So many new books come out every year it’s impossible to keep up with them all. I can’t even keep up with all the books I want to read that came out years ago, so it is definitely a losing battle– but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to read anything and everything I can! I’m sure I was only able to read a fraction of the great books that came out in the past year, but since I only have 24 hours in the day, here are my favorite five (that I read) of 2015.
1.More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
There is plenty in life that Aaron Soto would like to forget– like how his father killed himself or how his own suicide attempt nearly tore his family apart, but Aaron is determined to try to find happiness again. And it seems like he just might be able to do it, but when his girlfriend Genevieve leaves for a few weeks Aaron begins spending all of his time with the new guy, Thomas, who seems to understand Aaron in a way no one else ever has. The only problem? Thomas isn’t gay. And neither is Aaron– or, at least, that’s what he always thought, but his new, confusing feelings for Thomas must mean something. Even if Aaron doesn’t know what to think of his feelings, he knows that he doesn’t want them, and fortunately for him there might just be a way to forget about them altogether– but it may come with a price, because if Aaron forgets about his feelings he may also lose himself in the process.
More Happy Than Not is a fantastic near-future YA novel about relationships and learning to accept who you are, but it’s also about how our experiences and memories shape who we are. It’s gritty and heart-wrenching and real. Definitely a must-read.
2. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Willowdean ‘Dumplin’ Dickson is a self-proclaimed fat girl, and she doesn’t care who knows it. Willow has always been comfortable in her own skin, even if others– like her mom– aren’t. But when she falls head-over-heels for super handsome new guy Bo, she starts to question herself. Suddenly Willow feels fat– and worse, she feels bad about it. If having a relationship with Bo means sacrificing her confidence, she’d rather pass, but Willowdean may have to go to drastic measures to regain her confidence, and when you live in Clover City, Texas drastic measures mean entering the Clover City Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant. Willowdean is going to turn heads as the first fat girl to enter a beauty pageant in Clover City, but maybe she’ll also remember how to love herself– and teach others to do the same– in the process.
This isn’t just a great read for self-proclaimed fat girls or curvy girls or girls who don’t love their bodies, this is a great read for everyone, because in the process of trying to remember how to love everything about herself Willowdean shows everyone around her (including you!) that the only things you need to go far is a little bit of determination and a whole lot of guts.
3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow is the Chosen One, but he isn’t exactly sure why he was chosen. It certainly wasn’t for his magical prowess– he’s more nuclear warhead than sharpshooter. And it certainly wasn’t for his cleverness– his best friend Penelope is the only reason he has survived this long. If you ask his roommate, sworn nemesis, and suspected vampire Baz, it was just a big mistake. But, it’s Simon’s last year at Watford School of Magicks and Simon is determined to make it his best– or at least to survive it. That’s seeming less and less likely, though, because Simon has to team up with Baz to solve a mystery that might just be the key to saving the world of mages, if the two of them can just keep from killing each other long enough to work together.
Fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (in which several of these characters made their first appearance, albeit in very different incarnations) will love this book. Also fans of Harry Potter. Or fantasy. Or YA. Or LGBTQIA lit. Or anything. It’s just a really good books, guys, and I definitely recommend it.
4. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Ballister Blackheart is the most notorious villain in the land– or at least, he’s trying to be. Standing in his way are his former friend/ arch-nemesis Sir Goldenloin and his own good intentions. Fortunately, his new shape-shifting sidekick Nimona has some real bad guy potential. As the two of them take on the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics, Ballister realizes three very important things; One: he really doesn’t have what it takes to be a villain. Two: Nimona does. And three: It will take a whole lot of science and magic to protect the kingdom from total destruction.
I first started reading Nimona when it was still just a spunky little webcomic (oh, that comments section), and now look at it– all grown up in a published graphic novel form and taking on the world. Nimona is just such a fun read and it really has everything you could possibly want from a sci-fi/fantasy graphic novel: magic! shapeshifters! sharks! star-crossed knights! villains who aren’t really all that villainous! tiny girls who are very villainous! What more could you want?
5. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon Spiers is sixteen years old, a bit of a drama nerd, and very, very, totally screwed. When lovable class nerd Martin gets ahold of Simon’s email account he threatens to out Simon to the whole school. That’s bad enough for the still-very-closeted Simon, but even worse outing Simon would out Blue, the pen name of a classmate who Simon has been emailing– and possibly falling for– for months now. Now Simon has to do whatever Martin says or his life will be turned upside down. Wasn’t being a closeted gay teen hard enough already?
This book is a beautiful glimpse into the very messy lives of high school teenagers. It’s also one of the best love stories I’ve read in awhile. Simon’s relationship with Blue is sweet, but imperfect– it feels real. And I especially enjoyed the added mystery of trying to figure out who Blue might actually be along with Simon. And let me just say that I have never smiled like such an idiot when two characters in a book finally got together.
Which books that came out this year were your favorites? Let me know in the comments!