It’s never easy to narrow down a list of my favorite reads of the year, and this year was full of so many gems that I’m thinking that it might be even HARDER than usual.
Without ANY ado, in no particular order, here are my 2015 superlatives:
WHENEVER I WALK BY THESE BOOKS, I PICK THEM UP AND HUG THEM. Like, literally. For actual real.
Required Reading for All: All the Rage, by Courtney Summers
I don’t want to say that thing about IF YOU ONLY READ ONE BOOK ON THIS LIST, because I love ALL of these books and I want everyone to read all of them…but, IF YOU ONLY READ ONE BOOK ON THIS LIST, this should be the one. It deals with rape and rape culture, it’s about being a girl in America, and Summers doesn’t A) pull punches, or B) give her characters—or readers—any easy answers. Devastating, cathartic, and sadly, NECESSARY.
Angriest Book That Doesn’t Have Rage in the Title: Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby
Yes, this book is EXACTLY as fantastic as everyone says it is.
Most Exciting Series Opener: The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow
Worldbuilding! Complex relationships! Fantastic romance! Favorite new antagonist! Mega-dramatic, but still funny! BONUS POINTS FOR WORST USE OF AN APPLE PRESS EVER!
Favorite New Comic: Bitch Planet
My only complaint is that the issues don’t come out often enough. I NEED MORE MORE MORE.
Book I Most Wish I’d Written About at Length: The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma
Ballet! Murder! Juvenile detention! Friendship and race and privilege and power! Twisty-turny legit-creepy goodness, all wrapped up in absolutely lovely prose!
Both books, for entirely different reasons, could also be given the Most Likely to Make Readers Reconsider How They Think About History award.
Bravest, Most Beautifully-Crafted Voice: A History of Glitter and Blood, by Hannah Moskowitz
Me, reading this book the first time: INTERESTING. COOL. OH WOW YOU DON’T SEE THAT VERY OFTEN. WAIT HOLD ON WHAT IS HAPPENING. OH. OH. OH. OH. OOOOOOOH. WOW.
Me, reading this book the second and third times: HOLY COW HOW DID SHE DO THIS THIS IS ENTIRELY AMAZING.
Both of these books have such depth and such nuance. Both of them look at friendship and family and culture and both of them are FULL TO THE BRIM with appreciation for the power of story and storytelling. And both of them are, at moments, emotionally devastating, and both of them are, at moments, wonderfully funny. Is that why I haven’t seen them get the kind of love that they SHOULD be getting? Because they’re funny?
Favorite Based-On-A-True-Story Story: Audacity, by Melanie Crowder
Secret poetry-reading! Immigrating to the United States from Russia! Social justice, workers’ rights, and women’s suffrage! ALL IN VERSE.
Most Gorgeous Use of Fairy-Tale Imagery: Infandous, by Elana K. Arnold
The HOLY COW IS SHE REALLY GOING TO GO THERE? YES, YES SHE IS Award: Infandous, by Elana K. Arnold
It’s been almost an entire year and I still can’t talk coherently about how excellent this book is.
Most Likely to Cause Fear-Induced Nausea: Daughters Unto Devils, by Amy Lukavics
Pro-tip: if you’re looking to move into a new cabin, don’t move into the one covered in bloodstains.
Closest-to-Reality-Dystopia: MARTians, by Blythe Woolston
As I’m somewhat of a misanthrope and also rather claustrophobic, I didn’t think that trips to big-box stores could ever be MORE stressful for me. Thanks a lot, Blythe Woolston.
Best Pop Culture References: The Devil and Winnie Flynn, by Micol Ostow, illustrated by David Ostow
Double-plus bonus points for working in some lesser-known references in—the characters really do talk like horror nerds. Such fun.
Favorite Heroine: Sierra Santiago from Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
There’s so much to love about this book, but Sierra’s willingness to acknowledge her own fear and anxiety and STILL move forward just killed me.
Entirely different styles and themes and even categories—Kuehn writes dark, meaty YA thrillers, MacLean writes adult historical romance—but I had the same reaction to both discoveries. In each case, I read the most recent book…and then I sat down and read the entire backlist.
Books I Most Regret Not Getting to Yet: Cuckoo Song, by Frances Hardinge; Serpentine, by Cindy Pon; The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, by Stephanie Oakes; and All-American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
BUT THERE ARE STILL A FEW DAYS LEFT. I’m still hoping to squeeze them all in!
So, let’s hear it: what 2015 books are on your list?
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.