Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015
I had to go back to my GoodReads page to come up with my top ten books of the year so far. At first I would worried I would only have travel narratives to share, but I realized I have actually squeezed in a few non-school related books in 2015. GoodReads tells me I’ve read 54 books so far this year, so it was hard to narrow down to just ten, but I did try to come up with a cross-section of genres and reading levels. As always, my list is presented in alphabetical order because it is hard enough to whittle my options down to ten, let alone to try to number them within those top picks!
Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow- (Fiction) The best word I can use to describe this novel is “strange” but it is strange in a good way. With an outside narrator giving a voice to Andrew’s thoughts and feelings, the reader gets a 3rd person perspective on a different person’s personal insights and thoughts. It is definitely odd and different, but worth the time!
Bird of Life, Bird of Death: A Political Ornithology of Guatemala by Jonathan Evan Maslow- (Non-fiction) Both a travelogue and a political examination of Guatemala, this book chronicles Maslow’s1983 journey through the war-torn country, in search of the mysterious and mystical quetzal bird.
Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart by Tim Butcher-(Non-fiction) A fascinating travel narrative of Butcher’s trip through the Congo, following in the footsteps of past English explorers. Butcher relies heavily on the help of others to make this dangerous journey, along the way recounting the colonial and post-colonial history of the nation, examining how it was broken apart and why it has not been able to reestablish itself as a functional state. This book is a travelogue, history lesson and cultural manifest all in one.
Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia by Tom Bissell– (Non-fiction) After quitting the Peace Corps just seven months into his two years of service, Tom Bissell goes home to the US to sort out some emotional issues and moves on with is life as a journalist. Soon, Uzbekistan calls though, and he returns to the country of his service to write about the ecological disaster surrounding the Aral Sea. This travelogue touches on the political history of Uzbekistan, the religious history, current events, and environmental issues, while also profiling a number of everyday Uzbekistan residents.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson –(Non-fiction) Always a fan of Larson, this is another well-written non-fiction narrative that weaves together multiple tales into a single story. I learned more about submarines from this book than I ever thought I could know, which may sound not that exciting, but Larson has a way of making obscure topics fascinating!
El Deafo by Cece Bell-(Graphic novel- YA fiction) I loved this graphic novel about what it is like to be different from everyone around you. The main character is deaf and must wear a large contraption to help her hear in school. The story explores how she learns to deal with not only the mechanics of such a machine, but how to function in a hearing world and how to navigate the world of friendships, which is never easy for anyone, but becomes more difficult as she changes schools.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng-(YA fiction) The best YA novel I’ve read this year. It appeals to adult readers as well as YA readers, with each reading it from a different viewpoint. As an adult, it was a good reminder about the pressure we put on kids and remembering that they have their own paths to forge in this life. I would recommend this for high school students, as well as anyone who is the parent of a high schooler.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber-(Fiction) A beautiful tale of another world and the first interaction between humans and a new form of life. On a planet being terraformed by humans, they must find a way of living with the inhabitants of this new place, beings who are like nothing that had been imagined. Not only do they not look like humans, but their culture is baffling to the newcomers. One man, willing to go live among them, beings to unravel the mysteries of their society, but with his ties to them comes a distancing of ties with the other humans.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguroi- (Fiction) Another beautiful novel about memories and how they influence our lives as we get older. This book has the feel of a fairy tale, with dragons and knights, a touch of mythology with a riverboat that one must be ferried upon, and an overall touching narrative about love and family, honor and duty.
The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens, Susan Stevens Crummel– (Picture book- fiction) My niece Skyped me to read this picture book to me earlier this year and I loved it! It is a hilarious take on the tale of The Little Red Hen, but the part that was the best was the personalities of each office supply. I haven’t looked at my work desk the same since enjoying this one a few months ago.