Thursday, December 31, 2015

My 2015 Favorites


What a remarkable year 2015 has been. The highlight, of course, was our #6Barsets project. Reading Anthony Trollope's six Barsetshire novels with friends was simply the best! But 2015 will also be remembered as the year many of my reading habits were turned upside down. Particularly...

  • Series - I usually avoid them at all costs, but this year started and (remarkably) completed two... Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles  and Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Novels... for a total of ten, mostly very long, books.
  • Cozy Mysteries - I've never been a big mystery reader, but this year discovered that cozy series are great escapist reading... and a lot of fun.
  • Translated works  - For the first time ever, I hit double digits for books in translation.

Despite these oddities, and last winter's massive reading slump, I exceeded my goal of reading 52 books, or roughly one per week. Not especially impressive numbers for a book blogger, but I'm happy with that.

Now for the list... links are to my reviews.

Fiction  Favorites: Classics

The Barsetshire Chronicles by Anthony Trollope
My favorites: Barchester Towers, Doctor Thorne, and  The Last Chronicle of Barset


Emma by Jane Austen





Fiction Favorites: Contemporary

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler


Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf




Honorable Mention:

  • Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Novels : My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story of the Lost Child
  • Julie Mulhern's cozy mystery series The Country Club Murders: The Deep End, Guaranteed to Bleed



Nonfiction Favorites





Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson




Happy New Year 2016!

46 comments:

  1. Wonderful list! 52 is an excellent number. I've learned not to compare to other book bloggers, one I'd come across having read 200+ books in a year. But I'll try 52 in 2016, not an easy task when one also watches around 100 films. Thanks for all your informative and enjoyable posts in the past year. Have a great 2016 you and yours too!

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    1. Arti - Thank you. around 50 books/year is sometimes a stretch with so many chunksters (I'm starting out 2016 with a 900+ pager), but that seems to be where I'm comfortable. Of course I'm not watching 100 films/year! BTW my daughters saw Brooklyn this week in NYC and both loved it (no longer player here, unfortunately). They are certain I will, too Wishing you and your family all the best for 2016!

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  2. Ah, yet another end-of-year list. This one is great. I love the eclectic mix. You've given me ideas for my 2016 reading. Thanks!

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  3. Really interesting list! 'Being Mortal' was one of my top picks too, though I can't say I exactly enjoyed reading it. It has been a while since I read the later books in the Barsetshire series -- you make me think it has been *too* long. Happy new year!

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    1. Rohan - You're right... Being Mortal is not exactly a book you can claim to enjoy, but it certainly is an important and thought-provoking book. I'd like to read Gawande's earlier books now. I can't say enough about Trollope and the wonderful reading experience of the Barsetshire series. Definitely books I'd like to revisit at some point!

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  4. Fantastic list! I love cozy mysteries and Mulhern's series is definitely one of the best I've come across. I'm fascinated by the idea of Oregon Trail. Would you believe I've never read Emma? Perhaps I should put it on my list for 2016. Happy New Year!

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    1. Katherine - If you do decide to read Emma, a read/listen combination with Juliet Stevenson's narration would be my recommendation. Thank you again for bringing Julie Mulhern to my attention!

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  5. It sounds like you had a terrific year! I have Being Mortal on my list, but haven't read it thinking it will bring me down. I also have Did You Ever Have a Family on my list. I don't read nearly as much as most every book blogger I know, but I enjoy being involved and visiting blogs, especially yours, to get great ideas of what to read. Here's to a very Happy New Year!

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    1. Pat - I feel the same way... my numbers are not very impressive, but I really enjoy being part of the community. Happy New Year to you, too!

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  6. Started Shotgun Lovesongs yesterday, and knew from the very first it was going to be exceptional!

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Jill - I had the same feeling after the first page or two! Really loved Shotgun Lovesongs and need to read his new short story collection, Beneath the Bonfire.

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  7. What a great list! :) I want to read Far from the Madding Crowd (was never drawn to Hardy, but I loved the movie...)

    Wishing you the very happiest new year!

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    1. Audrey - I avoided Hardy for years before the Classics Club spin dealt me Tess. Ended up loving that (thanks in large part to Simon Vance) and adding more Hardy to my list. Looking forward to reading with you again this year :)

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  8. I love the fact that you pointed out the 'new' things you tried for 2015. I think it's good us longterm readers to branch out every once in a while. I know we agree about Being Mortal. I also have several of your 'best' books on my Kindle. I look forward to reading them in 2016.

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    1. Kay - It's easy to get into a rut... with more than just reading, I suppose. Didn't really set out to do anything different in 2015, but tried to remain open to new experiences. It definitely turned out for the best this year!

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  9. This is a really good list! You have several that I have on my TBR list to read this coming year and a few that I've read. I wish I had gotten to Our Souls at Night and Between the World and Me. I'm glad to see you enjoyed them; it means that I probably will, too. ;)

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    1. Kathy - Think I could just copy and paste this comment to your favorites list ;-)

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  10. Happy New Years to you!! I love your roundup and found several books is like to read from your list. Series are wonderful for me, I love them

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    1. Thanks, Tina. Have a feeling I'll keep on reading series in 2016!

