Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reading List 2015

Now that I'm no longer teaching, I wonder if my 2016 Reading List will be more detailed. This one, the first half of which was assembled when I was still working for pay, is, as in past years, much more sparsely annotated that I would have liked. I simply started a draft post back in January 2015 and added titles to it as I finished reading. If I've posted about individual titles, I tried to include a link to that post. Occasionally, I managed to add a few words right here about books that I didn't manage to write about elsewhere. I wish I'd done better, but here it is: what I read in 2015. . .

The titles I either most enjoyed or found most important for whatever reason are marked *** but there are many others I would happily recommend as well. The standout book that I would urge all of you to read has to be Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, for its content and message.

1. Nicholas Carr The Shallows (for teaching, re-read)
2. Alan Jacobs The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
3. M. Wylie Blanchet The Curve of Time (Reread for teaching)
4. Eden Robinson Monkey Beach (reread for teaching)
5. C.S. Richardson The Emperor of Paris (reread for teaching)
6. Stephen Scobie The Measure of Paris (reread for teaching)
7. Lauren B. Davis The Radiant City (reread for teaching)
8. Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train
9. Alistair Horne The Seven Ages of Paris
10. Brian Selznick The Invention of Hugo Cabret #Paris #KidLit #filmhistory #fabulousillustrations
11. Muriel Barbery The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Reread for teaching)
12. Timothy Taylor Story House (reread for teaching)
13. John Glassco Memoirs of Montparnasse -- Such fun! A Canadian in Paris between the wars, but not a Canadian as you think you know us. . . Glassco delights in being as outré as possible, and his Paris is naughty and scandalous and occasionally tawdry, full of interesting characters with numerous foibles . . .
14. Ursula Vaira And See What Happens: The Journey Poems
15. Cara Black Murder Below Montparnasse
16. Jussi Adler-Olsen The Keeper of Lost Causes.
17. Bill Gaston Sointula (reread for teaching)
18. Anthony Doerr Four Seasons in Rome -- Imagine a year in Rome, on fellowship, with infant twins. . . now instead of imagining, read the adventure by the writer of the wonderful All the Light We Cannot See. Reading Doerr made me resolve to go inside the Pantheon this most recent visit, and I'm so glad I did. ***
19. Helen Macdonald H is for Hawk ***
20. Clyde Ford Precious Cargo (reread for teaching)
21. Michael Faber The Book of Strange New Things
22. Lucy Knisley French Milk (graphic memoir of a young woman's month in Paris with her mother)
23. Elena Ferrante My Brilliant Friend. ***
24. Donna Leon Death in a Strange Country
25. Peter Robinson Abattoir Blues
26. Agnès Martin-Lugand Entre mes Mains le Bonheur se Faufile
27. Jeremy Mercer Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co
28. John Farrow The Storm Murders
29. David Downie Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of St. James
30. Elizabeth Minchilli Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City
31. Fred Vargas  Temps Glaçiares 
32. David Hewson  A Season for the Dead.
33. Karl Ove Knausgaard A Death in the Family ***
34. Elana Ferrante The Story of a New Name ***
35. Robert Macfarlane The Old Ways ***
36. Elana Ferrante Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay ***
37. Sara Maitland. Gossip from the Forest: The Tangled Roots of our Forests and Fairytales ***
38. Atul Gawande Being Mortal. ****
39. Kate Atkinson A God in Ruins ***
40. Nina George The Little Paris Bookshop
41. Jussi Adler-Olsen The Absent One
42. William Alexander Flirting with French, Not quite finished
43. Marie Kondo The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Haven't yet finished this.
44. Emma Healey Elizabeth Is Missing
45. Timothy Williams Converging Parallels
46. Nancy Mitford The Pursuit of Love ***
47. Nancy Mitford. Love in a Cold Climate ***
48. Nancy Mitford. The Blessing
49. Nancy Mitford Don't Tell Alfred
50. Joanna Trollope The Other Family
51. Sándor Márai Embers trans. Carol Brown Janeway
52. Caryl Férey Plutôt crever,
53. Donna Leon, Dressed for Death
54.Susan Hill The Soul of Discretion
55. Karl Ove Knausgaard A Man In Love (My Struggle: Book Two)
56. Elana Ferrante. The Story of the Lost Child ***
57. Camilla Gibb This is Happy
58. Haruki Marukami What I Think about when I Think about Running, Not quite finished
59. Stephanie Clifford Everybody Rise
60. Alyson Walsh Style Forever
61. Anna Jaquiery Death in the Rainy Season, A mystery novel featuring a French detective, Serge Morel, whose holiday in Cambodia is cut short when his superiors draw on his heritage and knowledge of the language to have him collaborate with the local police force in solving a murder which may have embarrassing ramifications back in Paris. I'll watch out for more by this author featuring this protagonist.
62. Jake Morrissey The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry that Transformed Rome
63. Elisabeth George A Banquet of Consequences Very satisfying juicy big mystery to read over the holidays -- my daughter grabbed this as soon as I finished. Lovely to see Havers work her way back into the department's good graces.
64. Wab Kinew The Reason You Walk: A Memoir (I only got to read half of this, dipping in to check out a copy I'd bought as a Christmas gift for my son-in-law. Will borrow it from the library later)
65. Francine Prose Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles
66. Val McDermid. Splinter the Silence 
67. Julia Pierpont. Among the Ten Thousand Things. A very engaging, if often painful novel that looks at the aftermath of a husband and father's affair. It begins with the spurned mistress, once the affair is over, leaving an envelope full of hand-written notes and printed-out emails detailing graphically and salaciously and vigorously the relationship's most intimate moments. The envelope is handed thoughtlessly by the doorman to the just pre-pubescent daughter who opens it. Shock waves. . . a thoughtful meditation on love, marriage, innocence and experience . . . and on writing and its effects as well. On art (the father is an artist, sculptor, performance and concept-oriented). Deserves more than this quick sketch -- worth reading.


