Books of 2015

It’s lashing rain and we are awaiting the full arrival of Storm Frank, so I’ve put the radio on and I’m going to compile a list of the best books I’ve read in 2015. Not all of these were published in 2015. In a year where I feel I have read less than I normally would, the books I have found the time and energy to read have been of a very high quality. The aim in my reading this year was to expose myself to more fiction. I made a solid effort at this, reflected in the choices I’ve added. Among the novels which didn’t make the cut include &Sons by David Gilbert, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka.

I also moved country in the past twelve months. In April, I moved to Prague. Because of that move I have invested a lot of energy in reading Czech history and literature where I have been able to find it in translation. Despite the breadth of reading, I’ve included just one of these books.  The only thing they have in common is that I happened to read them in the past twelve months. In no particular order, and from no particular genre:

Sara Baume – spill simmer falter wither

This is probably the book of the year where Irish literature is concerned. A powerful, unusual novel, if you read just one thing from this list, make it this book.

Hans Fallada – Alone in Berlin

A brilliant story of defiance and the desire not to feel futile in the face of evil.

Grégoire Chamayou – Drone Theory

A superb and sustained criticism of the increasing use of drones in the Middle Easy by the US Military. Absolutely critical reading if you want to understand what the drone means not just for the future of war, but how we relate to those we view as the enemy.

Owen Hatherley – Landscapes of Communism

A great romp through former communist countries and the architectural heritage the communist regimes have left. Also a great study of the differences between places built with the public instead of the private interest at heart.

Helen Macdonald – H is for Hawk

One of those brilliantly genre-less books, reading it was easy and compulsive. A very moving book.

Tom Wilkinson – Bricks & Mortals

One of two architecture books that made it onto the list. This book is a kind of short history of architecture and the relationship people have to their built environment. An excellent companion to Hatherley’s Landscapes of Communism.

Evgeny Morozov – To Save Everything, Click Here

A necessary and excellently argued polemic against the near-messianic attitude that has emerged that believes that the solutionist approach of Silicon Valley to every possible issue – that everything has a tech-derived solution, and its just a matter of figuring out what that is – may leave us impoverished in terms of civil liberties.

Laurent Binet – HHhH

A superb  novel that asks – and answers in its own way – how and if it is possible to write fiction out of reality.

Sean Bonney – Letters against the Firmament

A superb selected from one of the best living English language poets.

William Faulkner – As I Lay Dying

A classic novel, I read some Faulkner when studying English in college and was glad to reacquaint myself with the lives of those living, and dying, in Yoknapatawpha County.

Pavel Brycz – I, City

An urban novel where the city is literally the central character. Brycz assumes the voice of Czech city Most, a city moved under communism in order to facilitate lignite extraction from under the city’s surface. This a novel where a city tries to rediscover its sense of self.

Åsne Seierstad – One of Us

A compelling and morbid examination of Anders Behring Breivik’s attack on Oslo and Utøya Island back in 2011. Disturbing and sad.

 

 

 

 

 

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