I'm very pleased to say that I knocked my 2015 book goal out of the water. I set a goal to read 60 books this year, and as of today, I have read 73. (I'm pretty surprised by this, since I've averaged about 50 books a year for the past few years.)
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite books of 2015.
Note: when I say favorites of 2015, I only mean that I read them this year; no correlation to the year they were published. Also, I'll be using affiliate links in this post.
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
I picked this book up on a whim from a used bookstore, purely because I thought the cover was nice, and heck, it was only $1, so what did I have to lose? I'm glad I followed my gut here, because this was one of my favorites of the year, if not ever. A small town in France, a dark family secret, a WWII setting, a cranky old lady, and lots and lots of amazing food: that's like all my favorite things.
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
I'm beginning to feel like a broken record here--I've mentioned this novel so many times. I've read many of Susanna Kearsley's novels, but this one is definitely my favorite: the story of a young woman reeling after the loss of her sister who finds herself unexpectedly transported centuries back in time, and falling in love with a man born hundreds of years before her. (An honorable mention goes to my second favorite Kearsley novel, also read in 2015, Mariana.)
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I read this book in high school but could remember almost nothing about it, so I figured it was time for a re-read. And I absolutely loved it. It's a long haul, but don't let that scare you. It's a classic for very good reason. I'd recommend reading it as an e-book if you can, since many hard copies are so thick but also really short and squat, making them nearly impossible to hold open.
Also, if we ever have another baby boy, we might need to name him Rhett.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
I'll admit, I have always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder in regards to Jodi Picoult. I had never read one of her novels until this year, but for some reason I thought of them as being corny and poorly written. I'm glad I gave her a chance, though, because this novel was nearly impossible to put down. It follows a young girl's journey to find her mother, an elephant researcher who disappeared under mysterious circumstances a decade before. It's engaging and exciting and so hard to put down--I stayed up way too late a few nights in a row while reading this.
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
I just finished this book a few days ago, so it hasn't found its way into one of my monthly reading recaps yet. This book was super weird and dark and scary and unpredictable, but also pretty damn awesome. Temple is a 15-year old girl who has only known a world infested with zombies. But this definitely isn't a typical zombie book--it's strangely lovely (even spiritual, which is kind of bizarre given the subject matter), and even though it is full of death and danger and destruction, it's also thoughtful and beautifully written. I read it aloud to Jeff, and we both loved it.
As You Wish by Cary Elwes
On a much lighter note, Cary Elwes' memoir of the making of The Princess Bride is pure fun. I listened to the audio, which I would highly recommend, as he reads it himself, and fellow actors in the movie join in periodically to read some of their memories and stories. If you love The Princess Bride, I think you'll enjoy this a lot.
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
There's a certain type of book I almost always enjoy, and I don't know what I'd call it . . . rural frontier family coming-of-age novel? Can that count as a genre?
Whatever you'd call it, that's what this novel is, and I really loved it. It follows a family in the badlands of Ontario who undergo a family tragedy that shapes the children's futures. I thought it read a lot like Peace Like a River, which is one of my all-time favorites that I am always recommending, so if you enjoyed Peace, I'll bet you'll love this, too.
Bloodroot by Amy Greene
I don't buy books terribly often, but I ordered a copy of this novel the second I finished reading my library copy. This novel is told by a few different characters, all interwoven and spanning generations in Appalachia from the Great Depression to the present. There's a touch of magical realism, which I love if it is done well . . . and it is done very, very well here. I've been trying to get my hands on Greene's other novel, Long Man, and haven't been able to find it at any local libraries yet, sadly. If you've read it, though, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Stiff by Mary Roach
Another title I've mentioned probably half a dozen times on the blog. If you've ever wondered what will happen to your body after you die, or what they do with bodies donated to science, or how plastic surgeons practice new techniques, or how police learn about how bodies decompose in various locations or circumstances . . . Mary Roach has got your back. So incredibly interesting. And also gross.
Spoiler alert: there is literally NO APPEALING OPTION for your body after you die.
What were some of your favorite reads in 2015?