I’ve read 506 books this year (so far, I have a feeling I will read one or two more before the year ends) and I want to share the titles I found most pleasurable and thought provoking. Not all the titles that make my list were released in 2015 but they are ones I’ve just read this year so they’re new to me. Without further ado, here’s a journey through my favourite reads of the year:
- Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiroki Kawakami
I loved this introspective look at the slow burning relationship between a woman and her teacher when she meets him years after she has graduated. The story is told with such sensitivity and delicacy that it immediately propelled Kawakami into the ranks of my favourite Japanese writers.
- Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn
Tamblyn’s poetry is piercing and asks the reader to take responsibility for the women the poems talk about: the dead actresses whose lives and names were consumed by the media and the people who call themselves fans.
- The Ravenous Gown: and 14 More Tales About Real Beauty – Steffani Raff
A quirky collection that discusses what true beauty is and how it can be achieved.
- Supermutant Magic Academy – Jillian Tamaki
This graphic novel is busy, noisy and full of characters that are indelible. They are as screwed up as only adolescents can be and you will either love them or hate them.
- Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire
This novel is set in Tsarist Russia and features the most amazing iteration of Baba Yaga I’ve had the pleasure of reading and her irreverent cat who is called Mewster. The book is a treasure and may yet be my favourite of the year.
- The Vine Basket by Joseanne La Valley
This book is about Uyghur people and it was the first time I heard about them and read about their plight. Beautifully told with hope and courage, Mehrigul lives on in my mind.
- Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville
This book tackles horrific subjects such as human dissection and abuse during the Holocaust in a very approachable way. Framed as a fairytale told between two children who are running away, this novel makes me eager to see what Granville comes up with next.
- The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
Possibly one of the quirkier books I’ve read this year. I loved the glimpse into a different culture and the story is just…one of the more original ones I’ve read in a long while.
- Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
This was certainly an experience. I do want to read more of Lawrence now though.
- The Water and the Wild by K. E. Ormsbee
This was a brilliant romp of a middlegrade fantasy.
- Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
I don’t know what I was expecting from the concluding volume of this trilogy but damn, it blew me away. I was absolutely taken aback by the magic of the ending, especially how we leave the charactersin motion and not at some Utopian happy ending.
- And Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
The titular poem is CRAZY powerful. Listen to her reciting it. Intensifies the impact.
- This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad
This is one picturebook all little girls need to have.
- Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother’s Life with a Daughter’s Anorexia by Clare Dunkle
Whew. This was an experience. Harrowing, sorrowful, but ultimately hopeful.
- The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Hardinge has this style, this ease with which she constructs sentences that I cannot help but love. This novel in particular combines the strength of her wordsmithery with a strong plot.
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik
You’ve heard people say why they like it. Pretty much my reasons too.
- I Want to Kick You in the Back by Risa Wataya
This begins in such a beautiful way. I wish I had written it down. I need my own copy of this book.
- A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
Spiritually uplifting, this story of faith and courage that wins over the most tragic situation is told in beautiful verse that is most quotable.
- Amsterdam Stories by Nesico
I still remember the short stories and how slowly they came to life, honestly like watching the sun come up. Light gradually fills the world and rids it of shadows. Reading this book is a similar experience.
- Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Humour doesn’t often work with me but Mindy strips herself bare and her courage in doing that won me over. And yeah, she is funny.
- All the Rage by Courtney Summers
This was…intense and important and timely.
- Gotham Academy vol 1. by Becky Cloonan et al
It’s not often that pairings make me giddy but Maps and Olive are so awesome together I can help but roar my approval.
- Ms. Marvel vol 2 – G. Willow Wilson
Because the book is a slice of my life without the tights and the superheroes and I didn’t think I’d ever find a mirror in fiction.
- Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
Okay, the love triangle is rubbish and unnecessary but other than that, there were a lot of fist pumping moments for me in the book. So it gets a place on the list.
- Briar Queen – Katherine Harbour
I didn’t like the first one as much but this one won in so many ways. I can’t wait to see what the next installment in this series has in store for me.
- The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Bow won me over with her AI and her provoking rendering of a villain whose actions make sense in all ways but the human one.
- Solanin – Inio Asano
I loved the art and the story of 20-somethings coming to terms with the world and their lives with each other and alone.
- Manabeshima Island Japan – Florent Chavouet
This is a gorgeous graphic travel memoir. Much recommended.
- Winter – Marissa Meyer
I was very satisfied by how this novel ended and applaud Marissa’s rendition of the ever afters. Bravo.
- House of Sand and Secrets by Cat Hellisen
This was raw, angry, and so very beautiful. Can’t wait to read more of this kind of books from Cat.
- The Astrologer’s Daughter – Rebecca Lim
I loved the marriage of the arcane and the real.