I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself. When I started 2015, my goal was to start reading again. I love reading so much but I had stopped reading for fun while in college, with so many ‘required readings’ and part-time jobs taking up my time. I am very excited to say that I met and exceeded my goal this year. I have read 38 books in the year 2015! I was reminded why I love reading so much, I love immersing myself in someone else’s world.
My other goal, aside from just reading, I wanted to read more books that weren’t in my comfort zone. I’m pretty standard in my taste in books, fiction novels usually literary. In another life, I am an awesome English teacher. I read plenty of those books this year but I also branched out. I read non-fiction, short stories, essays, satire, romance, and sci-fi. I definitely think that branching out to different genres made me a more intelligent person and gave me an appreciation for more types of writing.
Of course there were books I liked, books I didn’t like, books I loved, books I hated-etc, all a matter of taste. I reviewed many of these books here on my blog, and also on Goodreads. I want to discuss some of my highs and lows on what I read this year. First off, how do I choose the books I read? Good question. There isn’t a single answer, but I do check out a lot of reading lists. I scour Twitter and Facebook for lists of all kinds: debut authors, best fiction releases, most talked about, funniest-etc. My biggest source for books to read was BuzzFeed. You may be surprised but they have amazing book lists. They turned me on to some of my all-time favorites. I also take suggestions from friends and sometimes I do it the old fashioned way-I go to a bookstore and just pick up something that looks interesting.
What a year for YA!
I’ll admit, I have fallen for the false belief that Young Adult novels are for teenagers and I am ‘advanced’ for that. Ugh, I sound so annoying. The truth of the matter is that the YA brand is purely marketing (I should know, I work in marketing). Teenagers are very big readers (believe it or not!), so many publishers want to push to that demographic and they brand books YA for that reason. It does not mean that you can’t read or enjoy these books as an adult. YA actually tackles a lot of very serious topics: depression, sacrifice, government instability, terminal disease-just to name a few. It’s not all high school locker talk.
This year I read some wonderful Young Adult books. I finished out the Divergent Series, and let me tell you I was glued to the pages! While the movies are good, I think Veronica Roth’s novels are much more insightful and deep then the total action filled films. Some of my absolute favorite books I read this year were in this genre. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is so powerful and heartbreaking; I challenge you to read it without shedding a tear. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia was also a 5-star read for me. It isn’t getting near enough buzz, but I think everyone should read it. Also, Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun is just beautiful.
Science Fiction may not be all that bad
Science Fiction has never interested me in the least. I’m not good with things that can’t really happen or are questionable at best for happening. It is hard for me to immerse myself in that world. I have too many questions. Why are there aliens? Where did they come from? Etc. But I dove into a few Science Fiction novels this year and I was pleasantly surprised. After seeing the blockbuster Jurassic World in theaters I decided to read Crichton’s original novel that inspired the empire. I really felt the suspense in the novel and I wasn’t bogged down with questions, it was really masterful writing. I also read The Martian by Andy Weir. I did not think I’d finish this book, space is really not my thing. But the narration was great and the plot was very interesting, I just needed to know if he’d get off that planet and how! I’m not fully converted into a sci-fi geek or anything but I do have a newfound respect for the genre.
Nonfiction-the real world
My mother loves to read as much as I do but our main difference is that she loves nonfiction and I love fiction. I love the fact that the author can make up whatever they want, I want to see their own creativity at work, they are fully in control. I dipped my toe in the ‘nonfiction waters’ by reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I picked good ones for a non-fiction beginner. I’ve been a follower of Roxane Gay on Twitter for awhile, and she has really has provided me great insight on feminism, racism, and intersectionality. Her book of essays was wonderful because she points out her own flaws and says that you can like Barbie but also be a feminist, you don’t have to be this stereotype. I had wanted to read Sandberg’s book for awhile, now that I am in the working world and it didn’t disappoint. It is sad to see how different women are treated in the workplace but important to notice it and to do something about it. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else will. I feel much more confident in the working world thanks to her book. I seem to like nonfiction so much that my first book of 2016 happens to be nonfiction, oh man what has happened to me?
I read so many amazing books, I can talk about them forever. And I could talk even longer about the books I didn’t like. But instead of boring you with that I’ll just list my top 5 of the year and my bottom 5 of the year. If you ever want a book recommendation or would like to discuss a book please comment and do so! Nothing excites my book nerd more than discussing books! I’m ready for a whole new crop of books for 2016!
1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
2. Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm
3. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
4. Barbara The Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes
5. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
1. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
2. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
3. The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison
4. A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell
5. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi