End of Year Book Survey

[Our 2015 In Books – Part One of Two] A GatheringBooks List of Outstanding Reads

Myra, Iphigene, and Fats here.

GatheringBooks officially greets you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016!! Sparkles, glitters, and starshine, people!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

For the past two years, it has been our tradition to join the End of Year Book Survey hosted by Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner. Since there are three of us answering the book survey, we thought it best to colour code our responses, as per usual. This is the first part of our End-of-Year special.

Purple for Myra

Blue for Iphigene

Orange for Fats

2015-end-of-year-book-survey-1024x984-900x865

best-YA-books-2014-900x244

Best Book(s) You Read In 2015? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

MYRA

For adult fiction, it will have to be A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan.

For novel-in-verse and poetry anthologies, it’s a tie between Mary Oliver’s Blue Horses and Margarita Engle’s Enchanted Air.

For graphic novels, my absolute favourites would be The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew, and The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders. A Story Lived, Photographed and Told by: Didier Lefèvre Written and Drawn by: Emmanuel Guibert Laid Out and Colored by: Frédéric Lemercier Translated from the French by: Alexis Siegel.

For middle grade/YA fiction, it’s a toss between A Song For Ella Grey by David Almond and I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson:

The fiction picturebook category is quite tough since I’ve read so many, but here are my top two for the heavy-themed ones:

One Minute’s Silence by David Metzenthen and illustrations by Michael Camilleri, and Why War Is Never A Good Idea by Alice Walker and illustrations by Stefano Vitale.

I will have to refrain from sharing a few of my other fiction picture book favourites as it would conflict with my being the second round judge for the CYBILS 2015. 

For Nonfiction picturebook, my top three are the following:

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions Of Trees by Franck Prévot and Illustrated by Aurélia Fronty, Enormous Smallness: A Story of EE Cummings by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Kris DiGiacomo, and Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez.

FATS

Yay for the cheat, because I could not pick a single book! Here are my best books broken down into genres:

Picture Book

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/11/30/monday-reading-little-mouse-in-flight-and-little-boy-on-the-high-seas-adventure-stories-by-torben-kuhlmann-and-philip-c-stead/

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann

Young Adult

Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Adult Non-Fiction

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Things I’ve Learned from Dying: A Book About Life by David R. Dow

IPHIGENE

Here is mine:

dialogues

Dialogues with Silence: Prayers and Drawings by Thomas Merton

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

MYRA

Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic was a horrible disappointment – my eyes were glazing over in absolute boredom as I read the novel. I hope the rest of the novels in the Discworld Series would be more riveting and engaging than this one.

FATS

I was excited to read Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History but it was quite a bumpy ride. Lots of historical information so it literally was all over the place! Nevertheless, I struggled even more reading Daniel Handler’s We Are Pirates. Maybe I just don’t like his writing style.

IPHIGENE

The Stranger by Albert Camus.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

MYRA

I was pleasantly surprised by the twist in this alphabet book: Alphabetabum – An Album Of Rare Photographs And Medium Verses from A to Z by Chris Raschka and Collection of Rare Photos and Essay by Vladimir Radunsky. I always love picturebooks that manage to surprise me.

FATS

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater – in a good way!

IPHIGENE

Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson (I unexpectedly liked it).

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

MYRA

I have three book clubs here in Singapore, so it’s fairly easy to push people to read something. One book that I needed to discuss with a really good group is Joe Sacco’s Palestine which I am glad our book club in my institution discussed.

Most memorable character of 2015?

MYRA

I love Guillermo from Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun. But I think it would take me awhile to forget Jude from A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I also enjoyed the spunk of Astrid in Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

FATS

I adored Nimona from Nimona. She’s a shapeshifter and she loves SHAAAARKS! Audrey in Finding Audrey is unique and quite impossible to forget.

IPHIGENE

puddlejumping

Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson

Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

IPHIGENE

IMG_3624

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

MYRA

I really am glad that I finally started reading Lockwood and Company by Jonathan Stroud. His first book in the series The Screaming Staircase did it for me.

