Article published on March 6, 2015.
For the fourteenth time, we unveil the winner and runners up of our annual Book of the Year vote – a salutary list of what you should be reading in 2015, assuming you haven’t already.
To begin at the beginning, the last minute rush to publish nb83 meant we missed our usual request to you, our readers, to choose the runners and riders. Instead, we cut a corner and selected the shortlist in house – and we got it slightly wrong.
More than one correspondent queried the non-appearance of Ms Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and while I may carp that it’s at least 50 and perhaps 100 pages too long, I still wish I had a pal like Boris. But, as they say in all the best circles, the judges’ decision is final and since you were good enough to post your thoughts when polling we can genuinely give you a flavour of why these books deserve your attention. In reverse order . . .
10 Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
I picked this because it was a bit different to the norm and really did keep you guessing till the end. Couldn’t put it down. Loved it.
Lynn Latham, Ross on Wye
9 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
A twist that no one could possibly see coming and a unique, approachable voice makes this book stand out above so many others.
Laura Jones, Edinburgh
(Q: Does anyone remember Karen Joy’s previous book which we featured way back? Answer is at the foot of this post.)
8 The Lie by Helen Dunmore
Out of all the fiction titles published this year on World War One, Dunmore’s The Lie sensitively tells the story of the survivors of the Great War and how life as a survivor with only the memories of comrades and battle is harsher than you may think. Daniel Branwell is a character who lingers long in the memory and Dunmore captures the post-WW1 years with accuracy and emotional depth. A must read!
Laura Taylor, London
7 The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Catherine Maceluch in Coventry is obviously a long-standing fan:
Another excellent book by Jojo Moyes.
6 Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A beautiful book that explores real human emotion . . . I took a chance on this book and I can honestly say it is one of the most beautifully honest and humorous books I’ve ever read. Buy it, read it and revel in every word.
Chris Mather, York
5 The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
This is a beautifully accessible and moving (but definitely NOT mawkish) story about mental illness, grief, guilt, love and family.
I read it in a day, stealing moments to sneak in a chapter here, a paragraph there. It was one of those books I didn’t want to put down.
Despite the subject matter, this is not a depressing read. It humanises a condition that is often “monstered” into something to be afraid of, and is by turns poignant, scary, darkly humorous, warm, funny and hopeful.
Jackie Potter, London
4 And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Each book seems even better than the last. In his latest Hosseini skilfully creates a complex set of stories ranging across different countries and runs several threads alongside each other, but there is also such a simple heart to his approach ie the practice of story telling, handed down from parent to child. He uses his personal knowledge and experiences and for me this validates the characters and the actions which otherwise could seem far-fetched. I could not put it down, but didn’t want it to end. It will become a classic.
Pamela Harvey, Romsey
3 I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
nb readers had an early ‘heads up’ on this book with proof copies provided by the publisher. Making number 3 on our list would suggest it paid off!
This book had me gripped from start to finish. The plot could be a real one. I walked past an AA man on the street reading this stood in the street – I wasn’t surprised it’s that good!
Kate Porter, Torquay
2 The Thing About December by Donal Ryan
(Ed: Ryan’s Spinning Heart was an nb Recommended Read and personally I think this follow up may be even better.)
A lonely man on the edge of society trying to make sense of the world around him. Humour, sadness, bewilderment and plenty of self doubt, a great read. I would say it is a deeply moving book which deserves a wide readership.
Cathy Grieve, Dublin
Which means the winner is . . .
The Humans by Matt Haig and the really good news for those who haven’t read it, we have an extract and copies to give away free in the latest issue of newbooks magazine, published March 9th. And for those who have, we also have an interview with Matt answering questions by some of those who voted for him.
Guy Pringle, March 2015
AND THE ANSWER IS . . . The previous Karen Joy Fowler title that was a Recommended Read in newbooks was The Jane Austen Book Club