This is a list of all the books I’ve read in 2015 – with links to my reviews, and a few brief notes.

123. Patrick Modiano, In the Café of Lost Youth (France, 2007/16). A composite portrait of a woman who tried to escape her life, and people who thought they came to know her.

122. Stephen Mitchelmore, This Space of Writing (England, 2015). Non-fiction: the book of Mitchelmore’s literary blog. Illuminating, challenging, inspiring. [****]

121. Patrick Modiano, The Black Notebook (France, 2012/6). A writer tries to recall a girl her knew forty years before, in the face of documents and a whole city that tell a different story from the one he experienced. [****]

120. Elena Ferrante, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (Italy, 2013/4). The third Neapolitan Novel sees Elena and Lila as adults, crystallising both the distance and closeness between them. [****]

119. Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1: The Way by Swann’s (France, 1913/2002). The Lydia Davis translation. My first experience of Proust: dense, intimate, impossible to summarise. [****]

118. Ian McEwan, The Children Act (England, 2014). A High Court judge becomes personally involved in the case of a teenager refusing life-saving medical treatment. Too fussily written and heavy-handed for my taste. [**]

117. Tamim Sadikali, Dear Infidel (England, 2014). Two Muslim families reunite for Eid, and tensions come to the surface. [***]

116. Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation (USA, 2014). The fragmentation of a marriage, told in fragments. [****]

115. Amjad Nasser, Land of No Rain (Jordan, 2011/4). An exile returns to his home country. I loved some of the writing, but don’t think I was in the right mood to appreciate the novel fully. [***]

114. Matthew De Abaitua, If Then (England, 2015). An algorithm recreates the First World War in contemporary England. [***]

113. Tom Reynolds, Blood, Sweat and Tea (England, 2006). Non-fiction: the book of a paramedic’s blog. [***]

112. Ivan Vladislavić, The Folly (South Africa, 1993). A new neighbour’s outlandish house-building plan provides an illustration of how easily one may fall for the seductive rhetoric of others. [****]

111. Hugo Wilcken, The Reflection (Australia, 2015). A psychiatrist loses his identity…and gains another. [****]

110. Gabriel Josipovici, What Ever Happened to Modernism? (UK, 2010). Non-fiction: an engaging and persuasive argument that modernism represents a perennial challenge to writers. [****]

109. Lorna GIbb, A Ghost’s Story (Scotland, 2015). A spirit writes… but does she exist beyond the page? [***]

108. Albert Camus, The Outsider (France, 1942/2012). The man who won’t conform. [***]

107. Jonathan Lee, High Dive (England, 2015). Three people’s lives are changed by the bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel. [***]

106. Richard Beard, Acts of the Assassins (England, 2015). An investigation into the mysterious deaths of Jesus and his disciples, transposed into the present day and a crime-fiction idiom. Effectively dissonant to begin with, but didn’t sustain the same level of interest across the whole novel. [***]

105. Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Canada, 2014). Re-read for my book group. I actually liked it more this time around, appreciated the use of art as a link between the pre- and post-apocalyptic worlds… but I’m still not won over. [***]

104. Viola di Grado, Hollow Heart (Italy, 2013/5). A novel narrated by a young woman who has killed herself. Begins with the thrilling sense that Di Grado’s prose could go anywhere (something I loved about her debut, 70% Acrylic 30% Wool), but sadly that peters out as the book progresses. [***]

103. George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (England, 1938). Orwell’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War. [***]

102. Simon Critchley, Notes on Suicide (England, 2015). Non-fiction: a philosopher’s reflections on suicide. [***}

101. Dan Rhodes, When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow (England, 2014). Richard Dawkins is forced to stay with a vicar and his wife. Utterly hilarious and surprisingly poignant. [*****]

100. Italo Calvino, The Non-Existent Knight (Italy, 1959/62). The adventures of a suit of armour in Charlemagne’s army. [***]

99. BBC National Short Story Award 2015 anthology [***]

98. Sara Baume, Spill Simmer Falter Wither (Ireland, 2015). One dog and his man. [***]

97. Italo Calvino, Baron in the Trees (Italy, 1957/9). A young baron climbs a tree and won’t come down. [***]

96. Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant (England/Japan, 2015). The memory of the land declines, and may yet return. [****]

95. Italo Calvino, The Cloven Viscount (Italy, 1951/62). A viscount split into good and bad halves. [***]

94. Natsume Sōseki, The Miner (Japan, 1909/2015). A man enters the darkness and excavates himself. [****]

93. Kerry Hadley-Pryce, The Black Country (England, 2015). What happened on that journey home, and do you really want to know? [****]

