This was my first full calendar year as a teacher, so it isn't too surprising that the number of books I read this year falls far below any other. My goal was to read 50--I ended up with a total of 29. I've been setting reading challenges for myself for 10 years now, and though I'd always like to make my goal, the point is not to up my numbers, but to consistently search out new books, rather than re-reading the old, as is my long-established habit.
This year comes with a real treat: all the books I read were ones that I chose. And after years of being in some kind of schooling, and coming on the heels of skimming like crazy for master's comp exams, the freedom is wonderful.
Most notably, I took up the Tempest Challenge this year, and didn't read a single book by a white straight man. In fact, I don't think I read any books by white men at all. It wasn't a difficult decision--I've largely had it with that demographic getting all the attention--but it did challenge me to consciously expand my boundaries. I read more authors of color, more foreign authors, and more translated authors than ever before.
Instead, I continued to fall in love with N.K. Jemisin, and discovered the legendary Octavia Butler and the younger Alaya Dawn Johnson. I read the immensely satisfying end to Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist series, and was far from the only person disappointed by Go Set a Watchman. I branched out of my comfort zone with Banana Yoshimoto and Chang-rae Lee, both of which were amazing. I found new favorites in Tahmina Anam and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, who both taught me so much about their home countries (Bangladesh and Nigeria). AndTa-Nehisi Coates made me uncomfortable--and appropriately so.
I don't know that I will stick to the challenge next year (mainly because I really want to read Terry Pratchett's final book), but I do know that I will continue to seek out books that broaden my horizons. Because it results in amazing, wonderful, beautiful reading.
It's hard to pick favorites this year. Though I have mixed feelings towards the year in general, I find that I never regret my year in reading. And 2015 has been stronger than ever. May your next reading year be fulfilling for you.
The Full List
1. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
2. Death of a King by Tavis Smiley
3. On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee
4. Breaking Through by Francisco Jiménez
5. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
6. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
7. Bluets by Maggie Nelson
8. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
9. The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
10. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
11. Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
12. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
13. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
14. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
15. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
16. Valley of the Moon: The Diary of María Rosalía de Milagros by Sherry Garland
17. The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam
18. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
19. The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin
20. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
21. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
22. Oreo by Fran Ross
23. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
24. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
25. A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
26. Racing the Dark by Alaya Dawn Johnson
27. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
28. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
29. The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad
For links, overviews, and more specifics, check out my Goodreads list.