Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Favorite Reads in 2015

Before the first month of the new year (that really isn't that new anymore and already feels a bit worn) is completely over, I want to share with you my favorite reads in 2015.

I love to read. It's a great day if I can spend several hours curled up on the sofa, reading. Of course this almost never happens. Warm summer evenings often see me sitting under the photinia with a book in my hands and a glass of wine on the little abandoned table and the birds are chirping around me.

I used to read a lot. Not so much anymore. In 2015 I only read 41 books - that really is not a lot. This year doesn't look much better; in January I only read two books. Not a good start.

While I do like to read fiction and non-fiction, my favorites are novels.

The picture above shows my favorite novels from last year. If I have to choose a favorite out of these ten books, it would be Jamie Ford's "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet". The story about the childhood friendship between Chinese-American Henry and Japanese-American Keiko during World War II has touched my heart.

I bought Anna Quindlen's "Still Life with Bread Crumbs" when I was learning to take still life photos. However, this book really has not much to do with still life photography, but the heroine is a photographer pretty much at a point in her life where she needs to break away from her former life and settle in the middle of nowhere. It is beautifully written.

A couple years ago I had read Michelle Richmond's "The Year of Fog" which I both liked and disliked. I saw this book in a thrift store and took it home, not expecting too much. I loved it! It is an intriguing story about two sisters, one of whom was murdered 20 years before. I liked the main character a lot, and I always enjoy when a novel's setting is a place I know - in this case San Francisco.

"Kindred Spirits" is a beautiful tale about the friendship between women - heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.

My expectations for "Last Summer" by Holly Chamberlin were very low - boy, was I wrong. This is an excellent novel about teenage bullying, how hard it is for the children and how difficult for the parents. It asks good questions about the nature of bullying, where it starts and whether we all have done it without being aware of it. It was quite the eye opener!

I loved "Calling Me Home" - sad, funny, heart-warming. A road trip of an 89-year old white woman and her black hairdresser during which the old woman tells about her past when she had a forbidden relationship with the black son of her family's housekeeper.

Set in England, "One Moment, One Morning" follows the events and three women after a man dies on the Brighton-London commuter train one morning. It was a beautiful read. And talking of trains, "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins was another favorite that I read by the end of the year. An excellent mystery novel that sometimes made me want to shake the 'heroine'!!

"The Wives of Alamo" by Tarashea Nesbit is not a traditional novel but more a collection of what life was like for the wives of the scientists etc. who worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, how they dealt with the secrecy and the less than ideal conditions in their own little world with little connection to the "outside" world. Very interesting.

Jay Treiber's "Spirit Walk" was weird but good. I can see that many people wouldn't like this story. I found it fascinating and very beautifully written, taking place in Arizona which I love and I could imagine the landscape he is describing in this kind of gritty tale.

Last but by far not least, "Dog on It" by Spencer Quinn. The entire story is told from the perspective of the dog of a not very fortunate detective - it is hilarious. This, too, takes place in Arizona and you can feel the landscape (or better smell with a dog's nose). This was enjoyable and I will look out for the sequel.

By the way, only two of these books I bought in a bookstore (Los Alamos and Still Life), all the other ones I found in thrift stores. I love to look for books in thrift stores, they're dirt cheap and thus encourage me to read books I have never heard of. If they're not good or I don't like them I can simply donate them back.

Do you recognize this sheep cardigan? This is the little girl for whom I made it. Last Friday was her first birthday and her wonderful mom posted this picture on my Facebook timeline. Isn't she adorable?


Hindustanka said...

Hi Carola! The girl is precious, and cardigan looks so good on her!
I haven't read any of the books you showcased. lol

Have a lovely week!

Elephant's Child said...

I am a bookaholic as well, and loved broadening my wish list through your recommendations.
And that cardigan looks absolutely perfect on the charmer you made it for.

Monika + Bente said...

Lesestunde und Kuscheljacke, das passt gut zusammen.

Liebe Grüße - Monika

Anonymous said...

Ganz lieben dank für die Buchtips einige gib es auch auf deutsch, da freue ich mich schon auf gemütliche Lesestunden, aber soviel wie du habe ich noch nie geschafft,fast jede Woche ein Buch das ist ganz schön viel. Die Strickjacke ist allerliebst geworden, besonders die kleinen Schäfchen sind so niedlich.
Liebe Grüße, Patricia

Darla said...

I've only read one of the books you listed. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I agree with you, it was a wonderful read. I'll check out the rest of your list. Always looking for a good book.

That is an adorable baby in a darling sweater. Good job!

Barb said...

I always like when people post favorite books. I read the Quindlen book and liked it. I'll be looking at your other titles on my Kindle. I usually get samples of books before buying. That child looks adorable in your sheep sweater!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

She is beautiful in her pretty new sweater! And I love putting books on my to read list! I see some here I want to read now! Hugs!

La Vie Quotidienne said...

I always enjoy book recommendations, so thank you!

the sweater looks even cuter, if that is possible,
on the adorable baby.

windrock studio said...

Two here caught my attention right away ... Calling me home sounds like a good read and also Kindred Spirits. I would love to find them in a thrift shop, my favorite place to find books, too.

This little beauty in her cardi is just too cute!

Magic Love Crow said...

Thanks for the list of books! I to get mine from thrift stores! The little one is so precious! I love the sweater on her!

Cheri said...

I always buy my summer beach reads (trashy romance novels) at thrift stores. Doesn't matter to me how old they are and I donate them back when I'm done! :) The cardigan looks beautiful on her and not too big at all!

Anonymous said...

The first thing I loved about this post is the photo of the stack of books. I love to read but these days most of my books are borrowed from the library or are free/very cheap ones I can find for my Kindle. The problem with many of the free books is that you get what you pay for, and many of them get deleted after I've read just a page or two, though sometimes I find a gem. I miss buying real books! I hadn't thought of looking for them in thrift stores, but I'm taking that to heart now, and I thank you for the idea. All of the ones you've mentioned sound good - the only one I've read is Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which I loved, too.

GreenComotion said...

41 books is a lot of books for me, but I adore your enthusiasm for reading.
The cardigan is very nice - lovely in green!
You are multi-talented and that's awesome.
Have a Beautiful Day, Carola!
Peace :)

Maria Ontiveros said...

Thanks for this. Karen Walker did a round up recently, too. I might do one if I can figure out what I read last year (vs. 2014).

Rosie Grey said...

Thanks so much for sharing your favourite reads! Although my reading has decreased more that I'd like to admit I'm always interested in recommendations!

Petra Pavlátková said...

I also red Jamie Ford's "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" and that was very interesting book, though such a sad story...

Das Runde Haus said...

Niedlich das kleine Kinder d in der kuscheljacke. Pub soviel Buch im Stapel. Und gelesen! Ich beginne meine buechersammlung aufzulösen. Gehen an soziale Projekte. Meine Lieblingsbucher behalte ich natürlich. LG von cosmee