Of the 175 books, 50 were non-fiction, 4 were poetry, and 121 were fiction (vastly disproportionately tilted towards SFF -- 68 SFF novels, more than half my fictional total). This was the year my reading toppled almost entirely into e-books; 150 of the books I read were on my kindle, with only 25 in hard copy. When I first began reading on a kindle, I found it harder to retain what I read, but that problem has faded and I seem to have gained kindle-specific reading skills the more I use it. I also tried to firmly restrict my re-reading habits (I'm a dire re-reader) because the point of 2015 was to read down my to-read pile, but even so I re-read 25 novels -- childhood favorites like the Little House books or Anne of Green Gables; and SFF comfort reading from Bujold, Eddings, and Pierce. I might try to break down my male vs. female authors later on, but I forgot to keep track as I was reading and it seems like a lot to look up now. Regardless, I read a lot of women.
I can't really make a list of the "best" books I read or my "favorite" ones, but I've put together lists of the books that most delighted me and most disappointed me -- in other words, books that were better than I'd anticipated them being, and books that were worse than I'd expected. And below that, behind the jump, you can see the whole messy list, loosely divided into genres.
Most Delightful (in no particular order)
Motel of the Mysteries - A children's book about how experts don't know nearly as much as they think they do, featuring the archaeological exploration of a 70s-era motel? YES PLEASE.
Ten Cents a Dance - A little YA historical fiction novel about taxi dancers in Chicago. I'm not sure where I stumbled across it, probably a Kindle Daily Deal, but it was charming and I loved it.
Fangirl - Where has Rainbow Rowell been all my life??? This is just so lovely.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - Mind blown into a hundred thousand pieces. The sequels weren't as powerful as the first one, but the first one was one of the best pieces of SFF I've read in a long time. Fantastic.
Team of Rivals - There's a reason everybody read it, and you should too.
Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years - I seriously could not put this down. It's about the importance of string, spinning, weaving, etc., to human culture, and why this is so under-recognized in archaeology and history (string decays). It's also tangentially about why diversity is so important; until women began entering archaeology, male archaeologists often didn't know what they were looking at when they did happen across fiber work or fiber art, because men in western culture don't sew. You don't know what you don't know; diversity helps us at least recognize those gaps that hegemonic thought can't even see!
Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation - The next time you're feeling depressed about climate change, this is the book to read. It's about the life of Plenty Coups, the Crow chief who helped his people survive the coming of the white man. It is not cheerful, but it is intensely hopeful.
Citizen - If you haven't read this, you've missed one of the most important books of 2015.
I, Claudius - An older classic, but so hugely entertaining! Compulsively readable.
The Wake - Haunting, terrifying, deep, weird, strange ... a tough book (written in a fake Old English dialect), but worth the effort.
The Dinner - Months later this is still haunting me and I still want to argue with people about it.
Americanah - The best novel I read in 2015, hands down. Just made me so happy.
The Martian - XKCD got me to read it by saying it was the "nerds making air filters" scene in Apollo 13 expanded out to an entire novel/movie. That's my favorite scene! Totally worth it.
The Goblin Emperor - When I first read it, I was like, "Oh, that was nice." Now I can't wait to go back and read it again, and I wish it were longer.
Alexander Hamilton - How DOES a bastard orphan son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished, in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar? Now I know.
Fire Season - Really charming memoir of a man who works as a fire spotter in the GIla Wilderness.
Spillover - I love reading terrifying books about zoonotic diseases, I can't help it, and this was a good one. I now know everything that wants to kill you.The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - It changed my life, so sue me. I HAVE EMPTY DRAWERS NOW.
Most Disappointing (in no particular order)
Un Lun Dun - I like China Mieville, but this was just tedious, even for a children's book.
The Lost Prince - Flatly ridiculous. I can't imagine I would have enjoyed it even as a child; the protagonist had a serious case of massive stupidity and terminal genre blindness.
Banner of the Damned - I like Sherwood Smith, but in this one she gives in to all her worst habits and it was wildly inadequately edited. Nice world-building, terrible story.
The Time of the Dark - Saw it raved about in several places; was just meh.
Saplings - For Noel Streatfield, this was SUPER-DARK. I was depressed for days.
Brideshead Revisited - This was so obviously a convert's book, and just sort-of embarrassing in its shallow exposition of issues of faith to arrive at the author's predetermined outcome. Reading it gave me terrible fremdscham.
Hild - Great setting; meh plot. Relies too much on the fact that there will be sequels; doesn't provide a strong emotional through-line. It wants to be a sort of fictional biography, and as such doesn't feel too obligated to provide a narrative structure. It's good, but it was disappointing compared to how good I expected it to be.
Condominium - This book is terribawesome and I totally recommend it as a hate-read. This is the flap copy: "He's in finance, she works at a hipster small press, yet both are indie-rock East Village veterans who aren't above snorting a little heroin on the weekends. But when they decide to take the logical next step and buy a condo in one of the glass-and-steel skyscrapers now dotting the waterfront of Williamsburg, their lives start to fall apart." It's more entertaining than that makes it sound, but it's pretty hilarrible.
Dead Key - flatly awful. Not even worth a hate-read.
Wreckage - The entire plot hinges on a wildly incorrect understanding of the law, and therefore makes no sense.
Burned Bridges of Ward Nebraska - Everyone in this book is terrible and you root for no one.
Monuments Men - It's hard to even say what was so bad about this book: the writing is weak, it tries to end every chapter on a pithy cliffhanger that never works, the author makes it impossible to follow his large and shifting cast of characters, he sets things up as about-to-be-momentous and then they disappear with no explanation. It was such a disappointment for a book on a topic so naturally interesting to me.
Garlic & Sapphires - Like virtually all food memoirs, about 1/3 too long. Also kinda mean.