Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 10 of 2015

Another calendar year is nearing its close, bringing with it a relaxing vacation from school, plenty of obnoxious noise-makers, and (of course) reflections on the year passed and planning for the year to come. Over the course of December, I have done some of both; I listed the best authors I encountered for the first time in 2015 and shared my most-anticipated 2016 debuts. But for my final post of the year, I'm back with one more retrospective list: the best 10 books I read in 2015.

This is my fourth year compiling an annual superlative list (you can find my favorites from 2012, 2013, and 2014 here, here, and here), and yet this popular feature never grows old. There is something so calming and satisfying about reviewing my year in reading and remembering all the stories—both good and bad—that I managed to encounter. Even though I read far fewer books this year than I have in the past—only 81 so far (although I'll likely finish one more by the end of the year), falling from more than 100 in 2014—I still feel a sense of accomplishment when scrolling through my 2015 reads.

I feel most accomplished when I remember the best of all these books, so now, I present to you the top ten books I read in 2015. As always, they are arranged in chronological order of when I read them, as creating a hierarchy within my favorites list would be impossible.

1. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
This quiet and subtle novel was one of the first that I read in 2015, starting my year off on a high note. Perhaps my adoration for the story is tied to the fact that I read it in January, a month that matches the book's snowy cover and mood, but I know I would have loved it at any time of year.

2. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
As I have said before, this book changed my opinion of an entire genre. Before encountering Ava's story, I avoided magical realism entirely, but now I cannot get enough of the current trend in YA publishing. When a story accomplishes something as monumental as forcing you to rethink a genre, it automatically becomes favorites list material.

3. All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Not a year with a new Ally Carter book goes by that I do not feature the author on my favorites list. If you have yet to start Carter's latest series, you need to remedy that issue immediately. All Fall Down has everything I have come to expect from its author: a thrilling plot, an empowering cast of characters, and an unusual setting (this time, the absorbing world of international relations).

4. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Just like And We Stay, I read Like Mandarin at the perfect time of year: in May, when the world was bursting back into life, matching the vivacity of the story. (It also didn't hurt that I was nearing my own one-year-until-graduation mark when reading this novel about a girl who cannot wait to finish high school and explore beyond her hometown.) Also on my love list for this book: the beautiful descriptions of the Badlands setting.

5. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
I picked up this book for its physics twist, but while I enjoyed the protagonist's scientific theorizing, I became more entranced with my emotional connection to the story. Jasmine Warga has an incredible ability to make readers care for her characters, and I cannot wait to meet her next cast.

6. The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
I loved this book. I read it in June, but I still have yet to decipher its many nuances—and I was already itching to re-read it immediately after turning the final page. I hardly know how to categorize Marcus Sedgwick's latest book, aside from "absolutely brilliant story that will confuse you senseless but still make you feel smart," but I do know that I highly recommend it.

7. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
I could not be happier that this book has done so well, gaining popularity among bloggers and other readers alike, and even selling movie rights. While hype can be misleading, I assure you that everything you have heard about Simon is true. I rarely use fangirling terms on the blog (it's just not my style), but this book made me feel the feels and ship the romance more than I thought possible.

8. The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Before encountering this book, I had no idea how much I needed a story about the women's suffrage movement with a mystical twist. Complete with real photos from the time period and atmospheric writing, The Cure for Dreaming made me a Cat Winters fan. I cannot wait to catch up on her other books in 2016.

9. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
I simply cannot decide which aspect of this book I loved the most. The poetic prose? The slowly-revealed mystery? The blurry themes of innocence, guilt, and justice? I can't tell you for sure, but I can say that I loved everything about this simultaneously beautiful and ugly novel about crime, punishment, friendship, dance, and so much more.

10. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
After finishing The Ghosts of Heaven, I moved on to tackling the author's backlist. Midwinterblood is my second Sedgwick book, and I loved it just as much as the first. I won't say more, as this book is the kind that best succeeds when the reader knows little about its contents, but please let me know if you have read it so we can discuss.

Before signing off, I'd also like to offer an honorable mention to A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis, which I read after compiling this list but absolutely deserves a spot. Between its detailed portrayal of historical asylums, wonderfully developed characters, refreshing lack of romance, and thoughtful questioning of the line between madness and sanity, it was the perfect book for me.

What were your favorite books of 2015—either published this year or not? Let me know in the comments, and have a wonderful New Years celebration!

8 comments:

  1. Great list! I loved Me heart and other black holes and The Walls Around Us. My favourite books of the year were The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and Slade House by David Mitchell :)

    Aeriko @ The Reading Armchair

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  2. I have been wanting to read My Heart and Other Black Holes for a long time! Maybe in 2016....and I cannot believe 2015 is nearly over! Great list! ❤

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  3. YES EMILY. These books are all so amazing, and I am so glad to hear you liked them as much as I did! I'm still not over the brilliance of The Ghosts of Heaven and Midwinterblood. Simon and The Walls Around Us were both amazing as well. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! ♥

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  4. I loved My Heart and Other Black Holes and All Fall Down! Definitely some of my top picks for 2015. There are so many books on this list I've wanted to read but didn't get to. Awesome list!

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  5. I haven't read any of these and yet I really want to. Particularly Ghosts of Heaven. A lot of people claimed it was "too smart" for them but for me, it reminds me of Cloud Atlas. I would love to decipher the message in that book too.

    My Heart... has the most relatable title ever and I was able to interview the author and her answers to the book were so intriguing!

    – Nova @ Out of Time

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  6. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH yes the Strange and Beautiful Sorrows was absolutely beautifullllll I loved it. Otherwise I haven't read very many on here haha! WHICH I HAVE TO CHANGE ASAP.

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  7. Your copy of A Cure for Dreaming had pictures in it! Oh man I missed out with the ARC I guess because I don't remember that at all, but that is so cool! (It's also highly probably that I just have an awful memory.)

    I've been on the fence about reading The Walls Around Us and My Heart and Other Black Holes for a while, but maybe they'll be a part of my 2016.

    Such a great list! Happy New Year!

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  8. The Walls Around Us! I agree with everything you said about it--it was such a GORGEOUS genre-bender and I really enjoyed it too! Plus, that cover is gorgeous :) This was a great list, and I added a few from here to my TBR!

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