detective novels. I’m not usually a fan of written thrillers or detectives, but I enjoyed reading this a lot, and will be awaiting and reading the next instalments in the series with pleasure.
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (ebook)
Technically this is a children’s book, but with Gaiman, it often doesn’t really matter. I’ve not read much of his work yet, but with every book I read I become a little bit more of a fan. The Graveyard Book is a lovely, albeit slightly sad, set of short stories about a young orphan living in a graveyard, together with all the ghosts. It’s a charming story with just the right amount of mystery spookiness.
What I look forward to in 2016: I don’t mean to jinx it, but hopefully, hopefully, please, Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin.