Monthly Recaps

All-Star Books of 2015

2015 was a particularly interesting reading year for me: it was the year I ventured into comics and graphic novels more seriously, and also a year of discovering some choice nonfiction, with the help of colleagues at Women Write About Comics and Book Riot.

I’ve also noticed that I am reading more diversely, and the list below reflects just some of those new developments in my reading life. This time around, I haven’t included 2016 ARCs that I was given the opportunity to read, but there are a few books that weren’t published in 2015. Titles are listed in the order in which I read them this year, and all are books I’m proud to own.

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  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest: My review mentions some of the things I loved best about this YA novel, and it remains one of my favourite depictions of female friendship in the genre.
    Pick this book up if you love mysteries, ladies supporting ladies, and comics.
  • Get In Trouble by Kelly Link: I can never get enough short stories, and Kelly Link’s collection was a luminous addition to my shelves. You can find a review of it over at WWAC, but I can guarantee that the experience won’t be complete until you’ve read it.
    Pick this book up if you love peculiar tales, the unexpected, and humanity.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: It’s hard for me to talk about this book, mostly because my thoughts go into a dozen different directions, all rich with detail and intrigue. I already feel like Schwab has guaranteed me an intense and fun story that I’m going to love in the sequels to follow.
    Pick this book up if you love high fantasy, anti-heroes, and challenging prose.

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  • Marbles by Ellen Forney: I first read about Marbles on a list of feminist graphic novels, and I was lucky enough to find a copy the next day at my local bookstore. It’s a hard, emotional, exceptional book, and Forney’s painfully honest narrative will stay with you long after you’ve experienced the final panel.
    Pick this book up if you love musings on identity, developing feminism, and powerful art.
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: I read Ember after many of my peers and friends had already gushed about it, but even after a few months, I still didn’t really understand the appeal or the story itself. Once I started, it became impossible to put the book down, with Sabaa Tahir’s measured prose leading the way.
    Pick this book up if you love dystopian-style narratives without the dystopia, historical callbacks, and impossible dilemmas.
  • Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente: I haven’t made a secret of my love for Valente’s work, and Six-Gun Snow White is an excellent case study for it. Her half-Native American Snow White is one of the most memorable characters I’ve encountered in 2015: she’s perceptive, clever, and lethal all at once.
    Pick this book up if you love fairy tale retellings that are less fairy and more history, lyrical sentences, and emotional punches to the proverbial grief bone.

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  • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: I’m honestly surprised that this book wasn’t talked up more as the year went on. Saeed’s novel isn’t so much a cautionary tale, as it is the story of a Pakistani girl who learns to trust and value herself, and who learns to make decisions that will allow her to shape her future.
    Pick this book up if you love realistic teen characters, moral dilemmas, and strong-willed ladies.
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: Nonfiction and I have a pretty non-existent relationship, but 2015 was the year I decided to change that. Roxane Gay’s essays were a great way to start, and I learned as much as I laughed at the stories she shared. Here, feminism is intersectional and fulfilling, but it’s also an ongoing and challenging learning process.
    Pick this book up if you love perceptive first-person accounts, Scrabble, and self-reflection.
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: Another entry for the buzz books, but its position is very well deserved. I loved the cleverness of Bow’s worldbuilding–her A.I. characters are both fascinating and terrifying, as they should be–and her characters are almost painfully human to the core.
    Pick this book up if you love science-fiction turning itself inside out, non-binary love stories, and royals.

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  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This was a hard book to read, and that is precisely one of the reasons everyone needs to pick it up. Coates’ prose is straight-up incredible, and it is hard not to wonder how much more he didn’t discuss in this book, and what horrible truths about our world that his children and countless other black kids may end up learning outside their homes. And yet, he inspires and he protects and he cares so deeply for that same world.
    Pick this book up if you love personal histories, social justice, and hope.
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Found families and heist stories are just two of the spokes in my wheelhouse, and this book kept me spinning through all of its pages.
    Pick this book up if you love ensemble casts, unpredictable twists on top of twists, and rich universes.
  • An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay: I wish I had more hours in the day to talk about how much I love this book. I’m not a Dungeons and Dragons player, and I don’t share a lot of these characters’ other foibles, but I do know their struggles with friendship and self-worth. Ribay works those heart-thorns in his words like he knows them too, and has made peace with them.
    Pick this book up if you love roadtrips, nerdy references, and multiple POVs.

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  • A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston: Reading A Thousand Nights was one of the strangest days of 2015 for me, and yet, it kept me grounded. This book is not going to coddle any reader that doesn’t commit to its story. But stick with it, let it inhabit you, and you might find yourself held tightly in its comforting grasp, even as you fly off to another adventure.
    Pick this book up if you love female support systems, magic, and dares.
  • Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente: Valente is two-for-two in my 2015 records, this time bringing her readers to outer space with late director Severin Unck on her last film shoot. Radiance ended up being my choice for best 2015 book at Book Riot, and has inspired a new foray into science fiction for 2016.
    Pick this book up if you love unreliable narrators, nonlinear narratives, and whales.
  • You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent: After reading Bad Feminist, I sought out more nonfiction from women writers of colour, and fellow Rioter Kelly Jensen’s recommendation of this book sold me immediately. Alida is around my age, and I was delighted by how many of her essays I could relate to, and how much I understood her perspective.
    Pick this book up if you love hilarious family stories, introspective musings on one’s future, and being a millennial.
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Categories: Monthly Recaps

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