Here are my top seventeen-ish books I read in 2015. I get bonus points (in my head) if said book was RELEASED in 2015 by a new-ish author, but I get points taken away if I PURCHASED said book in 2015. Because I’m out of control. A Catch-22? Perhaps. But that book didn’t make this list, so my logic cancels it out… Onwards!!
From my most recent reads and looking back, here are the books that spun my head this year!!
17. Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
Holy crap on an alien cracker. This is sci-fi on crack. But like, that good 1989 crack that Dan Simmons was apparently using whilst writing this epic novel. It's a genre-blending tale of seven pilgrims and their individual stories that brought them all together on an alien world. It runs a bit slow at times, and I'm reading the rest of the Hyperion Cantos (4 books in total) in e-format so I can ask the internet what Simmons is talking about. (Mainly poetry by Keats. I've spent YEARS repressing my university education, and Simmons is making me think again. Argh!)
Points Tally: +3 (borrowed from Fair's Fair bookstore [an employee perk]+ read an oldschool paperback + returned it). Total points: 3.
16. In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters
Yowza I loved this book! YA + historical fiction + ghost story = yes please!! I knew nothing of North America in 1918 and thought Winters did an exceptional job in setting the stage and infusing a ghost story during a time when society was desperate to regain a connection with loved ones lost in WWI. Not to mention that whole Spanish flu fiasco! Will not be using my time machine to travel back there!!
P.S. My husband knew about the Spanish flu because they cancelled the Stanley Cup that year due to the infection of the entire Montreal Canadians team and the passing of player Joe Hall. True story.
Points tally: -1 (bought this year); +2 for buying a lovely used hardcover from the bookstore I work in. Total points: 1
15. Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Illuminae is an “epistolary” novel written as a series of “found” documents, or in this case, found correspondence through e-mails, narrated found video footage, etc.
This book rocked my world. Somehow, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff were able to convey the horror of zombie-fied people and the claustrophobia of being on a spaceship, whilst balancing teenage angst/ drama within this enormous plot. AND a ship computer became a complex character. It was like reading Battlestar Gallactica and feeling the same intensity x10. (If you haven’t seen BSG what planet have you been living on? Stop reading and go directly to… idk, Best Buy? You can continue this blog once you have finished all 4 seasons. You will thank me…) Probably my MOST FAVE [YA] this year.
Points tally: +1 (published October 2015 by new-ish authors); -1 ordered hardcover off the internet [you may NOT read this in e-format]; +1 free shipping. Total points: 1
14. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
Holy god. There was crying. And not pretty, single-tear-sliding-down-your-cheek-like-my-sister-can-do, but using-your-sleeve-as-a-watery-snot-catcher kinda cry. I needed this book. It helped heal part of my soul that is a little raw, I kid you not.
Points Tally: -1 bought in New York (September 2015); +1 from an indy bookstore; faced an inner demon +1. Total points: 1
13. The Mask, by Taylor Stevens
This book was a surprise hit because a) it was free with a review; b) it was a spy-thriller-mystery (not my usual genres) and c) the author was raised in a cult, escaped, and writes kick-ass action-packed novels! [I see you with your one eyebrow raised in a disbelief/ let’s-humour-her kinda way. I double-dog-dare-you not to give this book a chance.]
Granted, the main character, Vanessa Michaels, seems a little off-kilter at first. But the more you read, the more you realise that this woman has seen some sh*t, people. And then she Animorphs into a Jason Bourne-type androgynous ass-kicker and you’re all “hell ya, Vanessa/ Michael!!
Points Tally: +1 (released June 2015 by pretty unknown author); +1 FREE; +1 e-book = no tree-book; -1 bought 1st one in the series (The Mask is #5) off the internet; +1 free shipping. Total points: 3!!
12. You’re Never Weird on theInternet (Almost), by Felicia Day
As some of you may know, I lurve Felicia Day. She is a personal hero. She came out of a huge depression to become Geek Royalty. And this book shed some light on some of the amazing awfulness that comes with fame on the internet. If you would like to lurve Felicia too, read this book, go to the Geek & Sundry channel on Youtube.com, or join her Vaginal Fantasy book club on goodreads.com.
Points Tally: +1 (released August 2015 by new author); -1 pre-purchased online because I feel like I know her and should support my imaginary friends (I totally met her briefly at Calgary Comic Expo and am pretty sure we’d be besties). +1 supported her “Embrace Your Weird” t-shirt campaign on FB to raise money for cyber-bullying awareness (and that’s a SHIRT not a book so no negative points on that purchase!!). +1 e-book = environmentally friendly. Total points: 2
Is tied with…
11. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson
I have previously said that Jenny Lawson is my spirit animal, which may be confusing to those of you not in her “tribe.” I’m so proud of Lawson; she has overcome/ learned to live with so many physical and mental illness challenges and is a forerunner in the movement to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness in general. After reading this book, I told my sister that Lawson is “me” but maybe more extreme, to which she replied, “no way! You don’t collect dead animals!” To which I replied, “not yet, padwan, not yet…”
Points Tally: +1 for 2015 release; -1 pre-purchased; +1 e-book; +1 supporting fellow mental illness awareness heroine. Total points: 2
10. The 7 Kate Daniels’ books I read this year, by llona Andrews
So good. SO GOOD! A trash-talkin’ ass-kickin’ heroine who goes head to head with crazy Big Bads ranging from witches to mythical gods to were-animals of every mammal imaginable... Including a passing mention of a were-moose. But I’m choosing to pretend that one was a drug-induced hallucination. And, if I haven’t sold you yet, there’s a sexy were-lion king with a temper. (Right?!) Each book holds it’s own, and I haven’t been disappointed yet!!
