Love and Olive Oil

Beyond the Kitchen: Get Lost (in a book) Edition

I read 30 books last year, meeting my goal with a few hours to spare (what, doesn’t everyone sit and read on New Year’s Eve?)

Most of them were 3 and 4 star books, I even had one (gasp) 2 star that was lucky I even finished it at all. In fact, it seems to be my pattern that it takes me a whole year worth of vigorous reading before I get 6 that I can honestly say were 5-star reads. Let’s just make it a tradition then, I’ll be back next January with 6 more books to devour!

Although, seeing as I just got a Kindle for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) my book-count may increase dramatically this year. I’m especially looking forward to not having to lug a brick of a book on trips, but I can see how it makes reading so much easier (I’ve been carrying it back and forth with me as I go back to the bedroom to hang out with gimpy cat). It’s perfect for lazy-bones Lindsay, seeing as I can check out books from the library without ever actually going to library (read: not having to put on real pants).

Although, I do have to admit that I miss the subtleties of a well-designed book. The Kindle’s generic font, as nice as it is, isn’t quite the same… especially for books with unique formatting that plays a part of the storytelling itself. Case in point, I just started The Book Thief on the Kindle, and am tempted to check out the physical version instead to experience the typography as the author and designer intended.

(And as always, know that there are affiliate links in this post. Click if you want, or don’t. Just know that by doing so, you’re only supporting my ravenous reading habit.)

Image Map

The Historian – This was, I can honestly say, the best book I read all year. It is a very large book, and I almost didn’t start it for that reason, but I’m glad I did, because I plowed through that thing like it was Harry Potter. I love books that intertwine mysteries and conspiracy (and a little bit of sci-fi/fantasy) into real history. It reminded me a lot of The Lost Sisterhood from last year’s book post, but with added vampires in the mix. What I loved most about this book were the layers of history, the stories told through letters over three generations, that ultimately uncovered the truth to one of history’s greatest mysteries.

The Nightingale – Wow, this one was intense, centered around two sisters trying to survive during the Nazi invasion of France. It was eye-opening in ways I never knew, and it had me absolutely bawling at the end. I’m not usually one for historical war fiction, but this book, with its strong female characters, stole my heart.

Wonder – All. The. Feels. What a brilliant, brilliant book, written from the perspective of a young boy with a facial deformity and those closest to him. It’s one of those books that really makes you think hard about yourself and want to be a better person. August just has a way of doing that to people, I guess. He is not a character you will forget any time soon.

The Bone Season – Surprise surprise, another book about a dystopian society and people with special powers. I did feel as if the fantasy lexicon could have been simplified… some of the story got lost in the complexity of the made-up words and organizational structures, but it definitely got easier to understand by the second book in the trilogy (which, admittedly, wasn’t quite as good as the first, but I’m still anxiously awaiting the final book to see how it all ends).

The Girl on the Train – Engaging and unexpected. People compare this book to Gone Girl but I have to say, it’s way better. GG made me mad (and no, I have NOT seen the movie), mainly because the narrator isn’t some idiotic husband. Ok, so maybe it’s an alcoholic peeping-tammy of a woman who shoves herself into a situation that’s truly none of her business. Ok, so maybe I don’t like her any more than Mr. Gone, but I still enjoyed this book far more.

All the Light we Cannot See – For someone who doesn’t like war fiction, to have two on one list is a record (let alone two WWII-occupied-France books). But this one stood out to me, a tale of two very different people on different sides of a conflict, brought together in unexpected circumstances. I appreciated how it humanized the enemy, a hard feat to accomplish in a novel, showing that there are good people involved on both sides of any conflict.

And not that you need any more books to add to your own wishlist (my own “To-Read” list just gets longer and longer) but this compilation of the best books of 2015 on NPR is a gold mine. (Although I wish they’d add a straight up “Fiction” filter. I’m not so particular on the genre but pretty much exclusively enjoy reading fiction.)

Happy reading!

My Favorite Books of 2015

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  2. Hi, Lindsay. Ron and I both read Girl on the Train and were disappointed. Maybe the book was hyped too much. At any rate, it is a book we will pass on and not keep. I do plan to read All the Light We Cannot See and will look for The Nightingale.

  3. I read All the Light over Christmas on the recommendation of my entire extended family, and of course loved it. So good! My grandma found it in Boise, where the author lives, and passed it on to all of us. 

  4. I got a kindle a few years ago as a gift and was unsure about it, but now love it!  Also, our library is amazing. And did you know you could make a wish list? I noticed you had one on goodreads, but having in the library is great since i can just see what on my loooong to read list is currently available. 
    I also read The Nightingale this year and loved it. Must admit though, Girl on a Train was not my favorite. Just added The Historian to my library list. It sounds great! Happy reading. 

  5. Oh, I loved, loved, LOVED The Historian! One of my uncles is an avid reader so I know I’ll always enjoy what he gifts me for Christmas or my birthday. He gave me The Historian a few years ago and I devoured it immediately.
    Read Wonder last year and adored it. There’s a little companion of sorts that I picked up on a whim and enjoy – “365 Days of Wonder”. It’s a quote-a-day kind of thing in hardback binding.
    All the Light and Girl on the Train are both on my to-read list. I’ll have to add The Bone Season and The Nightingale to my to-read list given how many similarities we have!

  6. I really enjoyed Girl on a Train, but I’m so disappointed the movie version is going to take place in New York rather than London. Such a great British feel to the book, so disappointing!

  7. I just finished The Nightingale…you’re right…intense, but soo readable and so easy to get involved with the story. One of the best!

  8. The Girl on the Train is so good and I agree that it is better than Gone Girl. ! Next on my list to download is All The Light We Cannot See.

  9. I got a kindle for Christmas as well! Definitely know what you mean about missing holding an actual book and seeing the unique fonts. But it is better than lugging hardback books on the bus on the way to work. :)
    Great list of books, I loved All The Light! I’m going to add Wonder to my “to read” list now too. Know you said you weren’t into war fiction as much, but I read Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey over Christmas and absolutely loved it. 
    Happy New Year!

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