92. Piero Chiara, The Disappearance of Signora Giulia (Italy, 1970/2015). A mystery that lies dormant, even in the reader’s hands. [****]

91. Gøhril Gabrielsen, The Looking-Glass Sisters (Norway, 2008/15). The account of a sister who lives on, through, and beyond the page. [****]

90. Tom McCarthy, Satin Island (England, 2015). The glittering surface of patterns that won’t be deciphered. {****]

89. Colin MacInnes, Absolute Beginners (England, 1959). The early years of teenage London. [***]

88. Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space (Wales, 2000). A typically sweeping space opera. [***]

87. Franz Kafka, The Stoker (1913/2007). Lost on the ship. [****]

86. Franz Kafka, The Judgement (1913/2007). Shifts of power in the rooms of a house. [****]

85. Franz Kafka, Contemplation (1913/2007). Snapshots of the space inside. [****]

84. Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (Canada/Korea, 2007). Fourth book in the series; by now, its joke is wearing thin. [**]

83. Mona Prince, So You May See (Egypt, 2008/11). A woman narrates her love affair, in whatever form necessary. [***]

82. Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Canada/Korea, 2006). Third book in the series. [***]

81. Ryu Mitsuse, Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights (Japan, 1967/2011). Cyborg deities fight it out at the end of the world. [****]

80. Inga Ābele, High Tide (Latvia, 2008/13). The fragments of a woman’s life. [****]

79. Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Canada/Korea, 2005). The second book in the series. [***]

78. Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (Canada/Korea, 2004). The first Scott Pilgrim graphic novel. [***]

77. Alina Bronsky, Just Call Me Superhero (Germany/Russia, 2013/4).  A boy’s struggle to fit in with a support group for disabled people – and his father’s family. [****]

76. Nicholas Mirzoeff, How to See the World (2015). Non-fiction: an introduction to visual culture. [***]

75. Elisabeth Rynell, To Mervas (Sweden, 2002/10). Marta finds a way out of herself by travelling north. [***]

74. Alan Warner, Morvern Callar (Scotland, 1995). A woman’s strange odyssey following the loss of her boyfriend. [****]

73. Lucy Wood, Diving Belles (England, 2012). Re-read: a marvellous story collection, even better the second time around. [*****]

72. Elizabeth Knox, Wake (New Zealand, 2013). Surviving the great disaster. [***]

71. Iván Repila, The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse (Spain, 2013/5). Dreamlike tale of two boys trapped in a (real? metaphorical?)  well. [****]

70. Irenosen Okojie, Butterfly Fish (England/Nigeria, 2015). Connected lives and mysterious figures in contemporary London and 19th century Nigeria. [***]

69. Hugh Howey, Wool (USA, 2013). Nice enough idea, poor execution. [**]

68. Miranda July, The First Bad Man (USA, 2015). Artifice used as self-defence. [****]

67. Enrique Vila-Matas, Dublinesque (Spain, 2010/2). A dream of Dublin, and the haunting of literature. [****]

66. Anthony Trevelyan, The Weightless World (England, 2015). A trip to India, in search of an anti-gravity machine. [***]

65. Benjamin Wood, The Ecliptic (England, 2015). An artists’ refuge is not all that it seems. [***]

64. Raymond Jean, Reader for Hire (France, 1986/2015). A woman discovers her compelling reading voice. [***]

63. Janice Galloway, Jellyfish (Scotland, 2015). Short stories on desire, parenthood, and the passing of time. [****]

62. Paulette Jonguitud, Mildew (Mexico, 2010/5). A woman finds mildew growing over her body, and her life drifting away. [****]

61. Diego Marani, New Finnish Grammar (Italy, 2000/11). An amnesiac soldier found in Trieste tries to rebuild his identity through language. [****]

60. Alisa Ganieva, The Mountain and the Wall (Russia, 2012/5). Rumours of a wall being built between the Caucasus and the rest of Russia. [***]

59. Nell Leyshon, Memoirs of a Dipper (England, 2015). A thief’s tale in his own words – with the chance that he’ll hoodwink the reader. [***]

58. Emma Jane Unsworth, Animals (England, 2014). A rollicking, and slyly thoughtful, account of modern female friendship. [****]

57. Jo Mazelis, Significance (Wales, 2014). A woman changes her image and flees to a small French town in order to begin a new life – but ends up meeting her death. The investigation reveals the conflicting perceptions and priorities of the people who encountered her. [***]

56. Andy Weir, The Martian (USA, 2014). Dull novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars. [**]

55. Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (USA, 1969). A book group choice, fascinating to read. Anything else I can think of to say doesn’t seem quite adequate. [****]

