It’s that time of year! Goodreads just came out with a Best Books of 2015 list—unique in that it was voted on by its site users, and not editorially chosen like other Best Of lists. While I can’t claim to read with as equal a breadth personally, I did come close to my 50-book target; and I did log some good reads this year. So, what were my favourite books of 2015? In no particular order…
—The Holy Road, by Michael Blake. This book follows Blake’s well-known novel Dances with Wolves, and was well-researched, beautiful and heart-breaking. Watching these well-rounded characters struggle to keep hold of a culture which we tragically know already they will lose was harder than I thought it would be. I wanted to learn more about the history of the first peoples of North America.
—Joyland, by Stephen King. This was the better of the two King novels I read this year. King is under-rated as a contemporary author. Yes, there were some horror/suspense elements in this one, but where he shines is at evoking a time and place. Better than ‘Revival,’ which I also read this year.
—Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. I had read Rubin’s other two books, and found this treatise on habit formation to be interesting. The theme of this book was, contrary to most personal development titles, not about changing yourself but rather about understanding how you operate so you can maximize your habits within that sphere. Rubin reminded me somewhat of myself, and it was refreshing to see an author embrace being predictable, routine-oriented and practical without feeling guilty about that. You don’t have to climb mountains. It’s okay to set more modest goals. And this book gives some tools toward achieving them.
—So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. This was a fantastic book about the history of public shaming, and how it has adapted—alarmingly well—to the age of the internet. Ronson presents several case studies of people whose lives were ruined by a single tweet or tasteless joke, and he asks us to consider why we are allowing this new public pillory when we wouldn’t have allowed it in its offline form. I wish he had waited to write this book under after the comeback of Monica Lewinsky. I’d have loved to hear his thoughts on her!
—Pandora’s DNA by Lizzie Stark. Stark is a journalist whose family has been plagued with the gene for genetically-linked breast cancer. She movingly weaves the story of her family history with this terrible illness with the story of the scientists who worked to identify the gene, and with her own terrible choice to be tested, and live a life of fearful monitoring, or to live free, in ignorance, and perhaps share her ancestor’s terrible fate.
I read a lot less this year; it was my lowest year yet! But I wrote a lot more. And I have other hobbies and interests now which have broadened my life and helped me grow as a person, but which do compete for my time. I’d like to actually hit my 50-book target next year. But I think my days of reading 100+ books a year are behind me. That’s okay; I have a better life now. But I did not partake in the Black Friday Kindle sales this time. I am content to read what I have right now. I don’t think I have time for new books.