29 December 2015 | Adult Fiction

98 and counting …

This year I have kept a tally of the books I have read. With three days to go until the end of the year, I am up to number 98, and I have every intention of reading my way to 100 books by midnight 2015. Silly isn’t it, to think that 100 books is somewhat better than 98?

At the Sydney Writers’ Festival this year, Anne Buist – who writes under the pen name Simone Sinna and who is married to Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project – told an audience of 500 that she usually read about 200 books a year. There was a collective gasp, then silence as we all took in this amazing accomplishment.

I do read a lot of children’s fiction, and some of those books are reasonably slim. It always takes me longer to read non-fiction as I need to focus more to understand the content rather than enjoy a story.

I’m grateful to all my friends and family who give or lend me books. Big thanks to the family members on both sides who gave me wonderful books for Christmas – thanks C and SP!

Below is a list of my favourite adult fiction books I’ve read this year. I’ve added a link if I’ve reviewed the book earlier and I’ve tried to give a mini book review here in a couple of words because it’s holidays and I’m feeling a little lazy!

  • Burial rites by Hannah Kent – gripping, original – account of the last woman hanged in Iceland in 1829.


  • In the quiet by Eliza Henry Jones – heartbreaking, evocative – a family in grief after their mother and wife dies, narrated by the dead woman who is able to observe her family.


  • The natural way of things by Charlotte Wood – stirring, original, unsettling, horrifying – ten woman are imprisoned in the middle of nowhere for past sexual experiences.


  • Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – detailed, gripping, sad, 800 pages long – the story of a thirteen year-old boy who is caught up in a horrible event which is the catalyst for the next decade or so of his life.


  • The invention of wings by Sue Monk Kidd – compelling, detailed – account of a southern American family caught up in slavery riots and changes.


  • Big little lies by Liane Moriarty – hilarious, perceptive, page-turning – story of three women with children at the same primary school, with themes of bullying, domestic violence, friendship.

eye of the sheep - book review

  • The eye of the sheep by Sofie Laguna – sad, beautiful – told through the eyes of a small boy – themes of family violence and family love.


  • The beast’s garden by Kate Forsythe – gripping, horrifying, page-turning, evocative – set in Berlin during WWII, a love story.


  • Mothers Grimm by Danielle Wood – original, thought-provoking, perceptive – four ‘long’ short stories with a modern take on fairy tales, centred around the idea of the ‘good’ mother.


  • The women’s pages by Debra Adelaide – interesting, detailed, quiet – a story within a story, focuses on details of women’s lives in different generations.

After rereading my list, I’ve noticed that most of my favourite books are on the serious side. There’s the horror of war, imprisonment, children’s fears, death, grief. I would read all of these books again – for the story and for appreciating the writing craft. I love a page-turning book, where I care about the characters so much that I want to find out what happens to them. I am probably  – definitely – guilty of cooking a late dinner for my kids or staying up way past my bedtime, thanks to the wonder of these books!

Perhaps there might be a book here which would make perfect summer reading for you or perhaps you have read some of these books, too? Let me know in the comments if you have a favourite book for 2015 that I could read for 2016.

In conversation with Hanya Yanagihara



Wow! That’s a magnificent achievement, Karen.
I was hoping to read 12 books this year, yet will settle for the six I completed. Thanks for sharing your list – I now have some more great ideas and inspiration for my list in 2016. Here’s to some great reads, whatever the number. Thank you!

December 29, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Karen Comer

    I agree, Vanessa – a good book read is a good book read, regardless of the number.

    December 29, 2015 at 9:33 am


      I would recommend Stasiland, penned by Anna Funder. This is a masterpiece, created from Anna’s live interviews with the variety of people whom endured life behind the Berlin Wall. A must read for those curious about life in East Germany.

      December 29, 2015 at 9:48 am

Karen Comer

I loved Anna Funder’s ‘All that I am’. I loved it – but it was so chilling. Thanks for the recommendation, Vanessa – will hunt it out at the library!

December 29, 2015 at 10:06 am

Terri Dixon

Certainly a wonderful achievement Karen. Pleased to say I have read 4 of your list.

I have just finished “Defending Jacob”, it could possibly be classed a court room drama, but I would put it under “Didn’t see that coming”. An entertaining read.


December 29, 2015 at 4:48 pm


Amazing, Karen! You are the reading goddess! I have Mothers Grimm on loan at the moment so it will need to be next on my list (I’ve just started The Secret Chord). I read Burial Rites and Goldfinch too. I didn’t enjoy Burial Rites as much as the hype had suggested – I think I was too consumed by the knowledge of her barbaric fate. Goldfinch I enjoyed more. I have The Natural Way of Things on my list for this year… along with all my daughter’s year 12 English and Lit books!

December 29, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Karen Comer

    Your daughter is lucky to have you as her personal Lit tutor, Carolyn! I received ‘The Secret Chord’ for Christmas – looking forward to reading it. Let me know what you think of ‘The Natural Way of Things’ – it’s not exactly light reading because of the subject matter but chillingly good.

    December 30, 2015 at 7:46 am


Aah, can’t spell my own name!!!

December 29, 2015 at 10:04 pm

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