So. The norm for these things is a top 10, but I’ve read over 200 books this year so narrowing that down to 10 favourites was impossible. I ended up with a list of over 20 books and I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of any more of them. So here are my favourites books from 2015, in no particular order and from a few different genres.
Seed, Lisa Heathfield
This is a strong, startling debut that kept me glued to the page. Pearl has lived all of her 15 years in a cult and it takes a newcomer from outside to get her to question her world. It’s chilling, gripping and incredibly thought-provoking.
Open Road Summer, Emery Lord
I picked this up on a whim at the Book Blogger Awards early in the year and devoured it only days after – so very unusual for me! It’s my very favourite kind of contemporary: full of warmth, friendship, butterflies in my tummy and a swoony, satisfying romance while keeping the depth of character and emotion that makes a novel stick in my mind.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
Oh the cuteness! I read this on the flight home from New York when I was sad to leave, sleepy and uncomfortable, but Albertalli’s debut made me smile all the way across the Atlantic. It’s sweet, romantic and easy to read but still manages to raise some poignant questions about coming out and the hardships of living in a straight world.
The Start of Me and You, Emery Lord
After falling in love with Open Road Summer, I picked this up on release day while I was in New York and gobbled in down in the evenings when we were crashed out in the hotel room. This is another gorgeous contemporary novel full of the same warmth, wit and emotion as Emery’s debut. With only two books she's become one of my favourite authors and I just need When We Collide in my hands right now.
I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson
It’s hard to know where to start with I’ll Give You the Sun. The art, the poetry, the beauty of the writing, the intense love stories, the sibling relationship – everything is perfection. There was a five year wait from her debut to this but it was worth every second of the wait.
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J Maas
I got a super early proof of this but held off because I didn’t want to wait 18 months for the sequel! When I finally got to it, I gobbled it far too quickly for my liking. I know some people had problems with a certain scene in the book, it didn’t bother me as much as I had expected. I loved Maas’s take on fey and The Beauty and the Beast and another gloriously complex heroine in Feyre.
99 Days, Katie Cotugno
I adored Katie Cotugno’s debut, How to Love, so I was incredibly excited to see her second novel come out in 2015. I loved it just as much. Katie writes the most gloriously flawed, realistic and compelling relationships to go along with her equally flawed and likable characters and I fell in love all over again.
Saint Anything, Sarah Dessen
Well, obviously. Sarah Dessen is my hero and I think I could read her shopping list and have it feature on my favourites list. This was a little different for Dessen and it worked just as beautifully. I've loved watching her progress and develop through her heroines over the years and that maturity really showed in Saint Anything. Friendship, family, guilt and friendship – where dessen really shines.
Did I Mention I Love You?/Did I Mention I Need You?, Estelle Maskame
This series was such a surprise to me. Estelle gained legions of fans as she released Tyler and Eden’s forbidden romance chapter by chapter on Wattpad before getting a book deal for the trilogy. I LOVED it. I’m a sucker for a forbidden romance anyway, but the levels of drama, sexual tension and risk of being discovered against the backdrop of scorching summers in Santa Monica and NYC made these some of my 2015 reading highlights.
Night Owls, Jenn Bennett
Completely and utterly gorgeous is how I feel about Jenn Bennett’s YA debut. I read this in only two sittings, gulping down a half at a time and I was so upset when it ended. I loved how Bennett handled sex, difficult families, art and science in a refreshing and necessary way. I’m counting down to her second release.
Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
Oh, my heart. Simon and Baz may just be my favourite YA couple of 2015 – I fell head over heels for them. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the sections of Cath’s fan fiction in Fangirl, but I couldn’t get enough of this, a full length fanfiction novel. So very meta, so very Drarry. I ate up the magic system, Watford, the love-hate relationship, the twists and turns and I still want more, once I finish rereading it sixty bazillion times, obvs.
Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Illuminae blew my mind a little bit. Okay, a lot. It’s a sci-fi novel told through letters, IMs, reports, articles, a rogue AI’s observations and security footage transcripts. The story could so easily have been drowned in the format, but they complemented each other beautifully and I was fully invested in only a few pages. This book is clever, engaging, exciting and one to read at a furious pace and I’m so looking forward to the second instalment. Though I have very high expectations…
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
I’ve had The Secret History on my radar for years – it's a pretty famous book – but never actually got to it until a challenge in the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge told me to read a book released the year I was born. This was the only one that appealed to me and I fell hard for it. It’s long and mysterious and dark and so, so compelling. Perfect for this time of year. It blew me away.
The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
Goodness me, even thinking about this makes me a little teary! The Song of Achilles is the story of Achilles and Patroclus from the incident that brought them together to the Trojan War in Ancient Greece. It’s beautifully written, an accessible way to experience Greek mythology and Achilles and Patroclus have the most emotionally wrought, lovely and endearing relationship I have read in a long, long time. Well, now I want to re-read it…
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers
This is my most recent addition to the favourites list! I listened to this on audiobook and fell head over heels for this soft, slow sci-fi in only a few chapters. I loved the way Becky Chambers approached attitudes towards diversity with alien species; the friendship and comradery aboard the Wayfarer; the scope of the world and JUST EVERYTHING ABOUT IT WAS LOVELY!
Saga: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
The Saga series was another discovery I can attribute to the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge! When it came to a challenge to read a graphic novel I went for the one I'd seen all over the 2014 wrap ups. I LOVED it. It’s an epic space-opera fantasy about a married couple from warring planets, fleeing from their respective governments. It’s mad, gorgeously illustrated and thoroughly engaging.
Blue is the Warmest Color, Julie Maroh
I never thought a graphic novel would make me cry, but this made me sob. It’s a love story between two girls that has been translated from French and made into a beautiful (and seriously long) movie. I love the muted palate of the art and even in translation, the story is beautiful.
The Wicked and the Divine 1 and 2, Kieron Gillen
This serious is completely bonkers: every 90 years gods and goddesses are reborn into the bodies of teenagers, and then they did after only two years. The art is bold and bright and impossible to look away from. The story has a million strands so it can be occasionally confusing, but it’s worth it, and I think the premise is executed brilliantly.
Frenchman’s Creek, Daphne du Maurier
Shamefully, I'd never read anything by Du Maurier until I was asked to take part in a blog tour for the YA reissues of Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek and Jamaica Inn; I fell hard. Set in the 18th Century, Dona is a privileged lady who feels constricted by her sex and position so take sher children to the country home in Cornwall and falls in love with a notorious pirate. Yeah. You so want to read it now. It's sweeping, adventurous and romantic and a new love was born for me.
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
See? I had to read another one! Rebecca is Du Maurier’s most famous novel and I completely get why. It’s dark, chilling and all-encompassing and I’m now a little obsessed with Du Maurier… I loved the teasing reveal of what happened to the first Mrs Winter – the titular Rebecca – and the effect it has on the new and unnamed Mrs Winter. It’s delicious and I gobbled it up.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is another author I've always had on my radar but only dove in in 2015. And man did I love We Have Always Lived in the Castle! I went in pretty blind which was lovely and I knew nothing of Jackson’s legacy other than her tendency towards creepiness. And it was definitely creepy! Unsettling, darkly funny and just plain dark, I’ll be reading everything this woman writes.
Life Moves Pretty Fast, Hadley Freeman
Hadley Freeman is a die-hard fan of 80s movies and that’s what she discusses in Life Moves Pretty Fast. She takes a handful of her favourites (and mine) and takes about what makes them so great, and so incomparable to what's being made now. I watched/rewatched each movie before I read the corresponding chapter and it was glorious. I loved all of the new info I gained about my favourites, at least doubled my watchlist and fell in love with some new to me films.
How to Be a Heroine, Samantha Ellis
I found a hardback copy of this in great condition in the book swap bookcase at Gatwick Airport train station and nearly squealed. Ellis takes us through the heroines that made her who she is and re-reads and re-evaluates them with passion, intelligence and humour. It was a delightful way to become reacquainted with some old favourites and fall for some I'd never met before.
What were your favourite books of 2015?