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

 

 

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My 2014 Reading List

download (2)I’m an avid reader (although there’s NEVER enough time to read all the books on my tbr pile) and my taste is not restricted to any particular genre. I recently blogged about my unconscious preference for female writers and one of the comments on the post was how many books Louise Walters (a writing friend from Twitter who’s debut is well worth a read) had read in 2104 and the breakdown of male/female writers. It made me look up the back pages of my 2014 diary where for the first time ever, I’d kept a record of the books I’ve read (or started to read) in 2014. Interesting (to me anyway) there was indeed a gender bias with 15/43 on my list being male writers.

Also, a surprise to me was I hadn’t read as many books as I thought as I’d assumed that I read roughly a book a week. But when life gets in the way of reading (I might’ve read more on holiday if I’d been lying on a beach but in Switzerland & Norway I was too busy then too tired to read much) that wasn’t the case (I blame Shantaram for taking up 3 weeks of my reading life and not being worth the investment!) Ayy1q4lCQAMkGVoWith hunners of new books released daily (not to mention all the millions of books already out there) I always find it fascinating to see each week what the folk on Twitter mention on #FridayReads. When the book choice is tweeted from someone whose opinion I respect I often seek out the book and also follow excellent review blogs such as On the Literary Sofa, The Writes of Woman and A Life in Books.

However, I’m a lover of charity shops and often can’t resist a gamble on a book for 50p. So between, Twitter, random charity shop purchases, a list of ‘must read’ books and a desire to support contemporary Scottish fiction (my thinking is that if that’s what you write, that’s what you should read) I’d say that my reading choices are quite diverse (albeit with 66% written by women) and although my gender bias might’ve been unconscious, I do deliberately vary my reading. If I’ve read something very dark, I pick something a lot lighter in tone next and if I’ve read something set in Scotland, I choose a book set in a different country to follow.

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Another issue I’ve blogged about is my reluctance to write reviews but I’m happy to highlight the books which really stood out from my eclectic 2014 reading list with an * (the list is in order of reading, not ranking). If I had to pick out my favourite book of the year it would be The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. They’re all worth a read for different reasons but I now apply the 50 page rule and if I haven’t engaged with the book by then, it’s off to the charity shop with it.

 

 

The best book I read in 2014.

  1. The Emergence of Judy Taylor by Angela Jackson
  2. Damian and Me by Damian Barr * download (3)
  3. The Guts by Roddy Doyle
  4. She Left Me the Gun by Emma Brocke
  5. The Book Thief by Markas Zusak
  6. The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker
  7. The Railway Man by Eric Lomax (memoir)
  8. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
  9. And The Land Lay Still by James Robertson *
  10. The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh *
  11. All The Beggars Riding by Lucy Caldwell
  12. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
  13. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer *
  14. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (abandoned after 50 pages – life’s too short to keep reading a book you HATE.)
  15. The Crow Road by Iain Banks
  16. All the Little Guns Went Bang Bang Bang by Neil Mackay *
  17. Americannah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie download (1)
  18. Baggage by Janet Street Porter (memoir)
  19. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
  20. We Can’t Be Strangers by Isabel Costello (as YET unpublished) *
  21. Thirst by Kerry Hudson *
  22. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler *
  23. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  24. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
  25. The Color Purple by Alice Walker *
  26. Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell
  27. A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bradley *
  28. Dear Allies by Margaret Henderson                                                                                             (non-fiction research for WIP)
  29. Nella Last’s Diary (non-fiction research for WIP)
  30. Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe
  31. All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld *
  32. The Gori’s Daughter by Shazia Hobbs download (4)
  33. Resistance by Anita Shreve (abandoned after applying the 50 page rule – just couldn’t get into it at all)
  34. Fall Out by Janet Street Porter (memoir)
  35. The Birds That Never Flew by Margot McCuaig *
  36. Solar by Ian McEwan
  37. Tiger,Tiger by Margaux Fargoso (memoir)
  38. The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark
  39. Glue by Irvine Welsh
  40. Refrigerator Cake by Dickson Telfer (short story collection)
  41. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  42. Glaswegian Dialect by Kate Sanderson (non-fiction research for editing)
  43. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce*

What was your top read of 2014? How many books did you manage to read this year?