Yeah, I’m jumping on that bandwagon. What? I love musical wagons.
So I’ve read 115 books in 2015. I’m inordinately proud of this fact, especially because last year I read… what was it? 36? Yeah. Despite the fact that many books were comic book issues, and others were throwaway books I read for the mind candy (cough my first romance ever, cough), I did a damn good job reading consistently throughout the year.
This year started in Atlanta, living with my brother and working an office job. My first read of the year was The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which does not make it onto the list because it was a terrible pile of garbage (ok, it wasn’t that bad. But my hopes were high, guys. Really high.) My last read of the year (Again, SO FAR, and this will change tonight, I’m sure. I have several days off work, so I’m going to be powering through some stuff) is Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn, which was AMAZING and does feature on this list. (Edit: Already there’s a different last book of the year– Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. This post has been chilling in an open window on my laptop for a few days, and to avoid writing it I’ve been reading.) (Edit edit: I’m planning to read Saga Volume 2 tomorrow on my birthday to finish with a solid 115. So basically this entirely paragraph is a lie, just like the cake.)
I can’t wait to see next year’s list. I’m sure you’re feeling the same sort of backwards-nostalgia.
Weatherly, there’s already a word for that. It’s called anticipation.
Oh, right. Right, right. Thanks.
No problem. Here to help. There’s also a word(s) for having dialogues with yourself. It’s called cuckoo for cocoa puffs.
Right again, buckaroo. Thanks, brain-thesaurus!
Onto the list!
Ahh, no, another clarification. If I really loved a book, I put it on my favorites-of-2015 shelf on Goodreads (Check it out here, and follow me because ya girl is fire on Goodreads.) I’ve narrowed down that list to these absolute favorites. There are a few at the bottom that didn’t quite make the list, but I still wanted to mention because they were close to the top! There’s a word for this. It’s called cheating. Now REALLY. Onto the list!
I just read this today (or many years in the past, if you’re reading this in an archive of Earth publications after the heat death of our planet. Look at the pub date and figure it out, I don’t know your life.) I’ve been hearing about Saga ALL DAMN YEAR, and honestly I was a little hesitant to read it, because of the hype. So hesitant that as soon as I got an Amazon gift card from Christmas, I immediately downloaded it and finished the first volume within an hour of starting. I’m very stoic about these things.
The story’s about these two non-human characters on opposing sides of a war, one is a prisoner and one is his guard. And then they fall in illicit love, get illicit married, and have an illicit trans-species baby. And that’s the first page. The first volume is them running from the armies of both sides, trying to escape the planet and go into hiding/out on the run in the galaxy. It’s incredible. If I were going to do one of those “it’s blah blah meets blah blah” descriptions, I’d say it’s West Side Story meets Firefly meets Why are you reading this, I just said that an alien prisoner and an alien guard fall in love, have a trans-species alien baby, and go on the run into space what more do you need, here? Honestly. Get some perspective.
2) You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day.
Of all of the the memoirs I read this year, (a weirdly large amount for me), this was hands-down my favorite. I was a casual fan of Felicia Day before reading. I loved The Guild, which she wrote/produced/starred in, and of course I’d seen Dr. Horrible. But I picked this up just on a whim, not because I was truly interested in her life. It was my first week in Korea, before I started school, and I was walking every day to the PC Bang to sit amongst League of Legends gaming prepubescents to soak up the free wifi and try to gain some sense of equilibrium in my completely new life. (This is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down… no? Another time? Ok.) This audiobook, narrated by the author, is all about her life as a homeschooled, roleplaying game-obsessed, social awkward, digital-friends-having nerd, and I LOVED IT. Day’s a perfect audiobook narrator for it, and her writing style is hilariously honest and self-deprecating without making the reader feel uncomfortable, like a best friend who’s a nerd but doesn’t feel the need to wear a sweater that says NERD on it, you know? (I have one of these sweaters. I didn’t buy it myself, but. Yeah. Felicia Day is much cooler than I am.) Truly, this book was a huge part of my adjusting to Korea, and I will forever appreciate it.
Also, the part where she meets up with her “online crush” she met through an RPG forum and he turned out to be just as un-dreamboaty as any logical human would expect? Hysterical.
3) Bravest Warriors by Kate Leth and Joey Comeau
I don’t have a lot to say about this, because all my feelings are expressed in a sort of chaotic, adoring screaming inside my head. If you like the show, you’ll love the comic books. They’re perfect. If you don’t watch the the show, you’re welcome.
4) Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Ok. You know The Iliad? (Yeah, I know, you skipped reading it, it’s fine, everyone knows.) Ok, so this is The Iliad… fan fiction. Gay Iliad fan fiction. Yeah, I know, that would have 100% sold me too, even if it was terrible. But here’s the thing: It’s NOT terrible. It’s INCREDIBLE. Madeline Miller is a Greek and Latin teacher who spent ten years researching and writing this book, and her careful attention to detail and knowledge of the subject absolutely shows. The story follows the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles, which had an immense influence on the Trojan War. The nature of the relationship, whether romantic or platonic, has been a subject of scholarly debate for a long, long time. (Plato was on the Lovers team, and I like my odds siding with that guy.) In Miller’s book, Patroclus and Achilles fall in love and are deeply connected, and she explores how this affects both characters as they continue through the events before and during the Trojan War. This book is so gorgeously written, her prose reads like long form poetry, which is a perfect complement to The Iliad. And the characters. My god, the characters. *HEARTEYES FOREVER* It won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2012 (now called the Bailey’s Women Prize for Fiction) and it is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read.
5) Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
There’s no excuse not to know about Lumberjanes. Especially because if you’re located on the planet Earth, you probably heard my undignified squealing when I first read it (hello to those excluded, thanks for checking out this blog, if you’re an alien we should be friends, if you’re an astronaut I do not come in peace.) This comic is about a butt-kicking awesome group of girl friends who go to a summer camp to become way-more-badass versions-of-Girl-Scouts, called Lumberjanes. Every character has their own strengths and weaknesses, storylines, and awesome one-liners. It crushes the Bechdel, all while promoting friendships between girls, being confident, and non-cliche girl power. Oh, and there are magical creatures that they happen to fight. Basically, it’s the comic book everyone needs to read.
6) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
So this book blew my away when I first read it, I could not stop talking about it. (Basically nobody I recommended it to read it… I obviously need to improve my recommendation skills, or get more receptive friends.) However, it was a really early in the year when I read it, and I’m having trouble forming any sort of emotions around it now. So here’s my Goodreads review, written right after finishing:
I am absolutely crazy about this book. It had everything I wanted: deep, interesting, hyper-real characters, apocalyptic nightmare scenarios, cult-based horror, graphic novel writing, flashbacks that were even more absorbing than the main plot… I just finished this book and I’m having a hard time forming full thoughts about it… and I don’t want to be too hasty… but I think it’s one of my favorite books of this year. Maybe even my MOST favorite. I know. Hold your gasps until the end, please.
Probably 3/4 through the book I realized that the Miranda and Station Eleven parts were my favorite parts, along with flashbacks to Arthur’s life through other people, Clark especially. See? I know everyone’s names. It’s a book of such insane scope and yet I, worst name rememberer of all time, remembers almost every character’s name. That’s how you know I was paying attention.
I know I said this about the book I read before this in my 52 Books Challenge (Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest, oh my god read that please for god’s sake), but oh my god read this please for god’s sake.
7) What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
I want to say that this was a strange pick for me, because I’m not a runner (no matter how I try, I cannot seem to find that “runner’s high” people go on about. Maybe it’s because the only emotion I feel when running is an intense need to lay down in the road and die?) But it wasn’t really that strange, because it’s not really about running. I really enjoy hearing people talk about routines and meditative tasks, especially in books. My de-stress hobby is reading, so combining someone else’s de-stress hobby with my de-stress hobby is like a de-stress ice cream sundae from yoga land (v good). Murakami draws parallels between running and writing, and the idea of living a healthy lifestyle so he can continue to write for the rest of his life. He’s such a careful, thoughtful writer, and hearing him talk about his life and his work was just really, really nice. I may reread this one, actually. But first, Ihink I’m ready for some more Murakami in the new year!
8) Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest
I didn’t do this on purpose, but I’m pretty sure I’ve saved the very best for last. This is a modern retelling/interpretation of the myth of Tiresias through rhythmic, spoken word-style poetry. It explores topics ranging from gender roles, modern social structures, isolation, and dealing with adversity when it seems there’s nothing to live for. This book ripped my guts out and stomped all over them, and I loved every single word. I’ve been craving re-reading it since I read it the first time, and it will probably be an annual re-read for me. I’m excited to read Tempest’s other book Brand New Ancients in 2016. And if you’re interested, she also has a lot of spoken word on Youtube. I personally like reading it better, but the lyrics are just incredible.
Almost made the cut:
The Secret Place by Tana French
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This year was a pretty great reading year for me! I couldn’t be more pleased to have reached my reading goals. Stay tuned for my 2016 Reading Goals! And as always, leave your backdoor unlocked. I’m hungry.