Fantasy, science fiction, and philosophy: Ashleigh’s favourite books from 2015

Vireo owner Ashleigh Mattern is a voracious reader. These are some of her favourite books she read in 2015.

Last year, I made a goal for myself to read 50 books in a year. I managed to pull it off, but just barely. So this year, I told myself I was only going to read casually — and I ended up reading 42 books. It’s fair to say, I love reading. Here are some of my favourite books from the past year.

Cover image for Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

The books in this series are some of the best I’ve ever read — and I’m an English major. I love all of the characters like they exist. It’s hard to believe the planet Barrayar is made up. My favourite “series within the series” were Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, and Memory, as well as Komarr and A Civil Campaign. Another of my favourites, Cryoburn, shouldn’t be read until you’ve read them all. But you should read these books, even if you’re not usually a sci-fi fan! This may be the series that makes you one.

Cover image for Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold

Unlike the Vorkosigan Saga, I do not recommend the Sharing Knife to everyone. This is a fantasy romance series, and some people simply will not like it. There are a few stumbling blocks to enjoying this series, including a 36-year age difference between the romantic couple (who also tend to be a little bit too perfect at times), but if you can get past it all, you’ll find a rich alternate Earth overflowing with magic and action and adventure. If you’re open to romance, you’ll probably like this series. If romance grosses you out, it’s probably best that you leave this one alone.

Cover image for lying by Sam Harris

Lying by Sam Harris

Before I’d even finished reading this long-form essay by Sam Harris, I decided I wasn’t going to lie any more. The book focuses on “white” lies, “those lies we tell for the purpose of sparing people discomfort…. the only lies that good people tell while imagining they are being good in the process,” and Harris makes a compelling case for doing away with them. Lying is something we’re all familiar with, and Harris writes about it frankly, with clear, succinct language, making this an easy read that is at the same time incredibly challenging.

Cover image for The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a book for people who love books. The story revolves around A.J. Fikry, a bookkeeper and a lover of literature, and discussions about stories and books are woven into every aspect of the story. The inside jokes about the books I’ve read made me smile conspiratorially, and the inside jokes about the books I haven’t read made me want to write down the titles so I could read them later. But even if you don’t get the references, there is still a story to be enjoyed here.