My Favorite Books of 2015

I know, I know... it's already the middle of January and I'm way overdue for sharing books all the way from last year... but I'm just now getting around to it. It's not like I've been busy, necessarily, but I was out of town, then Alice had a cold, then we moved her to her room and sleep became a little dicey. (Excuses, excuses.) I'll just say I have been deep in thought as to which books I should share... that sounds better. =)

Reading with my little future bookworm =)

I've broken this up into fiction, nonfiction, and memoir/biography for your convenience and I'll try to make my summaries brief. (Ha!)


-Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. This journal-style novel about a young girl who has grown up in foster care and now faces adulthood is so sweet. The ending might leave you in tears, but in the best, most romantic way.

-Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. The subtitle of this book is "a proper romance" and that's exactly what it is. It's set in England in the 19th century and is just the sweetest love story. It's a quick, light read with a great plot and characters.

-The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly. I wish this was a series because I loved it so much! It's about sisters, so I related, naturally, and they're descendants of Jo March (in this book, she's a real person.) The back and forth between time periods (which I don't usually care for) is seamless and I was sad when the book ended.

-Lizzie and Jane by Katherine Reay. Two from the same author? Yes, she's that good! This one has a lot going on- cancer treatment, family drama, romance- but at its core it's another sister story and I absolutely loved it. (Bonus: right now the Kindle version is on sale for $1.99!)

-The Lake House by Kate Morton. I read my first Kate Morton novel several years ago and have since read all her books- this one is her best yet. Each of her stories have a major twist and this one was my favorite so far. The story goes back and forth between the mysterious disappearance of a little boy (from the perspective of his older sister) and a detective who is trying to solve the decades-old case. Intriguing!


-David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Honestly, I could include all of Gladwell's books because each of them is excellent, but this one happens to be my favorite. The entire premise is that what we view as disadvantages or "underdog" circumstances actually are the opposite in the long run and each chapter explores that philosophy in a different way. Totally fascinating. 

-Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Oh my... I want everyone to read this book, determine their tendency, and then tell me so we can have a giant virtual book club about it. I think about information from this guide to better habits and living so often (and reinforce all the excellent tips by listening to Gretchen's podcast, "Happier," that she records with her sister each week.) Check this one out; it is guaranteed to help you!

-Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. I absolutely loved this inside look at the creation of computer animation and Pixar. The stories ranged from the near-death of Toy Story early on (what a loss that would have been!) and working with Steve Jobs (always fascinating to me.) The book also contains lots of useful and helpful leadership and business principles but would be enjoyable for any Pixar fan, I think.

-Do Over by Jon Acuff. I've recommended this book multiple times since reading it this summer. So many books about career change are mostly a collection of Pinterest memes like "chase your dreams and anything can happen!" but this one is full of practical, REAL advice that can be applied to many different situations. Plus Jon is hilarious and makes you feel like he's your friend. (Follow him on Twitter or Instagram for daily humor!)

-Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West. This book combines two of my favorite things: history and "behind the scenes." It's like bonus features for American history! The author was the chief usher at the White House for nearly thirty years and his details about his work and each First Lady is so interesting. It's informative but not gossipy (and be prepared to cry when he describes saying goodbye to Jackie Kennedy.) 

-Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I'm not a true introvert (although I am classified as one by Myers-Briggs) but this book about how our culture- from jobs to education to parenting- is tailored toward extroverts was so eye-opening. The chapters on education were especially interesting to the teacher side of me- and it turns out that methods I've never been a big fan of (think group projects, for example) have been proven to be more harmful than helpful. 

-Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. The premise of this book- a discussion about death and dying- did not initially interest me (and sounded depressing!) but I plowed through this in a day. It's so important to have the right information when it comes to care for the elderly, terminal illness, etc. and the author (a surgeon) gives personal, touching stories that back up his medical information. 


-Belles on Their Toes by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. This is the simply delightful sequel to the already delightful Cheaper by the Dozen. I love the Gilbreth family (even more so because they were real people) and to catch up with them after the death of their dad and see how they survived the next few years with their typical humor and hard work is so fun. (And if you can find it, check out Time Out for Happiness by Frank Jr. It delves more deeply into motion study and the backgrounds of both parents and I just love it.)

-Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. This is one of those books that is so rewarding to take the time to read and finish because it can be truly transformative if you allow the story to really sink in. The in-depth look at the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his early years as a theologian to his eventual death at the hands of the Nazis, is a study in sacrifice for Christ. (I highly recommend the student version for any young people in your life!)

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This was such a sweet memoir about growing up in Brooklyn in the day of the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers/Yankees rivalry. The author describes her idyllic childhood, "growing up" moments, and the loss of her mother- all anchored in her and her dad's mutual love of baseball. I love this because it reminds me of my own baseball-obsessed childhood and also because her tone is very similar to Beverly Cleary's... pretty much the highest compliment I can give.

-Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. I read this while I was pregnant (probably a mistake!) but the stories about being a midwife in the slums of London during the 50s and 60s pulled me in. Some were sweet, some were funny, some were tragic- and they all reminded me how thankful I am for modern medicine. =) (Everyone keeps telling me to watch the PBS series. It's on my list!)

-The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I'm ashamed to say I had never read this book in its entirety but I finally did and it was amazing. Like Bonhoeffer, it definitely has the power to change your life if you apply the principles found in Corrie's story. Her faith and strength in the face of danger, loss, and suffering challenged and inspired me. This is a must-read. 

-41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush. Since George H.W. Bush is my favorite president this inside look at his life was completely fascinating. I thought W. did a good job of being a proud son but also objectively presenting facts about his dad's administration. (Also I've visited the George. H.W. Bush Presidential Library twice now and I love it enough to go back any time. It's awesome.) 

It was so hard to narrow down all my choices, and if you are interested in other titles leave a comment or message me and I'll consult my list. =) And as always, if you read and like (or even dislike) any of these, let me know so we can discuss!

Happy Reading!



  1. Thanks for the suggestions! I'm always looking for some good books and just added a bunch of these to my library request list! I'd love any other suggestions you have!

  2. I keep seeing several of these pop up on blogs -- Better than Before and The Lake House I think are the two I've seen the most -- so I will have to check those out! I'm glad to see, too, that Call the Midwife is a book, not just TV! I know a lot of people have recommended the show, but I don't have much time for watching stuff. And Belles on Their Toes -- that and Cheaper By the Dozen are two of my family's favorites! Thanks for making this list!


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