Signing off, festively yours



It’s that time of year to go quiet, but before I do, here are my top 5 reads for 2015:

  1. A Little Life, Hanya Hanagihara
  2. The Wonder Lover, Malcolm Knox
  3. A Strangeness in My Mind, Orhan Pamuk
  4. H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald
  5. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

Yes, they are in order of love. Yes, I do feel sheepish about number 5, but it has to be there. I have never read such gorgeous sentences.

After processing a little more what it is about A Little Life that got to me, the best thing I can say is: Everyone else who raves about it seems to be able to explain better than me why it is they love this book. So I’ll say something different. There are passages in A Little Life that express emotions that I have NEVER seen written on a page before in my life, and I’m talking beautiful, honest, achingly tender and relevatory admissions about parenting, for example, or friendship. I don’t want to spoil it for people who might be yet to read, but for anyone who is worried about the darkness and pain of this book, there is so much light and beauty as well that goes a way to heal the horror. Just like in life. The woman is a genius.

The Wonder Lover is there because I read it in a state of utter exhilaration. That someone could be writing like this, and he is Australian, and contemporary. Again, I can’t explain. But brilliant.

A Strangeness is there because I love Pamuk’s work, and he never seems to let me down. It was an amazing insight into the working life, family constellation and marriage of an ordinary man from an Anatolian village, come to the big city to ‘make good’. Great stuff. Poignant, moving, amusing and dense. I do love a big book.

And H is for Hawk, again because of the words, but also for the form, the ranging across topics. It all hung together beautifully and again taught me that it doesn’t matter what a book is ‘about’ – if the prose is beautiful, compelling and true, then I will read it and savour it and it will become part of my inner view that is built of words and imagery.

Happy festive season to everyone. Stay cool if you are in Australia and stay safe too! Most importantly: read on! See you in 2016.

4 thoughts on “Signing off, festively yours

  1. A terrific list. Not sure I’ll be able to restrict mine to five but A Little Life will be there without question (and All the Light We Cannot See was on my 2014 list).

  2. H is for Hawk was one of my top reads this year, too (and the only one of your top five that I’ve actually read!). You’ve reminded me that I really want to read The Wonder Lover — thanks (I think maybe you recommended it to me in the first place). I’m wary of A Little Life, though — I hear such good and such dire things about it. So many books, so little time… xx

    1. Beware the Knox, not everyone likes it! And yes, Hawk was just magic. Don’t be wary of A Little Life unless you need to be careful or triggers OR just can’t do intense stuff. But people are being put off, I reckon, and missing out on the beauty and importance of it. There is a lot to recommend it and I would say the light outweighs the dark. It’s a tremendous achievement, what she’s done. As a writer I would urge you, but as a reader too. I think it shows why childhood abuse persists – one of the reasons. As a society people just don’t want to know, and so it continues. People don’t want to talk about it, read about it, hear about it, because it’s too hard. It’s part of the problem, but not being judgemental about what you’ve said, I don’t mean to imply that!

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