One of my favorite book bloggers, Andi from over at Estella’s Revenge (hi, Andi!), along with Tanya at GirlXOXO and Tamara at Traveling With T, all those crazy fine bookish ladies are hosting this fabulous thing called #AMonthOfFaves during December. I love the idea of focusing on joy during a time when it’s far too easy to get caught up in the stress of The Perfect Holiday Experience. There’s a complete list of blogging suggestions over at their sites, so go check it out!
Today’s topic is your reading year, so even though that means I’m lopping off all of December, I decided to go back and revisit a book survey I posted last year.
Best of Reading in 2015
1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
Oh god, so many books to choose from! I read Tiny Beautiful Things twice straight through and loved it like a motherfucker. (Forgive me, Sugar.) The strange new flipped-upside-down world Jeff Vandermeer created in the Annihilation/Authority/Acceptance trilogy sucked me in so hard. And I fell head over heels for the magic and treasure hunting of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One in a way that made me feel like a kid discovering a new favorite book.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I had a lot of reading slumps this year, so there were entire months that I thought would be better than they were! I wanted Bossypants to be more like Yes, Please. I wanted Half of a Yellow Sun to be more like Americanah. Everyone raved about Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and while I could see good, critical, technical culture criticism, I wanted more of a good story to couch it in.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2015?
I wasn’t really expecting the Annihilation trilogy to grab me. Environmental fantasy? Good god. But it was on the Tournament of Books list, so it had to be read. They didn’t mention the Dark Tower-esque themes (or easter eggs) or I would have dived in so much sooner! I was also half-dreading Ana of California because a re-imagination of Anne of Green Gables sounds so risky. But good writing and a second half that was all its own saved the story – and landed it on my Best of 2015 list!
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2015?
Tiny Beautiful Things wins this award – and I have to admit, I only picked it up because Trish, my reading Twinner, sort of made me. Heh. How many books can you say you’ve immediately started over as soon as you’ve finished? I sent a couple copies to friend and cousins and I know a few more picked it up.
5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
You’ve heard me gushing about the Annihilation trilogy, right?
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
I read a lot of one-offs this year. But let’s see. The strength of I’ll Give You the Sun means I’ll read anything by Jandy Nelson. She has such a way of describing every day moments that burst with color and imagination and sheer magic! It’s like she crawled inside of my brain and memories and made them 1000 times more clever. Oh! And Mary Roach. I read Stiff and was enthralled by every word. I mean, who laughs out loud that much when reading about death and the science of decaying flesh? She could write about the history of the phone book and I’d still find it hard to put the book down. Betcha.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I am not much of a poetry person, but I fell hard for Tyler Knott Grigson’s Chaser of the Light. Probably didn’t hurt that I was falling for a guy while I was dipping in and out of such gorgeous prose.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Ready Player One – I needed to find out what happened! I felt like a kid again, racing to see what happened to our protagonist and if good would triumph over evil. Gracie’s getting this book for Christmas and I cannot wait to read it out loud with the girls!
9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I will most definitely be re-reading Tiny Beautiful Things – yes, for a third time. And I mentioned I would read Ready Player One out loud to the girls. I’ll probably re-read the Annihilation series because they were trippy and I read them so fast. And maybe Ben Winters’ The Last Policeman before I read the second book in the series.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
Hands down, it’s Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams.
Bee looked at it and asked why that man didn’t have a face. And then in a hushed voice, added: “It’s so pretttty.” Truth.
11. Most memorable character of 2015?
It wasn’t a year of memorable characters for me, but even if it was, the Mad Madam MIM from Mosquitoland would top the list. That book – MIM – needs to be a movie. Now.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nahisi Coates’ moving letter to his son was so timely and heartbreaking and gorgeously, necessarily affecting. Anyone who has been paying attention to what’s going on in our country right now absolutely knows that’s the right word to describe this book: NECESSARY.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
See above. Read the book. Everyone. Now.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Ready Player One. Yes, I know I don’t do very much fantasy or sci-fi, but that book was pure fun!
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
Sugar said it best: “Write like a motherfucker.” Or, um, basically the whole book. The entire mother-flipping book is a quote for my life.
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyle was an uncomfortable read, as was A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning creeped me out to no end. And the atrocities that caused Mac McLelland’s PTSD in Irritable Hearts made me wonder, mouth agape, at the evil humans are capable of inflicting on other actual people.
18. OTP (One True Pairing) of the Year
Jude and Noah, the twins from I’ll Give You the Sun. Not it’s not a romantic pairing, but my blog, my rules. And because no one’s romantic storyline really knocked my socks off.
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Can I pick Project X and everyone, all the characters, from the Authority trilogy? Oh! Hey! Yes I can because my blog.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
I really, really loved God Help the Child by the supreme goddess of all writing, Toni Morrison. Some of her recent novels haven’t been the best fit for me, but this left me aching for the characters, and talking out loud to the book as I rooted for them.
21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Have I given Trish enough credit for Tiny Beautiful Things yet? Heh.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Um…I’ve got Sugar and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not fictional, not romantic crushes. I lose?
23. Best 2015 debut you read?
Mosquitoland! And I hear David Arnold has a book out next year, too…
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Every book reads that way for me. I might not like the stories, but every place seems just as real when I’m reading. I don’t know how to turn that part off. Some do better than others… but those are the books I like best, so I feel like I’m double-answering that question.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Lost Boi by Sassafrass Lowrey made me cringe in places where the writing (and editing) was a bit thin, but it was so much fun to see how Lowrey worked in all the Peter Pan tropes. Ready Player One made me feel like I was a kid in a candy store. And Stiff made me feel like I was on a roller coaster of a field trip where there were no rules and I could play gross anatomy lab without having to smell the bodies.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand were both excellently insightful and poignantly layered emotional books about processing grief. GAH. Tissues.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Last Policeman by Ben Winters snuck by me for a good long while. But don’t worry! I found it! I like that it was a whodunnit that didn’t feel like hardboiled crime, and that it was a post-apocalypse (mid-apocalypse?) book that set up The End of the World is a new and interesting way. That’s rare given all the books are about that these days.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
I’m still not recovered from The Sparrow from last year, and nothing this year came close!
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Humans of New York is such an interesting project – I can’t get enough! And I liked the playlist layout of the stories in Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Ta-Nahisi Coates’ Between the World and Me because we shouldn’t have to live in a world where such advice from a father to son is necessary. In-fur-ree-ating.
31. Books that I Abandoned?
My name is Katie and I am an unabashed DNFer (Did Not Finish-er). With so many good books out there, it’s impossible to read them all, so why not try to at least stack the deck a little in your favor? The book’s not working for you? Give it a bit to collect itself, then pitch it if it doesn’t work!
There are more questions posted, but I haven’t done much book blogging this year, and I haven’t really focused on my year ahead. Although I will say that I’d like to focus on my writing a bit more, and I’m going to continue both my Stephen King re-read project, and my journey of reading a biography on all of our presidents.
So there you have it. A glimpse into my reading year. What was yours like? What books should I add to my year ahead?