Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My (Previous) Year in Reading: 11 to 20

…in chronological order.

2015 has been a great year when it comes to reading books for me. During it, according to Goodreads, I have gulped down 212 volumes that were not only novels for adults but also volumes that belonged in many other genres: YA, graphic novels, poetry, children's stories, short stories and books in translation. This has also been a year that I stopped writing reviews since I had much else occupying my mind and time, so below I'll give you no more than a few words about the books I have read. I hope some of my choices echo yours and I look forward to an exciting new year of reading. 

11) Confessions by Kanae Minato. This book, to put it simply, is absolutely great. The author did a trick on me, as I'm certain she did on many other readers. If you like mysteries with many twists and turns and really unexpected endings, then you'll love this. Easily one of my best ten reads of the year.

12) Spectacle: Stories by Susan Steinberg. It's almost impossible for me to award five stars to a short story collection, but I did it for this one and for one by Alice Munro. These stories discuss the big questions in life; love, loss, difficult choices, revelations and secrets left untold. Her writing is exquisite and she's definitely a writer to look out for.

13) The Great Race: How the Chinese Zodiac Came to Beby Stacey Hirata and Charles Huang. This is a really fun book to read with your children. The plot is simple and the story straightforward, and I guess more or less the title explains it all. Reading it me gave me a lot of smiles and also taught me a little bit on the way I guess. Lovely.

14) The Wild Book by Margarita Engle. This is yet another children's book that I really loved. Its subject matter is not light but the author manages to make it sound fun and interesting to all in a playful manner, using beautiful prose that captures the reader's heart. Dyslexia is the name, getting over it is the game. Highly recommended.

15) Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest. I have to admit that I'm a big fan of KT, whom I discovered from a Guardian piece and her youtube videos. This poetry collection was almost all expected from her, as she uses simple words and straightforward language to talk about today's world. Some of the poems are better than others, a few of them are really great. The fact is that I've enjoyed reading most them so much that I sat myself down and translated the whole volume to Greek. Unfortunately, unless a miracle happens, it is never going to be published since, a) I'm not well connected when it comes to Greek publishers, and, b) The Greek market is on its deathbed after the last economic downturn. Oh well, at least I enjoyed the journey.

16) Poems Without Name by Dulce María Loynaz. I have bought this book 14 years ago in Cuba and I have read it three times since then. The poet is one of the most famous in her country and, though dead now, still waits to be discovered by the rest of the world. If you like poetry that talks about the things that matter not only on a personal but also a societal level, then this book can work wonders for you.

17) Pine and the Winter Sparrow by Alexis York Lumbard and BeatrizVidal. This is an old story told anew in beautiful prose and accompanied by wonderful illustrations. A children's story it is, but it can be read with pleasure by everyone. In these pages we watch birds and trees as they interact with each other and in the end we get to know why the pine trees are one of the few that stay green all year around.

18) Stories of Havana by Estrella Fresnillo. I bought this short story collection during that trip to Cuba as well, and I really enjoyed it. The stories here are quite simple. They are stories about people and their everyday lives. Stories that can make you smile or make you sad. The author seems more interested about the myth than the plot and that works just fine here.

19) Swamp Bones by Kathy Reichs. This is an original ebook novella that sees the famous forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan travel to Florida for a short holiday that was never meant to be. Human bones are found in the stomach of a Burmese python, and Temp, feeling certain that foul play was involved throws herself into full investigative mode. One of the author's better works, a fact perhaps helped by the size of the book.

20) Three Twisted Stories by Karin Slaughter. (Beware: This is the AUDIO version. You can seek the ebook elsewhere.) I don't think that there are many authors that do twisted as well as Karin Slaughter does. I won't go into details about the three stories that are included in this small collection, but I will say that they achieve their goal, which is to upset the reader, seemingly without great effort. KS reminds me of some Japanese masters of the genre.

To be continued 

See also: 1 to 10

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