Home > Personal Posts > Best of Book Around The Corner’s reads for 2015

Best of Book Around The Corner’s reads for 2015

December 29, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mafalda_merciBefore starting with the Best Of List for 2015, I’d like to thank all the readers and commenters of Book Around The Corner. It was a pleasure to share this reading year with you. I’m grateful for the time you spend on this blog and chatting with me on Twitter.

Now, the list.

Best of all because it has it all

If your TBR is as high as the Eiffel Tower and you have to choose only one from my list, please pick Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin. It’s beautiful, thoughtful, breathtaking, heartbreaking and oh, so human.

Best Beach and Public Transport

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino. That’s Japanese crime fiction. Your trip will seem shorter in this book’s company. If you’re on the beach, Watch out, you might be so far away that you might forget to reapply sunscreen.

Best Sugar Without Cellulite

This category is for books that can be used as sugar substitutes. Feeling a little blue? Instead of eating ice cream in the carton, try The Romance of a Shop by Amy Levy. No need to work out to burn extra calories and it has the desired effect.

Best mille-feuilles book.

No this category has nothing to do with French pastries. It has everything to do with multi-layered book and the 2015 winner is I Married a Communist by Philip Roth. I had to write three billets about it.

Best Translation Tragedy

A Translation Tragedy is a brilliant book I read in French and that is not available in English. My pick for 2015 is Pain, Education, Liberté by Petros Markaris. (Bread, Education, Freedom) It’s crime fiction, set in Athens and it gives you a unique view of the reasons of the Greek crisis. There’s also Je dénonce l’humanité by Frigyes Karinthy (I denounce humanity). Short pieces by a Hungarian writer who had the funniest sense of humour.

Best Literary UFO

B is For Beer by Tim Robbins. Or beer explained to children. Not that there was much competition in this category this year.

Best Damn-the-#TBR20-challenge-I-can’t-buy-another-one-right-away

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson and Still Life by Louise Penny. For the characters, the plot, the atmosphere, the style and the entertainment. It could also be the I-want-to-go-there-at-ounce category because they describe the places so well that you want to see them yourself.

Best I’m-fed-up-with-WWII-but-this-one-is-a-must-read.

Fatelessness by Imre Kertész. Concentration camps seen with the eyes of a Hungarian teenager who sounds like the author. Books like this remind us why we should never forget what the Nazis did.

Best evocative novel.

Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion. More than literature. I was reading and hearing Jim Morrison sing and thinking of Edward Hopper. And more than anything, I was in California with Maria.

Best punch-in-the-face book

Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien. I still have to write the billet about this compelling story.

Best I’m-soooo-British book

Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford. The wits of the Roaring Twenties in the upper classes.

That’s all folks. See you in 2016 for my next reading adventures.



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  1. December 30, 2015 at 2:08 am

    What a great list! And best of all, I had an email from the library today telling me that Christmas Pudding is waiting for me to pick up – I reserved it the day that I read your billet about it!


    • December 30, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks Lisa. Enjoy Christmas Pudding!


  2. December 30, 2015 at 9:13 am

    A very entertaining list of categories – and some great reads there. Will have to check out James Baldwin; I remember reading him when I was very young (Go Tell It on the Mountain rather than anything else) and perhaps not fully appreciating him then.


    • December 30, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks Marina.
      I think Baldwin is best read when we’re a little older. I’d be happy to read your thoughts about one of his books.


  3. December 30, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I love your categories, Emma, and what a diverse selection of books! It’s good to see Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays on your list – I’m so glad I read it with you as it’s a book that really benefits from some discussion. I think I’m going to try some of her non-fiction next – probably Slouching Towards Bethlehem, which I’ve included in my reading list of modern classics.

    James Baldwin is an excellent writer and I’m not sure he’s ever received the recognition he truly deserves. I haven’t read his short stories, but his novel Another Country made a big impression on me.

    Wishing you all the best for 2016 – I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll be reading next year.


    • December 30, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks Jacqui.
      It was a pleasure, reading Didion along with you. It was a right novel to read along with a like-minded reader. I needed to talk about it after I finished it. Didion is not as well-known as she should be. I’ve read some of her non-fiction in French. It’s called L’Amérique. I have no idea of the English title. It was good but it was difficult because it was referring to stories well-known in America at the time but not so obvious for a French reader. (Like when I totally missed the reference to the read story when I read Aiding and Abating by Muriel Spark)

      I’ll read another Baldwin soon, I guess. I’m trying hard not to go on a Kindle binge now that I’ve finished my #TBR20 challenge.

      The more I read and blog or blog and read, the more I have reading plans. It’s a Strange disease. I used to be totally unable to plan any reading.

      I’m looking forward to sharing my next reading year with you Jacqui.


      • January 1, 2016 at 10:22 am

        I wonder how I’ll find Didion’s non-fiction…we’ll see. It’s frustrating when you feel you’re missing some of the references in a book. I had a similar experience with Enrique Vila-Matas’ Dublinesque when I read it a few years ago. A very good book, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was missing out on so many of the nods to James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, neither of whom I’ve read.

