It occurred to me in my snit over my broken computer with photos + iTunes + everything graphic design-y I own locked inside (maybe fixed by Tuesday, cross fingers!) that I could still put together a year-end book report with only Matt's computer, Goodreads, and a free download from the ever-wonderful Caravan Shoppe. It's out of order in the blogging queue no one is concerned about but me, so here it is!
Drumroll please: I READ 36 BOOKS in 2015!! This is cause for a huge celebration, because it's definitely the most I've been able to read in one calendar year in a long time. I even broke the goal I set for myself (35) at the beginning of 2015. Of those 36, 23 were 4 or 5 stars, which is a pretty good ratio, I think. I also blacked out my 2015 Bingo Card for my Book Bingo group, reading something to fit all 25 spaces for the third year in a row.
Notes on the best of the best:
+ I believe Echo will win the Newbery award for 2015. The thread of the story is so tightly woven throughout that even though you know it's there, it's impossible to figure out exactly how until the end. I absolutely loved that the story made me so curious multiple times about the historical accuracy of a few plot points that I stopped to check, and sure enough, true. It's a thick middle-grade novel that is just a good, old-fashioned page turner for any age.
+ I also adored Brown Girl Dreaming. I borrowed it from the library but may end up buying this one because it was so good. Like, exceptionally good.
+ Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League came recommended from Dr. Don Noble, whose book reviews aired on Monday mornings on Alabama Public Radio when I was driving the endless school commute last year in Montgomery. I actually pulled into a parking lot to order it from Amazon before I got home. It is one of the only books (that I know of) that was rewritten for a second release. It was the right book at the right time for me.
+ How did I go so long without reading Holes? I don't know.
+ Wonder was a re-read, and it was just as good the second time around. Gracie read it for her paper bag book report so I decided to read it again so we could talk about it. She acquired Auggie and Me last fall and I am looking forward to reading that, too.
+ Sold. Whew. That's all I'll say about that. Not for the faint of heart.
+ I could read Civil Rights/school segregation books one after another. Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County hit upon a story I had never heard about. It was painstakingly researched and dealt with so many disturbing issues regarding the way schools were (are) organized in the southern U.S. It really should be recommended reading for all Americans.
+ Oh, Jeanne Birdsall, how you toy with our hearts. I waited years for The Penderwicks In Spring to arrive, and there's a good chance I'll have to wait years longer for the final book. But it's worth every minute of waiting. I love the Penderwicks.
+ I wrote about Peyton Place over at Nerdy Book Club last year (hee hee, what! I promise there was a good reason to write about the raciest book of the 1950s on a children's/YA literature blog) and when I finally got around to reading it, I was not disappointed. And yes, it was as thrilling as I had hoped to read a book that I know my grandma also read.
+ Speak is the second "whew" book I read that earned 5 stars. Maddie's Very Brave English teacher read this out loud to the class to kick off the school year, because she doesn't shy away from hard things. WHEW. This is a hard book. And after you've read the author's note at the end, you'll be convicted to confront hard things, too. Related, sort of: Laurie Halse Anderson, I know you're busy writing hard YA books, but please get to work on finishing the Chains trilogy. THANK YOU.
+ Plotted came my way via Wendy, who knows exactly the right book for me before I know it exists. She's like a fairy bookmother with a magic wand and an Amazon Prime account.
+ Ursula, Under came my way via Katherine, and I will be honest: it sat on my nightstand for a month while I gave it the side-eye, unsure I would like it as much as Katherine did. She wins. Good luck finding it, because it seems mostly out of print, sadly. But totally worth looking in every used book store you come across. Ingrid Hill wins the prize for most creative storyline.
+ Me Before You was another "right book at the right time" that I bought to read while Matt was traipsing through Turkey and Egypt last March. It is the only book by Jojo Moyes I have read, but I loved it. I haven't read the sequel yet, but will sometime this year.
Other good books that earned four stars: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin; Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (I didn't expect to like that one as much as I did); Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley; Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Catherine Rundell (nowhere near as excellent as Rooftoppers but still good); Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman; The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion; Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot; The House Girl by Tara Conklin; and Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.
I awarded exactly one generous star to one book this year: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Not for me, sorry.
I withheld stars completely from exactly one book this year: Roots by Alex Haley. I actually loved it, but then when I finished I discovered all the controversy surrounding the truthfulness of his life story, as well as the accusations of plagiarism... sigh. Too bad. I still recognize the value of the work at the time it was published and the important legacy that followed, but still. Disappointing.
How about you? What were your favorites this year?