Favorite Books of 2015

Hello, friends. Happy belated New Year.

I started this post, then Milo got sick. I have lost my train of thought about everything for a few weeks, but if I don’t publish this soon we’ll be halfway through 2016.

DT will surely call me a certifiable nerd for this, but….I’m so mad I missed my Goodreads 2015 reading challenge by about 200 pages. Where did December go? I got off to a great start early in the year and had a few spells where I was just tearing through books, but alas. Came up short.

I read some good books in 2015 (also some not-at-all good books). You win, you lose. Below are the highlights, hope they bring some reading inspiration to you.

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg – I read Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage right before and knew I’d want to check out her first book. Food, storytelling, and reflecting on life always go well together. (I also started listening to her podcast, Spilled Milk, and following her blog Orangette.)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – A rather eccentric, loner, curmudgeonly bookstore owner receives a surprise delivery that gives his life new meaning and a reason to find joy again. I could easily transport myself to Alice Island in this sweet story.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – Wow. This is an extraordinary story. I was in awe of the capacity for human survival and spirit for nearly 500 pages. I don’t know how many times I said, or thought, “I can’t imagine….” Because I can’t. I really, really can’t. A true history lesson.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain – I just enjoyed this unapologetic behind-the-restaurant-scenes memoir. I love watching cooking shows and I have my favorite celebrity chefs. This book showed a completely different side to the industry, and I didn’t mind the raw honesty.

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick – This was a strange, but sweet story. I’m kind of over the quirky, over-the-top-out-there characters I feel like I’ve read a thousand times. But Bartholomew Neil stole my heart a little bit and made me sad. I wanted him to come out of his shell and I was so happy when he and his little motley crew of friends set out on their adventure.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper – Whoopsie, I watched the movie before I read this book. I enjoyed both. A dysfunctional family grieves their patriarch over the week-long Shiva and learns a whole lot about each other. The movie has a big-name cast, so I found myself thinking of the actors and actresses who played each character as I read the book. Which wasn’t a bad thing.

The Dinner by Herman Koch – Dark. I felt like the whole time I was reading, it was dark. Two families hiding the horrible secret of their sons. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likable, if that comes as any surprise with that description.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler – I listened to Amy Poehler read her book to me in the car, and as if I didn’t already like her….I LOVE HER now. I loved her stories and her wisdom, and she has plenty of both.

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell – The mafia and a hospital….two of the most fascinating things to me in one book. So, LOVE. This book is fast-paced – Dr. Peter Brown is in survival mode and doesn’t give a flying rat’s behind about anything.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – A story, actually two stories, that toggles across the ocean and women who are distantly intertwined. I enjoyed the relationship between Nao and her 104- year old Buddhist grandmother. This was a bond the girl seemed to so desperately need for the wisdom, grounding, and esteem she could not find at home.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – This book was so sweet, and I just ached for June and her grief for her uncle Finn. Finn’s sad death comes with the revealing of a new friend for June, also revelations about her family and the complicated circumstances around Finn and Toby. I really, really liked it.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – I couldn’t help but think of Gone Girl when I read this book. I didn’t feel quite as dirty, but certainly as uncomfortable. A lost, lonely, woman with an addictive personality rides a train to a job she doesn’t have. Every day, she observes the world outside the tracks, and eventually gets herself wrapped up in a big old mess. The end was a little like….”Wha?” for me. The story, and its characters, just kind of messed with my brain the whole time.

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