My Year of Reading: A Look Back at 2015
I've been keeping a spreadsheet of books read ever since I graduated from college in 2005.
Each year I like to look back at the titles I've amassed (73 in 2015) and reminisce about my favorite reads.
It would be unfair to call these the best books of 2015. My reading habits are eclectic, my taste is mercurial and few of these books were actually published last year. But these are the titles that have stuck with me into 2016.
All book links are Amazon affiliate links, because I have lots more reading to do in the new year and need to fund my addiction somehow.
My Top Five Books of 2015
I've lost count of the times I've recommended this book to people. "I know how it sounds," I say. "I know the cover is really cheesy. But trust me. It's good." And it is. I've read countless books on how to win friends and work a room. This is the first one that truly resonated with me, and I refer to it often: not to be more charismatic, but to feel less anxious in the presence of others.
I found this on the shelf of a Barnes & Noble and couldn't believe I hadn't read it before. It's the diary of a journalist in Berlin during WWII, but it reads like a novel. Had I read her account during high school, I would have taken much more interest in history class. Honest, funny and harrowing.
I was struggling with the narrative structure of my own book when I read "Station Eleven," so I used Emily St. John Mandel's dystopian novel as a teaching tool. I took copious notes as I read, studying its narrative arc and character development. It taught me a lot about foreshadowing, and its post-apocalyptic world haunted me for weeks afterward.
Fun in every sense of the word. I fell in love with the characters, got swept away by the plot twists and became lost in this future world of virtual reality. I felt eager to read Ernest Cline's other works but stopped when I saw their mixed reviews. Maybe I'll try them in 2016.
So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
I love everything about Jon Ronson, and his latest book gave me an even deeper appreciation for this writer. Ronson isn't afraid to put himself under the same unflinching gaze that he casts upon his subjects. In one part of the book he admits to placating an interviewee in the hopes of getting a good scoop. In doing so he makes a subtle but impactful point about the far-reaching culpability of our toxic internet culture. I put the book down every few pages just to say, "Damn, this guy is good." Let's hope 2016 brings a new Jon Ronson book.
What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016? I'll be spending the first part of the new year sitting on the couch nursing a newborn, so send your recommendations my way!