Monday, January 11, 2016

Top 10 Books of 2015

I've mentioned before how much I love the stats feature of Goodreads. I love being able to track the books I read year by year and see them all laid out in neat little graphs. It's just thrills me to see, and tickles some slight competitive bone in me that makes me want to read more and more just to see the numbers stack up.

This year, I read 48 books. My goal at the beginning of the year was to read 25 books for pleasure. Some of those 48 were books assigned for school, but the vast majority were for pleasure, which means I blew my goal out of the water. (I like setting the bar low, it always makes me feel so good when I super exceed.) 48 still feels like kind of low number to me (after all, it's less than a book a week), but since I am a full time grad student as well as a mother of two, I try to cut myself some slack.

All in all, the reading was pretty good this year. As per tradition. I've gone through and selected my top 10 favorite reads from 2015. It's kind of a fun exercise to do this, because it always reveals to me how arbitrary the five-star rating system is for me. I find that by the end of the year I've often changed my mind on some of the ratings I gave immediately after reading a book, or find that another book I didn't rate very highly has actually stayed with me in a surprisingly powerful way. Anyway, in order of when I read them (not order of value), here are my top 10 from 2015:

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - Because the stupid book really did change my life, so how could I not include it? Although as a literary piece, this would rank toward the bottom. (Read all the posts here.)

2. Peace Like a River by Lief Enger - After a few months I found I've forgotten some details of the plot, but not the experience of reading it. This was just some beautiful reading.

3. The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber - This was not the book I was hoping it to be, there were plenty of flaws, but as far as an intimate anatomy of marriage and long-distance relationships, I loved it. (Sort-of-review here.)

4. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell - Look, this is not Mitchell's best book, and I do not universally recommend it. But David Mitchell scratches every single one of my literary itches. He can do no wrong for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed this latest example of his genius and versatility.

5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - Once again, this was not a book without flaws, but I love me some post-apocalyptic novels and I love me some Shakespeare. Put them together and throw in some interesting plot structure, and I'm sold.

6. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - I know this book got some hate when it came out, and most people were disappointed with it. I'm not saying it's as good as To Kill a Mockingbird, because it definitely isn't. But it is still a story that I haven't stopped thinking about, with some ideas in it I'm still chewing over, and that's the mark of a worthy read to me. (Full review here.)

7. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion - This book was a surprise for me. I knew nothing about it going in, but completely fell in love with Didion's beautiful writing style, as well as her insightful and intimate descriptions of grief. This is one to revisit, I think, in a future season of grief.

8. Peter Pan by J.M Barrie - The book is better. So, so much better. (Full review here.)

9. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell - The book is not necessarily better, but how wonderful to be inside Mr. Thornton's thoughts! What a perfectly delicious, delightful and complex novel.

10. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - Not much plot to speak of, so perhaps not a terribly exciting read. But it was a beautiful exploration of Christian belief, full of depth, simple and elegant. I want to read more by Marilynne Robinson, that much I know.

Honorable Mentions

-All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - Because it really was very good, even though I don't feel like it quite lived up to the hype.

- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - Because it was just so much fun.

What were your top reads of the year?


  1. Friend has read magic of tidying up and has been giving me daily installments. We've been supporting one another de-cluttering. off to read your previous posts. Though I should be tackling yet another bookcase in the name of deep de-cluttering

  2. Very cool! "Gilead" is one of my all time favorites. One of the best books I read in 2015 was "Half a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Adichie. Here's a post I wrote about it if you're interested.

    1. Thanks, Beth! Half a Yellow Sun sounds like a very good one, I'll have to add it to my to-read list.