My 2015 Reading List

images (4)Last year I listed the books I read in 2014 and it was a surprise to me to learn that from the total of 43 there was a gender bias in favour of women writers with me reading only 15/43 male writers.

cf91fb2755776eb65c8bc0f392dddd42I was interested to see how 2015’s list compared.

I didn’t make a conscious effort to read more male writers and I also felt I hadn’t read as many books this year (before and after my own book launch, ma heid wis mince, and I found it hard to concentrate on reading) so haud me back, the figures were almost identical to 2014’s stats! This time the total was 13/44 male writers – women win again.

I finished all of the books on the list apart from one book, a huge best-seller which I was very late to the party in reading (what’s new? trailblazer I am not!). I might struggle to find anyone who agrees with me but I abandoned it out of boredom and not feeling engaged with the characters.

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John-John Wisdom is one of the most memorable characters I’ve met on the page.

images (2)All others on the list are well worth a read but if I had to choose my top read of 2015 (which is really hard!) then I’ve got to thank Naomi Frisby for recommending Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers. This book appeared on my radar as I expressed an interest in writing using regional dialect and it blew me away with its powerful prose.

You can read more of Naomi’s suggestions for other books using dialect and accents in her excellent article for Fiction Uncovered. Need more recommendations? I rate Isabel Costello’s suggestions featured On The Literary Sofa and I also follow A Life in Books for more ideas for 2016, as well as being swamped by book reviews on the fantastic Book Connectors group on Facebook…

On the X Factor, they announce the results “in no particular order” but here’s my list in the order I read the books.


  1. Us by David Nicholls
  2. Baracuda by Christos Tsiolkas
  3. The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
  4. The Fields by Kevin Maher
  5. Academy Street by Mary Costello
  6. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (abandoned)
  7. The Humans by Matt Haig
  8. Rise by Karen Campbell
  9. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
  10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  11. Mixing the Colours anthology by Glasgow Women’s Library
  12. The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester
  13. Elizabeth’s Missing by Emma Healey
  14. A Book of Death and Fish by Ian Stephen
  15. We Are All Called to Rise by Laura McBride
  16. A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
  17. The Last Days of Disco by David Ross
  18. The Good Son by Paul McVeigh
  19. Find Your Thing by Lucy Whittington (non-fiction)
  20. Sane New World by Ruby Wax (non-fiction)
  21. Haus Frau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  22. Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers
  23. How To Make A Friend by Fleur Smithwick
  24. Alight Here: An Anthology of Falkirk Writing
  25. 4a.m. by Nina De La Mer
  26. Island of Wings by Karin Attenberg
  27. As Easy As A Nuclear War by Paul Cuddihy (short story collection)
  28. The House of Hidden Mothers by Meera Syal
  29. Outline by Rachel Cusk
  30. The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  31. Jellyfish by Janice Galloway
  32. Dead Babies and Seaside Towns by Alice Jolly
  33. The Rocks by Peter Nichols
  34. The Vigilante by Shelley Harris
  35. The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
  36. Ridley Road by Jo Bloom
  37. Truestory by Catherine Simpson
  38. The Reel of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
  39. Paris Mon Amour by Isabel Costello (publication date TBC)
  40. The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey
  41. The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
  42. Fishnet by Kirstin Innes
  43. The Beautiful Game by Emma Mooney
  44. Stop What You’re Doing and Read This – 10 essays (non-fiction)

Did you have a favourite book in 2015? How many books did you read this year?images



13 thoughts on “My 2015 Reading List

  1. Lovely to see Academy Street on your list, Helen. Such an elegant piece of writing. As for Birdsong – the ‘love story’ was dreadul. So heavy handed – the man hasn’t a clue how to portray women! Thanks so much for the mention.

  2. Great list, Helen, which includes many books I’ve also enjoyed (and exciting to see my novel alongside all those ‘real’ books – thanks for reading!) Coincidentally my male:female ratio, like yours, is consistently around 1:2. Finally, I’ve never read Birdsong but I once endured a West End production in which there was zero chemistry between the lovers. The OTT off stage orgasm was one of the most excruciating moments ever!
    Thanks for mentioning the blog. Merry Christmas! X

    • I’m amazed from Twitter at how many folk don’t rate Birdsong – I assumed I was the only one who didn’t ‘get’ it but I’m in good company. Look forward to seeing a cover on your novel – an exciting year ahead! Thanks for all your support this year – much appreciated. All the best for the festive season. x

  3. Wow! That’s an eclectic list and a lot of books in a year. Well done, you. I abandoned Birdsong too. I’ve read a few on your list, but you’ve given me ideas for a few more. Have a great Christmas, hen and a guid new year 🙂

  4. I haven’t read anything like that number! Less than half, but we still have 3 overlaps. Mixing the Colours, obvs, Anne Tyler’s Spool of Blue Thread, which I’ve just finished, and Patrick Gale’s A Place Called Winter. The latter was a huge hit in our book group, so if you enjoyed it you might also enjoy the other title that we all raved about this year, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

  5. This year, via the New Yorker podcast, I discovered Tom Drury. I read The End of Vandalism and then everything else he’s written, really quickly. I’m currently in the middle of Vandalism, on my way to reading through the Grouse County trilogy in order. His writing is beautifully rich, with a deadpan humour and totally unexpected moments of heartbreak. I’ve read lots of other books in 2015, but nothing matches these.

    • I wish it had been more Catherine. I agree re The Humans. I would never normally read this type of fiction, I’m a realist, but the rave reviews made me give it a go. It was an interesting angle and a light-hearted read but not as profound as I expected. All the best to you too Catherine. Hope to cross paths again and see you in 2016. x

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