2015 reading roundup

2015 reading roundup

2014 reading roundup

2013 reading roundup

I started this year with two pretty lofty reading goals: 1) to read 100 books, and 2) to simultaneously complete a reading challenge. I eventually dropped out of the reading challenge, but I did pretty spectacularly well on the 100 books part. This was the third year in a row that I set myself that goal, but the first year I reached it. In 2014 I read 89 books and in 2013 I read 85, but this year I read 112!

For the long, long list of what I finished, didn’t finish, and also the cookbooks I drooled over, click the read more link below.

2015 books completed:

  1. The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue
  2. The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
  3. 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers
  4. Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Scott A. Williams
  5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  6. This House is Haunted by John Boyne
  7. House of Small Shadows, by Adam Nevill
  8. Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist: And Other Strange-but-True Tales from American History by Robert Damon Schneck
  9. But I Deserve This Chocolate!: The Fifty Most Common Diet-Derailing Excuses and How to Outwit Them by Susan Albers
  10. Bad Feminist: Essays, by Roxane Gay
  11. Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  12. Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy: Inspiring Stories for Making the Most of Each Moment by Ajahn Brahm
  13. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball
  14. But I Deserve This Chocolate!: The Fifty Most Common Diet-Derailing Excuses and How to Outwit Them by Susan Albers
  15. This House Is Not for Sale by E.C. Osondu
  16. No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood by Henriette Mantel
  17. Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein
  18. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
  19. I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place by Howard Norman (audiobook)
  20. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  21. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  22. Island in the Sound by Hazel Heckman
  23. Guidebook to Puget Sound,: The water world that the Indians called Whulge by Byron Fish
  24. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  25. The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
  26. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  27. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  28. Blindness by José Saramago
  29. Little, Big by John Crowley
  30. Mi nombre es Stilton, Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton
  31. Wie man einen Dino besiegt by Hans Wilhelm
  32. The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly
  33. The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernières
  34. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman (audiobook)
  35. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Audiobook)
  36. Sycamore Row by John Grisham
  37. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen (Audiobook)
  38. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Audiobook)
  39. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
  40. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  41. Life In Rural America by National Geographic Society
  42. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Alexie, Sherman
  43. Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself by Anneli Rufus
  44. Hall of Small Mammals: Stories by Thomas Pierce
  45. Mink River by Brian Doyle
  46. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  47. A Reunion Of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell
  48. A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
  49. The Boy From Granite Falls by Brenda Ballard
  50. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
  51. True Grit by Charles Portis
  52. Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord by Louis de Bernières
  53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  54. The Story Of The Amulet by E. Nesbit
  55. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  56. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
  57. Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors by Sarah Stodola
  58. Water Witches by Chris Bohjalian
  59. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  60. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  61. Free Spirit : growing up on the road and off the grid by Joshua Safran
  62. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  63. Kill and Tell by Linda Howard
  64. Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
  65. ¿Por Qué No Vas al Baño? By Jonathan Farr
  66. Eva y La Tarta by Carmela and Steven d’Amico
  67. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
  68. American Mountain People by Clay Anderson
  69. Nothing with Strings: NPR’s Beloved Holiday Stories by Bailey White
  70. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
  71. Some Other Town: A Novel by Elizabeth Collison
  72. All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
  73. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  74. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  75. The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey
  76. This Must Be the Place by Anna Winger
  77. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
  78. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
  79. Martin Marten by Brian Doyle
  80. The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
  81. ¿Eres Tú? by Isabel Minhós Martins
  82. My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss
  83. Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
  84. A Novel in a Year: From First Page to Last in 52 Weeks by Louise Doughty
  85. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A. Kessler
  86. Hungry: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin by Allen Zadoff
  87. Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stewart
  88. Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester
  89. Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals by Dinty W. Moore
  90. Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! a Vagrant Collection by by Kate Beaton
  91. The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age by Joyce Carol Oates
  92. The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation with Commentary by Chip Hartranft, Patañjali
  93. Supernatural Short Stories by Charles Dickens
  94. The Shining by Stephen King
  95. The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking: An Insider’s Guide to Making Movies Outside of Hollywood by Mark Polish, Jonathan A. Sheldon, Michael Polish
  96. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush, Larry Sloman
  97. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
  98. The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
  99. Crapalachia: A Biography of a Place by Scott McClanahan
  100. Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink
  101. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  102. Man Made Language by Dale Spender
  103. The Wisdom of Hair by Kim Boykin
  104. The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
  105. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  106. The Annotated Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  107. Paris Letters: One woman’s journey from the fast lane to a slow stroll in Paris by Janice MacLeod
  108. Persuasion: An Annotated Edition by Austen, Jane
  109. All You Need to Be Impossibly French: A Witty Investigation into the Lives, Lusts, and Little Secrets of French Women by Helena Frith Powell
  110. The Other Side of Midnight by by Simone St. James
  111. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
  112. Abuelos by Chema Heras

