Books I read in 2015

(2014's list is here)

I'm not sure how I managed it, but I read a LOT in 2015! I'm actually not really sure how I had time to read so much--I think mostly I stayed up way too late finishing excellent books and spent a lot of days sleepy because of it. 

Just for fun, here's some statistics:

Total books read: 58

Stand alone books: 43
Books that are part of a series: 15

Non-fiction: 18
Adult Fantasy: 5
Adult Fiction: 13
YA Historical Fiction: 1
YA Sc-Fi/Fantasy: 17
YA Dystopian: 2
YA Graphic Novels: 2

Average length: 298 pages

Total pages read: 17,286

Here are the books I read, listed by month (the ones I've posted pictures of were my favorites):

January

1. Cress by Marissa Meyer. This was the continuation of a series I started in 2014. I really enjoy the series and I look forward to reading the final book very soon!

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus. This was a book club read picked by my friend Nycole and I really enjoyed it! 

3. Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. This was a memoir by a midwife who started her career in the 60s when midwifery was just getting its feet back under it. Reading this while pregnant gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to have a VBAC and made me grateful for my awesome midwives!

February



4. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. This was a half realistic, half fantastic tale of a childless family living in the Alaskan back country in the 1930s (I think?). There was a lot of beautiful snowy imagery and some lovely, understated magic that I really loved. This is one of my favorite books from this year!

5. South of Superior by Ellen Allgood. This was another book club read and I only finished it because I wanted to be able to discuss it at our meeting. There wasn't anything particularly offensive about it, it was just boring and fairly poorly written. 

6. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spencer. This was the second book in a series by these authors that introduces a fun futuristic sci-fi world that I really enjoyed spending time in. 

March

7. Fairest: Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer. This was a semi-stand alone novel that accompanied the series that Cress is a part of. It gave some background to the main villain of the story and made her a bit more understandable, something I always enjoy. 

8. Man without a face by Masha Gessen. This is a must-read biography of Vladimir Putin. Jesse and I spend a TON of time talking about Russia and Russia-related stuff so this really helped me enjoy our conversations more. 

9.T aming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Another book club read, but this one I loved! I didn't read a ton of Shakespeare in high school so it was fun to broaden my horizons beyond just Romeo and Juliet.

April



10. Words will break cement by Masha Gessen. By the same author as the Putin biography, this was an account of the Russian social activists in the group Pussy Riot. 

11. Code name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. This YA Historical Fiction novel follows two female British air service agents in WWII. I really cannot say enough good things about this book. It was one of my favorite reads this year!


12. The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison. I tend to stay away from fiction by Mormon authors that is geared towards Mormon audiences and this book reminded me why, though from the opposite side as usual. I see pretty keenly many of the problems in the church but Harrison seemed to feel like she needed to bring them all up in one book, and it felt incredibly forced. I really wanted to like this book but I was incredibly disappointed.

13. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. This book club read followed a young man who decided to go live on his own in the Alaskan back country and was eventually found dead there. We ended up having a fascinating discussion about following dreams, responsibility to family, and benefits of taking risks. 



14. There Once lived a woman who tried to kill her neighbor's baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. This collection of short stories is billed as "scary fairy tales" and does a great job of toe-ing the fantasty/realism line. The stories are set in Russia and have some lovely Russian folk tale elements that I really loved. 

15. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. This played along those same realism/fantasy lines that I apparently really got into this year. The writing was really great and eerie and awesome.

May



16. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. This was my book club pick for the summer and for me at least it was SO GOOD. Bradbury writes about what it's like to be a young boy in rural America in the 1920s through a series of episodic chapters. The writing was astounding and some of his beautiful springtime imagery comes back to me almost daily. 

17. Hey Natalie Jean by Natalie Holbrook. A blogger I read and really enjoy came out with a book of essays, but it ended up being mostly recycled content from her blog. It made me glad I checked it out from the library instead of spending money on it.



18. The life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. It's pretty cliche to say but this book was LIFE CHANGING. It definitely changed how I see stuff and helped me ease back on some of my hoarder instincts. 

19. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal. I don't remember much about this YA Fantasy book now but I remember really enjoying it at the time! If I remember right, there was some great character development and some interest religion/magic that was fun to read.

June

20. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. This YA Fantasy novel had an awesome premise (desert magic, people being inhabited by gods, etc) but the ending was really unsatisfying and it unfortunately tainted the rest of the novel for me. I've been bummed about it for months. 

21. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie. I always love a good Christie mystery and this one was very satisfying. 

22. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Another book club read. This one was an enjoyable read until the last 6 pages, when the author made some major, unexpected decisions that ruined the whole book for me. Very frustrating.

