My top three books for 2015

In my most recent post looking at my top ten books of the year, I mentioned that I would try write about the top three. I doubt I’ll get three individual posts done, so here are my top three.

#3 A Brief History of 7 Killings – Marlon James

Wow! Tarantino on paper. Threads of stories from different voices, based ostensibly around the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. Really there is so much more. An exploration of Jamaica that touches on cultural political and the underbelly of the island. There are gangs, gang leaders, spys, journalists and other citizens in different decades in and out of Jamaica.

brief histry5

It’s a difficult read at times. If you struggle with books that are written in a regional or local dialect, this might present some difficulties. It jumps around, pulling at threads of a bigger story, that in itself is not the main story, but is almost peripheral the tale of the central characters. In other words, its not a story about Bob Marley (so if that’s what you are looking for, you’ll be disappointed).

The writing is visceral, violent, but wonderfully done. The story will pull you in. Your sympathies for different characters shifting all the time.

If you’re looking for something a little outside the mainstream, well written, that is character driven, and tells a story of an Island beyond slavery and tourism told from a few different perspectives then you’ll love this.

If you want a story of ‘One Love’ that you can fly through in a couple of days, this isn’t the book for you.

 

#2 A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

Possibly the darkest book I’ve ever read.

Light reading this is not. This is the story of four college friends who stay friends into adulthood. But really its the story of one of them, and his three friends.

 

a little life

It delves the depths of human despair. Its shocking in parts and uplifting in others. Its not a book for the feint hearted. It made me swear out loud on public transport when a certain part caught me unawares. A friend posted on Faceook that she had cried 3 times in the first 120 pages, which the masochist in me read as a sign to, “hurry up and buy it already.”  I didn’t cry that much. although there was plenty to get upset about.

The characters are a diverse enough bunch. I read somewhere that A Little Life is a ‘Gay Book’. Its not. There are gay characters, but that’s as incidental as having heterosexual characters. My suspicions are that some using that term are referring to parts of the book that have nothing to do with love. To elaborate would bring me into the realms of spoilers, which I’d like to avoid.

If I was to criticise, it would be because the difficult parts are really really difficult, and the good things that happen are almost too good. There seems to be very little beige in their world.

Overall though, it is so well  written. It explores themes and issues in a way that you don’t normally see. It explodes with high emotion in parts. If it fails to move you, you may just lack empathy at the most basic level.

 

 

#1 All The Light We cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Beautiful. As dark as #2 and #3 were, this also has some dark moments, but has more of an uplifting feel to it.

 

all the light

its the story of Marie, a young blind French girl and Werner, a young orphan German boy. We meet them in the years before the start of World  War 2. The story continues through the war.

Werner finds a broken old radio,which he repairs, and on which he and his sister listen to an unsual broadcast through the night. Werner’s talent for radio and communication eventually brings him in to a particular unit in the German Army.  Marie has fled Paris with the invasion of the Nazis, to live with her Uncle in Saint-Malo. We see the war through their eyes.

The beauty in this novel is in the writing. Its almost poetic. It entrances you, and as with the best books, you get lost in the story. You don’t want it to end.

it doesn’t ignore the horrors of war. In Werner’s story we look at how ordinary Germans are reacting to the onset of war and growth of nazism.  Marie shows us an aspect of life under nazi rule.

There’s something about stories set in World War 2 that fascinate me.  Alone in Berlin and The Book Thief being two obvious books that come to mind.

Anyway, All The Light We Cannot See was my favourite book of 2015. A satisfying story, couple with beautiful writing. One that leaves you with a book hangover when done.

Thanks for reading during 2015 – will try to write more in 2016. Peace 🙂

 

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Author: paumurp

I am a youth worker in Ireland. Easily pleased and slow to anger. I love to read, listen to music and to take photographs

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