Happy New Year’s Eve!
2015 was an eventful year for me. I finished my third year teaching Kindergarten, taught my very first official Singapore Math session (and by official I mean I had a color picture and bio in the brochure and was watched by one of the Singapore Math creators himself! ), moved to 5 different “houses” including one hotel and one RV, this was because we moved from AZ to OR, started teaching 2nd/3rd grade, and got married!
In fact, right now, I am on the last day of my Caribbean cruise honeymoon. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But that, along with my December Book Banter post, can wait. Today I am here to talk about my favorite books of 2015. This is a recap of my top rated books of the year. Don’t worry I wrote this post before the wedding so I am not spending time on my honeymoon blogging.
To pick my favorites of the year I checked out my Goodreads page and looked at which books I had rated 5 stars. Then from that list I thought about the books that have stuck with me. This means that I have still found myself thinking about them or talking about them long after I put them down. When a book causes me to ponder and consider it in my real life I know it was good.
I am not a literary critic, or even an expert on what is “good” but for me a good book is one worth talking about. A good book makes you think. A good book is not always enjoyable or easy, because a good book often contains the truth. When I find a book that contains a little nugget of truth I often think, “My life will be different now. This has changed me.” This reaction doesn’t always come from something heart wrenching, but it often does. It doesn’t always come from a story with a romantic love in it, or when I am laughing at the funny bits of life, but it can. Its moments like these I looked for when I created this list. So without further ado, here are numbers 6-10 of my favorite books this year!
10. The Bostonians by Henry James
One thing I can’t resist is a good social commentary, especially one written about 130 years ago that can still wring true today. This book was one of those. This book was examining gender roles, love and the feminist movement of the time. The characters in this book reminded me of people I know in real life. This made it especially enjoyable to read because 1. that meant that the characters were very well written and 2. it was hilarious to imagine the people I know in these situations. Don’t get me wrong, not every part of this book was enjoyable, and the movie totally leaves a lot to be desired, especially since it cuts our Ransom’s best speech. This book has stuck with me because I just love how much it still applies to some of the issues being discussed today.
9. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
This year I didn’t read as much non-fiction as I usually do. I am guessing that with all of the changes I had going on in my life I needed some “escaping reality” time and gravitated more towards fiction. I say “escaping reality” in quotes because while books frequently have elements of the surreal or are said to help us get away from what is troubling us, they tend highlight what is going on in our lives more often than they allow us to forget it. So really, instead of an escape I needed something to focus my thinking on. Seabiscuit was a great read for me this year because it was a story an underdog and his willingness to win. Hillenbrand can really tell a story and the way she weaves so many stories into one big picture allows for the world to feel small. If you haven’t read this, you should.
8.Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
It is no secret that I believe some of the best books ever written were written for children. In fact, you will find more than one on this list. A well written children’s book is written to teach. That means they are full of moments that cause one to think. The greatest among them can be enjoyed by adults because what they have to say is true and good and that is enjoyable for any age. Anne of Green Gables is a delight. There are some many good lines, so many excellent musings. But the whimsy is balanced with a good dose of life. I’ve loved this story for a long time and am exited to read Anne of Avonlea and the rest again soon!
7. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Slight spoiler: Beautifully tragic. This book was recommended by a former colleague and I wasn’t super interested in the description but I saw it on sale on audible and bought it. It was memorizing. The way in which two different worlds collide and blend takes time to hit its memorizing peak but the slow burn is so worth it. The characters are so human. I don’t know why I chose to listen to this while exercising, but I did. I am not ashamed to say that when I finished it I was running around the neighborhood sobbing. A very well written story about people.
6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
So all of that stuff I said about children’s books being just as good for adults as they are for kids is proven 100% true with The Chronicles of Narnia series. C.S. Lewis himself said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe can definitely be enjoyed by adults. When I read this aloud to my class I often found myself pausing to admire the beautifully crafted sentences. The characters are lively and offer great insight into right and wrong. I had forgotten how amazing this book was, but reading it to my students reminded me how much humanity is in this magical world.
That is it for Part 1 of my Year in (Book) Review. Look for the next post tomorrow!
Until next time,
I love you more than examining life’s woes and good prose,
P.S. Happy late birthday mom! I love you!