23. Eat Well, Lose Weight, While Breastfeeding by Eileen Behan, R.D. This book made me realize that I didn't actually want to lose weight that badly (not badly enough to stop eating cookies every day, at least). 

24. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. This and the next book were my attempt to remember what happened in the first 2 books of the series before I read the final one in the trilogy. They were very fun to re-read!

July

25. Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale. See above.

26. Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale. Guys, I always love a good Shannon Hale novel. This one tied up the series in a way that was satisfying and unexpected, which is always a good combination. 

27. Detroit City is the Place to Be by Mark Binelli. This was my attempt to learn more about Detroit, a city that I like but don't know a lot about. This book by former-native Binelli was just what I needed.

28. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Sisneros. Excellent book club read that prompted some great discussions about race and the experience of growing up. Very enjoyable. 



29. The Word for World is Forest by Ursula LeGuin. Jesse is a big LeGuin fan but this was my first! It's an older book so the writing was somewhat different than I was used to (think Asimov-style sci-fi language) but I really enjoyed this one. 

30. Stung by Bethany Wiggins. Lest you think I love everything I read, let me present to you this very disappointing dystopian novel. I actually have no idea why I finished this one at all.

August

31. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I have always loved the Miyazaki film adaptation of this book and the novel itself was similarly superb. It was fun parsing out differences between the book and film and getting to enjoy the characters anew.



32. Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks. This memoir of what it's like growing up as a Mormon woman really spoke to me. I loved it so much that I immediately bought a copy so I can write in the margins. Very, very good. 

33. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. This is another classic that I feel like I ought to have read in school growing up but somehow didn't. We read it for book club and it was very thought provoking.

34. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I really, really wanted to like this futuristic sci-fi novel but I really, didn't. I liked it enough to finish it, sure, but overall it rubbed me the wrong way and I don't remember it fondly.

September

35. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. This novel played along those same realism/fantasy lines but wasn't executed as well as I would have liked. 



36. Summers at castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn. This was a really fun fantasy novel by an author I like but haven't read anything from in awhile. Very enjoyable.

37. Flunking Sainthood by Jana Riess. Riess' memoir of trying to be a better person of faith through religious practice was enjoyable and thought provoking. 



38. The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. I got this book for free through Blogging for Books and loved it! It was a collection of short stories based in Russia that stretched from the 1910s until now, with a series of characters that are all connected in some way.

October

39. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I re-read Seraphina so I could remember enough to read the second book in the series, Shadow Scale. It was delightful to re-read it and still enjoy it just as much as the first time!

40. Grace is not God's backup plan by Adam Miller. This modern paraphrasing of Romans was short and sweet and just what I needed. 



41. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. The sequel (and final book in the series) to Seraphina, this book had a wider scope and very satisfying character development. Very, very good.

42. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I was looking for something to read in between other books and thought I'd give this popular book a try. Wrong choice. Not good.



43. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This book was set in the same world as the Grisha Trilogy that I enjoyed so much last year. It followed different characters and was centered around a heist, and it was really fun to delve back into that world I enjoyed so much the first time. The only problem was that I thought it was a standalone book until the final 2 pages, when I realized with a jolt that it was the beginning of another trilogy. While I'm very excited to spend more time in that world, at the time I was very frustrated and may or may not have yelled so loudly that I woke up Miriam. Whoops.



 44. Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman. I got this cookbook for free from Blogging for Books and it is AWESOME. Never before have I been tempted to spend 3 hours in the kitchen making tacos but the recipes in this book are so good that I've done so every 3 weeks since I got this book. SUCH GOOD TACOS.

45. Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This was a book club read, and for me a re-read of a book I remembered loving as a kid. If anything it was better this time around!

November



46. Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix. This was a mix between historical fiction and fantasy and it was SO FUN. The main character's magical emerald gets stolen and she goes undercover as a man in Regency London to find it. Very fun, especially for fans of Regency era (think Jane Austen) novels. 

47. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I had read this book club read in high school but really, really enjoyed re-reading it as an adult and discussing it with my amazing book club ladies.



48. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. Think teenagers in love in the midst of a zombie space opera and you've got a good feel for what this book is like. Surprisingly, it was extremely fun!



49. Accidental Saints: Finding God in all the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber. I first heard about this book on NPR and was super excited when I scored a copy of it for free through Blogging for Books. The author is a tatooed Lutheran pastor in Denver who helped me rethink who it is that God has given me to love (read: everyone, even people on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me). This was a really excellent book.

