One of the things I’m most thankful for this year is the gift of reading. I fell in love with reading again after being apart from it for so long, and it’s been amazing. I’ve read some great books this year, and I can’t wait to see what amazing things I’m able to read in the years to come.
I didn’t really get into reading until halfway through the year, but dang I made up for lost time by reading some of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It’s hard to put any of these in any type of order, but here’s me trying!
6. The More of Less by Joshua Becker
I was planning on only talking about my top 5 books of the year, but I had to include this one. This is a book that changed my life in ways other books cannot.
I found a video of Joshua Becker on YouTube, speaking at a church about this thing called “minimalism”. I’d heard of this before, but the video really opened my eyes to what it is and what it means to be a minimalist. I had to read his book, so I asked my mom to buy it for me for my birthday and read it outside in the sun during finals week in the spring.
This book changed my perspective on so many things in my life. It opened my eyes to the STUFF I owned, and how most of it was just clutter. It made me realize that owning things doesn’t make me happy, and it never will no matter how much I want it to. It introduced me Bible passages I’ve read a hundred times, but in ways I’ve never seen them. As soon as I finished this book- who am I kidding, when I finished the first chapter- I started decluttering my room and closet and got rid of a bunch of stuff I don’t need, and I feel a lot better because of it. I plan on writing some blog posts about minimalism in the coming year, but for now I’ll leave you with this: read this book.
5. Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
This was one of the last books I read this year, but it was so fun! It’s hard for me to find an adult book that I find super interesting, but when I first read the description of this one, I was pumped to see that my library had it.
Swear on this Life follows Emiline, a 27-year-old who feels stuck in her life with her boyfriend of 7 years and her going-nowhere writing career, if you can even call it that. When her best friend insists she reads a new bestseller by a mysterious debut author, Emi figures she can use the escape in a good book. What she finds, instead, is her own dark and painful childhood written out in front of her. The author, she quickly realizes, is her childhood best friend and first love, Jase, who has written the tragic and romantic story from her point of view.
I was entranced by this story from the beginning. Half the book follows Emiline’s path of self-reflection and forgiveness, and the other half is the book Jase wrote (you read it along with her). Her childhood is heartbreaking, but the bond between the characters is mesmerizing. I really enjoyed this story, and it definitely deserved a spot in my top 5 this year.
4. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
I really enjoyed this story. It drew me in from the beginning and is still holding onto me, even though I finished it so many weeks ago.
It’s about a high school girl named Alex, who has schizophrenia. She transfers to a new school at the beginning of the year, where she meets a boy- who she either hates or likes, she can’t decide- and makes friends, all while trying to keep her mental illness to herself. As you read it, you never know what’s real and what’s a hallucination, just like Alex. It’s really interesting and kept me guessing the whole time, and there was a plot twist I won’t say much more about, other than the fact that I still think about it.
I don’t know much about schizophrenia, so I’m not sure how accurate this portrayal is, but it was really interesting to read about. I also like how her mental illness isn’t written as just a “cute little quirk”- it’s a real issue. Also, I really liked learning that the author was only 22 when this book was published, and she worked on writing it all through high school and college. Very inspiring!
3. The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
I read the Percy Jackson series when I was younger, but never got around to reading the spin-off series, The Heroes of Olympus. I finally decided to give it a try this summer, because Shane had copies of all the books, and dang, Riordan does not only write for kids. These books helped me fall in love with reading again, and I loved flying through them. I got super into the characters- the new and the old- and the plot and I just really loved everything about the five books in the series. I think The House of Hades was my favorite, I couldn’t put it down. Uncle Rick has done it again.
2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I wrote a whole blog post about my experience reading through these books for the first time, but wow I really enjoyed them. I love the characters and the world that JK Rowling built, and it was a much needed fantasy to fall into and get lost in for a while. It isn’t just about wizards and dark magic, but it’s about loyalty and love and finding yourself. Sacrifice. Friendship. All the things the world needs a little more of.
If you’re like me and very far behind the Harry Potter bandwagon, I encourage you to hop on and start reading. You won’t regret it.
1. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Hands down, this is the best book I read all year. Honestly, as soon as I finished it, it shot right up to the #1 place in my heart for books I’ve read my entire life. I don’t think anything will ever surpass it.
It centers on a plague/disease that kills 99.9% of the world’s population. The book talks about life before, during, and after the epidemic. It follows a girl named Kirsten who is part of a traveling symphony that goes around to the few communities that are left and performs Shakespeare.
Everything about this book- the story, the characters, the nonlinear structure, the way everything fits together perfectly- had me swooning the entire time I was reading. I’m not even kidding, I had to just stop and stare at a couple pages because they were written so beautifully, they made me speechless.
I can’t stop recommending this book to people and I think everyone who knows how to read should give this a try. It’s the most beautiful story I’ve ever read.