One of my favorite parts of a new year is getting to see all the “best of” lists of the past year. Top songs, top movies, top anything – it’s a fun little recap of the year, and it helps you see if you missed anything actually worth seeing. (As someone who rarely sees movies in theaters, it lets me know what’s worthy of Redboxing…)
2015 was my first official full year of not being in school – aka 365 glorious days of no required reading lists. Which means I got to read anything and everything my heart desired, and it was WONDERFUL. I joined a book club, I joined the public library, and I hit up my favorite used book store far too often. I read some great ones, I read some okay ones, but these are my top 5:
Scary Close, Donald Miller
It’s no secret I love anything Donald Miller touches, but even most who aren’t his biggest fan agree: Scary Close was scary good. It might just turn into one of those books I reread every year or so. Miler shares his journey (and struggles) with vulnerability and relationships in a way that anyone can relate to, but also in a way that gives us hope. He ties in lessons from friends and wise words from counseling sessions in an amazing memoir of sorts. Bonus points for all the hopeless romantics out there: you even get bits and pieces of the story of how he met, and dated, his wife! It’s wonderfully well written (it took all my self control to not read it in one sitting) and at the same time captivating. My relationships have been better, hands down, because of his words.
Americanah, Chimamanda Adichie
I could go on and on and ON about how ridiculously perfect Adichie is, or how ridiculously amazing Americanah was… but you should really just pick up a copy and experience it for yourself. The writing? Exquisite. The story itself? Wonderful. The social commentary? There’s nothing like it. Americanah will make you look at race, nationality, immigration, language, prejudice, and yourself in a whole new light. All wrapped up in a riveting novel – that is rare, and that is magical. Seriously, do yourself a favor and read this already.
Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) AND Why Not Me?
I didn’t get the chance to read Kaling’s first book until this past summer, then I was in for a treat because her new book came out only a few months later. They are both SO good that they, together, make the list. Kaling is everything: she’s funny, she’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s self-conscious, she’s honest, she’s girly, she’s strong, she asks good questions, and she’s one hell of a writer. Both of these books are the type that you don’t want to end, and yet at the same time cannot put down. Not only am I a fan of a minority voice and a female voice getting some spotlight, I’m just a fan of Mindy. It’s impossible not to be, after reading anything she’s written.
7 Women, Eric Metaxas
Let’s be real: I would probably be excited about any book that is dedicated to 7 powerhouse women. But this book far surpassed my expectations. Metaxas is not only a beautiful writer but also a wonderful biographer. By diving into the histories of women who greatly impacted our faith – and the world – he paints a beautiful picture of what it looks like to follow God’s call, no matter the cost. From different eras to different countries, different races and different ages, the 7 women in this book are truly inspiring in their own way.
You can also read my full review on this book here!
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
This book is a delightful fairy-tale-esque seemingly-dark mystery that sweeps you into the fantasy of it all, making you feel like a kid again. It’s scary enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and compelling enough to make you keep turning the page. Gaiman is a wonderful story teller, yet with some great social commentary and moral lessons weaved into it as well. I’m not usually the biggest fan of these types of books, yet this story has stayed with me months after finishing it.