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  11. Did You Ever Have A Family made it to my list too. The Oregon Trail was offered as a free book, I think I will check and see if it is still available.

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    1. Nise' - The Oregon Trail was a different kind of book for me and I loved it. Hope you can still pick it up free!

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  12. Wasn't Being Mortal wonderful? I really must finish my review of it.
    And I have the Barset Chronicles on my TBR pile now thanks to your reviews this year :-)

    Happy new year!

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    1. Brona - I want to read all of Gawande's earlier books now! Hope you love the Barsetshire books when you get to them... Trollope is a lot of fun!

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  13. I loved your first and last fiction choices. I really admire readers who read nonfiction...sigh!

    Here is to many more great books in the coming year!



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    1. Patty - I was just looking at my numbers and realized that I read just over 30% nonfiction in 2015. A record!!

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  14. I totally agree with so many of your favorites! I loved Shotgun Lovesongs, Did You Ever Have a Family, and Between the World and Me. So many great picks! AND a year of new reading patterns? Sounds like it was a great one!

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    1. Shannon - I'm sure you were part of the reason many of those books even made it to my reading list! Thank you for always providing such solid reviews and recommendations :)

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  15. Happy New Year! Looks like you've read some great books; I am particularly pleased to see Emma and Far From the Madding Crowd on your favourites list. I wish you a great 2016 :-)

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    1. Jessicabookworm - 2015 was a particularly good year for reading classics. Hope that continues into 2016. Happy New Year!

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  16. What a great reading year! I loved Being Mortal too. I don't read a lot of non-fiction but that one was fabulous and makes me want to read more.

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    1. Iliana - I got on a big nonfiction kick in 2015. Had a major reading slump last winter and the only thing that worked for me was light nonfiction (like Heads in Beds). Kept right on reading NF after that!

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  17. Emma! Yay. I read some of these and loved them too and others are still on my list. Argh. I'm so behind. Happy new year.

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    1. Beth F - Seeing everyone's end-of-year lists makes me realize how many more books there are to read!

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  18. Just downloaded The Oregon Trail and almost picked it for my first read of the year. Glad to see it made your list and will look forward to reading it soon.

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    1. Lisa - Be forewarned...you may want a pet mule by the end!

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  19. I like your list. Several of your favorites are still on my to-read list. I also loved Brown Girl Dreaming and it was in my Top Ten for 2015. I hope your reading in 2016 is just as enjoyable.

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    1. Margot - I remember that you loved Brown Girl Dreaming... it's one of the reasons I ended up reading it!

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  20. Nice list. I must get into the Ferrante novels in 2016! Italy yes!

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    1. Thecuecard- Yes! You must read Ferrante :)

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  21. You read more than one book a week? And you don't think that's impressive for a book blogger? I think that's impressive for anyone. My wife always reminds me that some people don't even read ONE book a year.

    I think I saw Shotgun Lovesongs at our library and will have to look for it. Being Mortal is one of those books I see popping up everywhere and I have on hold now, I believe, on ebook at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

    Brown Girl Dreaming was one of my favorite books from last year too.

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    1. Bryan - Of course your wife is right... and one book a week is about as good as it ever gets for me. I always wonder how bloggers reading 100, 200, or more books a year do it! Guess I read fairly slowly and deliberately, and try to enjoy every book I read.

      Shotgun Lovesongs stood out because it primarily deals with male friendships... a little out of the ordinary for literary fiction these days. Being Mortal is probably the most important book I read in 2015... not exactly fun, but very well done. I loved everything about Brown Girl Dreaming, so not at all surprised it was one of your favorites last year.

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  22. Great list - I love how you broke the books out in favorites for different genres. I loved Barchester Towers as well, but I've spaced years between reading different books in the series!!

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    1. Laura - How far are you into Trollope's series? They are all so wonderful!! I'm hoping to read the Palliser novels in 2017.

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  23. You had a great year! My numbers aren't any better, but maybe this year I'll get more time to read (or should I say, MAKE more time to read!). I should give Shotgun Lovesongs a try. I started to listen to the audio when it first came out, but couldn't get interested. When that happens, I really need to try the print edition instead. Our Souls at Night and Being Mortal were great, weren't they? I read the e-book of Our Souls at Night and plan to buy the print edition to have on my shelf so I don't forget to read it again someday. I wasn't as impressed with Did You Ever Have a Family, though. Maybe too much hype... I'm adding (or have already added) Oregon Trail, Between the World and Me, and Brown Girl Dreaming. Hmmm, how to read these when I'm focusing solely on books I already own... :)

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    1. Les - That's always a problem isn't it? Balancing the books on the shelf with all the titles other bloggers make me want to read with their wonderful reviews...

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