Tuesday, January 5

2015 End of Year Book Survey

I really enjoyed participating in Jamie's end-of-year book survey last year, and was really excited when I saw that she was doing it again for 2015. Without further ado, here's my 2015 reading life.

2015 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 40
Number of Re-Reads: Not sure - I didn't keep track this year! 
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy, most of which were young adult, with Historical Fiction close behind.

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Best In Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2015? The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey really blew me away; it was a unique take on a really popular post-apocalyptic theme and Carey imbued the story with humanity throughout - even though the main character wasn't exactly human.

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Paper Towns by John Green (unpopular opinion, but it just didn't do it for me).

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? I was on the launch team for Rachel Held Evan's Searching for Sunday, so hopefully some people read it based on my recommendations! I also got a lot of eighth grade girls into the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, got a lot of boys into Gary Paulsen's books, and convinced several brave souls to read The Book Thief.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? I'm going to go ahead and say the Throne of Glass series is already amazing!
Best Sequel of 2015? Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (3rd book in the Outlander series)
Best Series Ender of 2015? Winter by Marissa Meyer

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015? Eric Lindstrom - he did so well writing from the perspective of a blind teenage girl that I was pretty blown away when I remembered that the author was a sighted man. His writing style reminds me of Laurie Halse Anderson's - sarcastic, raw, but full of heart.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Mike Lupica's Hero was one I read solely because I needed more "boy books" to recommend in the classroom. Most of Lupica's books are about sports, so I've never read a single one! Hero was much more approachable to me because it's fantasy, and it's one I recommend to my Percy Jackson fans who have already read all of Rick Riordan's books.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? I'm pretty sure I read Megan Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter in close to one sitting, even though since it was a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau I knew what was coming.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? I think I will want to reread Maggie Stiefvater's Blue Lily, Lily Blue before The Raven King is released this year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015? Fairest by Marissa Meyer had a perfect cover - it was so mysterious and sinister looking!

11. Most memorable character of 2015? Probably Offred from The Handmaid's Tale - the book is so set in her head. The experience of reading the book gave me a very claustrophobic, paranoid feeling, just like her life.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015? The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble is so unique and lovely, like a book from another era almost. I think the world needs more fantasy set in non-urban areas of America, and this one being set in the 1800's gave it extra charm. The closest thing I've read to it before is probably Savvy by Ingrid Law.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015? Don't mock me for this answer - Ronda Rousey's memoir My Fight, Your Fight was actually really inspiring to me. Rousey had her life turned upside down as a child when her father died, was pressured to succeed in a sport in which her talent was never really rewarded, and really hit rock bottom before rising to the top of the UFC. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? Graceling by Kristin Cashore - it's been out since 2008 and it's SO GOOD!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015? Aside from all Chapter 26 of Blue Lily, Lily Blue being one of the most perfect examples of unresolved romantic tension ever, I loved this quote from earlier in the book because it is so, so true to my own experience:
Blue had discovered that there were two distinct stereotypes for the rural population of her part of Virginia: the neighbors who loaned one another cups of sugar and knew everything about everyone, and the rednecks who stood on their porches with shotguns and shouted racist things when they got drunk. Because she grew up so thoroughly entrenched in the first group, she hadn't believed in the second group until well into her teens. School had taught her that the two kinds were almost never born into the same litter."
16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks - 220 pages
Longest: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon - 870 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy - I'd never seen the movie and didn't really know anything about the plot of the book except that it was set near Charleston, and the dark family secret that was alluded to throughout the story was much darker than anything I'd imagined.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): Caelena and Chaol from Throne of Glass, although I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen (no spoilers, please!).

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Parker and all of her friends in Not If I See You First - there were so many different types of adolescent relationships represented in this book, and I loved it - the childhood crush, the longtime and sometimes taken for granted best friend, the friend who moves to another clique, the girl who hates you just because.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: This one's a toss-up between Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Voyager, and Winter.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: I'd seen Throne of Glass recommended by a TON of book bloggers, and I'm glad I got on board!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015? Going to have to go with Chaol Westfall from Throne of Glass - I pretty much swoon every time his concern for Caelena becomes obvious.