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/12/14/monday-reading-ghosts-and-wraiths-heists-and-hauntings-in-leigh-bardugos-six-of-crows-and-jonathan-strouds-the-screaming-staircase/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/12/14/monday-reading-ghosts-and-wraiths-heists-and-hauntings-in-leigh-bardugos-six-of-crows-and-jonathan-strouds-the-screaming-staircase/

Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

IPHIGENE

Shaun David Hutchinson

MYRA

There are quite a few for me, but I would most likely just limit this to Victoria Jamieson (of Roller Girl) and Hanya Yanagihara (of A Little Life).

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

IPHIGENE

THEBRIDE

The Bride by Julie Garwood. Romance Novels. I dabbled with Book Riot’s Reading Challenge and this was on one of those books you needed to read.

MYRA

This will be Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything which I had to read for our book club. 

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/07/11/saturday-reads-gatheringreaders/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/07/11/saturday-reads-gatheringreaders/

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

IPHIGENE

IMG_9898

Tinder by Sally Gardner

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

IPHIGENE

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh.

MYRA

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith.

Most memorable character of 2015?

adam

IPHIGENE

Andrew Brawley from The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley: A Novel by Shaun David Hutchinson.

MYRA

Noah and Jude from I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson.

Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

MYRA

It is a tie between The Marvels by Brian Selznick for me (again his vision, compelling storyline, and art are exquisite) and the magnum opus In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way (A Graphic Novel) Written by: Marcel Proust Adaptation and Drawings by: Stéphane Heuet Translated by: Arthur Goldhammer.

FATS

I’ve read quite a few beautifully written books this year. I would go for Puddle Jumping and Essex County.

IPHIGENE

dialogues

Dialogues with Silence: Prayers and Drawings by Thomas Merton

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

MYRA

I will have to say that anything written by Joe Sacco is thought-provoking and alters my understanding of the universe a bit. I read his Journalism which again, blew my mind.

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/10/10/saturday-reads-5/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/10/10/saturday-reads-5/

IPHIGENE

DISCERNMENT

Discernment by Henri Nouwen

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

MYRA

The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. It took me awhile to find all the books in the series – but I have to say that it’s still well worth the wait. I just read Death a few months ago, after buying and finding it in Perth.

FATS

Those books would be Einstein’s Dreams, Quiet, and The Big Orange Splot.

IPHIGENE

The Thief by Megan Whaler Turner

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

MYRA

 This one is from In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way – Graphic Novel Adaptation:

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/11/19/the-ultimate-mystery-of-love-and-memory-in-prousts-in-search-of-lost-time-swanns-way-a-graphic-novel-adaptation/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/11/19/the-ultimate-mystery-of-love-and-memory-in-prousts-in-search-of-lost-time-swanns-way-a-graphic-novel-adaptation/

FATS

From Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella:

“I’ve been thinking a lot about everything. And I guess Mum was right about the jagged graphs thing. We’re all on one. Even Frank. Even Mum. Even Felix. I think that what I’ve realized is, life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn’t matter if you slip down. As long as you’re kind of heading more or less upwards. That’s all you can hope for. More or less upwards.” – p. 284

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

MYRA

Longest for me would be A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara while the shortest is Be Water My Friend: The Early Years of Bruce Lee by Ken Mochizuki illustrated by Dom Lee.

Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

MYRA

I don’t think of myself as easily shocked when it comes to books, but The Girl In Red by Aaron Frisch and illustrated by Roberto Innocenti was quite disturbing. I will share this in the coming weeks for our upcoming reading theme.

Layout 1

Then there’s Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch rightly referred to as the Sweeney Todd for young readers.

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OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) (OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

MYRA

Most of my OTPs are coming from graphic novels – as the middle grade/YA novels are just way too explicit and too out-there for me.

I was taken by Kamala and Bruno in Ms. Marvel – this is one of those stories where the guy is forever being friendzoned for being the all around nice guy, but I really do like Bruno for Kamala.

