I've fallen a little short of my usual 100 books read in 2015, but I've still made it to 95 books total or 31,160 pages read, according to Goodreads, including quite a few audio books, which I completely rediscovered for myself this year. It's been a good reading year at that, even more so since I've been able to create my perfect spot for reading and writing when we bought our house. It's been a big year of adulting, but my book nook has certainly been a good enabler to remember to stress less and read more.
Here are some of my favorite books I read in 2015:
Favorite book: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My favorite part about this book was how much the description and world building drew me in. It was just the right amount of epic paired with just the right amount of the familiar. And it's beautifully written to boot. Seldom has a book drawn me in like this one, but Victoria Schwab managed it!
It's got the titular dark magic, cross-dressing lady pirates, scheming royals and ruthless magicians. I can't wait for the second book to drag me deeper into the worlds between Red, Grey, and White London.
Favorite science fiction: Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff
I never thought myself much of a fan of military SF, but this book might just have changed that. Torin Kerr is awesomely badass. I loved that she was very much the Officer in Charge while pretending she wasn't so those (male) officers above her didn't feel threatened in their position. In the end it was Torin who called the shots and she who took care of her platoon, in an equivalent of a military soccer mom, which added hugely to the appeal of this book, because she wasn't the officer with something to prove, which was a refreshing take along with the huge diversity of characters and the world this is set in. More, please.
Favorite urban fantasy: Liesmith by Alis Franklin
This book was very much about imperfect characters and that might have been my favorite part, other then the idea behind the "What if Loki was the head of a huge corporation and got his gender-fluid love on with a guy who would very much be stigmatized as a loser in modern society?" The concept behind this was awesome and it explored a lot of lesser known bits about Norse mythology and Loki in general. Add in lots of nerdiness and issues both of gayness and genderfluidity and you've got me hooked.
Favorite YA book: Shadowshaper by D.J. Older
Shadowshaper made tons of Best Of lists. What I liked most about this was that it explored some completely new (to me) mythologies and had a super high diversity factor, which is always a huge draw for me.
Also, have you seen this cover? I just love how gorgeous it is. Winner of favorite cover of the year for sure.
Not only is it beautifully written and Sierra is a kickass female lead, but the elements of street art and the supporting cast made this book a must read in 2015!
Favorite book featuring LGBT characters: Proxy by Alex London
This came highly recommended from my dear friend David R. Slayton and as usual he's never wrong in his recommendations. Trust the David, I do.
I loved Sidney as an MC with Knox as his slowly redeeming counterpart, but my favorite thing about this book was how it didn't pull any punches. The social criticism is strong with this one as it's the driving force behind this book. LGBT issues are present, but explored in a way that's different, where coming out isn't the main conflict, not when there's so much more at stake. I definitely need to pick up the sequel as soon as possible, because Alex London not only writes complex and relatable characters, he also follows my favorite rule of writing: always make it worse--and it works!
Favorite comic: Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
I rediscovered comics in 2014, but my favorite series of 2015 is definitely, hands down the new Ms. Marvel reboot. In fact, Kamala just might be my favorite new female superheroine overall (she and Jessica Jones). I love with Wilson has done with this storyline, giving it a diverse YA spin and making Kamala a superhero who is still testing out her powers and while coming into them often pairs up with other heroes from the Marvel universe, from Wolverine, to Loki, to Captain Marvel, to Spiderman. I'm getting this series as soon as each trade volume comes out. Can't wait for the next!
Favorite series: October Daye series by Seanan McGuire
Yes, it took me way, way too long to get into this series, given how much I love, love, love Seanan's alter ego Mira Grant's work, but when I finally dove into this series, especially once I got to book 3, I was hooked and basically spent the last days of my vacation in Germany and about two weeks afterward positively devouring the series. Toby is a great lead, but what really made this series for me was the colorful supporting cast that keeps growing and changing and developing during each book. This is one of those series that grows well, where consecutive books are about more than just defeating a bigger bad. Yes, the stakes grow, but they also change, as do the characters within these books. I'm already super excited for the next installment and the English teacher in me can't help but love all the Shakespeare references!
Favorite nonfiction book: Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
This book was a really cool look at comics and how they are a medium that accomplishes much more and is more complex than first meets the eyes. I often feel that comics sort of embody the Renaissance concept of sprezzatura, meaning making something hard look easy and effortless. Comics are a genre that often gets written off by a lot of readers, and sadly even more teachers and I've been working on changing that, both in my own life and in the classroom. This book has been a huge help with that as it gives a deep look inside everything that goes into creating comics.
Favorite audio book: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
My Big Discovery that changed my reading life this year has been audiobooks. Since I've become more of a pedestrian, I have come to hugely enjoy audiobooks as a means to relax and stay entertained during walks to and from school, etc. Aftermath was one of the first audiobooks that I listened to that really drew me in. Part of this is due to it being a full audio production, including spaceship and lightsaber sound effects, part of it was due to the new diverse cast of characters this book introduces and the new and old conflicts they engage in. I'm not going to argue what should or shouldn't be considered canon, because I honestly don't have much to contribute to this discussion, but what I can say was that The Force Awakens clearly proves that it was high time to introduce more diversity to the Star Wars universe and I love how this book takes a great stab at just that.
Favorite book that I should have read much earlier: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Quite a few books on my 2015 reading list didn't actually come out in 2015, but this one really made me shake my head about myself and question how I hadn't read this book much sooner. It's basically everything my nerdy self is looking for in a book, chock-full of nerdy retro video game and 80s references, which just made my nerdy heart happy. It's very much a portrait of what ifs regarding the Internet, but the virtual reality portrayed here just sounded like so much fun. This was definitely the book I had the most fun reading this year!
That's it for 2015 in reading, my plans for 2016 include keeping on the lookout for lots of diversity in my reading. I really like Book Riot's 2016 Read Harder Challenge and might this a go, because I'm always up for a new challenge. My plan is to make it to 100 books in 2016, even though I'm looking down the huge commitment of starting my Masters degree.
In the interest of Good Reading and Reading Harder, what are some of your favorite books from 2015? Please leave me some recommendations for 2016!
Cheers and happy reading!