Happy New Year’s Eve! I am working today, but crossing my fingers my work will let us out early. I don’t have any crazy party plans (I know – shocker!), but plan on ringing in the New Year with my family at home. We’ll watch the ball drop on TV, play some games, and just enjoy one another’s company. I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year’s Eve!
For today’s post, I have another top ten list for you – the best books I read this year! I read 102 books this year, which is pure insanity, but there’s nothing I love more than getting completely wrapped up in a book. It was hard to narrow my favorite books down to a top ten list, but I did it! I put these in order, from books I really, really loved to books that changed my life. Here we go!
10. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – 4 stars
This book is so quirky and so fun and I completely enjoyed my experience reading it. I laughed out loud a few times while reading (something I never do!) and I couldn’t help falling completely, hopelessly in love with these characters.
9. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay – 5 stars
This was one of the best YA novels I’ve read in a long time. It was part mystery, where you know something bad has happened to the main character but aren’t sure exactly what it is. It’s part love story, as this broken girl finds healing and hope in the love and strength of a boy. It’s part coming of age, as the character begins to come to terms with what has happened from her and grow from it. It’s a phenomenal read, the writing is exquisite, and it’s one that will make you feel good when you finish it.
8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – 5 stars
I’m always behind when it comes to reading what is popular. (I mean, I just read the Harry Potter series in 2010!) So it’s no surprise it took me a while to get into The Hunger Games series, but I’m so glad I finally did. I think the first book was easily the best, with the second and third books falling a little flat for me. (They were still good – just didn’t grip me the way the first one did.) I think it’s worth reading these books and deciding for yourself what the hoopla is about. It’s action-packed, well-written, and you just can’t help but love Katniss.
7. The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner – 4 stars
I’m not a huge fan of Jennifer Weiner and her writing, but I really, really enjoyed this novel, which surprised me. It was also the first book I ever “read” via audiobook and the reader was wonderful which made the experience so much sweeter. This story was just very sweet and heartfelt, and I found myself really intrigued by the main character. She was smart and funny and sensible, and I could really connect with her and her self-esteem issues. I’ve yet to find a Weiner novel I love as much as I loved this one!
6. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton – 4.5 stars
This book reminded me why I loved reading so much. I was engaged from the get-go and fell completely into this story and the lives of these five women. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking, as you follow these women through love and loss and triumph and sadness. The writing was fantastic, the characters were easy to root for, and I liked the natural pace of the story. It made me happy, made me teary, and reminded me of the power of friendship.
5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – 4 stars
I stayed away from this memoir, mainly because I heard a lot of negativity surrounding the book. So I went into reading it with trepidation, thinking I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found Gilbert to be refreshingly honest and real and I really connected with her. This book taught me a lot about love, about life, about taking chances and surrendering. I really, really enjoyed her writing style, and I finished the book a bit confused why it gets so much bad press. To each their own, I suppose!
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 5 stars
I remember enjoying this novel when it was required reading in high school, so it was a neat experience to read it again, simply because I wanted to. (Well, it was a book club book, but I wasn’t complaining!) When I read it in high school, I read it academically. This time around, I read it for the pure enjoyment of reading. It’s such a good book, easily in my top five of all time, and it gripped me from beginning to end. I could barely put it down! (Also, confession, but when I was in ninth grade, I had a total crush on Atticus and I can report that I still have a “literary crush” on him today.)
3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed – 5 stars
I didn’t expect to like this book, but I actually ended up loving it. I love the way this author writes. I love the bluntness and honesty and straightforward way she connects to readers. I couldn’t put this book down and all I wanted to do was read it, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end. At times, it was a hard book to read, but this is a story of personal triumph and knowing that, no matter what you are going through, no matter how shitty and awful life seems right now, you will find your way out of it and it will be beautiful.
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – 5 stars
It’s hard to express how deeply this book touched my life. Not only was it a well-written story with powerful characters and an engaging plot, but it made me take a good, long, hard look at my life and all the freedom I have, as a single woman living in America. I’m not immune to complaining and feeling woeful about my life, but I have so much freedom to do whatever I want, be whomever I want, marry the man I want to marry, travel where I want, etc etc. This book changed the way I viewed freedom. I felt dumbfounded while reading this book and seeing how women are still so oppressed today. This book broke my heart and pieced it back together again. It was heartwrenching to read at times, but still hopeful. This is such an important book for everyone to read.
1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – 5 stars
I struggled a lot between A Thousand Splendid Suns or Me Before You as my favorite book this year and I finally settled on Me Before You. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did, because I knew it dealt with some heavy topics that I thought would leave me feeling depressed and sad. Instead, this book left me feeling happy and hopeful and with a changed view. First of all, the characters were wonderful. Lou and Will were two characters that I absolutely adored and it just makes me sad that these people are not real. I was expecting a dark and depressing book, but I got one that was funny and engaging and light-hearted, all the while dealing with heavy subject matter. I had a hard time putting this one down, and it’s one I recommend to just about anyone.
What’s the best book you read this year?