Given there’s under 2 weeks left in 2015 I think it’s safe to make the call on my favourite reads! I’ve kept a pretty close record of everything I’ve read this year which makes a round-up for the year a simple enough task.
These are all books I own (or am planning to buy once they are released) and will eagerly reread, along with their date of publication. The notes for each are minimally edited from my initial notes I took after I read each one. I’ll link to their Goodreads page so you can see a synopsis and more detailed reviews.
Young Adult Fiction
Clancy of the Undertow (2015)
Clancy’s family interactions felt real & relatable, her intense crush on a girl in her town painfully sweet and awkward. Clancy would probably be one of my favourite protagonists of 2015 as she deals with family trauma & slowly makes a friend or two.
My Sister Rosa (2016)
I read it in one evening- I was so excited for this one & it didn’t disappoint. It’s about a 17 year old boy with a sister who’s a straight up sociopath. A really full and interesting cast of characters along with a plot that you know isn’t going to end well for anyone but you cannot stop reading for a moment.
In a nutshell, this is about a huge sci fi battle along with an incredibly sweet love story, told through a collection of interviews, emails, chat logs and official documents. Had some particularly creepy moments and some touching ones. I enjoyed the creepy ones the best- there was some horror movie level stuff in here! It’s massive but isn’t as intimidating a read as it may seem as there are many pages with less than a paragraph of text, diagrams, etc. I think it’s my front runner for ‘book I liked way more than expected’ of 2015. I was lucky enough to meet the authors for the Sydney launch and they were so nice. I’m thrilled at the success it’s had and news of a sequel & possible movie are very exciting.
Some sentences in this book were just so perfect I wanted to underline them like I was going to be writing an essay on it. Lucy juggles the demands of a prestigious school with her family responsibilities and emerging sense of self.
Code Name Verity (2012)
This one punched me in the feelings face. I usually shy away from historical fiction (unless it’s Sarah Waters) but I kept hearing about this one with the most glowing praise so I’m really glad I finally read it. Two friends communicate via letters and diary entries as we see what’s led to one of them being captured by the Germans in WWII.
Tiny Pretty Things (2015)
Pretty Little Liars level of intrigue and sociopathic behaviour in a prestigious American ballet school. I’m so excited a sequel is in the works.
All American Boys (2015)
Really good YA about racism, police brutality, realising privilege and dealing with the after effects of violence. It’s the kind of novel that feels complete even without a totally tied-up ending (even though I did want to know more about what happened after, it ended at an appropriate spot).
Dig Too Deep (2016)
Teen girl discovers her grandma in Appalachia is deathly sick and that the nearby mine that employs half the town could be to blame. It dealt with issues of poverty and class in nuanced ways, not shying away from gritty realities.
Fiona Wood is amazing. I was initially skeptical about the ‘wish’ element but it all came together really nicely. Van Uoc was an outwardly quiet protagonist who seethes and shimmers internally, and following her journey was a highlight of a year filled with amazing Aussie YA.
This One Summer (2014)
This graphic novel is lovely, melancholy and straight up beautiful. A young teen’s summer at her family’s holiday spot where old friends, family tensions and alluringly dangerous older kids play central roles
It’s a modern day reimagining of Pride & Prejudice set primarily in Cincinnati, by Curtis Sittenfeld. I was a bit worried it would seem too on the nose or like a high spirited parody at first but I got very invested. P&P is one of my favourite novels so I was prepared to either love or loathe it, I’m happy to say I loved it. For an adaptation of a novel I’ve read many many times, this was full of surprises.
The Natural Way of Things (2015)
Scary and intense and it stays with you. Charlotte Wood’s novel depicts several women taken prisoner in the unforgiving outback, seemingly punished for their role in various sex scandals.
Bad Behaviour (2015)
Easily my favourite non-fiction of the year. Had to pace myself so I didn’t stay up all night reading it. The author is so brutally honest about her experiences and actions – I feel like I’ve lived through some of it along with her.
Cheryl Strayed’s gigantic hike was perplexing to me but reading about how she managed to accomplish it all fascinated me. The movie was enjoyable but the book with all its nitty gritty details about shoes and food and old guide books was hugely satisfying to me.
Into Thin Air (1997)
I still don’t understand why people do this but damn this was compelling. Jon Krakauer’s account of an Everest trip that claimed several lives.
Beneath the Surface (2015)
The fascinating journey of John Hargrove from idolizing Sea World orca trainers as a kid, to eventually becoming one, to his 2012 departure from Sea World and participation in the documentary Blackfish. I loved learning about the processes that run a place like SeaWorld (theme park obsession) as well as a deeper insight into the animal rights issue that’s shaping the SeaWorld debate today.
I do have 3 books that were my standouts: Bad Behaviour, Natural Way of Things & Illuminae. Three very different works that were my favourites of 2015.
So there you have it! I read a lot of great things this year, I’m massively grateful that my job’s allowed me to never run out of reading material. Logging my reading since the start of the year with a quick photo and one or two lines has been really helpful in keeping track of it all, and I’ll be continuing that habit in 2016.