Well, I didn't come any where close to completing my list from last January. I knew it was overly ambitious when I made it, but I didn't realize I would fall so spectacularly short. I read plenty of other books that weren't on the list to begin with, but mostly I slacked on all the nonfiction I had planned to read and (quite predictably) subbed in various kinds of fiction instead.
So here's what I read in 2015.
The Shadow of His Wings--Fr. Gereon Goldmann
This may win the award for best book I read all year. Talk about life not going according to your own plans. This is an incredible autobiographical account of a young German seminarian who was drafted into the SS at the beginning of WWII. I think I teared up at least once per chapter at the beautiful story of faith and sacrifice. Even beyond the amazing events of Fr. Goldmann’s experience in the war, it was fascinating to read about the war from the point of view of a German soldier who was utterly opposed to the Nazis. And then what he does with his life after the war left me even more amazed (but no spoilers…). I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church--Benedict XVI
Compiled from homilies, so it is very accessible and short (for BXVI... put another way, it is only the second book of his I've ever actually finished, although I've started at least half a dozen).
Whole Body Barefoot--Katy Bowman
Humorous, accessible info about body mechanics and how to safely transition to minimal footwear. This book and all the amazing info on Katy's blog helped me through pregnancy with minimal back pain and fewer postpartum issues this time around than the last two!
(I accidentally went off on a serious British mystery kick last year... and it is most certainly continuing into 2016.)
Two For Sorrow--Nicola Upson
I was looking for Josephine Tey mysteries and found this. The ebook was available for checkout from our library so I read it while I was waiting for my hold on Daughter of Time to come up. It was an interesting mystery, but it seemed to be almost as much about same-sex relationships in London's 1920s/30s theatre scene as it was about a murder.
Daughter of Time--Josephine Tey
A unique take on a mystery novel--the detective is laid up in bed (broken leg? I don't remember) and passes his convalescence by attempting to investigate the alleged crimes of King Richard III. I found it very interesting and informative, but unfortunately I have forgotten all the history I gleaned from it.
Whose Body, Clouds of Witness, Gaudy Night--Dorothy Sayers
I read some of Sayers' essays in grad school, but I had no idea she wrote mysteries until Haley and Christy recommended Gaudy Night on the Fountains of Carrots podcast. I may have become slightly obsessed with reading every single Lord Peter Wimsey novel...
The Moonstone--Wilkie Collins
You know, just the usual book you decide you absolutely need to read because a character on one of your favorite TV shows mentioned in passing that one of your new favorite authors thought highly of it... or is that just me? Alex and I have been re-watching NCIS on Netflix, and in one episode McGee mentioned that Dorothy Sayers considered The Moonstone to be the finest detective story every written, and as I had recently fallen in love with her mysteries, well, obviously I had to read this one. It is conveniently old enough to be in the public domain, so thank you Project Gutenberg for providing instant gratification.
I thoroughly enjoyed Lilith. I'd never read anything from MacDonald before and definitely intend to read more. I'm not quite sure how to describe it... "Narnia for adults" certainly doesn't do it justice. If you want a book that tells you exactly what to think of it and explains everything as it goes along, stay away. I finished this one up late one night when I didn't particularly want to do any thinking for myself, and that was a mistake (I have since forgiven it).
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell--Susanna Clarke
I generally prefer my fantasy to take place somewhere else--but this book does a clever job of mixing fantasy and history; a “historical fantasy” rather than your usual historical fiction, if you will. Think Jane Austen meets Harry Potter… sort of. The story was a little slow to get moving, but it was so well-written and humorous that I didn’t mind. For the second half I could hardly put it down (much to my family’s dismay). I thoroughly enjoyed it, and apparently there's a BBC miniseries in the works?
The Silmarillion--JRR Tolkien
It gets better every time--trust me!
The Elenium Trilogy--David Eddings
A favorite of my brother-in-law. I was excited for some new fantasy, but as I read I got this strange sense of deja vu. I finally realized I had read it before--probably five or six years ago--but it was almost as good as reading something for the first time because I didn't remember anything until it happened.
Ascendance Trilogy--Jennifer A. Nielsen
Quick, easy, enjoyable.
Other FictionLittle Women--Louisa May Alcott, Caddie Woodlawn--Carol Ryrie Brink
We got these classics for our niece for her 9th birthday and that put me in the mood to reread them. I enjoyed both of them almost as much as I did in elementary school :)
The Rainmaker, The Client, The Broker, The Partner--John Grisham
I didn't read them all in a row. I enjoyed The Partner most and The Broker least.
What Alice Forgot--Liane Moriarty
I went into this one with zero expectations and I really, really liked it. I think I read this in fewer than 24 hours (and sacrificed half a night's worth of sleep in order to do so--I just had to know how it ended).
The Martian--Andy Weir
This barely beats out What Alice Forgot for my favorite fiction read of the year. Looking forward to seeing the movie... eventually...
And now that it's already February (how?!), here are my somewhat humbler reading goals for 2016. I'm taking the hint from 2015 and not trying to plan out my reading for the whole year--but these are the books I want to make sure I read. In no particular order:
Started in 2015 but not finished
Introduction to the Devout Life--St. Francis de Sales
Life of Christ--Fulton Sheen
Angels (and Demons)--Peter Kreeft
More of Dorothy Sayers' mysteries
The Midwife's Revolt--Jody Daynard
Ready Player One--Earnest Cline
Father Elijah, Elijah in Jerusalem, and The Father's Tale--Michael O'Brien
The Divine Comedy--Dante
Diastasis Recti: The Whole Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation--Katy Bowman
The Temperament God Gave Your Kids--Art & Laraine Bennett
The Second Greatest Story Every Told--Fr. Michael Gaitley
Jesus and the Last Supper--Brant Pitre
Beyond the Birds and the Bees--Gregory Popcak
The Treasure of Homestake Gold--Mildred Fielder
Well... what else should I read? I'm ready and waiting for your recommendations to derail my goals for this year :)