50. Why not me? by Mindy Kaling. As an avid Mindy fan I was glad to finally read her second memoir. She starts out the book being very flippant and lighthearted but ends it with some hard hitting thoughts about race, being a woman, and love. I really enjoyed it.

December



51. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. This YA Graphic Novel followed some interesting characters and had great art. It's my first ever graphic novel (unless you count some Manga I read in high school) and I loved it. 

52. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. This was our December book club read (and the first Lewis book I've read that wasn't part of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe series) and it was fantastic. We had an amazing discussion about our perspectives on heaven and our lives now, and I think we all left feeling like we had learned something from each other. 

53. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman. I started this biography of the founder of the Mormon church in August but at 560 pages it obviously took me awhile to finish it. I found it very informative (though quite slanted to Bushman's perspective as an active Mormon) and was glad to have read it.

54. New Testament -- King James Version. I have been teaching the New Testament in Sunday School this year and set a goal to read the whole book while I went. I finished it in the nick of time!

55. Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam S. Miller. Since I was apparently on a theological kick this fall/winter, I decided to read this one as well. Miller writes on a series of topics as though he's writing to a young friend for whom these topics are very relevant. I found his words uplifting and he definitely changed the way I think about some things (oddly enough, the thing he changed for me the most was food! Weird, huh?)

56. Lumber Janes by Noelle Stevenson. Another graphic novel by Stevenson. Short, sweet, and fantasy-laced, this one was enjoyable and I can't wait for the second one to be available at my library so I can read it too.

57. Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. The final book in the trilogy, this book was mildly disappointing. I kept thinking that perhaps I should have re-read the other two books first, because I felt like I was missing details that would have made this final book more fulfilling. It was alright, though. 

58. Cultures of the World: Moldova by Patricia Sheehan and Lynette Quek. This was, oddly enough, a Juvenile Fiction book that was just at my attention level. It has a lot of really great information that took me a step above Wikipedia in understanding the country we're moving to next year! 

I felt like my reading was a lot better balanced this year. I read way more non-fiction (and enjoyed it, to boot!) and more classics, which is always good. I'm a little nervous about reading in 2016--I'll need to switch to e-books when we move overseas in August! I'm not a big e-book fan (I think I've started a few and never finished them...) but I don't know if I can live without reading so I will have to learn. To my e-book fan friends: any tips and tricks for liking to read e-books?

Comments

melissa said…
I read a lot too! I just read at inappropriate times and ignore my kids sometimes, nbd.

I ended up with 49. Nate was disappointed that I didn't make it a round 50, but probably half of them hardly counted because they were Agatha Christie or something and took me about two hours. They do count, but hardly. My most enjoyed books were nonfiction this year too, which is almost always the case for me. I loved The Boys in the Boat and Dead Wake (two very different kinds of boats). I also read Girl Waits With Gun, which was awesome and by an author who wrote a nonfiction book about gardening that I loved a few years ago.

Good luck e-reading. I am not a pro at it so I have no tips! But good luck. I am going to steal a few off your list to read next year.
julis said…
Thanks for the book list! I really really need to do a better job of tracking my books. Which you have inspired me to do for 2016. So thanks for that!
Thanks for the book suggestions. I've turned to the dark side. 99% of my reading is ebooks right now. I just can't hold a book with E. I also do the majority of my reading in the dark when I should be sleeping. Ahem. What really changed it for me was discovering my library's online collection. They have so many good books on there that I'm pretty much never without something to read. I just find it so much easier with one hand to hold a phone and touch to turn the page than holding a real book, especially since E's favorite food is paper. Ha.
1) This is crazy impressive
2) Question: Do you ever quit books? At what book do you call it quits? I hate wasting time on a book that doesn't feel "worthwhile", but at the same time that means I've wasted a lot of time stopping and starting books.
3) If you like the eerie feel (have you ever read the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper"?), you might try the Southern Reach trilogy, starting with Annihiliation, by Jeff Vandermeer. It feels a bit sci-fi but weird and eerie (perhaps "slipstream" genre?).
Meg N. said…
This is inspiring me to put some of your selections on my reading list!
Kylie said…
Holy cow!! I had a goal to read 35 and I only made it to 29. :( I think it was mostly due to taking on the Wheel of Time series though - those books are huge. I actually LOVE my Kindle. My love for it started when I was nursing Zuzu and MAN - that lighted screen is the best thing ever. Plus it's so much easier to read with 1 hand. I also love it for trips, you can take so many books without taking up so much space. I'm not saying I like it better than regular books, but I definitely love it. Our library has pretty much anything on ebook (bless you, Bill Gates!), and you could probably use my library card if you need to. Good luck!

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