Saturday, December 19, 2015

10 favorite books and authors of 2015

Everyone has a different opinion on what makes a book a good read. I'm not a fan of instalove or stories about couples falling apart in mundane ways. I do like stories that have an original element or language that makes me slow down. Sometimes, I want a book that makes me read faster because of the suspense. I like books that offer new perspectives without being pretentious.

I've read 179 books in 2015 so far. Before you declare how insane that is, please remember that I spend the majority of my day unable to be upright because of my blood pressure. It is a blessing to have something to occupy my mind during that time. I also use reading as an escape when I'm in pain or need to ignore my body. That happens more than I'd like to admit. I am forever grateful for my sight and my library card!

Since I've read a lot of books, it made sense to want to share my favorites with you. These were my top ten in no particular order. You can see the rest of what I read in 2015 on Goodreads if you're interested.

  •  Louisa Hardinge
She writes fiction mainly for a younger reader, but two of her books were like drinking a cold glass of water on a hot day. I read Cuckoo Song and A Face Like Glass. Cuckoo Song was creepy and imaginative. A Face Like Glass was much more complex that you would expect for the target audience. I loved them both, and they planted this author firmly in my favorites column.

  • Fables

I am not normally a fan of graphic novels. I like them, but they just aren't my thing. I made an exception for the Fables series. I was pretty bummed when I learned there wouldn't be anymore after inhaling them all. Bill Willingham retired this year. The art style changes throughout because he has different guest artists, and this was a lot of fun to watch. The stories were crisp, intriguing, and made you care about the people much more than I thought possible with a "comic book".

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams

Yes, yes. I know. You saw the movie as a kid and it traumatized you forever. Me, too. The book is nothing like the movie. At. All. It was warm and wonderful and how could anyone care so much about little bunnies, but you do. I wish I had children the right age, because this would absolutely be a read aloud for them.

  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I love Greek Mythology. There are some awful books out there that rehash the stories. This is not one of them. This book will pull your heart to pieces.

  • Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente

First, she is my favorite author. I love just about everything she's typed. She has a lush voice, and language is her paint. Every word counts, each sentence matters, and this is no exception. This is a quick read at only 168 pages, so if you want a taste of her work, this would be a great start, but all of her work is stylistically different. If you don't like this one, try another and you'll be surprised.  The only thing that stays the same is her flawless execution. (The end wasn't what I expected, though, just a warning.)

  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary

This was my non-fiction pick of the year. This should be required reading for all students. It's written in a gentle and entertaining way. Wonder why we have an alliance with Saudi Arabia? Wonder why the Middle East is such a mess? Wonder why there are so many different types of Islam? Wonder why the Ottoman Empire broke apart? This book answers those questions. It is incredibly relevant and accessible.

  • The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

A collection of poems that deal with the changing seasons of nature and our lives. Poetry is such an individual thing, so I can't do more than say I loved it. You might not. It hit me right at a time when I needed to read it. This won the Pulitzer prize in 1993. As a side note, I read her Averno and didn't like it as much. There were parts to it about Persephone that I found brilliant, though.

  • The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Steifvater

Do you ever have dreams that contain people you don't know in real life, but within the dream they feel like they've been your best friends for eons? Friends that are a part of you? That is how the characters in this trilogy felt to me. The story swept me up and away, and that's the best kind of book.

  • The Grass Dancer by Susan Power

A book with magical realism that sings and dances and lures and prances. The characters are compelling and the story is surreal. It's on the list of required reading choices at the local high school here in Montana.

  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Oh, not your usual King book! I don't particularly care for much of S. King's work. I realize that is an unpopular, possibly Un-American thing to declare, but it's the honest truth. I find his writing to be formulaic, and after you've read one or two of his books, it loses power. This book is not like that. This book is awesome, fun, and I wanted to re-read it as soon as I finished it because I loved the voice of the book that much. Time travel, love, ethics, history, and whether or not a person can do the right thing when it means giving up everything. It's brilliant.

You didn't actually think I could narrow it down to only ten, did you? I absolutely had to include Leigh Bardugo's latest novel, Six of Crows. For those of you who don't know this author, you are in for a treat. If I had done a 2014 list, she would have been my #1 pick for her The Witch of Duva folktale. She also wrote the Grisha trilogy, and Six of Crows is another story set in that world. You know how fun heist movies are? You love quirky characters, impossible escapes, and twists that melt your mind? Well, here you go. Also, Matthias makes me think of Thor, and how can that be bad?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!


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