December last year, I realized that I hadn’t read many books in 2014, what with the masters, dissertation, and traveling. I read maybe about 5 books for the entire year, and I was a bit ashamed of that, so I made a resolution to read at least 30 books in 2015.
It turned out, I did so well on that resolution that I exceeded my target. With 2015 being the exact opposite of 2014, I find that reading is a necessity. It’s become my form of escapism from the daily grind, and also, the lack of adventure at the moment.
So here’s some of my favorites in 2015:
Us by David Nicholls — Us is a portrayal of real life and diminishing love experienced by a middle-aged man, written matter-of-factly with a touch of dark humor that has become Nicholls’ remark. It’s by no means a happy story, and yet it’s full of heartfelt and beautiful lines. It’s sad, funny, and wonderful at the same time, and I found myself highlighting my favorite quotes every few pages.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness — Imaginative and moving, this is the first time I’ve read a book by Patrick Ness and I’ll definitely look for more. The idea and characters had been established by author Siobhan Dowd, but she passed away before she could finish it. Patrick Ness continued the writing for her, saying that he tried to write something that she would enjoy. And God, he nailed it.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated edition by J. K. Rowling, illustration by Jim Kay — I’ve read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone many times before, but reading the illustrated version is a whole different experience. The illustration is so gorgeous, true to the novel and painstakingly beautiful, making it all the more magical to dive into Harry Potter’s world. I got this book as a Christmas present, and it lit up my Christmas!
Dracula by Bram Stoker — Dracula is famous for good reasons, and it didn’t disappoint. The story, for the most part, is full of suspense. Some parts are a bit slow and boring, but despite those things, it’s still so good. It’s gripping, astonishing, and definitely a page-turner. Despite the rushed ending, I still enjoyed Dracula very much.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn — First of all, this book is gut-wrenching and depressing. Too depressing, actually. The story covers things that trigger emotional pain, such as abandonment, poverty, child abuse, teen pregnancy, sexual harassment, peer pressure, bullying, drugs and alcohol. I find the characters are all unlikable (as are Flynn’s other characters), but the impressive thing is, I still enjoyed this book. And the ending? The BEST twist I’ve ever read. It’s complex, horrid, and totally unexpected (and much more satisfying than the ending of Gone Girl!). I have to say Flynn does really well in creating twisted and mind-boggling plot, and now I’m already on the hunt for her other books.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell — This is entirely subjective, of course, and if you’re not a fan of chicklit this might not interest you at all, but I think Attachments is the example of chicklit done right: light, funny, and heartwarming, with the right amount of ‘aww’ moments without making it too cheesy and corny.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell — Unlike Rowell’s other books, Eleanor & Park is has a rather dark theme; the struggle a teenager deals with bullying, abuse, and peer pressure. I usually wouldn’t put a grim book as my favorite, but Rowell has a way with words. Albeit the depressing story, it’s wonderfully written and full of emotions. John Green sums it up best by saying, ‘Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.’
Wonder by R. J. Palacio — This is the book I fall in love with through the main character, a brave kid with a rare medical deformity. The story follows him and his family, and their struggle to keep things as normal as possible. It’s a sad and moving story, and in the end you’d realize you wouldn’t be able to find a kid as charming as Auggie, and that all you want to do every time you close the book is give him a big hug.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple — I must not be the only one who loves epistolary novels. It’s so light and easy, making it perfect to unwind after a long day at work. This book has a bit of mysteries going on through the novel, told in a series of emails, letters, documents, and other things. The quirky characters add the fun to the already-interesting plot, with a satisfying ending that will leave you smiling
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes — I’ll admit that the first time I bought this, I cringed at the title (and also, the font they used for the cover). But who would’ve thought I’d devour this book and refuse to put it down until I was done? This book has given me new insights about quadriplegics and their struggles for the basic and simple things in life, and also opened my mind about something controversial: assisted suicide. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, it’s definitely worth a read.