Although earlier this year I spent quite a bit of a time going down a literary wormhole that I'm not all that proud of, I have read a few other books I've enjoyed this year that I'm less embarrassed to name, and I thought I'd write a bit about of them. If like me you're always looking for a new good read, and you have liked some of my previous recommendations, perhaps you'll find something to add to your list. As per usual, my list leans heavily toward YA. My favorites are in bold.
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. This is the first Rainbow Rowell book I've read where I didn't feel like the characters were part of my extended group of friends. Which is not saying I didn't enjoy it, just that it is quite different from anything else I've read by her. She's kind of written fanfiction of her own work - taking characters from the clearly Harry Potter-inspired fantasy series in her book Fangirl, and giving them their own story. It was a fast, fun read, but I wasn't inspired to start my own Tumblr blog on it or anything.
- Me Before You and it's follow-up After You by JoJo Moyes. These were a "let me read the book before the movie comes out so I can act all holier-than-thou about how the movie didn't get things right" kind of read. The short plot summary, cash strapped girl from small town forms an unlikely bond with wealthy paralyzed man she's taking care of, might make it sound a little Nicholas Sparks-esque, but trust that they are A LOT less eye-roll inducing. I did enjoy both - despite the soap opera-esque story lines.
- The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes. Since I enjoyed Me Before You, I kept going down the JoJo path. (Just writing that made me think of the singer JoJo, and this song popped into my head.) It was a good path to go down - I enjoyed this one even more than the other two thanks to the history elements.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Sweet yet grounded YA book, full of characters that felt real, with relatable issues. Really enjoyed this one.
- How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski - I have to be honest, I completely forgot the plot of this book about a week after reading it. I picked it up because I so loved E. Lockhart's We Were Liars last year, but obviously this one did not stay with me in the same way. I didn't hate it, it was fine, but didn't find it gripping or memorable.
- Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. This is YA I loved. I mean, I've mentioned in the past my weakness for a good coming of age tale, and about finding one's place in the world, and this delivered on all fronts. Teared up. Related. Added other books by the author to my "to read" list. I give this one all the stars.
- You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart. I've been a big fan of Mamrie Hart's YouTube series, so I had good feeling about this one, and it did not disappoint. Raunchy. Hilarious. The book I have most recommended to people not in my family this year. I quite literally laughed out loud reading it. And it has some great cocktail recipes to boot. :)
- An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. Ms Gay not only wrote some of my favorite online reviews/recaps of Magic Mike XXL and the Outlander TV show, she also wrote one of my favorite books this year, which is thoroughly different in tone than her hilarious recaps. This book is fantastic, if incredibly hard to read. Very violent and emotionally draining, but so well written and kind of beautiful. This one has stayed with me all year.
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore. YA fantasy that's actually NOT set in a post-apocalyptic world, with a strong female lead, intrigue, adventure, and some romance. Really enjoyed this one.
- The Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg. I was so charmed by the magical fantasy of the first book, I promptly followed with The Glass Magician and The Master Magician, and read all three in about a week. YA coming of age with magic and romance. Didn't enjoy the two follow-up books quite as much as the first one, but still liked the series overall.
- Finding Fraser by kc dyer. Cute book, reminded me of Austenland, but for the Outlander fanatic. Although predictable, still a fun read. Helped me get through the many long months of waiting for new episodes of the TV series.
I feel like my list this year is quite a bit shorter than it has been in the past - probably because of all the trashy novels I've read that I would rather not name check, because most were pretty forgettable. There are many other books I bought or was gifted that I haven't gotten around to reading yet, (Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me?, Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Felicia Day's You're Never Weird on the Internet) but I'm hoping 2016 will be a better read year.