What I was reading in 2015

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This year my reading habits have changed. Not in the sense that I am choosing different books to read -- I haven't suddenly switched to historical bodice-rippers or political thrillers -- but the time I spend reading has altered dramatically as a result of abandoning the train and instead driving to work. Gone are the leisurely hours of trying to ignore my fellow passengers on cramped and sticky carriage seats; now I travel in expansive solitude, a slave to nobody's timetable. It has been nice, and I've listened to a lot more podcasts, but my book count has suffered this year.

Fiction

  • Wonder Boys (Michael Chabon)
  • The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Werewolves In Their Youth (Michael Chabon)
  • Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
  • The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
  • Half A King (Joe Abercrombie)
  • The Scar (China Mieville)
  • Reset (Peter Bagge)
  • The Complete DR & Quinch (Alan Moore)
  • Consider Phlebas (Iain M Banks)
  • The Heroes (Joe Abercrombie)
  • Kiss Kiss (Roald Dahl)
  • Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
  • The Miniaturist (Jessie Burton)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
  • Wolf in White Van (John Darnielle)
  • No One Belongs Here More Than You (Miranda July)

A couple of re-reads, and more short story collections (Chabon, Dahl, July) than ever before. Both The Road and The Miniaturist were underwhelming, despite the widespread acclaim. I also didn't enjoy Iain M Banks's sci-fi as much as I thought I would.

Steinbeck, on the other hand, which I thought might be a chore, was amazing.

Non-fiction

  • Faraway (Lucy Irvine)
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)
  • Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace (D.T. Max)
  • Not That Kind of Girl (Lena Dunham)
  • A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Bird By Bird (Anne Lamott)
  • On Writing (Charles Bukowski)

Mostly writing related this year, plus Lena Dunham's notorious-but-not-that-exciting autobiography.

Recommended reading

Looking back over this relatively short list, I think the only standout is surprisingly Lucy Irvine's 1999 journal of her time house-sitting a desert island, Faraway. A spiritual sequel to her 1983 book Castaway, which chronicled her time as the 'wife' of a writer on a deserted island (later made into a 1986 film starring Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohoe), Faraway is part biography of the aristocratic English woman running the island, and part exploration of Irvine's relationship with her children, solitude, and purpose.

Matthew Pennell

Designer, developer, writer, runner, gamer, devil's advocate, INTP. Senior designer for Booking.com. Founder, Refresh Cambridge.
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