-books of 2015-

A year ago I found an intriguing reading challenge online. It looked like exactly my kind of thing – other than the fact that I was expected to read 50 books (52 including the trilogy) in one year.

That’s a book a week. I’d like to be a person who reads a book a week. Never mind that I failed. I missed a few, but I’m trying to accept failure with dignity and grace. I almost went back into goodreads and changed my personal reading challenge to 45, but that wouldn’t be dignified or gracious, would it? Oh well…

This was a fun challenge. Sometimes I looked up books specifically to fit the category (an author with my initials, a play, a trilogy), sometimes I tweaked (i.e. changed completely) a category – but I mostly picked a book I wanted to read and made it fit somewhere.

Here’s my list, including everything I read and everything I didn’t – and some I’m still reading. I’m including goodreads links to everything I think is worth recommending. If you don’t see a link here, then you didn’t get a recommendation from me.

I would love to be one of those amazing book-reviewing people, but really all I can do is offer my opinion once in a while. Have at it.


  • a book with more than 500 pages – Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer)
  • a classic romance
  • a book that became a movie – Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
  • a book published this year – Kindle The Flame (Tamara Shoemaker) [This is the first in a series, and my daughter is anxiously awaiting #2. For Christmas, I gave one of the kids another book by this author and you should have seen the emotions on my daughter’s face when she saw the name: complete joy when she thought it was a sequel, then despair at realizing it’s a different series and she’ll still have to wait. Practically forever.]
  • a book with a number in the title
  • a book written by someone under thirty – Educating Esme  (Esme Raji Codell) [Read this if you’re a teacher and need something light and humorous that is also thought-provoking and true.]
  • a book with nonhuman characters – New Moon (Stephenie Meyer)
  • a funny book – The Lost Continent (Bill Bryson) [Everyone should read at least one Bill Bryson book in their life. You’ll enjoy him more if you’re a cynical writer kind of person.]
  • a book by a female author – Carry on Warrior (Glennon Doyle Melton) [ This is one of those blogging women who are mysterious to me. How do they find enough to say that they can keep up a blog AND write a book? She kind of reminds me of myself. I can’t help but like her.]
  • a mystery or thriller – Insurgent (Veronica Roth) [I guess it was kind of a thriller… it didn’t fit anywhere else.]
  • a book with a one-word title – Wonder (R.J. Palacio) [My girls and I all enjoyed this book. This one I immediately wanted to recommend to everyone I know, young and old.]
  • a book of short stories (I’m in the middle of Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories) [I hear we should all be reading Flannery O’Connor.]
  • a book set in a different country – Tom’s Midnight Garden (Philippa Pearce)
  • a nonfiction book – The World as I Remember It (Rich Mullins)
  • a popular author’s first book – Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
  • a book you haven’t read from an author you love  – A Pale View of Hills (Kazuo Ishiguro) [Possibly my favorite author.]
  • a book a friend recommended – The Book Shop (Penelope Fitzgerald) [Condensed fiction. Beautiful, spare writing. A tiny book, but not necessarily a quick read.]
  • a Pulitzer Prize-winning book (I’m in the middle of Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex)
  • a book based on a true story – In Cold Blood (Truman Capote) [Great book – but only recommended to people who enjoy true murder stories.]
  • a book at the bottom of your to-read list – Pontoon (Garrison Keillor) [I enjoy Garrison Keillor on the radio. In print, he bores me.]
  • a book your mom loves – [I borrowed Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins from my mom, but haven’t gotten to it yet.]
  • a book that scares you – Asylum (Madeleine Roux) [This isn’t exactly scary, but I don’t do scary.]
  • a book more than 100 years old – Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
  • a book based entirely on its cover – Wild in the Hollow (Amber C. Haines) [An instagram friend posted a picture of this book cover and I went to amazon and ordered it. It was spontaneous, but I didn’t regret it. This was one of those “how did she write out all my thoughts so concisely?” books.]
  • a book you were supposed to read in high school but didn’t – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey) [I read all the books I was assigned in high school. This is one I especially hated, so I decided to give it another try as an adult. It’s a rough and gritty read, but the adjective I always come up with to describe this book is: beautiful.]
  • a memoir – Girl, Interrupted (Susanna Kaysen) [Reminded me of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, but… it wasn’t. It didn’t help that I read this one just 3 months after finishing The Bell Jar. It’s hard for anyone to measure up to that one.]
  • a book you can finish in a day – Fortunately, the Milk (Neil Gaiman)
  • a book with antonyms in the title – Bittersweet (Shauna Niequist)
