Every year I set a goal to read fifty books and every year I fail, but it was still a great year for reading. This is a comprehensive list.
  1. THE FEVER // Megan Abbott
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    This was a GREAT way to start the year. I read it in a day and it made me miss my high school friendships - it kinda has Gone Girl-y vibes, or at least triggered the same kind of excitement for me? It has some killer lines too ("I have another friend who gets what I’m really like, and I get her. She scares me. Did you ever see yourself times ten in another person and want to cover your eyes?" 🙈) 8/10
  2. THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2012 // Ed. Tom Perrotta
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    It's taken me forever to realize how much I like short stories, but this was a great way to sample a bunch of different authors. The year was pretty arbitrary, I think I just found it on sale somewhere. Favorite stories from this include "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" and "North Country." 7/10
  3. DEPT. OF SPECULATION // Jenny Offill
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    Dare I say... that this may have been the best book I read in 2015? I read this so, so fast, but it made me feel so many things and it's written so beautifully. I think this should be required reading for all women aged 17-45, it's that heart wrenching and just WORTH IT. 10/10
  4. DARE ME // Megan Abbott
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    Mediocre young adult fiction. Dull, unfleshed out characters. Proved The Fever was a one hit wonder. 1/10
  5. FUN HOME // Alison Bechdel
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    I read this for an autobiography writing class and I definitely never would have read it otherwise. It inspired a pretty stellar photo essay on my dad, but I feel like I didn't really get the allusions well enough to fully appreciate it. If you're into graphic novels, or strange parent/child relationships, this is probably worth the read. 5/10
  6. TENTH OF DECEMBER // George Saunders
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    Tried and true by a lot of other people before I got to it, but I can confirm that it's popular for a reason. All of the stories were evocative and original, but there was still a clear voice that you could recognize through all of the stories. I think this is completely necessary for a short story collection to succeed - there has to be some kind of cohesiveness that runs through all the pieces, be it a similar mood, setting, tone, etc. 9/10
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    I read JANE AUSTEN: A LIFE by Claire Tomalin last year and fucking loved it. I wanted to read more biographies this year because of it, and I think Wilder is really fascinating, and have actually studied her books in college classes. This was not what I was looking for, unfortunately, and just kind of gave a shoddy overview of how she wrote the books (the research for which I'm still not convinced is super sound). 3/10
  8. SEARCHING FOR ZION // Emily Raboteau
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    Read this for the autobiography writing class. Not a fan. I only muddled through it because I had to give a presentation on it. To my surprise, during our discussion of race (our prof was the only non-white person in the room), one of my group members demanded that we all discuss where we were "from." Everyone had Anglo-Saxon roots. Aka not a race. It was very embarrassing etc etc. Anyway, the book was not interesting but I learned some things. 1/10
  9. THE HANDMAID'S TALE // Margaret Atwood
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    This was a re-read for me because this is one of my all-time favorite books. I just think it does such important feminist/political work in a kind of subtle way, but it also offers up a great plot and really, really beautiful writing and imagery. I fucking love this book and I plan on reading it again and again. It should be required reading for everyone. 10/10
  10. ANTHEM // Ayn Rand
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    I picked this up at a secondhand shop at the beginning of the summer. This was my first Ayn Rand - one of my roommates last year was obsessed with her and when I saw how short it was, I figured why not. It was good - more for the writing than the plot - but it didn't leave a strong impression on me. 6/10
  11. THE DINNER // Herman Koch
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    OOOH The Dinner. I forgot how much I liked this until just now. Intricate story-telling that is super well done and never tiring. Personally I thought the ending was a little bit of a letdown, but I still very much enjoyed the reading experience. 7/10
  12. THE CIRCLE // Dave Eggers
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    Oh jeez. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this was the biggest waste of time from the whole year (I was taking ochem 2 in six weeks at the time, so that definitely didn't help). I don't get why people like this - the writing is awful to me, the plot is nothingness, the characters are nothingness - and I guess you could argue that this is the point, but I hated "the point" and didn't think it was worth the page space. 1/10
  13. THE BELL JAR // Sylvia Plath
