Back in 2008, I posited forming “Eric’s Book of the Every-So-Often Club” to provide my stamp of approval for worthy books that might be of interest to readers who follow me online. I suspected then (and still do now) that my Club membership might be small, since my reading habits tend to be restricted to an odd set of favorite categories, as follows:
10% Fiction: Usually I will read new books by the the dozen or so authors I know I already really like. Breaking in new authors is so risky and hard. Why bother, neh?
40% Natural History: Ideally books about bugs, trilobites, fish, or birds, or parasites that live(d) on bugs, trilobites, fish and birds, or things that eat/ate bugs, trilobites, fish or birds, or interesting theories about the ways that bugs, trilobites, fish and birds interact with or influence people. I’m a bugs, trilobites, fish and birds kinda guy, y’know?
40% Music Biography: I have read at least half a dozen full-length books about Genesis, to cite but one example of my vast contemporary rock biography collection. And if someone comes out with a credible new book about Genesis next year, I will read that one too. Because someone has to, right? And it might as well be me.
10% Tales of Human Suffering: People falling off of Mount Everest, going insane in the Arctic because of the toxins in their tinned food, or trying to walk across the Sahara Desert alone will always be welcome in my book collection.
Having eschewed the Club approach as a result of my arcane tastes, I have instead (every so often) posted lists of my favorite recent reads. With 2015 winding to a close, and given the ease with which such lists can be pulled from my Kindle, I thought it might be time to share my favorite new books of the past twelve months or so. Most of the titles cited below were published in 2015, though a few were late 2014 arrivals, and I didn’t get around to reading them until this year. I also read or re-read several older books not featured here; you can find out more about the cream of that crop in my Five by Five Books series.
I’ve blocked my favorite 2015 reads into the categories noted above. It was a light year for natural science, though all of the other categories were reasonably well represented. (And, yes, I did read another book about Genesis this year). I’ve particularly enjoyed having train time to read every day as part of my commute. It’s a more comfortable and thoughtful environment than standing on the elliptical at the gym, where I used to do most of my reading in prior years. Links are provided if you’d like to tackle any these tomes yourself. I enjoyed them all, and think you might, too!
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (late 2014 issue)
The Vorrh by Brian Catling (first U.S. release)
You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman
Get In Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link
Smarts: The Boundary-Busting Story of Intelligence by Elaine Dewar
The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir by Mike Rutherford
Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits . . . by Glyn Johns (late 2014 issue)
Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? by George Clinton (late 2014 issue)
Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe by Mick Wall
Van Halen Rising by Greg Renoff
Ringo: With A Little Help by Michael Seth Starr
Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire by Philip Bailey
Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein
Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored by John Lydon
TALES OF HUMAN SUFFERING:
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East by Gerard Russell (late 2014 issue)