Hello! Yes, yes, I’m a terrible poster. I know that I’ve truly failed because my friend Jenny had a BABY and has posted way more than me. I don’t even have a baby to show for it. I have . . . been working on my winter weight? I don’t know. (I am posting at WWAC if you’re desperate for my brilliant thoughts.)
But today I’m going to present to you the best 25 books I read this year. I’m hoping to get to 100 books before the end of the year and if any of the ones I’m reading are amazing then I will update you. Ok, well I’m currently listening to the Fellowship of the Ring on audio because I’ve never listened to it before and it is delightful. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year . . . and every year that I read it. I had a bit trouble with an “unabridged” copy of the radio play from Hoopla. The record doesn’t make it clear that it’s a radio play and while yes the play is unabridged, it’s not the full text of the book. You tricked me Hoopla; I may write you a strongly worded letter!
Ok, so here’s my top 25 books that I read this year in alphabetical order.
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Everyone should read this book about the immigrant experience and a “Non American Black” perspective on race. If you like audiobooks, the narrator is really great, too!
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli – A cute and funny coming out story that’s about more than just coming out.
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad – M.T. Anderson – This book is incredible for anyone interested in music, the Russian front of WWII, or the complicated situation of artists during Stalin’s regime.
The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black – A dark fairy tale about a prince in a glass coffin, a lady knight, and the violence of childhood.
Through the Woods – Emily Carroll – Graphic (like with pictures but also with blood) short horror tales. Do NOT read at night if you are a ‘fraidy cat like me.
Make your Home Among Strangers – Jeninne Cap Crucet – The story of a Cuban American and her first year at an ivy league school, set against the backdrop of an Elian Gonzalez like story in Miami.
Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum – Is the main character unlikeable and make bad decisions? Yes, but that’s ok. A disaffected housewife and American expat struggles to find herself.
An Untamed State – Roxane Gay – A difficult story to read; there are graphic descriptions of rape and sexual violence so be forewarned. But the writing is beautiful and the story will stick with you.
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future – A.S. King – Visions of a feminist’s nightmare where women are not allowed to work and more? The gendered horror of A Handmaid’s Tale for the YA set.
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison – I had never read any Toni Morrison and this was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.
Everything I never told you – Celeste Ng –
Betty Crocker’s Cookbook – and even the part where “Betty” tells you to make sure you know how to make your husband eggs
a part I remember reading and cringing over as a child – plays a big role in this coming of age story.
Girl at War – Sara Novic – Escaping from Croatia in the 1990s and then returning to reckon with it. This is the author’s first book and it’s really spectacular.
Uprooted – Naomi Novik – A perfect, grownup fairy tale complete with evil trees, magic, and the influence of Eastern European folklore.
The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oaks – Apparently a retelling of the Grimm fairytale The Handless Maiden with a cult setting. 2015 was the year of the cult for YA books!
Shadowshaper – Daniel Jose Older – Urban fantasy set in Brooklyn with an interesting premise and cultural commentary on everything from street harassment to gentrification.
Re Jane – Patricia Park – A Jane Eyre retelling set in Queens with a Korean American Jane and a literature professor Rochester.
The Bees – Laline Paull – A special bee – Flora 717 – defies all the rules of the hive to save it. At the beginning of the book, you think you won’t care so much about a little bee but you really will. Flora 717 might be one of my favorite characters from this year’s books.
Gabi, a girl in pieces – Isabel Quintero – A sweet coming of age stuck in between a parent’s expectations and the realities of life.
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell –
The fantasy Harry Potter-esque book from Rowell’s Fangirl come to life! I unashamedly squealed and fist pumped in my car while listening to this book. When you get there you’ll know.
Also, I love Rowell’s magic system and the way that she subverts HP plots and tropes.
Bone Gap – Laura Ruby –
It took me two tries to read this. I couldn’t get into the print version but the audio was great. A tale of magic realism reminiscent of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Bees are also important, so if you read Paull’s The Bees
and need more bee stories, get this one next.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights – Steve Sheinkin –
An important and infuriating case of racial discrimination from WWII that I had no idea about.
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette – Hampton Sides –
Polar exploration before
the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration
. If you know me, you know I love polar exploration and sailing stories. This book was basically written just for me.
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson –
A shape shifting teen joins a supervillain for fun and serious thoughts violence, morality, and roles people are expected to play.
This One Summer – Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki –
Beautiful art and story about a girl’s summer between childhood and teendom and all the growing pains therein.
The Martian – Andy Weir –
Pure potato porn. Poor Mark Watney! But seriously an exciting, and surprisingly funny book.
Some recurring themes I’m noticing from my list: bees, retellings of fairy tales or myths, immigrant stories, feminism, debut authors, an effort to read more diversely (aka not white authors).
Here’s some other books in best categories that I’m making up right now:
Best book that I didn’t want to like because it’s basically the output of a Teen Dystopia Generator, but ended up liking anyway dang it: Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard
Best book that’s like the show Supernatural with a teen girl protagonist: The Awesome – Eva Darrows
Best Comics series you should be reading – Squirrel Girl, Lumberjanes, Rat Queens, Saga, Ms. Marvel, The Wicked + the Divine, Alex & Ada, Princeless, Paper Girls, Gotham Academy
Best books for vacation reading and making you hungry – Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan
Best bestseller that I thought I would hate so waited two years to read and actually kind of liked: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
What about you? Do you have a favorite book or books from this year? Anything that I missed that I should definitely read in 2016? Let me know!
I should also tell you that one of my resolutions for 2016 other than to do the dishes in a more timely manner and learn to install a zipper, is to update more often. I will try!