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    Another re-read! I was in 9th or 10th grade the first time I read this, and after struggling through a lot of shit since then, I definitely felt/"got" this way more now. I love Sylvia Plath and I love what she has to say and I love how she says it, and it breaks my heart that her voice was lost in such a tragic manner. Sometimes it scares me how much I connect with what she writes about, but the effect she's had in my life is undeniable. 10/10
  14. ROYAL WEDDING // Meg Cabot
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    The second I found out this was happening I was fucking pumped, and the second it came out I ordered a bunch of books off amazon so I could read this and still get free shipping. This was just a fun read that allowed me to revisit my childhood, and even though I wouldn't call it the ideal sequel, it was still pretty damn good. 7/10
  15. GAME CHANGE // John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
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    This was another recommendation from the old roommate, and I LOVED it. The reporting is so sound, but the authors obviously worked hard to structure the events that would tell the best story. I was in 8th grade during the 2008 election, and this gave me so much more insight to an event that just existed as pop culture in my head. It made me so excited for the 2016 election, too (the first presidential I will vote in)! 10/10
  16. YES PLEASE // Amy Poehler
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    Amy's great, but I like Tina better, and she's been in my life longer. Maybe I shouldn't compare them and their books - but it's also impossible not to? And I feel like Tina's had much more heart and honesty. I think I would have liked this more if I followed Amy's career more closely and was older and had watched her on SNL, but Parks and Rec was basically my only frame of reference. Good writing though, and the physical book is beautiful on the inside. I just had really high expectations. 6/10
  17. LAST THINGS // Jenny Offill
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    I read this because I was literally dying for anything else Jenny Offill after Dept. of Speculation. This was published a long time ago, and I understand why it didn't blow up like her newer novel did. It had a really strong start but then petered off once the novelty of having an eight year old narrator wore off. I think I also hurt my reading experience by stopping right in the middle for a few weeks. 4/10
  18. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN // Paula Hawkins
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    Every year we all claim that something is the new Gone Girl, and I think it's time that we all stop kidding ourselves and admit that Gone Girl was a beautiful gem, a Haley's Comet, basically not-a-once-a-year thing. For me, it didn't live up to the hype. But I did love the narration and had a grand old time trying to figure out what was happening. In the end I liked my idea better than Hawkins'. A good reading experience, but not a satisfying end. 6/10
  19. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD // Harper Lee
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    This is at least the third or fourth time I've read this. Obviously everyone in the world has read it, and like them, I think it's excellent. I think this is the first time that I really understood what the whole Atticus/policeman convo on the porch *meant*? Which is cool that you can discover new things after multiple re-reads. I love this book through and through, and even though that's a cliche, cliches have a truth to them. 10/10
  20. GO SET A WATCHMAN // Harper Lee
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    I didn't like it, but it doesn't ruin TKAM for me. I of course googled the shit out of all the op-Ed pieces written on it after I had finished, and I agree that if you read it (personally I don't think it's worth it), you shouldn't think of the characters as the same as the ones in TKAM. They have the same names, but completely different back stories and personalities. 3/10
  21. 1984 // George Orwell
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    I re-read this for a class. I didn't love it when I read it in high school, and I liked it even less the second time through. It drags and drags. 3/10
  22. STATION ELEVEN // Emily St. John Mandel
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    I loved the first fifty pages of this. The world-building was really great and I loved the way Mandel handled the progression of time. Downsides: I didn't feel super connected to any of the characters and unfortunately the overall plot didn't match the energy that was presented in the opening section. Didn't exactly live up to the hype for me, but it was still a good read! 6.5/10
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    I really liked her short stories! They said something to me as a college student in her twenties, and I think anyone familiar with the modern-age college experience would feel the same way. Unfortunately I didn't feel the same way about her essays, probably because they read exactly like the stuff I've been writing and workshopping in my nonfiction writing classes for the last 2.5 years. (The essay about food was a heartfelt exception, though.) 5/10