And I also ship Hank and the daughter of Ten Grand in The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew:

FATS

Oooooh, this one goes to Audrey ♥ Linus from Finding Audrey!!!

image via

audreylinus

Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

FATS

I would go for Nimona and Ballister Blackheart from Nimona. Quite an unlikely pair but they work well together!

nimona3

Favourite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

MYRA

It has been awhile since I’ve read Jonathan Stroud’s The Bartimaeus Trilogy and I have been seeing his newest Lockwood and Co. series receiving much love. Am I glad that I used our current mystereadventure theme to binge-read this series which I enjoyed tremendously:

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/11/22/bhe-186-mystereadventure-themed-novels-and-more/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/11/22/bhe-186-mystereadventure-themed-novels-and-more/

FATS

Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean and Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

MYRA 

This book came highly recommended by one of our book club members at Saturday Night Out for Book-Geeks – and I am so glad this book finally found me this year: Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.

IMG_0966

FATS

Puddle Jumping was recommended to me by Iphigene, and Ms. Marvel was recommended to me by my friend and co-worker, Sumney.

kamala

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

MYRA

It will have to be Matthias from Six Of Crows. I love his Nordic physique – let’s just conveniently forget the fact that he’s a Grisha-hating, prejudiced, bigoted soldier. Besides he did have a turnaround in the end:

Found this in a Pinterest/Tumblr site - click on the image to be taken to the websource.
Found this in a Pinterest/Tumblr site – click on the image to be taken to the websource.

FATS

That’s Linus for me! He was so adorable in Finding Audrey! ♥♥♥

Best 2015 debut you read?

MYRA

It would still be Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/09/07/monday-reading-baby-sitters-and-roller-girls-cool-girls-in-middle-grade-graphic-novels/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/09/07/monday-reading-baby-sitters-and-roller-girls-cool-girls-in-middle-grade-graphic-novels/

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

MYRA

I was especially taken by Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona which was a truly awesome read.

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/10/12/monday-reading-monstrous-awkwardness-of-tweendom-captured-in-middle-grade-novels-awkward-and-nimona/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/10/12/monday-reading-monstrous-awkwardness-of-tweendom-captured-in-middle-grade-novels-awkward-and-nimona/

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

MYRA

I had a lot of fun reading the Lockwood and Company series by Jonathan Stroud – lots of laugh-out-loud moments for me. The man is a genius when it comes to writing.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

MYRA

A Little Life made me sob out loud. Deep, wracking sobs that seem to permeate my bones. Yet despite the unrelenting sadness that never seems to let up – there is light, too. And beauty. So much beauty, it radiates out of the pain, despite itself.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

MYRA

I was very happy to have had the opportunity to hear Sarah Kay in action at the Singapore American School. After attending her spoken word poetry with Phil Kaye, I bought her No Matter the Wreckage straightaway. It remains one of my go-to poetry collection. I regard this as my hidden gem of the year.

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FATS

Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean by Sarah Stewart Taylor and Ben Towle

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volumes 1-3 by hitRECord

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

MYRA

This would be Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything which we read for my book club in my institution:

And Joe Sacco’s Journalism.

https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/10/10/saturday-reads-5/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2015/10/10/saturday-reads-5/

Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

MYRA

While there are quite a few, let me zero in on Maira Kalman’s And The Pursuit of Happinessbecause I heart Maira.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

MYRA

This book made me alternate between sadness over such a senseless tragedy (I wept while reading the first few pages) and utter bafflement at the amount of hatred that people have in their bones for those who do not fit into society’s expected mould: October Mourning – A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman.

october

IPHIGENE

THESTRANGER

The Stranger by Albert Camus.

Do watch out for Part Two of our Bookish Round Up Post for 2015 where we will break down the books we’ve read for this year, take stock of our reading challenges, and plan our reading life for the coming year. Merry Christmas, everyone!

4 comments on “[Our 2015 In Books – Part One of Two] A GatheringBooks List of Outstanding Reads

  1. I really liked I’ll Give You the Sun so I’m glad to see it on your list! 🙂
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    Like

  2. Pingback: [Our 2015 In Books – Part Two of Two] Reading Stats, Blogging Life, and Looking Ahead | Gathering Books

  3. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Best Books Read in 2016 from the GatheringBooks Ladies (1 of 2) – Gathering Books

  4. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Reading Stats and Best Books from GatheringBooks’ 2016 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

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