Year in Reading 2015

Posted on December 30, 2015 under year in reading

Books I took on vacation in June
Books I took on vacation in June

For the past few years I have run down my year in reading on twitter, but this year let’s give it a little heft for posterity.

In 2015 I read upwards of 200 books–fewer than last year, since I wasn’t doing head-down research for an exhibit.  57% were written by women and 43% by men.  Surprisingly, this year I read more fiction than nonfiction, again perhaps because I wasn’t in deep exhibit research mode.

I read a ton of scholarly monographs this year, on hotel workers, the Modoc War, baby food, the Nation of Islam, St. Clare, the Great War, opera, pilgrimages, and so on.  I read all the big prestige SFF novels. I read some series mysteries, some books by Christian bloggers. and some memoirs by fashion designers.  I read the first Ferrante, after having it on hold for six months.  I requested so many new books in the history of religion via Link+ that an academic library stopped lending them out. I read and I wrote reviews.

The following are the books I enjoyed most in 2015.  I don’t think any of them were published this year.  They are organized in the order in which I read them.

  • Yvonne Adhiambo Owour, Dust. Such beautiful sentences! Such strong emotions!
  • Brian Allen Drake, Loving Nature, Fearing the State: Environmentalism and Antigovernment Politics before Reagan. Articulates a history of conservative environmentalism that made me think well of Goldwater.
  • Dawn Powell, The Locusts Have No King. Powell’s satire is so sharp, it cuts itself. My discovery of the year.
  • Kay Larson, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Lives of Artists. A school for structuring nonfiction.
  • Iman Mersal, These Are Not Oranges, My Love.  Maybe I’ll learn Arabic to read these poems in the original.
  • Anita Reynolds, American Cocktail:  A ‘Colored Girl’ in the World. An exuberant memoir of ’20s and ’30s Paris.
  • James Treat, Around the Sacred Fire:  Native American Religious Activism in the Red Power Era. A history of the Indian Ecumenical Conference that enlarges our view of the ’70s and ’80s.
  • Don Greene, Audition Success. Told through telephone conversations, a book on what it means to perform well.