I love the book stats on Goodreads. It’s irrationally satisfying to get an automatic infographic devoted to 365 days of your book choices.
I read 28 books in 2015. 13,483 total pages. And my longest book was roughly 292, 000 words.
Most of the books I enjoyed–as I tend to research a book obsessively before I purchase–but there were a few where my research failed me. Here’s a list of my best and worst reads from 2015 (note: not necessarily published in 2015, but simply what I read last year).
For an intricately woven plot that also manages to be thoroughly thought-provoking, soul-searching hilarity, pick this up. But start with Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series because otherwise you’re going to be right confused.
Hobb will forever be on any ‘best’ list I create. I’ve rarely met an author who has me in honest-to-goodness authentic happy and sad tears on a regular basis. This book in particular carries the Fool and Fitz’s journey to a tortured grey void where old friendships, values, and Fitz’s identity of father versus assassin clash as he searches for his lost daughter. And what he’s willing to do to get her back.
This was a surprising read. I was given this by a friend for some encouragement (after dwelling in a place of uncertainty and writer doubts for some months–I’m still fighting that) and wasn’t sure what to expect, but with names like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and T.S. Eliot, I was happy to give it a try.
This book is a compilation of essays and excerpts from a variety of authors focusing on the relationship between literature, imagination, and the Christian faith. I’d never thought about my passion for writing–specifically fiction–as being so closely tied to what I believe, but this was invigorating. Just as our Creator gave us all these wacky animals and beautiful landscapes, we have a desire to create and explore our imagination as well.
One particular section dove straight into a topic I’ve struggled with which is that Christian authors often create sanitized fiction free of any violence, profanity or sexual content (not needed in great gory detail, but even the simple acknowledgement of it), which does not reflect an accurate world. Stripping a story of realism also strips it of deeper meaning and impact. I was struck by that perspective.
“All life, high and low, sordid and noble, vile and pure, is the province of art. Surely if the Bible is to be our standard we must admit that nothing lay outside the province of the inspired writers…A Christian writer…cannot be a significant writer if his vision does not include the whole of human life, the depths of depravity as well as the heights of aspiration.” -James Wesley Ingles
I read all three books in this series in December. The books tugged me in two directions. One one side, I never felt emotionally engaged with the characters. I never truly cared about what happened to them personally–whether they got hurt, turned evil, lived or died–but BOY did I want to scrape every piece of shocking plot twist I could get out of it. And Sanderson did not disappoint. There are ingrained Fantasy genre tropes that Sanderson delighted in threading through the plot, then when it came to a head, smashing my expectations of ancient prophecies and foretold heroes into itsy-bitsy tiny pieces. In fact, he even used a twist I’ve been dying to write. I might need to pick up another Sanderson novel and see what else he’s cooked up with his typing fingers.
Worst (enter the rants)
This is my favourite reviews by Goodreads member Lucy that perfectly captured what I was thinking.
“The [novel’s summary] is a series of filthy, filthy lies intended to make you part with your money. Did the person who wrote the description read the same book I read? Or did he get so bored that he fell asleep and was forced to wing it for a deadline? If that’s the case, I feel for the poor guy since I fell asleep reading this a few times, but I don’t forgive the lies.”
She goes on to list the ‘lies’ the author strung us along with, promising a high-intensity read of characters trained from birth to magically duel where only one may emerge alive, and instead end up falling in love. The truth is much more mediocre. The book dragged, spinning fantastic settings but with bland interactions that merely hint at what could be described as duels, and offered the vaguest scraps of answers to the overarching dangling questions only to keep readers from tossing the book away. If you like unusual but high-society settings with a dribble of romance, it might work for you. But for me? No thank you.
The reviews were high, all solid fours, the written reviews glowing. I needed something for my Kindle lest my nice books get wrecked in our travel to Nepal, and this series seemed promising.
I have never been so let down by my research.
I got to the fourth book out of five. Reader and Raelynx was the book that made me give up. I have never encountered a more blatant copy/paste plot throughout aaaaalll the books.
Every single novel in this series centered around the heroine meeting a dashing man from a totally different background, exclaiming ‘We couldn’t possibly fall in love. We’re too different!’, and then falling madly in love and/or getting married. Every. Single. Book. It was tiresome, boring, and insulting. I knew exactly where the fourth book was headed from way back in book two, and the overarching plot I was interested in flopped to the wayside in a flat, thin climax.
And the Most Disappointing award goes to….
Yep. You read that right. I’m a book hoarder, a proud nerd, never before had read this series till this year, and I did not like Harry Potter. Not to disregard your potential–and valid–fuzzy nostalgia for the series like a cat sitting just out of reach from your petting hand, but I struggled with a few key things. Like the protagonist. I’ve written about this as a guest post for a very good friend of mine, so if you’re curious, click this!
And that’s my list! Tell me what you read this year in the comments so I can add more books to my to-read list.
Keep posted because I’m going to toss up a similar list for videogames of the year in the coming week.