2015 books not completed or abandoned:

  1. The Gardener’s Garden by Madison Cox, Toby Musgrave, Bill Noble, Lindsey Taylor
  2. What the Fork Are You Eating?: An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate by Stefanie Sacks
  3. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
  4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  5. Sunset Western Garden Book of Landscaping (2014 edition)
  6. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  7. Ghosts: A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof by Roger Clarke
  8. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not To Have Kids ed. by Meghan Daum
  9. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  10. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
  11. Murder Myself, Murder I am by Jon Keehner
  12. Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook: Crazy Delicious Recipes that Are Good to the Earth and Great for Your Bod by Kim Barnouin
  13. The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich
  14. Back to Back by Julia Franck
  15. Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck
  16. Into the Forest: A Novel by Jean Heland
  17. The Vice-Busting Diet: A 12-Week Plan to Break Your Worst Food Habits and Change Your Life Forever by Julia Griggs Havey
  18. You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life by Ramani Durvasula
  19. The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman by Louis de Bernières
  20. Bread Is the Devil: Take Control of Your Diet Demons and Blast the Fat Forever by Heather Bauer, Kathy Matthews
  21. The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels by Henry James
  22. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
  23. Acres and Pains by S. J. Perelman

2015 cookbooks:

  1. The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan
  2. The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild
  3. The Best Light Recipe, by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
  4. Grain Mains by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough
  5. The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh by Barbara Fairchild
  6. Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die by Diane Kochilas
  7. Simply Satisfying: Over 200 Vegetarian Recipes You’ll Want to Make Again and Again by Jeanne Lemlin
  8. The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas
  9. Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven by Molly Gilbert
  10. The New Indian Slow Cooker: Recipes for Curries, Dals, Chutneys, Masalas, Biryani, and More by Neela Paniz
  11. The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor by Gina Homolka
  12. Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi
  13. Better Homes and Gardens Fresh: Recipes for Enjoying Ingredients at Their Peak
  14. Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto by Marc Vetri, David Joachim
  15. Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More by Sara Deseran
  16. Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy by David Joachim, Cooking Light Magazine
  17. Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook by Kristen Miglore
  18. Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half by Beth Moncel
  19. A Change of Appetite: Where Delicious Meets Healthy by Diana Henry
  20. Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon
  21. Vegetarian for a New Generation: Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us by Liana Krissoff
  22. The Adaptable Feast: Satisfying Meals for the Vegetarians, Vegans, and Omnivores at Your Table by Ivy Manning
  23. Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens by Emily Wight
  24. Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between (ebook) by Peter Berley
  25. Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden by Todd Porter, Diane Cu
  26. The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
  27. Cooking by Moonlight: A Witch’s Guide to Culinary Magic by Karri Ann Allrich
  28. The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits by Hugh Acheson
  29. Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It at Home by Andrea Nguyen
  30. Tacopedia by Deborah Holtz, Juan Carlos Mena
  31. The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt


