Annabelle’s 2015 Book Roundup

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Well, folks, another year has come and gone, and here we are at the end of 2015. What a year it’s been!

I looked over last year’s post to see what numbers I shared with you, and I’ll be doing most of it again, sharing the number of books I read this year, and particularly the number of children’s chapter books, YA books, and eBooks.

Last year I shared books I didn’t particularly enjoy, but I don’t see any point to that this year. Why focus on those when I’d rather talk up the books I did like?

In 2014, I read 142 books. This year, I read….

131.

That number disappoints me. My goal had been to read 200. By way of explanation, not excuse, one of the reasons I may have read fewer books is the months I was posted at Neighborhood Library. Because my commute was 20 minutes of walking every day, rather than 30-40 minutes on two buses, my reading time was vastly reduced. That could certainly have been a factor.

Last year, I read 26 young adult books, and this year, I’ve read 16. Last year, I read 7 children’s chapter books, and this year, that number shot up to 28 (!), partially because of my zipping through the Little House on the Prairie series. Finally, last year, I read 18 eBooks, and this year, 22 (more, perhaps, because I went out of the country and read books that way?)

So, as in past years, I now present some of my favorite books from this year, with my number one choice first:

Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. I still can’t stop thinking about it, and I finished reading it in mid-August. I find books about the apocalypse – whether by weather, aliens, or other causes – fascinating, and this one delivered in every way, not only with humankind’s preparation (mentally and physically) for the end of the world, but what came next, and after that, and waaaaay after that. Don’t let the size of the tome deter you, or its subject matter, if you’re not into this kind of thing. At its heart, it’s about humanity and survival, and what drives us all.

The rest of the books I enjoyed, in no particular order, and with the caveat that they may not even have been written this year:

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, by Katherine Rundell. (Juvenile fiction) I laughed, I cried, I wanted to pick up Will and give her a great big hug and a Jaffa Cake. (Honorable mention to Rundell’s other terrific chapter book, Rooftoppers. I almost listed them together.)

Noggin, by John Corey Whaley. (YA) A book about cryogenics and friendship. Your world may stop until your frozen head is put onto a new body, but the rest of the world has kept moving.

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier. (Juvenile graphic novel) If you never had orthodontic work of any kind, you won’t enjoy this nearly as much as if you did go through it. Funny and warmhearted and just one of Telgemeier’s runaway hits. We can’t keep it on the shelf.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimageby Haruki Murakami. (Fiction) Murakami is going to win the Pulitzer someday – 1Q84 is his magnum opus, I think – because of the delicacy and precision of his work. I read Murakami and it’s as if I’m in a bubble of beauty. 

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters. (Fiction) When I wrote about The Paying Guests in the blog the first time, I think I used the terms “Hitchcockian” and “du Maurier-like” to describe the story of a mother/daughter boarding house in England between the wars. Those are my highest compliments.

Your Face in Mine, by Jess Row. (Fiction) 2015 has been a difficult year for race relations. Well, take out “2015” and insert “2014,” “2013,” or any other year, and those years have been, too. This novel about racial assignment surgery and its psychological and social effects has particular meaning for me this year. It’ll make you think.

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. (Fiction) What to say about this book that hasn’t been said? It landed on everyone’s top ten lists of 2014. Another book about the apocalypse, written with grace and beauty.

Newport, by Jill Morrow. (Fiction) It’s an unusual privilege to watch an author labor to birth a book from the sidelines. I’m including Newport on my list not just because of its sumptuous descriptions of between-the-wars (there it is again!) Rhode Island, but because I know how hard Jill worked. Brava!

George, by Alex Gino. (Juvenile fiction) There are so few books available to children that don’t pander to them on the “tough” topics, such as… being transgender, for instance! George is a buoyant, straightforward treat of a book, sorely needed, about George’s quest to let out long-buried Melissa.

Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman. (YA) Coincidentally, I finished this book almost immediately before Shusterman won the National Book Award’s YA version. It’s so inventive and clever, but hard-hitting, and brings much-needed light to the issue of adolescent mental illness. Don’t miss this one.

Links:

I wish every library system did this. I can’t imagine how much I’d “saved” this year with my 131 books.

From Coworker J:

Happy belated Hanukkah! Some books to help you celebrate (next year).

Here’s a place to spend all that money you got from Santa (or the gelt).

From Friend D:

Seriously subversive.

Non-traditional women! Yes!

Used bookstores are one of my favorite places to go; to wander, to get lost, to go on dates, to treasure hunt. Now it seems as if people are just discovering them (what took ’em so long?).

From Mama Bear:

She’s going to read The Westing Game now because of NPH!

Bet you didn’t know the story behind “Pooh, pooh.”

In What’s Annabelle Reading, in the spirit of the holiday, I finished up a Janian mystery that was a lot of fun and more than a little goofy. But a good time and well-written in the spirit of Barron’s other Jane Austen mysteries.

The last book I finished in 2015 was Ernest Cline’s sophomore effort. If the name means anything to you AND BY GOD IT SHOULD, he’s the dude who wrote Ready Player One, which if you haven’t read, GO GET IT RIGHT NOW. YOU WILL LOVE IT. I’m sad to say that Armada wasn’t as good as RPO (is the second book ever as good as the first?), but still a fun read.

Happy New Year, everyone! Bring on 2016!

 

 

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