CultureEducationLearn

Every year we set resolutions to read more. While we read a lot as it is, there are so many great books that are waiting to be read and we want to get to as many as we can. Of all the books we read in 2015, these were the ones that stood out the most.

If you love beautiful writing and a compelling story…

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Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See was impossible to put down. The way he strings words together is unlike anything we’ve read before. This novel is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. With short chapters, alternating story lines, and descriptions that will make you want to re-read lines twice, All the Light We Cannot See is powerful and vivid. Read it here.

If you’re into history and classics…

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The Good Earth by Pearl Buck is an unforgettable and heart-wrenching story about a farmer, Wang Lung, and his selfless wife, O-Lan during the 1920s in China. Follow this family’s journey through the many changes China undergoes during this turbulent time. Read it here.

If you loved The Goldfinch

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a haunting and mesmerizing story about a group of college students in Vermont who . It feels as though you’re being let in on a big secret, and you’re the only one who knows. We adore Donna Tartt’s writing and the way her stories have depth, unique descriptions, and a whole lot of mystery. Read it here.

Astronauts, space, and the wives of America’s Mercury Seven…

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We met Lily Koppel, author of The Astronaut Wives Club at BookCon this year, but that’s not why we loved reading her latest book. The wives of America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were brave and strong, and overnight they were turned into American royalty, with their every move scrutinized by the media and public. This book gives an inside look at who these women were and just how important they were in getting to the moon. Read it here.

If you’re fascinated by time and fate…

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A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is one of those books that really makes you think. We’ve never read a book quite like this. Each chapter alternates between a 16-year-old Japanese girl, Nao, writing in her diary and the women, Ruth, who finds Nao’s diary washed up on the shores of the remote island she lives on. Covering topics such as bullying, time, and fate, A Tale for the Time Being is engaging and truly brilliant. Read it here.

If you want to laugh and feel empowered…

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If you read and loved Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), then you’ll appreciate her second bookWhy Not Me? In her new book, Mindy shares a more behind-the-scenes coming-of-age look at her life as creator, star, and writer of The Mindy Project, as well as her other endeavors in Hollywood. This book may be a light read, but it is both hilarious and empowering. You’ll have a great time reading it. Read it here.

If you’re intrigued by dark and heartbreaking humor…

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If you don’t have bounds of time to spend reading but you hate leaving a book unfinished, Fortune Smiles is a great solution to this dilemma. A collection of riveting short stories, Adam Johnson creates fascinating yet realistic stories about people dealing with a complicated personal life tread on by political confusion. This book will get stuck in your mind and keep you thinking all day. Read it here.

If you want to learn more about women’s roles in Nazi Germany…

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Hitler’s Furies is about Nazi Germany and the women who played a role in the horrors that occurred is not one to pass-over. Although the content is often graphic, the book does a very good job of presenting and exploring a side of history that is predominantly buried and purposefully forgotten. Read it here.

If you’ve been wanting to read an American classic that’s more relevant than ever…

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This classic book (The Tortilla Curtain) tells the story about immigrants – both legal and illegal – and the ways they interact with American society and the way society interacts with them. There are plenty of twists and turns in this exciting novel that will keep you engaged and flipping the pages as fast as you can. Read it here.

What books did you read and love in 2015?

Image by Lou Levit

Learn

After learning about so many great new books at BookCon, we were inspired to create a column for monthly books to read. Read as many as you can, or just choose a few of the ones that stand out to you. Not all of these books are released this month.

Here’s what we can’t wait to curl up with this month:

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

In this memoir, Vera Brittain describes the impact of World War I on women and the middle class of Great Britain. in 1915, Brittain abandoned her studies at Oxford University to enlist as a nurse in the armed forces. We’re very interested in reading about Brittain’s first-hand experience with the horrors of war, lost love, and coming of age.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

It’s the same Judy Blume we loved in our “young adult” days, but this time for adults. The main character, Miri Ammerman, visits her hometown. When Miri was a teenager, she and the community witnessed real-life plane crashes that occurred in the early 1950’s. Blume is a fantastic storyteller, and we have no doubt that this novel will be one great story.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

Full confession, we’re 75% of the way through this book and are loving it. It’s a real page-turner. Lily Koppel saw a photo of the wives of the astronauts on the cover of Life and wondered why we hadn’t heard more about them. That’s when she set out to write their story. This book gives a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of the astronaut wives. Those women were strong, brave, and influential in getting man to the moon.

A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin

93-year-old Sherlock Holmes lives in a remote farmhouse in England and revisits a case, during which he learns about life and love. If it has anything to do with Sherlock Holmes, we’re all for it.

Speedboat by Renata Adler

We’ve heard great things about this book, and it was noted to disrupt the rules of the conventional novel but still be a gripping read. Set in New York City, a young female newspaper reporter comes of age and we get to go along for the journey.

The Rocks by Peter Nichols

The cover is stunning (and reminds us of a book we loved, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters), and the story premise is even more intriguing. The novel opens with a mystery, moves backward in time, and reveals what really happened decades earlier.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

In Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao keeps a diary documenting the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Nao is bullied and lonely and has decided to end it all. Writing in the diary comforts her. A novelist on the other side of the pacific discovers items in a Hello Kitty lunchbox and is drawn into Nao’s world. We have no idea what to expect with this one, but we can’t wait to find out.

Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn

Sometimes you just need to enjoy a young adult novel. This one looks fun and light – perfect for when you relax on the beach this summer.

What are you reading this month? Share with us in the comments below!