The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I must have attempted to photocopy one quarter of this enormous book. I need to buy a copy. So many vegetarian cookbooks are just lists of vegetables with more vegetables on top (and cheese, if you’re lucky), but this book is overflowing with recipes for actual foods that beg to be lovingly created and eaten with gusto. It’s not often that reading a cookbook – particularly of the encyclopedic and lightly-illustrated kind – makes me hungry, but this one did.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. The lovely Caitlin Doughty, YouTuber, author, mortician, and death advocate (and one of my favorite people on the whole internet) recommended this one. The lessons this doctor learned and passed on in this book about the end of life and end-of-life care will remain with me for a long, long, time. My decisions about my own end-of-life care and advance directive were cemented by this book.

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. I am stingy with my ratings but I gave this book five stars on Goodreads. Five stars! To quote my own review, “Nothing in the back cover blurbs or the synopsis inside the front gave me any indication that this book was going to be gritty and harsh. It’s beautifully told, though without a single unnecessary word, and yet very dark. There was a momentum that was more than just suspenseful which compelled me to drag the book around the house with me to read while I cooked and waited for websites to load because I simply couldn’t stay away from the story even though I feared it would turn on me at any moment. I don’t think I could handle re-reading this book but I’d do some despicable things to be able to write like this!”

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly. I wouldn’t have read this one if I hadn’t been doing a challenge, so even though I abandoned the challenge I’m glad I at least tried it because this was a very fun and engaging read. I don’t read many thrillers, but I’m glad I read this one. The plot twists had me shouting out loud. And yes, this is NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly we’re talking about here. She knows a thing or two about compelling stories.

Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half by Beth Moncel. Another winning cookbook that made a visit to the photocopier with me before I returned it to the library. Does what it says on the tin: cheap food you will really enjoy eating. Two recipes from this cookbook made it into my recipe roundups: Homemade Garlic Freezer Bread and Creamy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas.

Least favorites:

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. Reading this book was a lot of work, on so many levels. It was loooooong. It was boooooring. The timeline (nay, even the very theme) jumped back and forth. This is one of those books some people revere as one of the greatest ever written and which confounds me entirely. Is it me? Is it them? Ugh, who cares. I just want reading to be an enjoyable experience.

Little, Big by John Crowley. Ditto. What a slog. I wrote a whole blog post about what an ass-pain this one was.

Acres and Pains by S. J. Perelman. Another book so bad it got a blog post. After some “jokes” about spousal abuse and blackface I chucked the book back in the library return bin with a sour look.

The Boy From Granite Falls by Brenda Ballard. For my challenge I needed to read a book set in my hometown. Well, I couldn’t find one in the library that was set in the town in which I was born, but I did find this one, set in the town in which I now live. (Secret’s out!) It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read but it wasn’t really great either, so I gave it two stars on Goodreads. Imagine my surprise when I got a comment on my rating. (Who comments on ratings that don’t have reviews?) And imagine my further surprise when that comment was from the author herself, chastising me in a snarky tone. “Two stars? Really?!” On Goodreads, two stars means “it was OK” – which was my honest opinion. Do you suppose that your childish comment would change my mind? “Egads, she’s right! My hand must have slipped! How could I have rated a plot-free 62-page family anecdote as merely OK? Surely it was thrilling! Moving! Something other than a mild disappointment!” So: A) ineffective strategy, B) just plain rude, but, most importantly C) a violation of Goodreads author guidelines. 

What did you read this year? What did you love? What did you hate? Did you set yourself a challenge or a goal? Are you doing a challenge or goal in 2016? (I’m thinking about doing the Book Riot Reader Harder challenge.) Are you on Goodreads? Ya wanna friend me there? (I need friends! You need friends! Reading friends are the best!)

— Amanda


4 thoughts on “2015 reading roundup

  1. Pingback: 2015 in review (CONTAINS PUPPY) | SterlingFink

  2. Pingback: Monthly reading roundup January 2016 | SterlingFink

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