Happy week after Christmas! I hope you guys enjoyed yourselves and for those of you who celebrate, I hope you got everything you wanted (if you want, share with me your best gift in the comments. Mine was a signed copy of Summerlong. But more about that particular author and book in a bit). And now that Christmas is over and we’re all wearing our fat pants, what better time to sit around and discuss books? Specifically, our favorite books of 2015 (I’m not going to wax poetic about the end of this year because honestly, 2015 can go fuck itself and I wish it good riddance). Which is why Steph and I are thrilled to bring you this special bonus edition of Show Us Your Books, Best of 2015 edition!
For this post, I focused only on books I read from July-December since I did a mid-year recap (read that here) and I didn’t want to repeat myself. Also, in making my picks, I didn’t necessarily pick all books I rated 5 stars on Goodreads but books that moved me, made me think, and stood out for me for being amazing in their own ways. They were not books that were published this year but books I read this year.
Not on the list? Fates and Furies. I honestly thought it was meh (but my full review on that will be next month for our regularly scheduled Show Us Your Books). But here are the books I did pick:
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy Why you should read it: Willowdean is the kind of body positive role model people need even if she is a little bitchy and it’s a kickass, well written story. The author reminds me a little bit of Rainbow Rowell in her ability to write realistic characters and storylines and this was probably my favorite YA book I read this year. I loved reading a story about an overweight girl who’s not an outcast or awkward and has healthy self-esteem and boys liking her for her rather than as a joke and is able to stand up for and take care of herself. You know, a REAL person. Not a caricature.
Summerlong and Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos. Why you should read them: I don’t know how to properly articulate what it is about his books that just strike me but you know when you read a book and you think “OMG, this book! It just gets me” and “I could be living this” and “I want to climb inside this story and never come out”? That’s how it was for me with these two. The last time I felt as strongly about a book was about 5 or 6 years ago when I read The Art of Racing in the Rain. And you didn’t think a best of list from me was NOT going to include his books, did you (one absence–My American Unhappiness. I liked it. Did not love it. Mostly because the main character was an insufferable asshole and I hated him and it made the story hard to read at times)? Oh! Moon was just made into a movie thanks to James Franco. A movie version of one of my all-time favorite books made by someone who was in one of my all-time favorite TV shows? My brain can’t take it.
Shotgun Lovesongs and Beneath the Bonfire by Nickolas Butler. Why you should read them: Butler has a command and a way of telling stories that is beautiful and heartbreaking and fascinating and you don’t want to put them down. I cannot comprehend why more people aren’t reading his books and talking about them. I don’t know why his books aren’t on more best of lists. I don’t know why he’s not on social media so I can stalk (follow. I mean follow. Because actual staking is a crime and you should not do that) like I do the aforementioned Dean Bakopoulos (sorry, Dean’s wife). But he’s on a short list of authors I will talk about all the time and whose books I will read and anxiously await.
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg Why you should read it: Although slow at times, it’s creatively told in an unconventional way from the perspective of typically supporting characters. At its core, this a book about how people handle loss differently and that there’s not one wrong or right way to process grief and that when a tragic event happens, it affects more people than you would think. We all own a piece of that horrific event. It’s how we handle it that both separates and connects us.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart Why you should read it: Constance Kopp is one of the most badass women who actually existed and the book is about her and her sisters, who are also badass in their own way. I love that Amy Stewart wrote this hybrid fictional/non-fiction (is there a literary term for docudrama? If there is, I’d like to know it) because Constance’s story is one that should be told as she’s one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the US. THE WHOLE UNITED STATES. That’s kickass and inspirational, considering she did it in a time when women definitely did not engage in those types of activities. If you read Frog Music by Emma Donoghue and enjoyed it (I did not), this is exponentially better than that, even if the premise is sort of the same.
Honorable mention because this post is getting too long and I’m not done yet: Some Girls Are (not an easy read but an incredible one. This book will hurt you), Ready Player One (a science fiction/mystery/crime-ish book featuring Rush and filled with 80s nostalgia? Yes, please), Galveston (gritty, bloody, dark with all the feels), Modern Romance (well researched, hilarious, insightful and my sociology nerd heart glowed with every page), and Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (just freaking read it).
Overall, it’s been a great reading year. I’ve read a substantial amount of wonderful books, a few clunkers, and a fair amount of books that were simply pleasant. I far surpassed my Goodreads goal, didn’t quite get around to a bunch of books I’d planned, but read some that I didn’t. I discovered some new authors, read some old favorites, and went outside my typical niches. I learned a ton about publishing, missed both bookish conferences I wanted to attend but I know that they exist now and will do my damnedest to get to them next year. And finally, thanks to all of you guys who read and comment and share and join us every month, I found a community of book nerds just like me. I love y’all so much.
So, with that said, now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorites from 2015 that I should add to my 2016 TBR?