2015 Recap: Books Read – The Highlights

2015 Books Reads

Just the Highlights!

January may be almost half over. You may be getting tired of everyone talking about their best of lists from 2015. I may be posting this for everyone to ignore. But I’m going to post it anyway!

Instead of going though my list of books read, choosing my top 5 or 10 of each type, then listing it all out like in years past, I’m making it easier on everyone. Here are just the highlights. After going through what I read, these are the books that still stand out to me. I didn’t have a lot of duds this year. But I did read a lot of books that didn’t stand out. These are those novels, graphic novels, and books of poetry that I still think about from time to time.

Book_17

  • The Opposite of Nothing by Shari Slade
  • My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron
  • A Shattered Moment by Tiffany King
  • Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
  • Girl at War by Sara Nović
  • The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block
  • The Misanthrope by S.M. Boyce
  • Dear Future Boyfriend by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
  • Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Lumberjanes (#1-11) by Noelle Stevenson, grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen
  • Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
  • Saga  (Vol 1-5) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
  • This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki

Book_17

What books stand out from the others on your books read in 2015 list? Which should I have read last year that you think would have made it on this list? I’ll think about adding them to my 2016 TBR.

Half-Read Books: A Reading Confession

Today I’d like to show you a pile of books.

IMG_2716It’s a nice sized pile, isn’t it? Notice anything about it? Not the titles (some well-known ones in there, I know). Run your eye down the left-hand side. You might notice some paper, even a piece of string. What’s all that? Well, if you didn’t guess already, those are bookmarks.

This, my loyal readers, is my pile of half-read books. Aside from a few that I didn’t feel like stacking up on the pile and a few on my Kindle, this is my pile of books that I’ve started and haven’t (yet) finished. Some are from recent weeks. A few, like the Nick Hornby, were started two years ago. (In defense of the Hornby, its columns he wrote for a The Believer, and I don’t feel that they need to be read in a rush.)

It seems like I have a problem. I admit, it is somewhat of a problem that I’d like to fix. There are periods of time when it doesn’t occur, however, reading a portion of a book and putting it down only to have another catch my eye  and start reading that instead has shown me something about myself as a reader. And that is what I’d like to discuss today.

There are many things that plague my reading life. I get easily distracted. I find it hard to sit and read for long periods of time. Because of this, reading one novel could take a week (average, and I’d be pleased with that) or longer. Other readers will devour these same books in a day. Luckily, even with this big different in reading “speed” I think I still enjoy the story the same as devourerers (did I make up a word or just spell it wrong? Oh well.) More on that in a bit. It’s rare that I’ve read a book in one day, but it has happened. Reading one in 2-3 days is an accomplishment for me. Those are often the ones that BLOW ME AWAY, not just blow me away.

I’m not trying to get a pity party going. I know I’m not alone in some of these reading struggles. It’s how we’re built. I can’t, often, read a book straight through even when I love it. I said it. I’m proud. I’m a reader. That’s all that matters. What I would like to focus on is some of the interesting things I’ve noticed in the last few years.

As a kid I devoured some books. When the Animorphs series came out, I read almost the entire series. Many were read almost as they were released. Then I stopped reading, unless it was assigned to me. It was in high school that I discovered books again, but it was also when I realized I don’t read fast. It took me months to read Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (one of the first books I bought when I discovered the local used bookstore). While I read that, I also started and finished A Farewell to Arms and many of his short stories. I didn’t think much of this until recently.

Once I started blogging, my reading frequency picked up. I also didn’t have as big of a pile of half-read books until the last year(ish). I got busy. My mind started wandering. It happens. A great thing about blogging, and more importantly reviewing, my memory for books seems to have gotten much better. Or, I never gave my memory as much credit as it deserved. This is one of the key factors to not being (t00) ashamed of my half-read pile.

Most of the books you see pictured above, I can jump right back into and feel like I never put it down. It might take a page or two to recall what I need to keep going, but that’s all. I never would have thought I’d be able to finish some books without restarting them, but I feel that I’ve grown as a reader to the point that these things stick in my head for a long time. Well, once I finish a book, I tend to start forgetting things. But that’s what my reviews are for, and one of the main reasons I started reviewing. They help jump-start my memory after I’m done.

*To interrupt your regularly scheduled reading of this post, I’d like to point out that this is the point of the post where real life started calling. I had to stop writing it, and didn’t get back to finishing the post until more than 24 hours later. Ironic isn’t it? Half-written post on half-read books. I now your regularly scheduled reading, already in progress*

An example of this, World After by Susan Ee. This book was released in November of 2013. I got the book around that time and even started it then. It’s admittedly a fast, very engaging read. But I put it down at some point. Read a chapter or two in 2014…and now I picked it back up the night I started this post. this time, I plan on going to the end. I have less than 100 pages to read now and I’m loving the book. Funny thing is that the same thing happened when I read the first book in the series, Angelfall. It went a little more than half-read until close to release day for book 2. The third book, End of Days is coming out in May and it seems that history has repeated itself. Though, when I get my hands on that book, I’ll have to remind myself there’s no fourth book to wait for and that I should read it in one sitting. The series deserves that after what I’ve put it through.

