Top 5 Books Discovered Through My 2015 Reading Challenge

*I was intending to add pictures of the book cover to each option, however WordPress is giving me a hard time for no apparent reason. For now, I’ve linked to the GoodReads page for each book instead.

For me, part of the fun of doing a reading challenge is pushing myself to try new books. Some are books that have been on my TBR list literally for years, while others were discovered through a combination of Youtube videos and browsing through GoodReads. On that note, I’ve been having a lot of trouble finding recent recommendation videos on Youtube so if anyone knows of any, please feel free to let me know!

In 2015, I was surprised to find that some of the prompts I was least looking forward to ended up giving me some of my favourite books of the year! Out of the 52 books I read, there were quite a few that I would highly recommend. For the purpose of this list, I am excluding any books that were re-reads, and for the sake of avoiding too much repetition, I’m doing my best to avoid books already recommended in previous posts. Here are the top 5 books I would recommend that I read in 2015 (in no particular order):

1) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan 

I read this book as “a book that came out the year you were born,” which was a category that I had a lot of difficulty finding options for. There were only a handful of books that interested me, and this one was by far the most intriguing. It focuses on four mother-daughter pairs and their lives, both in the past and present. I really enjoyed this book and how well-developed all of the characters were. It was a book that captivated me from the start.

2) Defending Jacob by William Landay 

This was probably the single most memorable book that I read in 2015, and it was another that came from a category that I was not looking forward to. The prompt was “a book your mom loves.” My mom is an avid reader, but our tastes are not always so similar. She’s read many books but had trouble choosing one that she really loved, that she thought I would also enjoy. The book is about a teenage boy who is accused of killing a classmate, and his parents’ conflicting views of whether their son is guilty. Although it became a little slow at times, I thought it was an excellent story and it had some truly haunting moments.

3) Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I read this book for a tough prompt – “a book with antonyms in the title.” This was one of the rare occasions where I read two books by the same author for the same challenge, and this was by far the one I liked better.  It’s about the interactions between three families who all have children attending the same school. Early on in the book, we learn that something big happened at a Triva Night event at the school, and we are left to try and figure out what happened and who was responsible. I thought it was a very compelling book and I was very surprised by the ending! I’ve read a few of Liane Moriarty’s books by now and this is still my favourite.

4) Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I read this as “a popular author’s first book” because I had heard so much about it, and was very interested in seeing the movie. The book is about a woman who has early-onset Alzheimer’s and the impact is has on her life and her family. I thought it was a very well-written book, and quite a realistic look at Alzheimer’s. Having a family member with the disease myself, it was quite difficult to read in places. I devoured this book while on a train ride, and could not put it down!

5) Odd Duck by Cecil Casttellucci (author) and Sara Varon (illustrator)

I read this book as “a book with nonhuman characters,” and I was very impressed. In general, I try not to read picture books for my challenges (as opposed to graphic novels, which I have no problem including) because they seem like a bit of a cheat. However, this was another book that my mom highly recommended after discovering it at our local library. It is about two ducks who become friends, one of whom seems normal and the other seems very strange. The book is about how normal is relative, and the importance of individuality. I thought it was a very well-done book with an excellent message.

Honourable Mentions:

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