December 2015 books, and 2015 reading roundup

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

My one trip that month was to visit my employers’ headquarters in Washington DC, a first visit to the mothership a year or so after I had got hired (postponed from October when a client assignment to Geneva had killed my plans to include CapClave in the trip). I also had a day in New York.

Back in Brussels, someone took a nice shot of me at the office party (I have no idea who is behind me).

I also managed to get a decent Christmas picture of all three kids.

With the transatlantic flight, I read 29 books that month.

Non-fiction: 2 (Year end 47)
When I Was a Child I Read Books, by Marilynne Robinson
Rave and Let Die: The SF and Fantasy of 2014, by Adam Roberts

Poetry: 1 (Year end 1)
The Whole and Rain-Domed Universe, by Colette Bryce

Fiction (non-sf): 2 (Year end 42)
Between the Acts, by Virginia Woolf
The Oxford Book of Christmas Stories, ed. Dennis Pepper

SF (non-Who): 18 (Year end 130)
Short Fiction Eligible for the 1941 Retro-Hugos Vol 3, ed. von Dimpleheimer
Keeping it Real, by Justina Robson
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, by Kai Ashante Wilson
Witches of Lychford, by Paul Cornell
Sunset Mantle, by Alter S. Reiss
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor
The Reign of Wizardry, by Jack Williamson
Short Fiction Eligible for the 1941 Retro-Hugos Vol 4, ed. von Dimpleheimer
Fattypuffs and Thinifers, by Andre Maurois
Moon Over Soho, by Ben Aaronovitch
Helliconia Spring, by Brian Aldiss
Captain Future and the Space Emperor, by Edmond Hamilton
The Last Man, by Alfred Noyes
Helliconia Summer, by Brian Aldiss
The Just City, by Jo Walton
Speak Easy, by Catherynne M. Valente
Helliconia Winter, by Brian Aldiss
Jews vs Zombies, ed. Rebecca Levene and Lavie Tidhar

Doctor Who, etc: 4 (Year end 43)
Instruments of Darkness, by Gary Russell
The Gallifrey Chronicles, by Lance Parkin
The Medusa Effect, by Justin Richards
Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation, by Gary Russell


Comics: 2 (Year end 18)
Hark, A Vagrant!, by Kate Beaton
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer, by Sydney Padua

~7,500 pages (Year end 80,100)
10/29 by women (Year end 86/290) – Robinson, Bryce, Woolf, Robson, Okorafor, Valente, Walton, Levene, Beaton, Padua
3/29 by PoC (YTD 20/290) – Wilson, Okorafor, Padua

2015 Books Roundup

Total books: 290, precisely one less than the previous year’s 291; however 24 of these were dives into the first 50 pages of Clarke nominees that I knew were unlikely to win or be shortlisted. The fifth highest of the years I have been counting, but I have only passed that total in one subsequent year (last year, 2021).

Total page count: ~80,100, sixth highest of the years I have been counting, higher than any year since.

86 (30%) by women, the highest to date, since exceeded in both numbers and % in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and in % only in 2016.
20 (7%) by PoC, highest to date, since exceeded on both counts in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, and in % only in 2017.

Most books by a single author:
6 by Justin Richards (4), who also topped my 2014 tally.

Science Fiction (130)

Top SF books of the year:
Collectively the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, especially the winner, Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel (get it here)

Honourable mentions:
The Affirmation, by Christopher Priest (review; get it here)
Kushiel’s Justice, by Jacqueline Carey (review; get it here)

Enjoyed rereading:
, by Brian Aldiss (review; get it here)
A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick (review; get it here)

The one you haven’t heard of:
The Last Man, by Alfred Noyes (review; get it here)

The one to avoid:
The Wonder City of Oz, by John R. Neill (review; get it here)

Non-Fiction (47)

Top non-fiction book of the year:
The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Claire Tomalin (review; get it here)

Letters to Tiptree, eds Alissa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce (review; get it here)
Selected Essays, by Virginia Woolf (review; get it here)

The one you haven’t heard of: 
Martial Power and Elizabethan Political Culture, by Rory Rapple (review; get it here)

The one to avoid:
Wisdom from my Internet, by Michael Z. Williamson (review; get it here)

Doctor Who (43, 54 counting non-fiction and comics)

Best Who book read in 2015: 
City of Death, by Douglas Adams and James Goss (review; get it here)

Runner-up (and re-read): 
Walking to Babylon, by Kate Orman (review; get it here)

Best Whovian non-fiction:
Companion Piece: Women Celebrate the Humans, Aliens and Tin Dogs of Doctor Who, eds. L.M. Myles and Liz Barr (review; get it here)

The two that even dedicated Whovians have not heard of: 
Doctor Who and the Vortex Crystal and Doctor Who and the Rebel’s Gamble, both by William H. Keith, Jr (review; get them here and here)

The one to avoid:
I did not keep good notes so will be charitable.

Non-genre Fiction (42)

Best non-sff fiction read in 2015: 
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (review; get it here)

Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro (review; get it here)

Welcome rereads: 
Ulysses, by James Joyce (review; get it here)
Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo (review; get it here)

The one you haven’t heard of: 
The Twenty-two Letters, by Clive King (review; get it here)

The one to avoid:
The Sorrows of an American, by Siri Hustvedt (review; get it here)

Comics (19)

Best graphic stories read in 2015: 
The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud (review; get it here)
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua (review; get it here)

The one you haven’t heard of: 
De Tweede Kus, by Conz (review; get it here)

The one to avoid:
Boerke Bijbel, by Pieter de Poortere (review; get it here)

Poetry (just 1 but I enjoyed it)

The Whole and Rain-domed Universe, by Colette Bryce (review; get it here)

Worst Book of the Year

Wisdom from my Internet, by Michael Z. Williamson, possibly the worst book I have read this century

Best Book(s) of the year

Collectively, the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, in particular the winner, Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel. However I did not actually blog about these, being one of the judges at the time.
– Best book I actually blogged about: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Claire Tomalin

Other Books of the Year:

2003 (2 months): The Separation, by Christopher Priest.
2004The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread).
– Best new read: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, by Claire Tomalin
2005The Island at the Centre of the World, by Russell Shorto
2006Lost Lives: The stories of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles, by David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea
2007Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
2008The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, by Anne Frank (reread)
– Best new read: Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero, by William Makepeace Thackeray
2009Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (had seen it on stage previously)
– Best new read: Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi (first volume just pipped by Samuel Pepys in 2004)
2010The Bloody Sunday Report, by Lord Savile et al.
2011The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon (started in 2009!)
2012The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
2013A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
2014: Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
2015: See above
2016Alice in Sunderland, by Bryan Talbot
2017Common People: The History of an English Family, by Alison Light
2018Factfulness, by Hans Rosling
2019Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo
2020From A Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb, by Timothy Knatchbull
2021: Carrying the Fire, by Michael Collins.