One of the downfalls of this half-reading habit is that I often tell people “yea, that book is on my TBR” or “It’s next on my list. Can’t wait to read it.” Seems innocent enough. Turns out that I say this much too often, and even if I did start the book soon after saying that, I come to realize I have a long line of books on my Kindle that I said I was going to read months ago. This happened in the last few months of 2014. I met many new authors, got myself some great looking books (and also had some gifted to me), had the intention to plow through the pile. I think, as of today, I’ve read two from the pile. That’s almost nothing. I don’t feel too guilty about this. We have our reading speeds. We have lives. No one expects things. I just don’t like feeling left out of things, especially when I interact with most of these authors daily.

So, to all authors out there: You may remember (or not) whether or not I have your book on my pile(s). You may remember that I said I’d be getting to it soon. I doubt that soon came soon enough. Luckily, I don’t forget most of what I own, and I have every intention of reading it in the next ten years. (Eh, figured I’d close this out in a light note.)

As always, comment with your thoughts. Do you half-read? I’m sure many of you can’t fathom it. Totally understand that too. I know some of you probably start from the beginning, as well. For me, that’d get into rereading territory, and that’s a topic for a totally different post.

Speaking of topics for posts, I’m running on empty here. Tell me what you’d like to read. Tell me if you’d like to write up your own guest post. I’m open to almost anything. Just shoot me a message though the contact form with topic ideas or guest post inquiries. I’d love to hear from you all about anything (almost anything. I have my limits…maybe.)

Now, to read more of this weekend’s book…WORLD AFTER

IMG_2717

 

Books on Books

…no this isn’t a post about books having sex with other books. Well, I hope it’s not going to be like that. That could get awkward with all the high risk for papercuts. Let’s not let my mind wander further into that land of weirdness right now.

Books on books. What’s this all about? Well, I just finished reading Susan Hill’s Howards End is on the Landing and loved it. I’ve never read any of her novels before, but this one was mentioned on the Books on the Nightstand podcast  and like many books Ann and Michael mention, I felt the need to buy it. As you might remember, I found it at a garage sale last month and it became book number 2000 for my collection. So anyway, I finished reading this book today after stretching it out for a month. I didn’t want to finish it to be honest. It’s a shortish book (236 pages), so that was a task. I seem to enjoy when an author dedicates a book to talking about books.

It might seem dull, even to people who enjoy books, to talk about books passed the extent of a book review or blog post, but what I find happens more often than not, a writer brings in so much about life, a book’s author, history, and more. They turn into explorations of those topics, almost leaving the book behind. That’s why Hill’s book was enjoyable to me. Through her discussing the books she read from her home’s shelves for a year (without buying any new books, as her challenge to herself dictated), I got to know her. I got to learn about authors she’s known in her life and others that influenced her. I also learned that I’m not alone in they way I might impulse buy books or feel guilt about not reading a book I bought until years later.

Another notable “book on books” author is Nick Hornby. I love his books, but what I also enjoy his column, for The BelieverStuff I’ve Been Readingwhich has been compiled into a few collections so far. I think this was my first taste for someone writing about books. Hornby’s style really makes the column what it is, but it’s also the sharing of his reading life and lack of regret for certain habits (which many of us book lovers share) that keeps me coming back for more.

I’ve read a few more books in the past that fall under this category, and a few that barely do. I’d say memoirs in which an author talks about his/her writing life have a similar spot in my heart. I remember reading Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life and ending with the feeling that she was human like the rest of us. The same goes for other writing memoirs. Whether it’s a book loving author or an author writing about life and writing together, it grips me and makes me feel like I’m not so alone in some of my feelings about things. These people aren’t always extraordinary, but are just as interesting as if they did lead extraordinary lives.

Next time you pick up a book, or just look at one of your shelf, think about all that’s attached to it. The events that lead to you bringing it home or how you felt the last time you read a book by the same author. Books aren’t just objects and aren’t just the words types on the pages. They have a life of their own, and we’re lucky to be able to share the journey and add to those lives.

Line curvy

Do you enjoy reading about books? What are some of the books on books that you’ve enjoyed in the past? I’m always looking for more suggestion because my collection, though vast and diverse, doesn’t have many more to satisfy my craving of this type of book.

P.S. – One of the most dangerous things to come from reading books like this is that a TBR pile is almost guaranteed to double or triple. It’s unavoidable as books sound amazing as you read and have to write them down to check out later. You’ve been warned.