This year I'm squeaking in under the wire with 100 books in my Goodreads timeline, although I'll admit a lot of them are picture books I've read with my kids, but I guess the millions of times I read and re-read most of them covers about the same amount of time as a longer book. I tried to focus on reading classics of literature for my main reading challenge and I really didn't get very far. I'm glad I tried and I did find some new favorites, but the ones that weren't favorites were a real slog to get through and it really slowed me down. I still managed to keep up the trend of finishing a lot of series and I got better about reading the books I own, so that's something.
Without further ado, my top 5 reads of 2015 and 10 honorable mentions (listed in alphabetical order)
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (2012) I've heard about Brene Brown for years, but finally reading one of her books just crystalized in my heart a lot of things that I already knew were true. Owning up to our fears and letting them see the light of the day is the first step to overcoming them. Anger never does us any good and only (poorly) tries to cover up fear and shame. Read it. Read it now.
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (2014) I can't believe a book on housekeeping is making my top 5 list, but this is magical. I've started implementing Kondo's system in my house and it is amazing, but the book itself has a quirky beauty with Kondo's tone going between pixie, fairy godmother, and stern schoolmaster. Read it, even if you have no intention of tidying, just for her unique voice.
- Stardust by Neil Gaiman (1998) How can a fairy tale for adults be so perfect? Even better, Gaiman reads the audio version, so you can either view wonderful illustrations in the print edition or hear the author read his own work (which in Gaiman's case, is a real treat) in the audio.
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936) One of those weighty tomes that reminds you why sometimes a book just has to be crazy long. An eye-opening look at the Civil War and Reconstruction from the South's perspective. A detailed portrait of talented woman too blind to her own flaws until the only man who loved her for them gives up on her. With this one you get two great stories for the price of one.
- Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (2014) - Alternative fairy tales have been done to death, but this one was so new and different and went in such a surprising direction, I was blown away and still kind of want to read it again to make sure I really did read what I thought I read.
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920) and The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (1881) These two are intertwined for me because I couldn't get enough of talented late 19th century American girls who find themselves powerless to escape the societal pressures placed on them. Wharton and James are masters.
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013) A charming, yet real, look at the challenges of freshman year of college.
- Goodnight, Already! by Jory John and Benji Davies (2014) My 3-year-old reports the conversations between a sleepy bear and wide-awake duck constantly.
- How Children Succeed by Paul Tough (2012) A fascinating look at how bad schools aren't the only resources failing children in poor neighborhoods.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847) and Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier (1938) These were rereads for me this year and even better than I remembered each of them.
- The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson (2014) This one shocked me with how good it was, despite nothing about the premise obviously appealing to me. Great for lovers of good people trying to figure out their place in the world.
- A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell (2014) Another big hit with my 3-year-old.
- Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (2015) Best. Series. Ever. Waiting a year for the next book is pure torture.
- The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2 by Robert Kirkman (2014) I thought the glory days of this series were over. I was wrong.
- Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (2014) The audio of this is exceptional, with Poehler bringing in her family and friends to read with her.