2015 Book List

For the first time in my life, I gave myself a reading quota last year, not because I was worried that I wasn’t reading enough, 2015 Booksbut because I have a tendency to return again and again to the books that feel like old friends and I wanted to encourage myself to try something new.

Fifty new books. Not a lot. But a decent number, especially given the amount of time I already spend writing and reading each day.

And though I ultimately achieved my goal, I was a little disappointed by how difficult I found it to keep track of my reading. By the time I got back from Turkey in early November I discovered that I could not remember two full months’ worth of reading material, rendering my list incomplete.

This year I’m going to do a better job keeping track. This year I’m going to document each book meticulously. Or so I tell myself.

With that goal in mind, these are the books I’ve read so far in 2015:

In the Woods by Tana French

 Faithful Place by Tana French

Broken Harbor by Tana French

The Secret Place by Tana French

Grass by Sheri S. Tepper

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The Cat Who Sang for the Birds by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Went into the Closet by Lilian Jackson Braun

Obviously I’m on a huge Tana French kick, and I credit my friend Mignon Khargie with introducing me to her. After Mignon raved about her books, she let me borrow Faithful Place and The Secret Place, both of which are decent sized books that I devoured almost overnight because I couldn’t stop thinking about them and never wanted to put them down. I’m now reading her final one (which is technically her earlier one, but they’re her final two for me) and dreading the moment I’m finished and don’t have any more of her work to read.

I would also strongly recommend Grass to anyone interested in a solid sci fi novel. Until fairly recently I thought that I didn’t much care for science fiction. I think, to be brutally honest, that I viewed science fiction as a sort of glorified comic book, and while I don’t have any particular beef with comics, I’ve never managed to get past a couple of pages before getting bored. Then I read Dune and realized that science fiction isn’t all that different from fantasy—one of my all-time favorite genres. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time by reading as much quality science fiction as possible. Of course, I would add that science fiction tends to feel very male-centric, and I get bored when books feel like an endless parade of one-note masculine figures with nary a female to be found. Grass is sort of the antithesis of this. The female characters are strong, dynamic, engaging, diverse. It reads like a novel written by a woman (which it was).

And while I rarely make a point of trashing books—mostly because I almost always find something to love by the time I finish a book—Lev Grossman’s The Magicians annoyed me to the point that I wanted to throw it across the room by the time I was finished. The snotty protagonist annoyed me, in much the same way that The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield bothered me as a protagonist so disconnected from reality, so utterly preoccupied with his own petty concerns that I couldn’t help but question why I was supposed to care about him. And while I love a book that playfully references its literary influences, I thought The Magicians was painfully derivative. I could go on, and might later, but it feels unnatural dedicating so much time and energy to encouraging people not to read a book so I may take some time to sort out my thought; if I’m going to trash a novel, I’m going to at least be coherent about it.

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