Reading through 2015 – my favourite books of the year

Have a good Christmas? Yes? No? Sort of, but shouldn’t have had so much sherry that you kissed your Grandma with a bit too much tongue? Great!

Now give your Grandma her dentures back because it’s time for the obligatory BEST-OF post, right? While you’re recovering from an overdose of turkey and alcohol-fuelled Christmas pudding, here’s my top five favourite reads of 2015. Read them now, seriously. Don’t make me threaten you with all the left over toffee pennies.

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

A beautifully written take on the world after society as we know it has collapsed. I am really not a fan of Shakespeare, but the references and theatrical core of the main character group didn’t put me off, but instead pleasantly contrasted with the harsh reality of the post-apocalyptic world. Gorgeous.

  1. Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey

A proper space romp (yes, I just used the word ‘romp’, and I don’t take it back) with great characters. Typically my favourite character is the jaded cop rather than the slightly high-and-mighty moral space captain, but the dynamics work well and this is space escapism at its best.

  1. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty

A rare foray into non-fiction for me, and a fascinating (and entertaining) insight into the history and development of funeral practices. I had a hard job not signing up to the first mortician course I could find after reading this.

  1. The Machine by James Smythe

James Smythe is one of my favourite authors, consistently cutting to the core of his characters and making it look easy. His writing is a pure masterclass in how to do it, and how to do it well. The Machine is no exception; a beautiful, tragic take on grief and a modern take on Frankenstein. Read all of James Smythe’s books, and put The Machine somewhere near the top of the list.

  1. Top read of the year: The Girl with all the Gifts by M R Carey

I’ve written about this book before, but I just can’t say enough about it. I’ve struggled to find a zombie novel that works for me. I love all things zomie-fied for TV or film – The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later topping some of my televisual lists – but written works haven’t cut it for me before. The Girl with all the Gifts turned that around. Smart, intelligent and from a perspective I’ve not come across before, whether you like zombies or not this is the sort of book that won’t let you put it down. It will make you forget to eat. It will make you late for work. It will give you papercuts as you eagerly turn each page, but you won’t care. It’s the zombie novel I’d been waiting for.

Best Books of 2015

So there’s mine, not forgetting a few honourable mentions for books including Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary and Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig. But what about your favourites? What book(s) have kept you up at night in 2015?

Here’s to reading more in 2016, fiends.

Grind Spark – out now

Longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2014, Grind spark is a near-future dystopian novel about growing up in the years leading up to the end of the world. It’s about pretending to be the perfect family. It’s about whether you want to survive. Treat your eye portals. Pick up your copy here.

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