I read 70 books this year and selected 15 of my favorites. Three from each of the following categories: adult fiction, young adult fiction, non-fiction, read alouds, and unexpected pleasures.
Favorite Adult Fiction
- Us by David Nicolls – A collapsing marriage and distant teen don’t seem like the makings of a superb novel, but are just that when written about with the skill David Nicolls brings to the page.
- The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – A remarkable piece of historical fiction set in the antebellum south. You will want to look away but won’t be able to.
- All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – A blind French girl and a German orphan take turns telling a story that is so fresh, beautiful, and layered that it stands out from the World War II fiction crowd.
Favorite Young-Adult Fiction
- I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – This stunning story, told in alternating narratives, completely captivated me and was the only book I read twice this year.
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – Smart, funny, and nerdy all wrapped together and tied with a coming-of-age ribbon. Deserving of the many awards and honors it received.
- Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Abertalli – Shunning both sensationalism and sentimentality, this novel combines a modern setting with timeless emotions and my favorite narrative voice of the year.
- All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior – Research, information and anecdotes presented in a way that helped me understand and feel understood.
- Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro – Full of big truths in tiny chapters, this book is like a long chat with the kind of friend who knows how to meet you where you are while simultaneously helping you move forward.
- 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – A collection of correspondence between Helene Hanff (a New York writer) and Frank Doel (a London bookseller) curated into a tiny, charming, and thoroughly enjoyable book.
Favorite Read Alouds
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin – A story of desire and gratitude, this Chinese folktale that pairs an enchanting story with a strong heroine and enduring lessons is the book we will measure all others by for a while.
- The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo – A fortuneteller, an orphan with a missing sister, and an elephant all come together is this beautiful tale of longing and belonging. A lovely blend of whimsy and enduring truth.
- Holes by Louis Sachar- A character with a palindrome name, a no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, and a lot of bad luck fill this book that has enough mystery to keep you turning the pages and enough tying up of loose ends to make the end satisfying.
Favorite Unexpected Pleasures
- Glaciers by Alex M. Smith – Every line counts in this short and sweet book full of quiet, reflective, and lyrical prose.
- The Martian by Andy Weir – Peppered with real science and more math than I’ve ever encountered in a novel, this book still brought all the joys of a great novel.
- The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans – My love of cowboys and free paperbacks in vacation rentals started me turning the pages but the well-paced story, untidy emotions, and flawed characters kept them turning.