54. Melissa Harrison, At Hawthorn Time (England, 2015). Four lives change in contemporary rural England. [***]

53. Alejandro Zambra, My Documents (Chile, 2015). A collection of stories about memory and the limitations of shaping life into story. [***]

52. Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger (England, 1987). An old woman reflects on her life and the personal nature of history. [***]

51. Ian Parkinson, The Beginning of the End (England, 2015). A man falls into a spiral of self-destructive apathy, in a novel that made me think again about what it means to describe prose as ‘flat’. [****]

50. Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name (Italy, 2012/3). Elena’s and Lila’s lives diverge in adolescence, in the second of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. [****]

49. Bert Wagendorp, Ventoux (Netherlands, 2013/5). After thirty years, a  group of friends returns to the scene of a tragedy, where old wounds may be healed, or new ones opened. [***]

48. Catherine Lacey, Nobody Is Ever Missing (USA, 2014). A woman flees her relationship to New Zealand, not so much to find herself as to lose herself. [****]

47. Stuart Evers, Your Father Sends His Love (England, 2015). A fine collection of stories on parents and parenthood, from the author of Ten Stories About Smoking.

46. David Lagercrantz, Fall of Man in Wilmslow (Sweden, 2009/15). A police detective investigates the death of Alan Turing, and uncovers his secret work at Bletchley Park. [***]

45. Hailji, The Republic of Uzupis (South Korea, 2009/14). An Asian man travels to Lithuania in search of the elusive land of his birth. [***]

44. Robert Williams, Into the Trees (England, 2014). A young family move into a house in the woods, and receive a visit from four masked men… [***]

43. Dung Kai-cheung, Atlas: the Archaeology of an Imaginary City (Hong Kong, 1997/2012). Fascinating account of a fictionalised (real?) Hong Kong through its maps. [****]

42. Sebastian Faulks, A Week in December (England, 2009). The only reason I read this was for my book group; it’s about as far away from what I value in fiction as I care to go. Far too pleased with itself and doesn’t even work as a satire. If this book had a face, I would slap it. [**]

41. Claire Fuller, Our Endless Numbered Days (England, 2015). A girl is taken by her survivalist father to a remote cabin, where she lives for eight years. Has a nicely handled twist, some interesting material on the father’s perspective, but still missing that extra spark . [***]

40. Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (USA, 1968). Re-read: stranger than I remember – a strangeness lacking in much contemporary sf, which is why I welcomed it. THough this book isn’t quite my kind of thing any more, it showed me that there may still be a place for old-time science fiction in my reading diet. [***]

39. Yuri Herrera, Signs Preceding the End of the World (Mexico, 2009/15). A woman crosses the Mexico-US border with a message for her brother, in this extraordinary novel of thresholds and permeable boundaries. [*****]

38. James Hannah, The A-Z of You and Me (England, 2015). A man in a hospice recalls his life, the memories being sparked off by a game where he names his body parts in alphabetical order. Interesting idea, some nice touches – especially towards the end – otherwise it’s a bit too conventional for its own good. [***]

37. Laline Paull, The Bees (England/India, 2014). A worker bee upsets the hierarchy of her hive. I like the idea of this book, but it reads as though all the strangeness has been wrung out, and feels underpowered as a result. [***]

36. Jonathan Pinnock, Take It Cool (England, 2014). Non fiction: the author’s search for a reggae singer who’s his namesake. [***]

35. Michael Stewart, Café Assassin (England, 2015). A man seeks revenge on the childhood friend who landed him in prison. [***]

34. Sunny Singh, Hotel Arcadia (India, 2015). A war photographer navigates the gap between image and reality. [****]

33. Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Canada, 2014). The survival of art in the wake of apocalypse. Acclaimed though this has been, I can’t see it as anything particularly special. [***]

32. Adam Roberts, Saint Rebor (England, 2015). Stories about the tensions between science and fiction. [***]

31. Jonathan Gibbs, Randall, or The Painted Grape (England, 2014). The life and relationships of a Young British Artist. [***]

30. Carys Bray, A Song for Issy Bradley (England, 2014). A Mormon family is rocked by the death of a daughter. [***]

29. Ann Morgan, Reading the World (England, 2015). The blogger behind A Year of Reading the World explores the issues around reading ‘world literature’ in the 21st century. [****]

28. Simon Wroe, Chop Chop (England, 2014). The tale of a commis chef’s travails in the kitchen, run-ins with gangsters, and fraught family relationships. Fun in places, but doesn’t quite fit together. [***]

