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!
Around the world in a book: My reading took me to some amazing places this year…
Ethiopia: 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…
Colonial 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:
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:
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:
PBS’s Poldark, based on the books by Winston Graham:
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!
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!