After all the lows of 2014, I was expecting things to really look up in 2015….and well, as always, when you expect too much, a letdown is but inevitable and there were moments in 2015 I would not revisit for a million dollars! It has not been a comfortable year nor a particularly satisfying one; however there is no denying that I did gain some material advantage that included a long awaited promotion and relatively speaking, the ability to dig myself out of a financial abyss following my mom’s illness and subsequent death. I am still struggling with many things, but I now know that (fingers crossed) though I may never have the luck I want, I will (thanking the mightier powers) always have the luck I need.
As always, books and friends sustained me through all the good and the bad. Old and new books as well as old and new friends made my life so much richer and satisfying that I could not have believed was humanly possible. I saw such wonderful instances of uncalled for kindness and generosity, from so many quarters’ as to restore my faith in mankind, and hope for a better tomorrow. Books have always been my natural therapy from all that is discouraging and distressing and this year was no different. Therefore following the tradition, I began last year, I list 12 books, which have made an indelible impression on me, out of everything I read through 2015:
- The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – Like I originally posted, what can I ever say about this books that has not already been said? Sublime, insightful and full of sensitivity that remains unmatched, this book is a travesty of mankind. Beautifully depicting the passing of an era as well the realizations of lost opportunities, with succinct and yet powerful words, this book is one of the best I have read ever!
- Howards End by E.M. Forster – Again I quote from my original post, the moments of “Hey! That is so true” are liberally bestowed through the book. I again come across a book which was intuitive and deeply insightful of human nature and its ability to stand up for what is truly important, even when the standing up was done alone, against all odds. In Margaret Schlegel, I found one of the most real heroines I have ever come across!
- The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende – Magical Realism, history, human nature and lyricism all came together in this brilliant book that describes the rise and fall of the Del Valle-Trueba clan from the end of World War I to the end of 1960s that saw an end of democracy and a bloody coup paralleling the history of the author’s native country Chile. A brilliant book that stays with you long after you finished reading it.
- Beowulf – One of the best things about blogging is that you get to meet people who encourage and support you to read works, which you might otherwise overlook. Beowulf was one such book, that I hesitated from reading for a long time and then Cleo came along and rescued me and helped me get on with it so to speak. The result was naturally very rewarding – one of the best epic poems ever written, singing of values much underrated today – of courage and nobility and loyalty. The adventure keeps you reaching out to turn the page over and the characterization, despite being an epic, is distinct and contrasting leaving the reader wonder, questioning and thinking
- The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim – Beautiful book, with wonderful and complete characters and some wonderful settings, a book that tells of all things women are capable of, good and bad, of reaching out for freedom and of beauty and joy that comes from that freedom.
- The Custom of The Country by Edith Wharton – Edith Wharton at her best, bringing forth follies and failures of human nature in turn of the century New York, with characters who speak for themselves and of choices we make or do not makes when morals and avarice collide!
- The Martian by Andy Weir – Speaking of inspirations, Stefanie is another such person who keeps throwing up books which I would never venture forth on, except she does such a brilliant job of convincing me that I am compelled to try them! Science Fiction is NOT ME and I DO NOT like reading this genre! However The Martian blew me away – smart plot with crazy twists, dollops of humor and some easy to understand science, made it one of the most fulfilling reads ever!
- We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson – I was introduced to Ms. Jackson’s brilliance when in 2014, I read her The Haunting of Hill House as part of RIP event. I revisited her again this year as part of RIP and she did not disappoint. Eerie setting, obsessive unapologetic characters and a plot that keeps getting more threatening by the minute, the books is a singular example of the horror genre, of sending chills down the readers spine without the nasty pieces of blood and gore!
- Winter: A Berlin Family by Len Deighton – Known for his masterful spy thrillers, this little known historical fiction novel of Deighton is gripping and supremely dazzling. Tracing the family of Winters, father and sons, the story unfolds by taking us through Berlin and her people, beginning at the end of World War I and ending at the end of War War II, the book shakes your belief system, questions the oft repeated history and leaves you heartbroken!
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – I have always been a great Gaskellian and this books lives up to all the glory that her author sought to give her. With believable and human characters and succinct truths of the newly industrialized England, the story is a exquisite and detailed picture of mill towns of 19th century, where money and culture of the old and new emerging world clash for existence and acceptance.
- Emma by Jane Austen – I have always believed that the more you read Austen, the newer layers you discover. The Emma readalong to celebrate 200 years of its publication, again gave me not only yet another opportunity to discover a new layer of wit and humor, but as some of my bloggers (Tom andBelleza) pointed out, read the books as an early mystery novel – will Harriet marry? Why is Frank Chruchill so late in his visit to Randalls? Why does Jane Fairfax insist on getting her own posts?
- Bloodline by Conn Iggulden (Part III of War of Roses Series) I think people should forget GOT for a while and read the actual events that inspired GOT. Always an Iggulden devotee, I read Stormbirds and Trinity (Part I and Part II) of the series with great enjoyment. However, it was part III that took my breathe away – magnificent descriptions of battles, plot twists and strong and endearing characters (you feel bad even for the rebels!) the book is a testimony to all the brilliance the author has shown in his Conqueror series!
Those are my top 12 of 2015, and while many others competed for this place, I must honestly say that these 12 really stood out!
What more do I say, except to end with what T.S. Elliot said wonderfully –
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning
Here wishing you all a joyous and fabulous 2016!