I had a goal of reading 50 books in 2015, and fell short by 5 books, but I still consider that a great year of reading. I rated a lot of books with 4 and 5 stars on Goodreads, but I’m going to narrow it down here to the books I read in 2015 that especially stood out:
Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry – I re-read this after about 20 years, thereby confirming that it’s the best book I’ve ever read in my life. An epic tale of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in the later part of the nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is about life, love, loss, friendship, loyalty, adventure, good guys, bad guys, and the harsh beauty of life. I remain utterly in love with this story. This fall, I received a Fed-Ex package. Inside was a first edition hard cover of Lonesome Dove which my husband had procured and sent to Larry McMurtry with a heartfelt note explaining what the book means to his wife, and Mr. McMurtry signed the book and sent it on to me. A gift I will treasure always.
This Is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t by Augusten Burroughs – If ever there was an instruction manual for life, this is it. Told in Burroughs’s witty, no-bullshit style, he offers advice on everything from dealing with shitty people to overcoming trauma, to accepting our limitations and being okay with them. I’m not a fan of inspirational self-help books, but this one stands apart – probably because it’s not inspirational, just the damn truth.
Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God by Armin Navabi – Straightforward, well written responses to the most common arguments for the existence of God. Obviously not up everyone’s alley, but a must read for anyone interested in looking at both sides of the God debate. Leaves one wondering how it is that any rational person can cling to such archaic myths.
by Kent Haruf – a beautiful novel about living and dying. I love everything by Kent Haruf.
Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray – written by a Boston professor, this non-fiction deconstructs conventional wisdom about schooling children and makes a strong, research-based case for child-directed, play-based learning. This book turned a lot of my ingrained beliefs about school and how children best learn upside down, and has challenged me to approach homeschooling in different ways than I ever thought I would.
To Be a Slave by Julius Lester – A collection of interviews with the last of the living former slaves, conducted in the 1930s by the Federal Writing Project, this book, more than any other I’ve read about slavery, depicts the heinous crimes committed against black people by America for hundreds of years. Although aimed at middle-school aged children, this book is entirely appropriate for anyone in that age group through adulthood. This should be required reading by every American.
The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild – An examination of dual-income couples and the fact that women, even when holding full-time jobs, carry the burden of housework and childcare. Written 30 years ago, unfortunately, not much has changed.
Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation by Vicki Abeles – A well-researched examination of how the current state of education and our obsession with performance and achievement is harming children, and a plea for change.
I guess I leaned towards non-fiction this past year.
Would love to hear what your favorite books were in 2015.
Here’s to another year of great books!