  1. Thank you Frances. I agree about dr. Gawande completely
    Always fun to find new authors or books,to be reminded of others, and recommendation from someone you thrust is great.

  2. You're welcome, Lisa and Dottoressa -- and thank you, Dottoressa for your encouragement throughout the year. Your regular comments make me feel these posts are worthwhile, and I also appreciate the reading suggestions you offer and your responses to some of the books we've both read.

  3. Have recently read the first of the Elena Ferrante novels and looking forward to the rest. I see you are a Nancy Mitford fan too - I read all hers many years ago and still reread the odd one occasionally.

    You might like Susan Hill's "Howards End is on the Landing" or perhaps you have already read it? Happy reading

  4. I love booklists!
    I love comments about booklists!
    Hurray- I have one more week of holiday (summer holidays over here in New Zealand, and lucky enough to be a teacher) so I have some new books to choose from.Thanks so much.
    My contribution for what it's worth: "Did You Ever Have a Family?" by Bill Clegg. Loved this study of a tragedy from several viewpoints and the unfurling of the narrative.

  5. Marianne, can you believe I only came to Nancy Mitford this summer -- read those four novels in one big greedy gulp and I can see they will repay rereading.
    I've only read the Simon Serrailler books by Susan Hill. I've just looked up Howards End and oh my, I must get to this soon -- it looks scrumptious, a real book-lover's book!
    Rosemary: So pleased to have you joining us here, and I hope you'll let me know what you think about any of the books I've recommended. I've made a note of the Bill Clegg novel -- I see it's got some sterling reviews, including yours! Thank you!

  6. Seeing how much I love reading your booklist, even if you have not written about many of the books, I wonder if I was short-sighted in not sharing mine. Many books I want to read here, and some things to ponder as well, about my own relationship to said lists, namely why can I love other's lists and fret so much about sharing my own? No answers. Happy reading in 2016.

  7. Seeing your list reminds me that Muriel Barbery has a new novel coming out this spring, and that perhaps I might wish to reread "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" even if I have no professional reason to do so.

  8. I do like to look at others' lists, Mardel, although there are plenty of reasons for not making them, for resisting that quantification we can get so caught up in. I love to see some variety, and these days with so few independent bookstores, it's harder to find out about titles beyond the most circulated.
    Teaching "Hedgehog" was an interesting experience. The course was one of our department's "Book Club" courses, designed as an elective for students not necessarily in the English program, and accessibility is part of the emphasis. Still, the students all had at least two semesters of 1st-year English behind them and they were at least 2nd-year students. I'd thought of the book as light, but deliciously satisfying, engaging, etc., until I saw what a tough time they were having with it. By the end, they came to love the novel as I do, but we had to work through quite a few sections paragraph by paragraph, breaking down ideas, looking up words, sorting syntax. . .
    As for a new Barbery, I'll be watching for that -- thanks for the heads-up!