Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 Books of 2015

One of my favorite parts about the end of the year is the feeling of wrapping things up. I like fresh starts, no matter how artificial they are, and everyone getting that same feeling of conclusion at the same time - looking back, making wrap-up lists like this one - just makes it feel that more complete.

And there is no better way to complete my year than to compile a list related to one of the most important parts of my life: reading. During 2015, 10 books stuck out to me as being new favorites, and the only thing I like more than reading new favorite books is convincing other people to read those books.

The unfortunate part is that when I started keeping track of these books, I still hadn't come up with the idea of this blog, so all I have written down are my very brief Goodreads reviews. New Year's Resolution #1: start writing down more about books for more detailed reviews, and so that my list next year will look a bit more substantial.

The following is a not-very-firm ranking from least-liked to most. All descriptions are spoiler-free.

10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Ah, the curses of not writing things down; I have almost no memory of why I liked this so much. I remember exactly at what point I started crying, who my favorite characters were, and how I felt at the ending. I do remember thinking that the writing was beautiful, and that I completely understood people compared it to The Book Thief. I also remember that it was a pretty quick read for a book that's over 500 pages. The good news here is that not remembering will make rereading it better.

9. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen


I never go into Sarah Dessen books expecting them to be incredible. Many people criticize her because her books are all fairly similar, but I like that. I know what I'm getting into, and they're different enough to each uniquely interest me. This book exceeded my expectations by a lot. I read it in an afternoon because I couldn't put it down. It was a bit more serious than other Dessen books, but the lighthearted sections balanced that wonderfully. This definitely became one of my favorite contemporaries ever.

8. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel #1)


2015 was the year I discovered (and devoured) comic books. I've only read a few series, but I can't wait to get into more. My favorite by far of the ones that I did get around to reading was Ms. Marvel. This volume opened her story beautifully, making sure I loved Kamala even before she started saving people. I know that some people were expecting a bit more explanation of how she got her powers in this volume, but I think that the lack of one didn't really take away from this book.

7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Rarity of rarities: a new favorite that started out as just another required school reading. I had absolutely no expectations for this book when I started. Even immediately after I'd finished (which I did in one day - I was the only person in my class who didn't know how it ended, and I will do many ridiculous things to avoid spoilers), I didn't know what drew me in so much. I read this in May, and I've been planning to reread it since August, especially since I ran across the theories that Nick Carraway is gay and Jay Gatsby is black. (I love diversity.)

6. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #29)


Almost every year, at least one Terry Pratchett book ends up on my favorites list. I just wasn't expecting it to be this one. I usually have a number of problems with time travel books, especially plot-holes. There are few things that infuriate me more than a gaping time travel plot-hole. If Night Watch had any, I was so caught up in the story and in the typical Pratchett humor that I didn't notice. It was everything that I usually expect from a Pratchett book and more.

5. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird #1)


Firstly, let's just take a moment to stare at that gorgeous cover. I think the only book I've seen with a better cover is the sequel. Now, I don't normally love sci-fi books. I don't normally love books with love triangles. And yet I absolutely adored this book. I was supposed to be using it as a study break. That didn't work out too well. My homework quickly fell by the wayside as I powered through this. It grabbed my interest right away, and I didn't see many of the twists coming at all.

4. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #3)


Before this book, I'd really enjoyed the Throne of Glass series, but hadn't loved it. This book turned it into one of my favorite ongoing series. I loved the added length, I loved the focus on more than one character (though I didn't grow attached to Manon until near the end), and the last 100 pages had my usual internal monologue silenced and replaced by non-stop screaming.

3. Burned by Ellen Hopkins (Burned #1)


This book amazed me. It showed me the power of words - I was amazed that so few could emotionally bring me to my knees. It showed me the power of implication - I didn't understand the ending the first time I read it, and had to search carefully, so it hit me harder. It is the most beautiful book in verse that I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

2. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #4)


This book definitely holds the record for the longest time I've spent holding my breath in anticipation while reading. 650+ pages of nearly non-stop action, and I loved nearly every second of it. (Yes, I did have a few problems with it, but none of them seriously detracted from my absolute adoration of the rest of it).

1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


I read so many amazing books this year, but if I had to pick just one favorite, this would be it. There are so many reasons that I loved it: the diverse cast of characters (including the rare canonically bisexual character), the way it tackled real issues while still feeling like a light, fluffy contemporary, and, of course, the heartwarming romance between Simon and Blue. I read this book almost entirely in one sitting - the only break I took was to go get a cupcake to eat while reading. It was that sweet. (Note: the book is best enjoyed with a package of Oreos, but any sweet snack will do). And then, after finishing, I took a few minutes with my eyes closed to try to compose myself and then read all of my favorite scenes again. Or, well, pretty much the whole book.




Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (The Diviners #2); Winter by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #4); A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis; All Fall Down by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #1); P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #2); We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

So, what were your favorite books of 2015? Did you read anything that I absolutely must put on my TBR? Tell me in the comments!

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