On my Instagram, I posted a photo of my favorite books of 2015, but didn’t get the chance to really talk about why I loved them so much. I dug through my shelves and scrolled through my Goodreads year-in-review and settled on these 11 books and 1 comic book series.
If you’re familiar with the titles, you’ll notice that only 3 of the 11 are young adult, one is middle grade, and the rest are general fiction or non-fiction. If you’re relatively new to following my reading journey, first hello and welcome and thanks for following! Second, what’s interesting about the 3 young adult books is that usually all of the books in my reading wrap ups are young adult. There always used to be just YA, but this year I had a bit of a Reading Identity Crisis (which I’d like to talk about more in depth in another post). Basically, my reading interests have totally shifted. I realized that I no longer really want to read about kids in high school because I have graduated, I’m out of there, I’m happy and in college, and why the heck would I want to read about high school now after disliking the whole experience so much? Like really, high school was not fun. While I was a high schooler, reading about other kids in high school kind of helped. It was comforting. Not that it’s not something I can’t relate to anymore, because I did have that experience of attending high school, but it’s that since I’m not there anymore I don’t want to read about it anymore. You know what I mean?
I started to following BookTubers and Bookstagrammers who read anything but YA and I saw how much there was out there, and I found new things that I’m really interested in that don’t necessarily manifest in YA that often. Now I’m interested in graphic memoirs, short story collections, essays, general fiction, seeking out great LGBTQ+ fiction. I have all these new interest that are taking me to really interesting places and away from YA. This is not to say that I hate YA and think it’s useless–because I don’t. It was great when I needed it, and I’m sure I’ll still read a YA from time to time, but it’s not going to be my primary focus anymore.
Anyway. I meant for that to be brief, but I find my Reading Identity Crisis to be fascinating and you’ll definitely be hearing more about it in the future.
BUT, without further adieu, here are why I loved these books in 2015:
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: It feels funny to write about why this now one of my favorites of forever after that talk about YA, but oh well. This book which explored the shifting relationship between two teens that is told in a non-linear structure blew me away. Jandy Nelson created completely vibrant characters that latched onto my heart and didn’t let go. Something about her writing made me feel more emotions and feel them more intensely when I read this book than I ever had before. This book is about the preciousness of the relationships you have in your life and just the preciousness of life itself and I feel like I’m starting to sound cheesy but this book meant so much to me when I read it and still does.
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: This is the only novel on the list that I read in one day. I took this pretty covered book outside to read on my porch swing, and didn’t leave that swing until that night when I finished it. Written in the Stars is a story about a Pakastani-American girl named Naila who wants to go to college but gets forced into an arranged marriage instead. This book was gripping and interesting and heartbreaking. I previously really knew nothing about arranged marriages and though I’m sure this book doesn’t represent all marriages done this way, it’s content is incredibly thought provoking and kind of scary. It made me think about the world in ways that I hadn’t previously, and opened my eyes to feminism issues that I hadn’t thought of before because they didn’t really apply to me. This is a really though provoking and eye-opening book that shocked me in a really good way.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman: The main thing that I loved about this book was that the main character Allison decides to travel by herself after having a rough year with friends and school and some guy she met in a trip. I loved the idea of this girl who was struggling with so much taking her happiness into her own hands and doing something that she really wanted to do. I read this in early 2015 so I don’t remember a lot of details, but I remember that I felt like I could be the girl in the book who was brave enough to get on a plane and experience the world the way she wanted to (again this is getting cheesy but whatever).
George by Alex Gino: This was one of the last books I read in 2015 (or was it the last?) and it is one of the most important books I have ever read. This is a middle grade novel about a little transgender girl with the given name of George but who calls herself Melissa and refers to herself with female pronouns throughout the entire book. It was a beautiful story written in such a way that younger readers can easily understand what ‘transgender’ means and know that being trans is okay, that being yourself is okay. The best part was that it ended on a happy note and made me cry. A lot .
Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: Lumping these two together because I just want to talk about why I love V.E. Schwab. These were two incredibly science fiction/fantasy novels that sucked me right into their stories without hesitation. Schwab is great at creating extravagant and imaginative worlds and plots that you don’t question, just accept. Both of her novels pictured were so much fun to read and each has a sequel coming out in the next couple years that I will for sure be reading.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan: This a compilation of Marina Keegan’s best short stories and essays that she wrote during her time in high school and college before she died in a car accident just days after she graduated from Yale, and days before she was to start a job at The New Yorker. Putting aside her tragic backstory, Keegan was an amazing writer. This feels almost wrong to say, but every sentence she wrote had so much life behind it. She was such an observant person, someone who knew life so well that she could capture it in such pure ways in her stories and essays. I read this because last semester I was taking a creative writing class and her stories inspired my writing for my class. I’m very grateful for the writing we did get from her, even if it was so little.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer: This book is not for the faint of heart. EL&IC follows a young boy named Oskar (who I believe to be autistic, but is not stated in the novel) who lost his father in 9/11. He finds a key that belonged to his father and starts a journey to find what the key opens. Parts of this novel made me feel like my heart was getting ripped out of my body. It was so raw and emotional and real. The writing in this continuously made me ache. The story itself is so big and incredible but also so small, because it’s all about this young grieving kid, but the thing I remember the most about EL&IC is the way it made me feel almost everything there is to feel.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven is both an apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic novel about how the world deteriorates after a disease quickly spreads and kills most of the human population and it’s genius. There are 2 different time streams: during the collapse of the world and the aftermath, and both time streams work towards each other to fill in the gaps and meet at the end. It’s both engrossing and disturbing. The way Emily St. John Mandel crafted the end of our world is so believable it had me squirming. This isn’t a horror novel, it just feels like it could happen and she writes in such a way that I though it could. The way the novel was structured was brilliant and I loved every second of this story.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed: This was the first memoir I decided to read on my own, as in not for class or something. And that was a wonderful decision that has opened me up to a whole new world of literature that I never thought about before. Wild is an incredible story about Cheryl who, honestly, has had a really rough life but she made the choice to turn everything around and she started by walking the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. She was the first woman to walk it on her own and her memoir follows her experience on the trail and I just loved it. I loved how she dropped everything and everyone to do something she knew would help her find herself again. It was a selfish act–she had a job and a husband and friends, but it taught me that sometimes being selfish is okay and sometimes you have to be selfish because you’re living your life for you. Cheryl’s memoir really inspired me when I read it, and really made me feel like I could honestly do whatever I want, whenever I want, in order to make sure that I’m living a life I’m happy with and proud of. Highly recommend, especially for my lady friends out there.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: This book I read because Max from WellDoneBooks on YouTube recommends it all the time (and honestly I read a lot of these books because of him so go watch his videos), and I was really happy I picked this up. Everything I Never Told You is a novel that follows a family after one of their daughters die, and shows how each member reacts to the pain and grief that follows such a traumatic death like that. This novel explores race, love (all kinds of love), class, familial relationships all in the face of death and grief and helplessness in such a sharp and poignant manner. Every aspect of this novel was incredibly interesting and honestly painful. This exploration of a broken midwestern family is an extraordinary one that I think you should all read.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: Okay, so Saga is pretty different from everything else on this list. Saga is a sci-fi comic book series that is honestly one of the best things on this planet (which is funny because it’s set in a place no where near this planet). It follows the story of a man and a woman of two different races, two races that have been at war with each other for years, and who fell in love and had a baby together. For a myriad of reasons, a myriad of different people want to kill the couple and the baby because the idea of this mix-raced child is disgusting to many. From there, the story just keeps getting more and more complicated and it’s awesome. It’s incredibly graphic, in terms of both sex and violence, so it’s really for an older crowd (like, 16+). But the different races of aliens and worlds that the couple travels to are amazing and the plot just keeps getting more and more complicated per issue while still being easy to follow and incredibly engaging. My favorite part about Saga is how it’s hard core sci-fi and a comic book series, which are both notorious for either having no substantial female characters or treating the female characters as props and less-than-human. Saga has none of that. In fact, more than just having a collection of amazing, well-rounded, flawed female characters, Saga actually brings up important gender issues and discusses them. Each time I read a new volume, Saga never ceases to blow me away. I am dying for volume 6 and if you haven’t started reading it yet, man you have to.
SO. I talked far too much about each of these and this blog post is far too long, but that’s just because I loved all these books so much. I’m really excited about this change in reading taste (something I am going to talk about more in depth soon) and all the new novels that I’m going to read in 2016.
Also, seeing as this is only my 3rd post, I have not been great at making a blogging schedule yet, but now I can officially say that I will be posting every Tuesday! There may be other posts in between on other days of the week, but you can guarantee a new BlueEyedBiblio post every Tuesday!:-)
I want to know: What were your favorite books of 2015? Did you make a new reading discovery? Have you read any of my favorites? Tell me in the comments!