Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Favorite Books of 2015

This morning I'm sitting cozily in my apartment, listening to the plumber and my super discuss standard versus automatic transmission and why pipes corrode in the other room, and feeling glad nothing exploded.  These things always happen when you finally get on vacation, right?

In any case, I thought it was a good time to write up a quick post about my favorite books of 2015.  Goodreads had a cute graphic to let you know how many books you read this year, and I felt inspired.

I had a goal of reading 40 books in 2015, which I don't think I'll quite make, but 30 is pretty freakin' great too. A lot went on this year, and the second half involved a ton of reading for class - ahem, the entire Pentateuch - so getting in 10,132 fun pages feels good.

Here are five of my favorites:

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Everyone and their mother is going nuts about this book, and for good reason.  This is the first in a series about two friends from the same neighborhood in Naples whose lives follow very different paths.  High-quality prose and some of the most poignant, accurate portrayals of adolescent female friendship I've read anywhere.  I loved every minute I spent reading - not a page or a word too many.  Go out now and find it! I'm getting on the wait list at the library for the next one.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
I had never read any Jhumpa Lahiri before, and I'm glad this was my first one.  A beautiful, complex book about family relationships, brotherhood, politics, and the way lives collide and diverge again and again over a lifetime.  If you're looking for an escape into a different world, with compelling characters (including well-written, strong women), this is a good one to pick up.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is the first of two WWII era books on my list, but it also received the Pulitzer Prize, so don't skip ahead.  The story follows two young people - a blind girl in France and a German boy - as they navigate the years leading up to WWII as well as its aftermath.  This was one of my favorites both because of the descriptions and because of the incredibly gentle way in which curiosity and imagination were treated throughout the book.  I read it during landing turbulence, which usually finds me clutching my seat and doing deep breathing - that's how intense it was.

Hello From The Gillespies by Monica McInerney
Okay...this is a bit of light read, even at over 600 pages long, but one I loved.  It follows a family of four in Australia.  The mother of the family always sends out a holiday letter, but this year she types up an honest, scathing report of her family's dysfunction - which accidentally gets sent to hundreds on her email list.  The ending is a bit expected, but it's still a cute, fun read.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
For a while, this book was zooming around book blogs all over the place, but it took some time for me to pick it up.  Once I did, there was no question: I could read Kate Atkinson's writing all day long.  If you ever read the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books when you were a kid, this kind of follows a similar vein - what would happen if we went one way rather than another in our lives, or someone came late rather than on time - to an extreme.  It follows the story of Ursula Todd, a young woman born in England in 1910, and her family as she grows up.  It covers parts of WWII and after, but is more of a story about her life and less about the larger war that is happening.

Overall, a good year for reading! What are some of your favorites from 2015?

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