Let's start on a positive note, with my favorites..
The Martian — If you haven't read the book, stop what you're doing right now and read it. Seriously. Seeing the movie won't help. There are some things that a book can do that movies have to leave out. When Mark, who's been in his own head for weeks, is told to tone down his messages to Earth because they are being read in real time, his response made me want to be him. I've never loved an inappropriate word more than I did in that moment.
More importantly, The Martian reminded me just how precious our planet is: it sustains us, despite what we do to foil that effort. I truly fear that we will make our planet as inhabitable to us as Mars. (review)
Station Eleven — What happens to humans who lose their civilization out from under them? How do they retain their humanity? Shakespeare and a traveling orchestra. Never tell me the arts don't matter. In the end, it's all we have.
Double irony: the loss of technology was keen in this story, and I read Station Eleven on my Kindle. (review)
the life-changing magic of tidying up — Stop trying to organize your crap. Weed it out with one single criteria: do you love it?
I still struggle with that question, and I find myself loathe to let go of what's unloved in case it's all I can find. My effort in 2016 will be to take this final step to heart and trust myself enough to live with love only. (My husband and cats are relieved.)
I am certain the author was more explanatory than I, which is why you should read the book.
Kindred — if you love time-travel stories and you haven't read Octavia Butler's classic story, make it your next read.
This story mixes love and hate, confusion and clarity, with one of the most American of institutions: human slavery. Butler jettisons the omnipotent narrator and allows readers to be as confused as the narrator in this classic story.
I am thrilled to add her to my library, and I will be reading her as voraciously as I can in the coming years.
The Power of Habit — How are habits made, and changed? Why do we do what we do, and how do we reinforce habits, good and bad?
Take a look into the brain with an engaging writer and discover how habits are formed and broken, and how much reward matters in the forming of habits — and decide how you may want to use this information in your own life.
(Full disclosure: I skimmed over the animal tests, which made me ill.)
Tell the Wolves I'm Home (review)
Everything I Never Told You (review)
These novels offer storytelling at its written best. Each has its own magic, whether it's a quiet power, a refreshing honesty or an unforgettable, vivid tale. Their stories and characters will remain with you long after the final page.
Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2 — John Connolly scared the crap out of me with his short story collection Nocturnes, so of course I would not pass up the chance to be equally terrified again with a second installment. In a word: amazing. I did have to stop reading every so often to catch my breath and stop freaking out. More than one story made me question myself, reality, my concept of right and wrong and a whole lot of other things.
Now, for the Books I Hated.
Natchez Burning — As a reader, and as a woman, I was never so insulted by a writer's characters than I was with this book. Two men and two women arrive at a life-changing historical scene. The men talk business, the women talk relationships. It's more than that, but that is where I stopped reading. Three Pulitzers between them and the women were too busy talking about their men to talk shop? Please. (review)
Gone, Girl — Had it not been a library book, I would have not only thrown it across the room, but also have torn it in half. How can an author be so untrue to her characters? What she did was just downright mean: if you don't like your characters, kill them. Don't make them stop being who they are. No one wins: characters, readers or authors. (review)
Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us — Not convinced, despite the author's credentials, that I need to jettison my own judgment. I am not saying I should disregard the bloody apron the suspect is wearing and climb into the windowless van, but I do want to credit the small clues my brain is clever enough to collect to help me make my decisions.
I have listed my 2015 reads below. Let me know what you read, and tell me what you think of any books we both read this year.
Also, have you started compiling your 2016 list? What is on it?
- Ruby Red
- Sapphire Blue
- We Should All Be Feminists
- Beautiful Day
- The Winds of Marble Arch
- The Humans
- Tricky Twenty Two
- The Monk
- Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos
- Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2
- The Girl With All the Gifts
- What Alice Forgot
- Alexander Hamilton
- I Could Pee on This
- Chronicles of Old New York
- The Witch's Big Night
- The Borrower
- The Dalai Lama's Cat
- Prisoner of the Devil
- Everything I Never Told You
- The Four Agreements
- A Dirty Job
- 52 small changes: one year to a happier, healthier you
- Interred With Their Bones
- The Cats in Krasinski Square
- Daily Rituals
- Earth (DK)
- the life-changing magic of tidying up
- The Husband’s Secret (half)
- I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
- Puff the Magic Dragon
- Story of the Nile
- The Light Between Oceans
- The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter
- Orphan Train
- She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems
- The Martian
- Start Late, Finish Rich
- Picture of Grace
- The Death of Me
- As You Wish
- The Three Monarchs (re-read)
- Station Eleven
- Good Omens
- What If
- Tell the Wolves I’m Home
- Auntie Mame
- Trigger Warnings
- Fun Home
- The Girl on the Train
- I Knead My Mommy
- The Woman in White
- Where There’s Smoke
- Leaving Time
- The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse
- Natchez Burning
- The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition
- Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
- Gone, Girl
- The Power of Habit
- The Quiet Book
- The Quiet Christmas Book
- Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us
- Dear Committee Members
- The Three Monarchs
- The Quick