Points Tally: okay, so I haven’t read #8 (released in 2015) but the Ilona Andrews team are rolling in it, so really +1 for NOT buying it yet (?); -2 bought #1 & #7 (but +2 for e-books); +5 discovered e-books from the Calgary Public Library! Total points: 6 Boo-yah!!
9. Lair of Dreams, by Libba Bray
The continuation of one of my fave books, The Diviners. The release date was pushed back SO MANY TIMES that when it was actually released, I ordered it to be delivered on the very day it was released! (Have not done this since Harry Potter, btw.) Libba Bray wisely centred the narrative on previously minor characters; while we all love Evie, she is a very strong character, and by allowing other Diviners to develop we were still able to appreciate Evie without being overwhelmed by her excessiveness. This sequel holds up to the original, so it’s the elephant’s eyebrows in my books!!!
Points Tally: +1 (released August 2015); -1 purchased hardcover. Total points: 0
Points Tally: +1 (released August 2015); -1 purchased hardcover. Total points: 0
8. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
The book that started Spinning Jenny’s Book Blog! A classic that holds up. (Read the review, Lazy.)
Points Tally: +2 I think I bought it a while back on an e-book sale, so I DIDN’T buy it this year and I READ a book I already OWNED. (A task more difficult than it sounds!!... Back me up, book bloggers!!) Total Points: 2
7. The Necromancer Series, by Lish McBride
Both great, fun reads. Bought because my book club was reading it. Love Lish McBride’s humour and fun (older) YA urban-fantasy plots.
Points Tally: -2 bought both; +2 e-books, so saved a tree. Total points: Even Stephen
6. The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt
Such an awesome western, by a Canadian author! Very different plot and characters, and I loved it!
Points Tally: -1 bought it; +1 e-book. Total Points: like it never even happened… except I think I bought deWitt's newest one as a result...
These graphic novels are so amazingly creative, both in story (Vaughn) and illustration (Staples – from Calgary!). They are definitely on the mature side, so reader beware!
Points Tally: +1 (Vol. 5 released September 2015 by relative unknowns outside the comic collector universe); +5 because Blair bought them FOR me because his co-worker recommended them to me. +1 supporting a local artist. Total points: 7 (ring-a-ding-ding!!)
Holy crap, Jenny. Read much? I’m almost done, I sweah!
4. Dune, by Frank Herbert
Another awesome classic that still stands up. Apparently a 1984 movie release of the relatively unknown book (released 1965) propelled it to be the 1st #1 Science-fiction best-seller in the New York Times (citation needed).
Points tally: -1 bought it; +1 e-book. Points total: nobody was hurt here, people. Move along.
3. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
The apocalypse! In Canada! Great story, very subtle at times. Loved it.
Points Tally: -1 bought it; +2 e-book sale. Total points: 1
2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr took a mere 10 years to write this. NEVER have I been so engrossed in a post WWI to WWII book. It’s long, but SO worth it! I can’t even. I think the best book I’ve read this year, by far!! And it won the Pulitzer, yadda yadda...
Points Tally: +1 borrowed from mom; +2 will eventually buy my own copy, but second-hand, so I’m supporting small business and RRR (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, people!). Total points: 3
1. A Year in the Life of aTotal and Complete Genius, by Stacey Matson
Stacey Matson took a unique approach to the epistolary approach by telling the story of Arthur Bean through homework assignments. I thought it was brilliant, touching, funny, and brought something different to the YA table. She’s also from Calgary, and I totes met her brother who told me about her book in the first place, and mentioned some plot points were based on family happenings. This was the 1st book I read where I thought: maybe I could do this too!! And while I’m not there yet, I’m starting a writing group this month, and hopefully we will be inspirational to one another’s projects. Whilst drinking beer. And thus the PUBlishers are born!!
Points Tally: +1 supporting local author; -1 buying hardcover. Total points: nothing worth mentioning…
So, there it is! A much longer list for 2015 than I originally had anticipated! I can’t wait to link up all this crap so I don’t get sued by some rando who comes across my blog and says, hey! That’s OUR book! And then something happens that’s REALLY BAD and I lose all contact to the internets forever. (And apathy reigns it’s ugly head…)
Thanks for reading and supporting me! Even though I probably forced this upon you via email.
Do you have a Top __ Books of 2015 list? Share below! Think I need to add to my “To Read” pile on goodreads.com? I’m currently at 381 books, but feel free to see if I don’t have a MUST READ on there!! Here’s the linky-do: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/12982976-jen-s?shelf=to-read
I had such a great time reading all of these great (and sometimes “meh”) books this year. And discovering the book bloggers out there has been enlightening and awe-inspiring! (The 1st book blog I read was by a 16 year-old who’s been blogging for 6 years! Do the math on THAT one!) That reminds me… the math!!
How did I do for points this year? As if I’m going to add all that up. I’m a reader, not a mathematician, people! Basically my New Years Resolution (and I do have one) is to BUY LESS BOOKS/ READ WHAT I HAVE/ GET PEOPLE TO BUY ME BOOKS SO I CAN READ THEM IF I DON’T OWN THEM YET.
Thanks for reading!
~ Spinning Jenny
P.S. Big shout out to www.goodreads.com for organizing all of my books that I have read or will read! My book OCD has found a digital kindred spirit.