My Year in Books

As the year comes to an end I feel I must review my year in books. Thank goodness for GoodReads, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to keep them straight. I read a lot but not nearly enough. My list of books to read is growing fast and the time to read them is shrinking but I suppose all book lovers have the same woes. To compound my lack of time to read I have also a great love for movies and certain TV shows (different but still storytelling) which takes even more of my already depleted free time.

However, I did get to read quite a bit. Not all of it was terribly good reading but some of it was excellent. I read a lot of young adult and even children’s books (from picture to chapter books) and I have to say that I am always surprised by the genius of these writers. As adults we have the tendency sometimes to snob novels and stories written for the younger crowd but it’s been my experience that beautiful writing happens in every genre (ok, maybe not in porn) directed at any age group. Children’s picture books have the added benefit of also featuring visual art, some of it breathtaking.

So, instead of boring you with ALL the books I have read this year, I will focus only on the ones I liked best. Here it goes:

Adult Fiction

Someone Else’s Lovestory by Joshlyn Jackson – I bought this book out of a whim for two reasons; one, the title intrigued me and two, it was an autographed copy. Now, I had never heard of this author but I am a sucker for autographed books. Don’t ask me why, I have absolutely no clue. But I digress, so let’s go back to the book.  This novel was a wonderful surprise. It was quirky, surprising, and well-woven and left me smiling.

Handmaid’s Tale  by Margaret Attwood – Wow! I can’t say I actually liked this book since I cringed through the whole thing. Amazing story, however disturbing (oh, and it IS disturbing). If you never read it, do it but be prepared to have lots of homicidal thoughts while you do, especially if you are a woman.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – Talk about another novel that makes you cringe all the way through… beautifully written, almost poetic at times. Even though extremely tragic and sad, it leaves you with a feeling of hope.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness– Very long but very interesting. It may be a bit boring at times for people who are not as interested in old lore or historical document research but other than that, the story introduced extremely interesting characters and even more interesting relationships.

Young Adult Fiction

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak – It should be illegal to have the talent to write such an amazing novel. I cried through the whole story. It was creative (having death be the narrator), poetic, hard-hitting, and heart-wrenching all at the same time. The movie did not make it justice.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – I am a huge fan of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. Her writing is skillful and beautiful, her characters are tri-dimensional and complex, and her sense of humor is awesome. However, I do think that she stretched this series one book too far. I felt that this installment served more to introduce characters of an upcoming series and tying ends for another of her series (The Infernal Devices) as if she was out of material for this one. If on one hand it was interesting to see how she wove all of her other series into this book, it also took away from the actual story and characters of The Mortal Instruments. The book has brilliant moments but it is not as memorable as the others were. I still love your writing Cassandra Clare!

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – This has to be by far my favoritest (I know that’s not a word!) book this year. A friend of mine had recommended it so I bought it but didn’t read it right away. It wasn’t until I found myself with no reading material in my favorite coffee shop that I picked up the book. I was never able to put it down again. It’s poetic, it’s insightful, it’s quirky, it’s…there are no words; you will just have to read it. I was so in love with the characters I wanted to be 16 again and be their friend.

Between by Megan Whitmer – Here’s another book I picked up for free from Amazon Prime. I was so pleasantly surprised by the story, the writing, the characters… this is a little unknown jewel. Other than some editing problems (sentences stopping abruptly in the middle of the page to be picked up in the next line, technical stuff like that probably had nothing to do with the writer but with the publisher, instead), the story was creative, poetic (yes, I like poetic stuff. So, sue me), and the characters were believable and likable.

The Selection by Kiera Cass – I hesitated to add this one to the list because the writing is not up to par with the above mentioned books. Not to say it’s bad, just simpler. However, the story is very interesting. I haven’t read the others in the series yet so I don’t know whether the author will be able to keep it that way but I am hoping she will. The story is like The Bachelor meets Cinderella and yes, at times it is predictable but who doesn’t like a good fairy tale???

Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries – If you loved Veronica Mars, you are going to like Ruby Rose. This mystery series is witty, well-written and populated with likable, spunky, imperfect characters that you will be rooting for before you even realize. Awesome read. Can’t wait to read the sequel.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – Targeted at the younger crowd (my fifth graders are reading it after I promoted it shamelessly in a book talk), this novel is amazing in its lyricism, spookiness, and imagination.

Non-Fiction

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction unless I need to. But I have recently read a book that I thought was as entertaining as it was inspiring and I would be remiss if I didn’t mentioned it in this list.

The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig – If you are a writer and you want advice that inspires you as much as it makes you laugh, this is the book for you.  I never had such a good time reading non-fiction.

I end my list here even though I read a lot of other equally good books (like the classic Rebecca) and some not so good. I hope 2015 is as good (or better) year in terms of literary products as this year was and that you all may find your bliss within the pages of a great novel sometime soon. Happy New Year.

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