        I hope you’ll write about your experience of the #TBR20 (or #PAL20) project – it would be interesting to compare reflections. I’m quietly burying my attempt at a second round of twenty. Everything was going fairly well until the Christmas shopping got underway…two or three trips to bookshops and it all went off the rails. Oh, well…never mind.

        Wishing you a Happy New Year, Emma – I’m looking forward to sharing my reading year with you as well!


        • January 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm

          Missing the references and knowing it is annoying. Discovering the references in the comments of the post after reading it and being oblivious is embarrassing. 🙂
          I’d like to go to the James Joyce festival in Dublin. But first I have to read Ulysses. And before that, I need to read Homer. Sounds like a 18 months project just to attend a festival…
          I’ll try to find the time to think a bit longer about the #TBR20 / #PAL20 experience. So we can compare.

          I wish you a happy new year too. Healthy, happy, full of good books and good wines. 🙂


  4. December 30, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    This is a great list Emma. I think that I want to read every book that you listed.

    As Jacqui pointed out your categories are also really neat.

    Have a happy New Years!


    • December 30, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      Thanks Brian. It was a good reading year, all in all. I’m glad you enjoyed the categories.

      (we don’t say happy new year in advance here, so you’ll have to wait, I’m afraid 🙂 )


  5. December 30, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Interesting list. I’m really in the mood to read Play It As It Lays.


    • December 30, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks Caroline. I’m sure you’ll like the Didion and I hope you review it if you read it.


  6. December 30, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Enjoyed the humour that lurked behind the list. Seems like we have both joined the Louise Penny fan club….


    • December 30, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      I’m definitely in the Louise Penny fan club.


  7. December 31, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Wonderful list, Emma! I want to read that James Baldwin book! And ‘The Romance of the Shop’! Who can resist that title 🙂 Thanks for sharing your favourite books of the year. I will look forward to reading some of them.


    • January 1, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Thanks Vishy. I hope you’ll read the Baldwin. I’m very intested in your take. It’s a book that rises a lot of questions.
      The Romance of a Shop is a good reading time and these times were fascinating.

      I’m sure 2016 will be full of wonderful reads too.


  8. December 31, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Always interesting to read these kind of lists with the goodies of a whole year! I enjoyed I Married a Communist a lot and will read your thoughts about it now. Imre Kertesz is a terrific writer! Also Joan Didion sounds interesting – thanks for the interesting suggestions. I wish you a good (not only reading) year 2016!


    • January 1, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      I love the year end reading lists. It’s always interesting.
      I love Roth, my next one will be American Pastoral. I don’t know when. I need to be off work to read him. He’s challenging for this non-native English reader.
      Play is as it Lays was my second fiction by Didion. I also wrote a billet about Run River. Also excellent.


  9. January 3, 2016 at 10:01 am

    That’s a terrific list, Emma. I’ve had the Baldwin in my head since you posted about it, and intend to pick it up once I’m back home. I’m also tempted to pick up the Karinthy while I’m here, as so few of his works have been translated into English. I loved the one book of short stories I read by him a few years ago. I should probably pick up the Markaris too while I’m at it. Happy reading for 2016!


    • January 3, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      Thanks, Scott and happy reading for 2016 to you too.
      I hope you’ll have time to get the Karinthy and the Markaris. Let me know if you want me to send you some books.


  10. January 27, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Love the categories and the list. The Didion’s great isn’t it?

    I have to admit, however good I just don’t have it in me to read another WW2 novel.

    The Baldwin I had decided ultimately against reading it, but seeing your comments here I’ll reconsider again. I’ve downloaded a sample to my kindle to try.

    Sadly the UK cover for The Cold Dish is a still from the tv show. I always hate that. Stupid of me I know. Perhaps one for later in the year.

    The Higashino sounds good, but it’s another series (true of the Johnson too, but that tempts more).

    I already have Christmas Pudding on a wishlist from when you first reviewed it.

    The Penny might just be a three book series, making it more manageable. I’ll download a sample.

    Great list, too much on it though which interests me. Not good for my TBR pile.


    • January 28, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      2015 was a good reading year. Varied too.

      The Didion is fantastic.

      I know what you mean about WWII novels. It took me a while to decide to read Wandering Star, the other WWII novel I’ve read in 2015.

      I think you’d like the Baldwin, especially This Morning, This Evening, So Soon. Trust me on this one, I can imagine you reading it.

      The Cold Dish. You know I usually like French covers better. It doesn’t mean they’re better but probably that marketing guys do their job well. The French covers appeal to the French reader! I’d rather avoid books with covers out of the film version or the TV version too. I hope you’ll still be interested in Craig Johnson. Plus you’ve been there, no?

      Christmas Pudding is a fun read, good for commuting at night when your brain is frazzled by a day at work. Entertaining but well written.


      • February 2, 2016 at 3:35 pm

        I have been there. That coupled with your review is why it’s on a list for maybe at some point in the future, though not sure yet when.


        • February 4, 2016 at 10:47 pm

          It makes sense.


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