Top 5 Books of 2015

The true essence of story to me is words. Here are my best collections of words to tell stories in the past year:

The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan

An uncompromising, visceral tale of war, love, and the realities of time. The story of the life of Dorrigo Evans takes us from remote hillsides of his youth in Tasmania through to the horrors of the Thai-Burma death railway and the scenes of love lost, found and lost again as times takes everything. A remarkable book, both moving and intensely affirming.

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All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Characterisation finely tuned is the true hero of a story in my eyes. Werner and Marie-Laurie, two young people with childish curiosities and talents that become manipulated into pure survival traits when war comes to Europe, are possibly my two favourite protagonists of all time. A mesmerising journey of youth prevailing war, so expertly written that it provides deep emotional reaction.

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Friday Night Lights – A Town, a Team, and a Dream (25th Anniversary Edition)

Buzz Bissinger’s invaluable insight into small-town Texas’ cultural fascination with American Football was a pleasurable re-read for me. However, the additional afterword from the author, after he returns to find out what has happened to the boys who are the subjects (in a variety of ways) of the book 25 years later, has kept me thinking for months. Both heartbreaking and placating, a book that is more pertinent and transcending than when it was first written.

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Ghost Wars – Steve Coll

To say this booked knocked me back is an understatement. Originally published in 2005, Coll’s history of Afghanistan from the 1979 Soviet invasion through September 11, 2001, provides essential background into the world we are currently living in. Coll’s focus on how misguided interventions along with ideological movements have torn the country apart, turning it into a haven for extremists. Never more relevant.

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Dirty Pretty Things – Michael Faudet

Suggestiveness, eroticism and words perfectly intertwined. A little gem I found this year that refreshed my interest in poetry.

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All of these books I read in print form, which I absolutely love to do. Often on the train to and from work, on holidays, and on an evening in the bath (my happy place). My lovely wife has recently advised my family to buy me a kindle, which I have recently received as a gift. This may have already changed the way I find books as I recently downloaded (with one-click, in a matter of seconds) a book I have been searching for in print for over two months. Is the a good thing?

Ben Haller ©2015

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