  • a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit – Sailing Alone Around the Room (Billy Collins) [Technically, this is a book of poetry and not set anywhere, but I would love to visit the inside of Billy Collins’ head. He’s my poetry Yoda.)
  • a book that you read with a friend – Wise Blood (Flannery O’Connor)
  • a book with bad reviews – Looking For Alaska (John Green) [The only bad review I took into account here was mine. HATED this book.]
  • a trilogy – The Singer, The Song, The Finale (Calvin Miller) [I loved the first book, liked the second one, got a little bored with the third. Because: the setting of the first book was obvious and the writing style made the story feel new again and magical; the setting for the second book was a little more obscure; the third book is based on future/prophetic events which always lose me.]
  • a book from your childhood
  • a book with a love triangle – Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh) [I think I may have started this book at the beginning again as soon as I finished it. The first time through I just enjoyed it; I wanted to read it a second time to understand it better. But… when you’re in the middle of trying to read 52 books in a year, you don’t get very far in an immediate reread.]
  • a book set in the future – Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) [This was a free download from somewhere that I expected to get bored with. Wrong. This was well written and hard to put down.]
  • a book set in high school – A Separate Peace (John Knowles) [One of my favorite books. This was a reread. I seem to love gloomy, depressing books with splashes of joy and beauty thrown in.]
  • a book with a color in the title – Everblue (Brenda Pandos) [This is the beginning of a series that you might love if you’re into mermaids and modern day fantasy.]
  • a book that made you cry – Allegiant (Veronica Roth) [How do I say this without giving any spoilers… I loved the ending of this book. I’ve waited my entire life for a book written in first person narrative to end like this. Good job, Veronica.]
  • a book with magic – Stardust (Neil Gaiman) [There were a few moments in this book that keep me from wholeheartedly recommending it to anyone and everyone, but if you’re already a Neil Gaiman fan, this will charm you. Or something.]
  • a novel written for children’s – The Enchanted Castle (E. Nesbit) [She wrote one of my favorite children’s novels The Railway Children – I ran across a couple of her other books and decided to give them a try.]
  • a book by an author you’ve never read before – Crazy (Linda Vigen Phillips) [One of those fantastic poem-novels.]
  • a book you own but have never read – The Road (Cormac McCarthy) [Another dark, but rewarding read. Out of all the dystopian fiction I’ve read, this is the best. It’s scary-realistic and not at all flashy – meaning: this is the book that people won’t read. This book will not make you happy.]
  • a book that takes place in your hometown – Soul Survivor (Tamara Shoemaker) [The author is a friend of mine, and this was set in Asheville, NC where I grew up. Win-win.]
  • a book that was originally written in a different language
  • a book of poetry – A Night Without Armor (Jewel) [I don’t know if this is “good” poetry, but it’s the kind of poetry that I like.]
  • a book written by an author with your same initials – Unlocked (Ryan VanCleave)
  • a play – A Doll’s House (Henrik Ibsen)
  • a banned book – Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) [If you’re reading a banned book, you might as well go for the grand-daddy of them all. I wouldn’t call this an enjoyable read, but I was impressed.)
  • a book based on or turned into a TV show – Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin) [Another one of those that I don’t recommend unless you’re already considering it and know what you’re getting into. The writing, the characters, the plot – they’re all fantastic. There’s just a lot of “stuff” in there. I don’t want my children reading these books any time soon. I’d like to finish the series, but I’m not sure I want to invest that much of my life into the rest of the books. They’re huge.]
  • a book you started but never finished – The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde) [How did this book not suck me in the first time I tried it?! If you’ve ever wanted to climb inside a classic novel and you enjoy crime fiction, this is the book for you. And it’s only the first in the series. More fun to come!]

About ruthie.voth

Wife of one, mother of four, friend of many. Lover of details, color, good conversations, finding balance, and being honest. Passionate lover of a well-crafted sentence - even more so if it's witty. Weird blend of cynical optimist. I'm the worst kind of woman. I'm high maintenance, but I think I'm low maintenance. Somehow, people still love me. Must be grace.
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4 Responses to -books of 2015-

  1. You read so much, that’s awesome! Great job and good luck in 2016!


  2. Marcus says:

    I just looked and they have a new one for 2016 already. Looks like fun – maybe I can check off 50% of them this year. 🙂



    • jamahu says:

      After looking closer, there are only 40(+1) books this time, so I guess they decided a book a week was a little too aggressive?


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