10 of the best books of 2015, selected by Sheila O’Reilly of Dulwich Books, voted the UK’s Best Independent Bookshop in 2014
1 The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, by Deborah Rodriguez
A compelling read about the goings on in a coffee shop in Kabul with an authentic feel to the stories. Rodriguez pulls on her experiences to offer a glimpse into life for women in Afghanistan. This novel is primarily about five characters dealing with the issues and challenges for women in Afghan culture and how little has changed over the centuries, despite the wars. It’s a powerful novel that reads like a biography as you bond with the characters, feel for them and want them to succeed. Essential reading.
2 A Spool Of Thread, by Anne Tyler
The main action of the book takes place in a suburban neighbourhood of Baltimore and revolves around the life and history of the Whitshank family. Once again we find ourselves on a domestic stage in a provincial ‘theatre’ experiencing the humdrum lives of three generations of ordinary folk. But there is nothing ordinary or humdrum about Tyler’s novel. We are pulled into the emotional web of the Whitshank family as if it were our own and I defy anyone not to recognise aspects of themselves and their families in among the hopes, fears, intrigues and endings.
3 Us, by David Nicholls
Arguably one of the major summer reads of 2015 as the author of One Day brings to bear all the wit and intelligence that graced that novel in this brilliant, bittersweet novel about love and family, husbands and wives, parents and children.
4 Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
Set in Paris in and Spain the 1920s, this is an intense, magnificent novel that established Hemingway as a writer of genius, and set him on the way to being one of the greatest literary novelists of the 20th century.
5 Meetings With Remarkable Men, by G. I. Gurdjieff
This is the second volume by inspirational teacher Gurdjieff and was adapted for film in 1979 by Peter Brook. It’s partly a travel book and part conversational, as he recounts his meetings with some remarkable men, but it’s entirely thought provoking.
6 How To Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran
This is a hilarious account by an author who knows how to tell a brilliant story as we follow the trials and tribulations of Johanna Morrigan, who at the age of 14 decides she wants to reinvent herself as the fun, fast-talking Dolly Wilde.
7 The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Insightful, bold, irreverent and raw are words that give you a sense of this fabulous novel. It’s also heartbreakingly yet brilliantly funny as we explore the thrilling and tragic business of being alive, in love and faced with terminal cancer.
8 All I Know Now, by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Where was Carrie Hope Fletcher when I was growing up? Reading All I Know Now is like chatting to and getting advice from a friend and will give a huge amount of comfort to teenagers and adults alike.
9 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey
This is a book that I go back to time and time again to help me refocus in my working life. It’s inspirational, practical and easy to read, which makes it a really useful book to keep at your side and dip into regularly.
10 The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
Written in a clear, unsentimental style, full of brusque humour and wisdom, this profoundly life-affirming story follows a grandmother and her six-year-old granddaughter as they spend the summer on a tiny island.