Favorite Books of 2015 (So Far)

Favorite Books of 2015 so farQuick looks at my what are so far my favorite books of 2015, since it’s close enough to halfway through the year. 🙂 Links go to my previous posts if I’ve written one, Amazon if I haven’t.

Nonfiction

As You WishAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

I don’t generally read celebrity bios, but made an exception for this one, and am so glad I did. It’s funny and witty and oh so entertaining. Perhaps because it’s more the story of a movie, than the story of just a celebrity. Read it and then read The Princess Bride. And then watch the movie. Actually, skip reading it and go for the audible versionAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes – it’s fantastic!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Not sure if it really will be life-changing, but so far I think it just might be. Love the tone of this one, and how it is so gentle and kind. I also love her change in focus from what you’re discarding, to what you’re keeping.

Better Than BeforeBetter Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

I love her style and approach, and I love the focus of this book: how can I change my habits to change my life? It combines nicely with Kondo’s book too.

Cold TangerinesCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

She’s one of my favorite authors, and I finally read her first book. Not as good as her more recent titles (you can see how she’s grown as an author), but still an excellent memoir of sorts.

The Road from CoorainThe Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

A re-read for my book club, and it was just as good the second time around. It also made for a fabulous discussion at book club – one of the best ones we’ve had in awhile. Highly recommended if your book club reads memoirs!


Fiction

The Truth According to UsThe Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

Loved this book. Don’t be put off by the length – it’s captivating and reads much quicker than you’d think almost 500 pages could possibly. You’ll feel like you’re there with them in Depression-era West Virginia, and you’ll appreciate air conditioning so very much.

The Thirteen ProblemsThe Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

Short stories featuring Miss Marple. I’m slowly working my way through all of Agatha Christie’s books and I can’t decide if I’m annoyed at myself for waiting so long to read them, or delighted that I have so many still to look forward to reading.

The Murder of Roger AckroydThe Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

More Christie, but this one features Detective Hercule Poirot. Perhaps her most famous of mysteries, and I loved figuring it out before it was revealed. She is so good at writing compelling stories without lots of extra padding.


Favorite Kids Books:

The War that Saved My LifeThe War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A look at the children evacuated from London during WWII, but it takes a different perspective than you might expect. Hard to read at times because of tough content, it’s well worth the emotional effort, and I appreciated that the author skipped any easy resolutions that would have felt unrealistic.

National Geographic Kids Animal StoriesNational Geographic Kids Animal Stories: Heartwarming True Tales from the Animal KingdomNational Geographic Kids Animal Stories: Heartwarming True Tales from the Animal Kingdom by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple; illustrated by Jui Ishida by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple; illustrated by Jui Ishida

Gorgeously illustrated and engagingly written, this would make a great readaloud for any animal-loving children. Or it makes for a great book for any older kids or adults too, as I read it through the first time on my own, as I was deciding whether or not to read it to my kids. Fascinating looks at some animals in history.

Book of a Thousand DaysBook of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

A retelling of a not-very-familiar fairy tale. Well-written and engrossing, with a very satisfying ending. I loved the characters in this one, and how Hale manages to make the story her own, while still basing it so much on the original tale.

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Written in verse, this is another one that has tough content, although the format softens it a bit. Absolutely compelling.

Listen SlowlyListen, SlowlyListen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai by Thanhha Lai

Another gorgeously-written book by Lai, although this one is in prose, not verse. I kept wanting this to be more obviously connected with the previous book but it’s not. No matter – it’s still a wonderful story.

Winnie the PoohWinnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

A classic for a reason. Loved reading it aloud to my children, and they loved hearing the stories.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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Cold Tangerines

Cold TangerinesCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday LifeCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist by Shauna Niequist

I’ve somewhat inadvertantly read Niequist’s titles in what was then reverse publication order, starting with Bread & Wine, then Bittersweet, and now finally Cold Tangerines. While that does mean that there were some things that lost the “wonder what’s going to happen with that” aspect, overall the books are fine to read that way. I enjoyed seeing how her life progressed, and her writing style developed.

While I didn’t love Cold Tangerines as much as I did the other two, that’s somewhat a matter of degrees, and a reflection of just how much I loved the others, Bread & Wine especially, although it is a bit of a acknowledgement that she’s improved as a writer since this first work. This one is still very worth reading. I love the tone of so many of the essays, and the way they prompt me to be more aware and appreciative of everyday events.

Highly recommended, and I’ll just go ahead an repeat myself and say that they’re all worth reading. I love how she tells her stories, and I love how the essays all make me think and grow.


And a little story that connects to this book:

Before I had children and was working a full-time, out-of-the-home job, some of my work involved tasks that could be done while wearing headphones, so I had lots and lots of listening time and used that to listen to a variety of podcasts. One of my favorites was Midday Connection, because invariably I learned something interesting, and I also learned about a lot of intriguing books. One day the guest was Shauna Niequest, who had just come out with a book by the strange title of Cold Tangerines. I was so uninterested in that title, and didn’t like the cover, so I skipped that podcast and didn’t look into what the book was actually about.

Six years later I finally read something by Niequist, and I fell in love with Bread & Wine, and then realized it was the same author I’d avoided way back when. And figuratively kicked myself for being an idiot and letting the title and orange cover put me off from a book I would have really enjoyed.

So the lesson there is, don’t be like me and not even find out about a book purely based on ridiculous reasons.

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Savor

SavorSavor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You AreSavor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist by Shauna Niequist

Full disclosure: I haven’t completely finished reading this book, but I don’t want to wait to gush over it. It’s a devotional, with entries for each day in the year, and a year is way too long to wait to share. I’ve dipped into it here and there, reading the entries for various dates of significance to me, and have probably already covered a quarter of the book that way.

I don’t even typically like devotionals and yet I am loving this one. Not really a surprise, because I’ve loved her writing so much previously, that this was an obvious one to go onto my books I’m excited to read this year list.

(And so far? That list has been filled with winners. Yay for books living up to their expectations!)

The book itself is really physically nice, and would make a great Mother’s Day gift. (I really hope my mother-in-law doesn’t read this, because I’m sending one to her for her birthday next month.) While it is available in an electronic version, this is ideal for setting beside your bed or next to your reading chair and reading that day’s entry. It’s almost too pretty to go for the e-version is what I mean. 🙂

A heads-up though, if you’ve read her previous books. Some of the content in this has been recycled from those earlier works. There is some new material, but not all of it. I own all of Niequist’s books in one form or another, and I still like this one, but I am a huge fan of her writing, so my opinion might be a bit biased.

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