Every year, I look forward to writing this post and highlighting the books that I raved about during the previous year. That doesn't mean it is easy to curate such a list. I find that once I put that initial list together, I like to ponder that for a while, reread my reviews, and rethink what I want to type here. Times like these, I am glad that I don't get through a lot of books in a year.
One thing that occurred this time though was coming across a book I rated highly and... not remembering anything about it. Phoenix, a short story by Chuck Palahniuk, was an unputdownable read that left me thinking long after. I know it involves a couple going through a patch. I also know that I loved the construction of the story - how it made me sympathetic with one character only to turn the tables halfway through. But exactly what transpired - I am drawing a blank. It's a good thing that it is a story so I can read it again.
Below are my favorite reads from 2015, in no particular order.
Most hilarious book of the year: Sleep Is For The Weak edited by Rita Arens (If you are a parent, especially with infants or toddlers, you will probably laugh out loud reading most of these essays.)
Book that should be made compulsory in schools (and actually is): We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I didn't review this one and may never review it but it is such an eloquent piece that you should just read it for yourself, with or without a review.)
Book I most related to: El Deafo by Cece Bell (Cece Bell's story of growing up with a hearing problem IS the book I have been waiting for all these years. Suddenly, I feel like I can explain my experiences and challenges better.)
Most gut-wrenching book of the year: Missoula by Jon Krakauer (It is hard reading about rape. It is harder reading about people who do nothing about it.)
Page Turner of the year: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill (What would you do if you are socially conditioned to be the lesser being in this world? Would it ever occur to you to question such practices? According to this book, you will likely not.)
Most inspiring book of the year: Very Good Lives by J. K. Rowling (This is really J. K. Rowling's commencement address at Harvard. And I am a sucker for commencement speeches. This one is beautiful for so many reasons, and again, I can only ask that you do read it.)
Go getter book of the year: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (If you work in a position in which you can grow (and want to grow), this book is for you. I loved Lean In so much that I started applying Sandberg's advice right away.)
Underdog of the year: A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (This is a book I put down the first time I read it and expected to not get too far with it the second time around. Besides, each new chapter from a different character? How is that even going to succeed?)
Most fattening book of the year: Relish by Lucy Knisley (Who knew food can be the subject of a comic book? After reading Relish, I wanted to transform my kitchen and be a Lucy Knisley or her mother.)
Best textbook lesson book of the year: Stuff by Randy O. Frost (This book about hoarding had some very surprising information, that hoarding can be a disease and that some people and their family are severely debilitated by it. No kidding.)