According to the list I've compiled all year on Pinterest, I've read 33 books this year. I'm going to say 35, because I'm more than halfway through 2 more and should finish them this weekend. To the world at large that's probably not a lot, but it's ten more than last year, so I feel good about it. I work full time, am a parent and wife, and write and market my books in the evenings and on the weekends. So, as much as I love reading, I really only get to read on my lunch breaks, while sitting in my car waiting to pick up my daughter after school events, and at bedtime. It takes me a while to get through even a short book, unfortunately.
During my commute, I'm an avid listener to NPR, but during my summer vacation, my husband and I picked up a copy of Holes on audiobook for our drive. I've been addicted to audiobooks ever since, and that has seriously helped me get through my TBR list.
I've made a vow to read more books by indie authors I've met online, local authors, and fellow Fire and Ice YA Book authors - trying to be supportive. However, this means that I miss out on some of the bigger titles. The audiobooks have helped me catch up on a few of those, although I can't seem to ever get my hands on The Diviners by Libba Bray. Someone always has it checked out.
Here's my list of favorite books I read this year:
Book That Made Me the Happiest and Smile the Whole Time: Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle. This is seriously the cutest MG book I've read in a long time. I'm a theater gal, and all the references to musicals (that they cuss by using the titles of failed musicals, OMG!) just made me giggle. Plus, I listened to the author read this to me in my car, and his voice was way better than my inner voice would have ever been. Love, love, love this book.
Best Big Publisher Book of the Year: The Raven Boys (and the 2 sequels) by Maggie Stiefvater. I loved these so much I gave them to my bookworm nephew for Christmas. Great characters. Great fantasy. Had me on the edge of my seat, literally (as I was driving as I listened to them) the whole time. The audiobooks were narrated by Will Patton (Falling Skies), and I loved how he did all the character voices. Great acting.
Best Small Publisher Book of the Year: Isabella's Libretto by Kimberly Cross Teter. You probably haven't heard of this book. It's a beautiful historical novel about the girls that played Antonio Vivaldi's music in an orphanage for girls in Venice, Italy in the 1700s. It's a great story about friendship and perseverance. Perfect for any teen who loves music. I adore this book and want you all to discover it.
Best Indie (self-pubbed) Book of the Year: Sticks and Stones by Shawn McGuire. This is the beginning of what is so far a 4 book series about a genie who rather unwillingly helps teens with their wishes. It was charming and very well told. I am eager to read more of these books. Plus, the covers are absolutely gorgeous.
Best OLD Book of the Year: Few of the books I read this year were published in 2015, but there are some older books, award-winning books that I've been meaning to read for some time. Of the small number of these I got to this year, Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian takes the cake. I didn't love it at first, but by the end I didn't want to let it go. What a stunning and sometimes heartbreaking story. I see now why it's so popular, banned, and important. I highly recommend you take some time to read it if you haven't yet.
Best Grown-Up Book of the Year: I write YA and MG, so surprise, surprise I mostly read YA and MG. I try to sneak in a grown-up book once in a while. My mom recommended I read Nicholas Sparks's The Longest Ride because it had some elements that are in my own book Passing Notes (like love letters and multi-generational storylines). Well, Sparks never disappoints. The book was very moving and made me cry. The movie is disappointing, though. Skip it and just read the book.
Best Book from Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (besides my own, of course, wink wink): I read several books from my own publisher this year. They are all pretty solid YA books. My favorite so far was Swimming Alone by Nina Mansfield. I think it is also the book I read the fastest all year. It is a pure mystery with all the red herrings it could hold. I loved the flow and setting and found it to be a very fun read.
Best Short Book of the Year: The Blue-Haired Boy by Courtney Stevens. This was a companion novella to go along with Faking Normal, her successful YA problem novel. Faking Normal is good and deserves all its praise, but I liked the novella better. It's a delicious little prequel featuring my favorite character from the novel and an encounter he has on a long bus ride. It's inexpensive and you don't have to have read the novel to enjoy it.
So, there you have it. My list. I have half a dozen books on my Kindle still to read and a stack of books I got from various print book events I attended last year still to get through. Everyone keeps publishing more books, so I will never, ever catch up. I hope you enjoyed my little round-up. Would love to hear what you enjoyed reading this year, so please leave a comment.
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.