23. Best 2015 debut you read? Not If I See You First really has me looking forward to more from Eric Lindstrom.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? As I mentioned in my December Literary Junkies post, there was something cinematic about The Girl with All the Gifts for me - not only because post-apocalyptic settings are so common these days, but because of Carey's deft descriptions.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? Winter - I think any time the Rampion crew is involved, things are going to be fun.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015? I'm a sap, so there's definitely more than one. The books that gave me the most feels were The Girl with All the Gifts and Kate DiCamillo's Flora and Ulysses - so, a sci-fi thriller and a book about a girl and her talking squirrel. I probably have some sort of undiscovered hormonal imbalance.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? Still Life by Christa Parrish - this contemporary novel about two women whose lives are changed by a tragic plane crash had a lot going on, but was very compelling and believable. One of the main characters has left a conservative religious community, which reminded me of the German Baptists who live near me, to marry her husband, a famous photographer, and when he is killed in the plane crash she doesn't really know how to survive everyday life. Meanwhile, the woman who gave up her seat on the plane to the photographer is dealing with a life that's falling apart around her and a son she doesn't connect to. They both have to be brave and take charge of their lives to move on.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi was a really powerful read - the soul-crushing element was how often elements of the Cultural Revolution in Iran felt familiar and way too much like America in 2015, from women's rights being challenged to college students objecting to "i. 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015? The One and Only Ivan by Katerine Applegate, which was a Newbery medalist and recommended by a co-worker. Should I make reading at least one book with an animal narrator every year a Thing?

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? Paper Towns - the ending was so anticlimactic, which I guess was the point, but I am 100% not a fan of Margo Roth Spiegelman.
Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?  One of my favorite people in the blog world, Angie from My So-Called Chaos, started a new book blog called Page à Vu with Kenzie and Beth. So far, they've reviewed a good mix of YA, chick lit, literary fiction, memoir, and more.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015? Definitely my review of Rachel Held Evans' Searching for Sunday - reading the book forced me to reflect on my own reasons for distancing myself from the mainline evangelical church over the past few years, why "megachurches" turn me off, and what I really want to find (or nourish) in a faith community.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? Some fun discussions with readers came out of my fall TV preview post - I'll be doing another one soon since winter premieres are starting!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? The Female Geek Bloggers Community and #5FandomFriday tag have really been fun this year and I look forward to more geeky awesomeness in 2016 with this wonderful group of women who aren't afraid to be their authentic selves online and in real life.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015? Being selected to serve on the launch team for Searching for Sunday was really cool - I'd been a longtime reader of Rachel Held Evans' blog, and loved her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood, but as a member of the launch team I got to be part of a community of like-minded Christians and talk to Rachel herself about Christianity in general, the sacraments, church culture and more.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? I dealt with a bout of depression this fall that was the worst I'd dealt with for a while, and it stifled my creativity in addition to simply zapping any energy that I normally would have had to read and write. Don't worry, though - I went to the doctor and am now on the mend. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to really write about the whole thing instead of just making vague references here and there.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? The most popular post on Beyond the Aisle in general was an inspiration post about restaurant weddings, which I suppose means I haven't lost my original audience. The most popular book-related post was my July Literary Junkies post, and it was one of my favorites as well. I definitely feel like I'm being truer to myself the more I write about reading on the blog!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? I'm still really proud of my Agent Carter Halloween costume, and now that I've reflected on my to-be-read pile, I'd like to hear about everyone else's, too.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I finally signed up for my library's e-book program, which is called Overdrive. There are so many good books available!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I completed my Goodreads challenge to read 40 books, but totally failed at the goal I set with my students for the fall semester, when I pledged to read more nonfiction. Anyone have any good nonfiction recommendations?

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016? Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling - Mr. Q got it for me for Christmas!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)? Summerlost by Ally Condie - it's middle grade and realistic fiction, so I'm sure it will be very different from her YA sci-fi series Matched, which I loved, but I can't wait to read it.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie sounds really - here's the blurb from Goodreads:

Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. One mistake, one small failure, will cost her own life and the lives of the few people left in the world who still trust her.

But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, her feelings easily usurped, and she sometimes can’t decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

BURNING GLASS is debut author Kathryn Purdie’s stunning tale of dangerous magic, heart-rending romance, and the hard-won courage it takes to let go.
4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016? The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm pretty sure Gansey is going to die, but I'm hoping it somehow won't be permanent because of some sort of Cabeswater magic? I know Maggie will make it work.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016? I'd like to post at least one book review every month - it's something I tend to procrastinate on because it sometimes feels like a chore, but I know that reading with the intention of writing book reviews makes me a more conscious reader and maybe a stronger writer.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read and Recommend To Everyone: I haven't read any new releases yet, but an ARC of Debbie Maycomber's A Girl's Guide to Moving On from NetGalley is currently very high on my TBR pile!

If you complete Jamie's survey, please share your link in the comments!


  1. 40 books?! Way to go, babe! That's awesome- one of my 2016 goals is to read more; I used to be an avid reader and fell out of the habit. I miss settling down with a good book!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  2. "Paper Towns" didn't do much for me either. It was actually sort of a letdown after "The Fault in Our Stars."