Early every December I realize I’m officially sick of whatever year we’re currently in, and start dreaming obsessively about how much better the next year will be. This is doubly the case with 2015 — some awful stuff happened, and lately I’ve spent a lot of time worried about…well, everything.
Fortunately we’re on the cusp of the New Year, a time to look back, keep what you find good and valuable, and dropkick the detritus out into the snow. I try do this in all areas of my life, and here on the blog I get the chance to focus on my reading.
Best Books in 2015
1. Best book you read in 2015?
- Fiction – Spartan Gold, by Clive Cussler with Grant Blackwood (audiobook)
- Non-fiction – Lincoln’s Melancholy, by Joshua Wolf Shenk
2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, by Caitlin Doughty. It was a good book and I’m a big fan, but it didn’t focus on the information I thought it would.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2015?
The Castaway Lounge, by Jon Boilard. My first review at Insatiable Booksluts, and not something I thought I’d end up enjoying as much as I did.
4. Book you read and recommended to people most in 2015?
Lincoln’s Melancholy, by Joshua Wolf Shenk. I’ve loved reading about Lincoln for about a year now, and Shank’s book has some amazing insights into our 16th president’s mental challenges. As someone who struggles with similar feelings, it was inspiring to read about how Lincoln dealt with his depression and anxiety.
5. Best series you discovered in 2015?
Karen White’s Tradd Street series. The House on Tradd Street was a great way to recapture a little bit of that Charlestonian feel I had when visiting South Carolina with my mom in 2014.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Deborah Blum! The Poisoner’s Handbook was one of my favorite reads of the year. She’s a meticulous researcher and excellent writer.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
The Castaway Lounge focused on seedier topics than I normally read about, but ended up being a great read.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2015?
Thanks to a ridiculous commute to and from work, I’ve been listening to a ton of audiobooks. My library has a lot of options, and in the last few months I’ve rediscovered my love of Clive Cussler novels. Dirk Pitt will always be my favorite, but the Kurt Austin and Sam/Remi Fargo series are also excellent. They’re action-packed and so much fun!
9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s annotated biography. It’s packed full of so many details that I’m sure I missed lots. And once I read that again, I’ll probably cycle back through the Little House series for the nine millionth time.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
I’m going to cheat a little on this one — it’s an entire book of book covers. Jane Austen: Cover to Cover is a beautifully designed book on its own, and it includes some amazing examples of her novel’s covers.
11. Most memorable character in 2015?
Theodore Roosevelt (not a character, but definitely a character). The guy was a machine, comprised of teeth, glasses, and adventure. I’ve read a couple biographies on TR in the last couple years, and just finished watching Ken Burns’ documentary The Roosevelts.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
The Unpublished David Ogilvy, by David Ogilvy. God damn, the guy could write.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2015?
Again, Lincoln’s Melancholy. It felt so good to see that I and a man I admire had some of the same mental challenges. Lincoln’s method for dealing with his issues has had a great impact on me, and I like to think I’m better for having read the book.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2015 to finally read?
None in particular. I feel like I got just the right kind of reading at just the right times this year.
15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2015?
First up is a quote from Kathy Reichs’ Déjà Dead:
When summer arrives in Montreal it flounces in like a rumba dancer: all ruffles and bright cotton, with flashing thighs and sweat-slicked skin. It is a ribald celebration that begins in June and continues until September.
And then from The Unpublished David Ogilvy:
Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you get old, people won’t think you’re going gaga.
16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2015?
- Shortest – The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill (176 pages)
- Longest – Colonel Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris (784 pages, audiobook)
17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody?
It didn’t make me reel, but I found Shopping, Seduction, and Mr. Selfridge endlessly interesting. It made me want to pal around with marketing folks and “talk shop.”
18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2015 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?
I loved the relationships between the main characters in The Legend of Eli Monpress. The team of outlaws (Eli, Joseph, and Nico) obviously care for each other a great deal, and do some amazing and stupidly dangerous things to save each other.
19. Favorite book you read in 2015 from an author you’ve read previously?
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl. It’s annotated, but the original words are Wilder’s, and I’ve loved her stories since I learned how to read chapter books.
20. Best book in 2015 you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else?
The only book recommended to me this year by someone I know personally was The Legend of Eli Monpress, and it was a total success.
21. Genre you read the most from in 2015?
This year it’s back to mystery/thriller (26 books), with history in a far second (17 books).
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
I’ve got a little bit of a thing for Garrett from Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink. He’s a know-it-all nerd, but he’s also sweet and good.
23. Best 2015 debut you read?
I don’t know if I read anything that came out this year.
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2015?
The Legend of Eli Monpress, for sure. A beautiful, harsh, fully-realized world that I’d love to spend time in.
25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2015?
Any of the Clive Cussler audiobooks I listened to. They’re brain candy for smart people.
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2015?
The Butler: A Witness to History (audiobook) got me a little choked up. Eugene Allen was a butler to eight US presidents, and lived long enough to see President Obama’s inauguration.
27. Book you read in 2015 that you think got overlooked this year (or the year it came out)?
I don’t pay too much attention to what other people say about the books I read. Generally only when I’m feeling conflicted about a book will I purposefully search out others’ reviews.
1. One book you didn’t get to in 2015 but will be your biggest priority in 2016?
My mom’s been on me for years to read Allan Gurganus’ The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2016 (non-debut)?
None in particular. My reading plans have been pretty organic this year, something that will continue in 2016.
3. 2016 debut you are most anticipating?
I don’t think much about debut dates, but see below.
4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2016?
Currently the only series I’m reading through is the Tradd Street series, and the next one doesn’t come out until 2017 (boo!).
5. One thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2016?
To enjoy books and reading as they happen, and talk about them with other bookish people.
What are your 2016 reading goals? Let’s talk!