Sunday Salon: Favorite Reads of 2015–The Long List

I read a mere 64 books this year which is more than I expected to find when I sat down and counted my posts this morning.  In the past I’ve hung around the 100 mark, usually close to it, topping it a couple of times.

One reason why my total is so low is that I’m not reading any where near the large amount of YA stuff that I used to read.  I should get back to reading more YA novels because being more on top of the current books made me a much better reading teacher.  I could try for two a month in 2016, that would not be difficult for me since I can read most of them in just over two hours.  I could do what an old librarian friend of mine used to do and read the first and last chapters.

And, to be honest, I haven’t been reading as much as I used to.  Too much time on-line; too much time watching television.  Both things that I can cut back on.

That said, when I sat down too look over what I have read, I came up with a pretty good list of favorite reads for the year.  My long list is below.  I’ll select a top ten for New Year’s Eve.

  • The Duel by Giacomo Casanova.  A surprise favorite.  This is a selection from Casanova’s much longer memoirs.  I found it very entertaining. Kind of exciting and very funny.
  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante.  Yes, I was one of those people this year.  Ms. Ferrante swept me up her story of Neopolitan childhood.  I’m saving the last two volumes for 2015.
  • The Beach of Falesa by Robert Louis Stevenson.  While this was not the pirate story I was expecting, it was a very good piece. A much more grown-up adventure story with something to say about colonialism.
  • The Duel by Alexander Kuprin.  The second duel to make my long list.  Kuprin has that Russian sense of humor that makes Gogol so much fun.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I read this one for Austen in August for the fourth time, I think.  Loved it.  It’s Jane’s world–the rest of us just write in it.
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.  The first volume in the Neopolitan series.  I found to be ground-breaking.  More please..
  • Edinburgh by Alexander Chee.  This one I had forgotten until I re-read the review which was full of high praise.  I hope I remember Mr. Chee’s name, just in case I spot more of his work on store shelves.
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.  Probably the funniest book I read this year, also maybe the darkest.  If you’re hesitant about reading Faulkner because he’s difficult, don’t be.  He turns out to be a very entertaining read.
  • Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck.  Another one that I had basically forgotten until re-reading the review.  I do plan on reading more by Ms. Erpenbeck.
  • Wide Open Town by Myron Brinig.  This one will be hard to find, but it’s worth the effort. I loved it.
  • Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley.   This book is now my fantasy retirement plan.  The hero buys a mobile bookstore and the team of horses that go with it then takes to the open road, selling books.  How great is that?
  • Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard.  Robinson Crusoe trapped between highways in modern London.  A strange and compelling story.
  • Hate: A Romance by Christian Garcia.  Probably a guilty pleasure.  Life and love among the gay intelligensia of AIDS era Paris.
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford.  Yes, the story of two dogs and a cat who travel across country to find their missing owners.  But it’s full of wonderful writing and it never becomes unbelievable.  I loved it.
  • The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst.  A guilty pleasure read about spiritually lost people who become physically lost in a town where missing things all turn up.  There are lots of socks on the lawns each morning.
  • A Month in the Country  by J.L. Carr.  A guilty pleasure read.   The title pretty much sums it up.
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm.   An old piece of science fiction I read when I was 17 that still holds up.  What will humanity become when we are all descendants of clones?
  • Hollywood by Charles Bukowski.  Based on the authors time in Hollywood making the movie Barfly.  My first Bukowski novel.  I’m a convert.  Funny, insightful, strange.  Loved it.

So, not too bad for an off year.

What were your favorite reads of 2015?

6 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Favorite Reads of 2015–The Long List

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed the Faulkner. I agree about the funny/dark combo. And the funniest line in your post? ” It’s Jane’s world–the rest of us just write in it.” Oh, yes.

  2. I’m one of those Ferrante people this year too! I’ve also read the first two and am saving the second two for next year. I’ve not read Alexander Chee yet but intend to – and he’s got a new novel coming out in Feb. 2016.

  3. I enjoyed your comments about the books. I haven’t read any of your selections!
    Ferrante seems to be sweeping the ‘reading world’ (#MustRead) and I see a few classics that look interesting! Now time for coffee and start to make my reading list for 2016.

  4. I still haven’t read any Ferrante. My book club has selected the first in the series for March. Hopefully I’ll fall in love with her writing then 🙂

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