What a fun way to wrap up the year, thinking back on all the books I’ve read! 2015 also introduced me to Goodreads and the fantastic Top 5 Wednesday crew. I’ve had a blast participating and can’t wait to see what weekly challenges 2016 brings. Thanks, all! Here are a few of favorite titles I read this year:
- Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon. If Norman Rockwell wrote an episode of The X-Files, it might read like this story of how a haunting murder and the inexorable creep of modernity transform a Southern town in the 1960s. The deft weave of character, setting, and potentially supernatural elements reminded me of Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis. McCammon’s lyrical writing mesmerizes like sunlight playing on dark water: you aren’t sure what lies beneath the surface, but can’t resist the siren call to submerge.
- In the Heart of the Sea, by Nathaniel Philbrick. Sorry, Melville: this non-fiction retelling of the events that inspired Moby Dick is leagues more engrossing than your tedious classic. Philbrick stitches together Nantucket’s bloody whaling history with one ship crew’s unthinkable ordeal, creating a seamless masterpiece of true adventure I couldn’t put down.
- Dawn, by Octavia Butler. This first installment in the Xenogenesis trilogy is a uniquely subtle first-contact story: spare, elegant, and thought-provoking. It’s also refreshing to read quality sci-fi focused on a female protagonist. Read my full review here.
- The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope. After years languishing on my to-read list, a very long trip this summer gave me the chance to pursue this correspondingly long book. Once one adjusts to the serialized novel style (which suspends that most basic tenet of fiction writing, “show, don’t tell”) the characters and their intrigues quickly absorb the reader. Although set in England on the cusp of the 20th century, the saga of corruption, greed, and keeping up appearances resonates with contemporary themes.
- The Martian, by Andy Weir. While technical explanations sometimes impede narrative progress, this tale of survival on Mars is a rare accomplishment. Science is the real star, even as we root for marooned astronaut Mark Watney and his irrepressible sense of humor to make it home. Read my full review here.
If you haven’t read these, I heartily recommend them for your 2016 reading list. Looking forward to another year of Top 5’s!