2015 – Best books read so far

I know we’re only (only!) half-way through the year, but I’ve already read a stack of great books and I’d like to share those titles with you now. Just in case you’re looking for something good to read over the summer months.

These titles are listed in the order I read them since Jan. 1 and, with three exceptions (that I have marked) I rate them all at 4 out of 5 stars … because, you know, you have to have written a VERY good book, or be Richard Ford, to receive all 5 stars from me. I am a discerning reader.

The Comedians by Graham Greene (reread, actually, and it has stood up through all these years as one of my favourite titles by this author)

The Violin Man’s Legacy and Vengeance Wears Black by Seumas Gallacher (The 1st and 2nd novels in this great Jack Calder series. Seumas has been featured on Reading Recommendations. His fourth novel will be published in Aug.)

West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan (I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and it did not disappoint.)

The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen (A-O has appeared on my “Best Books” list before. As his novels are released in English Dennis and I are reading them and have enjoyed every one so far. I believe this is the 5th in his Department Q series. A stand-alone novel, The Alphebet House, is being released later this summer.)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Yevin (A friend recommended I read this and I was blown away by it, because it’s about a publishing sales rep and a bookstore owner – right up my alley! The story line was so true-to-life for me, but the writing was incredibly good, as well.)

High Rider by Bill Gallaher (I saw this book listed as a Goodreads Giveaway and contacted the author about promotion on Reading Recommendations. Gallaher was featured on the blog and also offered to send me a reading copy, which I loved from start to finish. Great writing! And a very interesting take on a little-known piece of Western Canadian history.)

12 Rose Street by Gail Bowen (I’ve been along for the ride since the beginning with Gail [literally, since I was her sales rep back then] on her series of mysteries and I can guarantee that the novels just keep getting better and better! And the very good news is that a new novel will be released in May 2016! Gail definitely deserves 5 stars from me and has been featured on Reading Recommendations!)

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (I have long been a fan of Tyler’s writing. This is yet another great book from a master storyteller.)

Dangerous Obsessions by Bob van Laerhoven (Bob was a surprise discovery whom I met online and featured on Reading Recommendations, because he’s Flemish Belgian – like my mother and grandparents! We’ve been corresponding ever since … and he has read, commented on, and enjoyed my grandparent stories. I say “surprise discovery” though, because aside from having a nationality in common, Bob is also a very fine and accomplished writer. I read this collection of short stories that has been translated into English and found them to be very compelling with nary a slip in the translation that might cause confusion. Bob translated several of the stories himself and did a fine job.)

Daddy Lenin by Guy Vanderhaeghe (I will always buy hardcover books by this author as soon as they are released. I have enjoyed everything he’s written and this collection of stories was no exception.)

His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay (I read the ARC of this new novel that will be released in Aug. and enjoyed the writing, storyline, and characters immensely. The only Hay book I had read previously was A Student of Weather and that has long been on my list of Best Books I have EVER read. I predict this new novel will do very well indeed.)

Beneath the Bonfire by Nickolas Butler (I became a fan of this author when he published Shotgun Lovesongs, so I had to have a hardcover copy of this new collection of short stories when it was released. Still the same excellent writing and quirky characters as in his novel, so I very much enjoyed this one, as well.)

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (I don’t normally read bestselling books everyone else is reading, but I made an exception here, and this is the one book on the list that only receives 3 stars. While the story line was different and compelling and the pace was good for a thriller, I didn’t like the structure of the book and felt that the 3 women who told the story from their points of view sounded too much alike so that the story became somewhat confusing to me at times. Still, a gripping thriller, if that’s what you’re into.)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (And here’s my other 5-star read … Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and most deserving at that! There is not a word or a sentence or a description or character or scene that’s out of place in this book. It’s the first I’ve read by Doerr, but I am already looking for the rest of his books. I cannot rave enough about this. I only just finished reading it last night, but I know this will stay with me for a very long time. If you read nothing else of my list, do read this one book. Please read it. Writing this good does not come along often enough.)

23 responses

  1. By the way, I didn’t know Guy Vanderhaeghe. I googled him. Very interesting. Vanderhaeghe is, without a doubt, a Flemish name :-).

  2. Very nice list, Susan, blush blush…(Damn, a nearly 62-year-old man blushing…Tsssss….). I’ve read Doerr also. Beautiful style! Very elegant. Wow. Definitely deserved the prize! He worked 10 years on that novel. They were not wasted 🙂 🙂

  3. Thanks for the list. I’m looking forward to reading at least some of them myself

    1. Great! Glad some of them were of interest. I hope everyone comes back and comments, if they read any of these books on my list.

      1. I’ll do, once I can get my hands on a few of these titles and devour them.

  4. Right now the best places to find good books to read is from bloggers you know. Thanks for the list – a few new ones to me.

    1. Please let me now which of these you read and enjoy, philmouse!

  5. I’m reading All the Light right now. It feels disjointed, but I suspect it will all come together eventually. The writing is excellent. One chapter is headed “Occuper”. Shouldn’t that be “Occupier”?

    1. I felt that in the beginning, too, but it came together quickly for me. I didn’t notice that typo, but wasn’t paying attention to the headings as closely as I was when reading the text.

  6. Love Greene. Apart from Brighton Rock. I’m not a five star rater either, so I’d be interested to read the ones you’ve rated as five. Actually they all sound interesting.

    Flagging in the reading here, although got an interesting Australian one to review right now. In my non spare time.

    I think a summary of good books partway though the year is good. Nice idea, Susan.

    1. All in the interest of novel-writing avoidance, roughseas! I look forward to your reviews, too, as I know you are also a discerning reader.

      1. I read anything and everything, mainly to keep abreast of what’s out there.

        However, what I like is rather different, which I suspect is what you mean.

      2. A discerning reviewer then. I appreciate your opinions on what you read.

  7. That’s a lot of reading! You’ve been busy. 🙂

    1. A great deal accomplished during this past month since I moved into the trailer!

  8. Just the titles alone make them sound like winners, Susan. I’ll take your word on the content. You know books. 🙂

    1. Definitely some worthy reads here, although a wee bit top heavy in the fiction dept.

  9. Thanks for the list. I also loved All the Light and all the Department Q series. Graham Greene is always tops with me. Elizabeth Hay, mostly loved everything she wrote. Reading A Sport and A Pastime by Salter. Amazing writing. Joan

  10. Reblogged this on Seumas Gallacher and commented:
    …mucho flattered to have two of my books included in m’Lady, Susan Toy’s ‘Best Books read so far in 2015 ‘… yeee haaww! 🙂

    1. Exactly where you deserve to be, Seumas!

  11. …mucho flattered to have two of my books included in m’Lady, Susan Toy’s ‘Best Books read so far in 2015 ‘… yeee haaww! 🙂

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