GregHorrorShow – The Books of 2015

GHS Books 2015 Main

I’m opening this piece with a confession – I have read a lot less books in 2015 than in previous years but there have still been some standout stories that I loved and a fair bit of non-fiction that caught my eye. So the list is a little shorter but there’s plenty to recommend!

I’ve mentioned Hugh Howey before and after thoroughly enjoying his Wool trilogy I was a little hesitant as to whether his new book ‘Sand’ could deliver. I’ll be honest, for the opening few chapters I wasn’t entirely sold but as things developed the story gripped me and I had a great time reading this one.

GHS Books 2015 Misery

A friend suggested reading an old sci-fi classic, Joe Haldeman’s ‘The Forever War’ which I also really enjoyed. Telling the story of William Mandella as he fights in the ongoing war between Man and a race called the Taurans. As time passes differently in space, the four years Mandella spends fighting is the equivalent of several centuries back on Earth. Seeing how he deals with that, as well as several other war related issues, was pretty interesting.

Another older book that I’d never read previously but have now caught up on was Stephen King’s ‘Misery’, which I thought was amazing. It was tough to read at times as Paul Sheldon lived through a nightmare scenario, some of the things that happen during the course of the story are horrific but it was a great read and I couldn’t put it down.

GHS Books 2015 You Hero

On the non-fiction front the highlight of the year for me has been Jonathan Green’s ‘You Are The Hero’, which tells the behind the scenes story of the rise of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks in the 1980’s. Crammed with interviews with writers and artists, alongside awesome artwork, this is definitely recommended for fans of the book series. I also found the anonymous tell-all football book ‘I Am The Secret Footballer’ very interesting. Written by a professional player, it gives a glimpse into the murky world of football and the cash that runs through it all.

Oliver Sacks is a well-respected writer for a good reason – he is excellent at shaping real life stories and bringing a deft touch to sensitive subjects. ‘Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain’ is a glorious but poignant look at people affected by music in debilitating ways. It really is fascinating and well worth checking out. Another non-fiction title I really enjoyed this year was ‘Console Wars’ by Blake Harris, which tells the story of Sega’s rise with the Genesis/Mega Drive in the early 90’s. As a big Sega fan back in the day it was amazing to get a look into the process of how the console came to be such a success and the internal struggles that the company faced. If you were a gamer at the time this is well worth a read.

GHS Books 2015 Masked

Speaking of games I was fortunate enough to be gifted ‘Dragon Age: The Masked Empire’ for my birthday which I thought was fantastic – it also did a great job of fleshing out one of the main story missions in the Dragon Age: Inquisition game. It was fun to see the characters from the book in game form and be able to interact with them in the course of the game’s story as well. Keeping on the game theme I also enjoyed ‘Armada’ by Ernest Cline, not quite as much as his previous novel, Ready Player One, but then my expectations were much, much higher this time. Armada tells the story of a game obsessed school kid who gets recruited by the real life government to fight an alien invasion. It has Cline’s trademark geek style all over it and it was a fun read.

Robin Sloan’s ‘Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore’ is a bit of a mouthful of a title but was a book I had a good time with. Clay Jannon takes a job in a small bookstore and discovers a secret that sends him on a wild adventure around the globe. It’s a great book for a bit of escapism. Another novel that should’ve been perfect for escapism was Andy Weir’s ‘The Martian’. However, while I did enjoy the book, I just didn’t think it warranted the praise it got from all quarters. In fact, in a rare turn of events, I actually preferred the film to the book!

GHS Books 2015 Bookstore

Lee Child always almost delivers with his Jack Reacher novels and ‘Personal’ was another good instalment in the series. While the plots do at times become a little formulaic, I felt moving Reacher to different European locations was a smart move that helped freshen things up. Probably my favourite novel of the year was ‘The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August’ by Claire North, which I felt took the concepts of last year’s Life After Life to another level. A gripping story, another that I couldn’t put down, as Harry August comes to terms with living over and over… and everything that entails.

Here’s the full list:

Joe Haldeman – The Forever War
Lee Child – Personal
Oliver Sacks – Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Robin Sloan – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Patrick Weekes – Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
Hugh Howey – Sand
Blake Harris – Console Wars
Stephen King – Misery
Claire North – The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August
Anonymous – I Am The Secret Footballer
Ernest Cline – Armada
Jonathan Green – You Are The Hero
Andy Weir – The Martian

What have you guys been reading this year – any recommendations?

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