2015: My year in books

2015 reading

As 2015 comes to an end, it’s time to take a look back at the year’s greatest hits in books! Earlier this week, I did a round-up of my favorite graphic novels and audiobooks from 2015. Today, I’m widening the focus to include the year’s reading as a whole. Here’s a summary of what I read, and what really stood out for me during a year of some truly excellent reading.

[Note: Click on the links to see my reviews if you’re interested!]

Goodreads stats as of 12/30/2015:

Total number of books read: 148
Total number of pages read: 46,616
Star rating used most often: 5 stars (57 total)
Star rating used least often: 2 stars (8 total — and I didn’t give any books only 1-star. I think if I thought that little of a book, I just DNFd.)

Longest book read: A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, 1439 pages (a re-read)
Shortest book read (excluding graphic novels and novellas):
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, 120 pages

 

Bests & Other Stuff of Note

Best children’s (middle grade): The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton’s Lair by S. S. Taylor and Katherine Roy
Best young adult: The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters
Best contemporary: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Best graphic novel: Alex + Ada (trilogy) by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Best fantasy: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Best historical fiction: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Best domestic drama: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Best new volume in an ongoing series: I’m always thrilled when Patricia Briggs releases a new book. In 2015, it was Dead Heat, the 4th volume in the Alpha & Omega series (which stars one of my favorite supernatural couples, Charles and Anna).

Best start of a new series: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Best end to a great series: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Best in the “late to the party” category: Years after the first books were released, I started two terrific ongoing mystery series: The Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow and the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.

Best return of old friends: Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore, the sequel to A Dirty Job, which brings back all sorts of favorite characters, including Minty Fresh, Charlie Asher, and the squirrel people.

Best use of illustration to tell a story: The Marvels by Brian Selznick is a gorgeous book to look at, using pictures as part of the plot, rather than just as decoration. Runner-up: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, which mixes comics with text to create a thrillingly tense novel.

Author of the year: Jane Austen! I revisited the works of Austen this year by listening to the audiobooks of her six main novels. I also read three Austen Project retellings, watched the BBC version of Northanger Abbey, and even saw a musical production of Emma!

Best classic read: I loved reading North and South with my book group, and watching the mini-series was the cherry on the sundae!

north_and_south_img

Around the world in a book: My reading took me to some amazing places this year…

globe-32812_1280Ethiopia: Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
New Guinea: Euphoria by Lily King
Portugal: The Day of Atonement by David Liss
Australia: Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes
Luxembourg: The Expats by Chris Pavone
Canada: Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder
Italy: A Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
India: Prudence by Gail Carriger
UK: After You by Jojo Moyes (and plenty of other books too!)
France: A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

 

 

Journeys through time: I traveled to many different eras via terrific books; most notably…

time-travelColonial America: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Antebellum South: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
World War I: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear; The Uninvited by Cat Winters
World War II: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown; All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
1950s: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

 

Best speculative/science fiction: The sci-fi works I enjoyed most were:

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Oh, the horror! The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy was truly icky, but I just couldn’t look away.

Biggest let-down: I loved The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, but I was so disappointed by book #2, The Infinite Sea, which just did not deliver, in my humble opinion.

Best sports books for people who don’t usually read about sports:

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (running)
Winger (and its sequel, Stand-Off) by Andrew Smith (rugby)

Best use of a grandmother: I loved the narrator of The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant.

Best return to childhood: I reread The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and loved them both all over again.

Best author event: I had two awesome author experiences this year, hearing talks by Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day and then getting my books signed!

Best bookish TV events of 2015:

Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, based on the book by Philip K. Dick:

MitHC

PBS’s Poldark, based on the books by Winston Graham:

poldark 3

And (because I can’t leave it out of a “best of” list), the 2nd half of the first season of Outlander, after a long six-month Droughtlander!

OUT_116-20140827-ND_0372.jpg

Most eye-catching covers:DepthUprootedI Am Princess X

 

Quirkiest titles:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Intro to Alien Invasion by Owen King
Twittering From the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
Working For Bigfoot by Jim Butcher

Best getting-thrown-for-a-loop: Books with twists or plots that took me by surprise:

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Winger by Andrew Smith

Bookish delight, all year long:

All the many, many books which, for whatever reason, I can’t quite categorize but still really enjoyed (plus a few that are probably better off forgotten). It’s been a great year of reading. I can’t wait to see what treasures I’ll discover in 2016!

What were your favorite books of 2015? What surprised or excited you the most? Please share your top reads and recommendations in the comments!

16 thoughts on “2015: My year in books

      • I think 2016 will be the year of ‘late-to-the-party’ for me – I’m on a self-imposed book buying ban and reading from my TBR stack only – so many books in my stacks that I was desperate to get at the time and which remain unread – hope there are lots of late-to-the-party gems there!

  1. I love this post! It is such a cool way to summarize your year in reading. Station Eleven was one of my favorite books this year too! I don’t read much science fiction and I loved how all the story lines wove together in the end. Uprooted is on my list of books to read in 2016. 🙂

  2. This is a great end of the year post. It looks like you did really well choosing books that you would love with a most used star rating of five. I tend to have higher ratings too because with so many books to read I strive to read books that I expect to blow me away. I wont even bother to read a book that I know will be just okay.
    I really dig your around the world piece.
    Happy New Year!

    • Very cool that you mention the concept of choosing books that we know we’ll love. Somewhere around the middle of the year, I basically through out my lists of books I felt obligated to read (ARCs, etc), and decided to try to focus on picking books according to what appealed to me in the moment. I guess it paid off! Thanks for your nice comments. Happy New Year!

  3. Ah North and South, I need to finish watching that (I don’t think I knew it was based on a book o_O might have to read it too!)

    Great end of year post Lisa! I really enjoyed reading about your year in books 🙂

  4. Uprooted has been on so many of these best of lists. Really have got to get my hands on a copy! Love your breakdown of books to countries. How fun is that. 🙂 I also did a re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Just read Watchman and didn’t much enjoy it. lol Wishing you a fantastic 2016!

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