27. Jung-myung Lee, The Investigation (South Korea, 2014). Wartime tale exploring the power of poetry for the Korean inmates of a Japanese prison. Bit too much of a novel-as-history-lesson for my liking. [***]

26. Tomas Bannerhed, The Ravens (Sweden, 2011/14). A boy and his mentally ill father on a Sedish farm in the 1970s. [***]

25. Philip Roth, American Pastoral (USA, 1997). When I was younger, and read mostly SF and fantasy, I had a caricature in my mind of what ‘literary’ fiction was like. My views have changed a lot, and are certainly now much more nuanced; but this novel essentially resembles that caricature. [**]

24. Sara Taylor, The Shore (USA, 2015). A patchwork portrait of two families, extending into the past and the future. [***]

23. Tomás González, In the Beginning Was the Sea (Colombia, 1983/2014). Re-read: I felt the sense of claustrophobic dread more keenly this time, though I’m still not entirely sold. [***]

22. Jenny Erpenbeck, The End of Days (Germany, 2012/14). One woman’s five lives in the 20th century. Wonderfully interweaves the personal with the grand sweep of history. [****]

21. Erwin Mortier, While the Gods Were Sleeping (Belgium, 2008/14). Fragments of the First World War in the memory of an old Flemish woman. [****]

20. Marcello Fois, Bloodlines (Italy, 2009/14). The first half of the 20th century through the eyes of one Sardinian family. [****]

19. Can Xue, The Last Lover (China, 2005/14). I hate it when I can do more than shrug my shoulders at a book, but I must concede that I just wasn’t on the wavelength of this dreamlike novel. [***]

18. Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, By Night the Mountain Burns (Equatorial Guinea, 2008/14). A tale of the narrator’s childhood, with the rhythms of oral storytelling. [****]

17. Karl Ove Knausgaard, Boyhood Island (Norway, 2010/14). Volume 3 of My Struggle, and my least favourite so far. [***]

16. Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Japan, 2014). More straightforwardly realist (relatively speaking!) than I would generally associate with Murakami, this was only the second book I’d read by him. I quite liked it, but am still feeling ambivalent. [***]

15. Daniel Kehlmann, F (Austria/Germany, 2013/14). Three brothers and family secrets. Not what I expected, and all the better for it. [****}

14. Alan Garner, Red Shift (England, 1973). A stripped-back tale of three time periods linked by place, and more besides. [****]

13. Dorthe Nors, Karate Chop/Minna Needs Rehearsal Space (Denmark, 2008-15). Short, sharp stories and an incantatory novella. [****]

12. Aki Ollikainen, White Hunger (Finland, 2012/15). The stark tale of a farming family trying to survive through a famine. [****]

11. Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall (England, 2013). Re-read: holds up the second time around. [****]

10. Eula Biss, On Immunity (USA  , 2014). Non-fiction: thinking around the subject of immunity. [****]

9. Chigozie Obioma, The Fishermen (Nigeria, 2015). A prophecy drives a wedge between four brothers in a tale made of broad strokes. [***]

8. Lucy Wood, Weathering (England 2015). Three generations of women and the landscape that haunts their lives. Between Diving Belles and this, Wood has become an essential writer. [*****]

7. Alex Christofi, Glass (England, 2015). An eccentric tale of growing up and skulduggery in the world of window cleaning. [***]

6. Natalie Haynes, The Amber Fury (England, 2014). Greek tragedy in an Edinburgh pupil referral unit. It trundles along pleasantly enough, but I felt I missed out by not knowing enough about the subject. [***]

5. Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (USA, 2013). The famous ‘twist’ is actually just a piece of information held back for a short while by the narrator for her own reasons. It’s part of a broader theme about uncertainty and how the order of information matters. Frustratingly, this seemed to clash unproductively with the narrative, and I wasn’t particularly taken with the book as a whole. [***]

4. Per Olov Enquist, The Wandering Pine (Sweden, 2008/15). A somewhat oblique journey through the author’s life. Includes one of the best depictions of childhood that I’ve read in some time. [*****]

3. Hiromi Kawakami, Manazuru (Japan, 2006/10). I never quite felt that I unlocked Strange Weather in Tokyo/The Briefcase – but I really liked this. [****]

2. Machi Tawara, Salad Anniversary (Japan, 1987/9). I probably needed to know more about Japanese poetry in order to get the most out of this collection. [***}

1. Han Kang, The Vegetarian (South Korea, 2007/15). A woman  stops eating meat and dreams of becoming a tree, whatever the cost. Haunting, disturbing, and strangely beautiful. [*****]