I made it my goal for 2015 to read 52 books and I happily, although not so easily, accomplished this! Writing books and booze book recommendations helped keep me on a timeline and focused and also made it even more fun. Over the course of the year I read some great books, and some not so great books. The following are 5 of my favourite books that I read this year, for wildly different reasons. I hope a few of these make it on to your TBR list, you won’t be disappointed!
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
I was blown away by Ernest Hemingway’s description of an expat Paris and the process of writing. I honestly cannot believe how long it took me to discover this book. I probably like it more than any other Hemingway I have read, and that is saying a lot. As with anything Hemingway it should be taken with a grain of salt- certain things like his marriage are portrayed in a way favourable to himself that may have not been the actual case. However, this is one of my favourite depictions of Paris, the kind of Paris I imagine living in when Salix, Trevor, Dono and I are bohemians living in our Dono-designed split level. Although, I think we’ll be drinking a lot less.
I feel as though other travellers and purveyors of the arts will appreciate this book as much as I did. I’m not sure if it works better as an introduction to Hemingway, or if you would glean more being familiar with his works, but either way it is fantastic. There is a reason this is a widely treasured work.
Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut
Definitely one of my newly found favourite writers, I was introduced to Kurt Vonnegut through Bluebeard because it was the first book that came in on my library requests. Reading his other books as I patiently waited for Slaughterhouse-five only increased my antcipation for it, and it did not disappoint. The non-linear narrative style may be a little disorienting to some, but falls within the parameters of the usual Vonnegut writing technique. The story follows Billy Pilgrim through WW2, his later life, and even his brief detainment in an outer space, extraterrestrial zoo with a hollywood starlet. The story is interesting, poignant and Vonnegut offers a slew of opinions about humanity and life that put things in perspective. I will recommend Kurt Vonnegut to everyone and anyone and may even convert to Bokonism. Just kidding.
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
Let’s be honest, I mainly got onto Truman Capote through Breakfast at Tiffany’s because as an avid lover of everything Audrey Hepburn I felt I should read the short story that the movie was based on. This led to In Cold Blood, which is honestly one of the best books I have read. The novel attests to being “non-fiction”, however that has been strongly contested in the years following the book. The book follows the grisly murder of the Clutter family, a small, quiet nuclear family, that offered their farming community support. Capote and many other writers followed the murders and subsequent manhunt for the killers but only Capote offered a first hand account of John Forsythe and Robert Blake. The novel is chilling and insightful, how much of it is true, I can’t say. After reading this book, one should definitely watch the gripping portrayal of Truman Capote by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in the movie of the same name.
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
I was definitely surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this novel. This novel read like an intricate chess game, with interesting characters and plot. Even though I had some qualms with the representation of female characters in this book, I apparently liked it enough that I was making pasta and olive oil on the regular while reading this. I am genuinely sad that Puzo did not write follow up material to the novel in the form of a sequel or trilogy. I have yet to rematch the movie since reading the book, but I think I will appreciate it a lot more.
Half Broke Horses – Jeannette Walls
Out of my top 5 recommendations, this one just might be my favourite. Jeannette Walls is an amazing writer, and if you have not quite had the cookie cutter family history that it seems all your friends have had, you will appreciate the subject matter as well. I loved The Glass Castle but Half Broke Horses edges it out because of the unique narrative voice. Walls writing from the perspective of her grandmother Lily Casey Smith lends a voice of authenticity to the 1920’s-1950’s cattle ranching lifestyle. The novel covers so many great and interesting topics: women in factories during the war, industrialization, cattle ranching, and the treatment of first nations. This novel is a lot more lighthearted than The Glass Castle even though there is still tough subject matter.
Books that round out my Top 10: The Garden of Evening Mists, The Sister Brothers, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, The Martian, Love In The Time of Cholera
HAPPY READING IN THE NEW YEAR!