Reading for Pleasure – 2015

Woohoo! I met my overall goal for 2015 – “30 books or 10,000 pages, whichever comes first.” As for wanting to “maintain my commitment to reading new genres, conquering classics, and throwing in some non-fiction here and there,” I did fairly well.

I ended up reading a total of 35 books and 12,214 pages. Genres/formats explored included: graphic novels, short stories, memoirs, YA (SO much YA), sci-fi, fantasty, historical fiction, mysteries, and non-fiction. The only area where I feel like I went a little light is “classics.” I suppose you could count the Tolkien and Hitchhikers Guide and Rebecca (which was a re-read), but I didn’t end up tackling anything really weighty (e.g. the ones you’re supposed to read in high school and/or undergrad).

Here are the books I read in 2015, with tiny tidbits as needed (for full reviews, see my Goodreads page) (as always my must-read favorites are marked with *’s):

  1. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore
    I shouldn’t read short story collections by one author (because I get burnt out), but Lorrie Moore made it worth it.
  2. Yes Please*, Amy Poehler
    Was it a little fluffy? Yes. But it was also wonderful.
  3. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, Allie Brosh
    Not a follower of the webcomic, but liked this! Did NOT make me want to get a dog though…
  4. Unwind, Neal Shusterman
    This book’s premise is fairly ridiculous, but as dystopian YA goes it’s pretty great…
  5. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, Wes Moore
    Very engaging book club read. I got to see him speak on campus this year as well!
  6. The Martian*, Andy Weir
    Loved this book! Go read it and then go watch the movie!
  7. Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, Pual Delano Butler
    A recommendation from Will that was less about hip-hop and more about jury nullification. Still super interesting though…
  8. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane
    Love me some Dennis Lehane.
  9. The Hobbit*, J.R.R. Tolkien
    Possibly the best one of the 4? Quite the easy, enjoyable read.
  10. Fangirl*, Rainbow Rowell
    AAAAH I know I’m late to the Rainbow Rowell party, but I am a fan of hers, indeed.
  11. The Girl on the Train*, Paula Hawkins
    My short summary: a readalike for Gone Girl with an ending that’s actually satisfying!
  12. The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
    Entertaining, but vaguely repetitive at times. (Also, where are the ladies?)
  13. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian*, Sherman Alexie
    Yay for reading banned books!
  14. The Two Towers*, J.R.R. Tolkien
    My favorite of the trilogy solely because of the Ents, who are my new favorite.
  15. At the Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen
    Enjoyable (if problematic at times) book club read about the European home front in WWII.
  16. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han
    Thus began the summer of YA reads. I don’t read many romance titles and I definitely don’t read YA romance, but this came so highly recommended I gave it a shot. Turns out it was wonderful and the portrayal of sisterhood gave me the feels.
  17. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, Matthew Quick
    I actually saw Matthew Quick promoting this book at ALA 2013. Very good, but a bit too gritty for me.
  18. First Test*, Tamora Pierce
    AAAHH where has this series been all my life?!?! Katy recommended this to me as good YA and I blitzed through it like crazy. Go read Tamora Pierce now, you fools!!!
  19. Page*, Tamora Pierce
  20. Squire*, Tamora Pierce
  21. Lady Knight*, Tamora Pierce
  22. Revival, Stephen King
    Oh my, this was a weird book club read. Have decided that not all Stephen King is for me (though some is very good).
  23. Rebecca*, Daphne du Maurier
    Re-read of a college favorite while backpacking in Minnesota. Oh how much I’ve changed in the 5 years since I first read this. Still a favorite, for lots of (mostly different) reasons. Still need to watch the movie!
  24. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic*, Alison Bechdel
    This book packs quite the emotional punch. It has also been banned/protested (by idiots). Would recommend!
  25. P.S. I Still Love You, Jenny Han
    I liked the YA romance so much I came back for more!
  26. Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard
    Saw this book on a ton of YA lists so I jumped in – VERY good intro to a dystopian YA series (with the exception of the inclusion of a love triangle).
  27. Just Kids, Patti Smith
    Didn’t know much about Patti Smith, so I used reading this book as an opportunity to explore and look up songs, films, and poems she mentions. Quite the experience; would recommend.
  28. Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?*, Roz Chast
    This book is good but incredibly heavy. You’ve been warned.
  29. Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
    Surprisingly good mystery set in the culture of suburban helicopter parernts.
  30. Modern Romance*, Aziz Ansari
    Really loved this! Already an Ansari fan, and his tone translates well to an introspective take on social science and modern relationships.
  31. The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien
    Finally came back and finished! Overall entertaining series. Major critiques: lack of lady characters with real agency, lack of lady characters in general, poorly written romance, and the whole thing could have been tightened up.
  32. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
    This book was surprisingly entertaining, mostly because I fit within a very niche audience – I know enough of the Bible to get most of the jokes he makes, and I’m not offended by them.
  33. The Gilded Hour, Sara Donati
    This book was very good and entertaining, but the ending is blatant sequel bait.
  34. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg*, Irin Carmon
    This book is fabulous. RBG is fabulous. What are we going to do in a world without her on the Supreme Court???
  35. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
    Listened to the audio-book version, narrated by Stephen Fry. Very funny and entertaining, particularly if you enjoy silly, sarcastic British humor.

Goals for 2016: Same numbers as last year – 30 books or 10,000 pages, whichever comes first. Continuing my commitment to a variety of genres, with the adendum that I get serious and conquer some hardcore classics this year. Also, non-fiction, of course (I love it, even if it is sometimes slow-going for me). Happy reading, everyone!

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