Monday, December 28, 2015

The Best Books of 2015: Historical Fiction

Today marks the second "Best of" list of 2015. Having revealed my Best Autobiography / Memoir / Nonfiction books yesterday, today will be the Best Historical Fiction. None of the novels on this list were a disappointment, in fact I had a very difficult time deciding which spot each would take. A God in Ruins was just as intricate and spellbinding as its companion novel, Life After Life. The Secret Life of Violet Grant was the perfect vacation read -- full of adventure and drama. I was completely invested in Anita Diamant's beautifully feminist book, The Red Tent, and was pleased to find that her most recent novel, The Boston Girl, was just as thrilling. The novel you will find at #1 is the perfect combination of all of these books -- its story is both elegantly written and undoubtedly important. 

Top Historical Fiction of 2015:

8. Beloved, by Toni Morrison

7. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

6. The Secret Life of Violet Grant, by Beatriz Williams

5. A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson

4. The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant

3. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

2. Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin

The Nightingale is a story of two very different sisters living in France during World War II. Vianne is a mother who must quarter a German soldier in her home when the Nazis arrive in her village. Isabelle is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl who joins the Resistance, delivering secret messages by bicycle until she realizes she was meant for something greater. The Nightingale is an inspiring, historical read that captures the voices and stories of women during the most trying of times. 

Read my Best Historical Fiction of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Best Books of 2015: Autobiography / Memoir / Nonfiction

Happy holidays! With only four days left of 2015, it's time to list both New Year's resolutions and the best books of the year. This first post in a series of three is devoted to ranking the 5 autobiographies, memoirs, and nonfiction books I read this year. Although most were for school assignments, I thoroughly enjoyed each one.  

Be sure to come back tomorrow and Tuesday for the Best Historical Fiction and Best Fiction books of the year! 

Top Autobiographies, Memoirs, and Nonfiction of 2015:

5. The Return of Martin Guerre, by Natalie Zemon Davis

4. How to Read Literature Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Fowler

3. Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi

2. Unbearable Lightness, by Portia de Rossi

1. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of Malala Yousafzai, who at 15 was shot by the Taliban for standing up for girls' education in Pakistan. In this incredibly enlightening and well-written memoir, Yousafzai details how her family was uprooted by terrorism, and reveals how fiercely her father loves her, despite living in a society that prizes sons. Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. 

More "Best of" lists from around the Web:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Ultimate Holiday Book-Giving Guide

Not sure what to get your friends and family this holiday season? When in doubt, books make the perfect gifts! They are inexpensive, easy to wrap, and enjoyable time and time again. So whether you’re shopping for your mom, dad, best friend, or Secret Santa, you won’t go wrong with one of these!

For Your Mom:

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee

Your mother most likely read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, so let her experience Scout’s world all over again with Harper Lee’s much anticipated sequel. At age 26, Scout returns home from New York City to visit her father in Maycomb. Set against the backdrop of civil rights tensions, Scout’s homecoming is full of surprises and truths about her family and hometown.

Named the best Historical Fiction book of the year by, The Nightingale illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The story follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they struggle to find purpose and love in World War II-era France.

For Your Dad:

Dead Wake, by Erik Larson

Dads who love history will love this narrative nonfiction telling of the sinking of the Lusitania. Dead Wake brings to life the WWI encounter of the British ocean liner and German U-boats with thrill, drama, and suspense.  

The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, by Stephen J. Sansweet, Pablo Hidalgo, Bob Vitas, and Daniel Wallace

Before your dad sees The Force Awakens, he might need to brush up on his Star Wars history. This comprehensive and fully illustrated encyclopedia will remind him of the characters, planets, and events of the previous six episodes.

For Your Best Friend:

All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven

Fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, will find All the Bright Places just as exhilarating and heart-wrenching. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, it is unclear who saves whom. As the two start on a project to discover all of the wonders of Indiana, they find that only with each other, can they be themselves.

The Hogwarts Library Box Set, by J.K Rowling

If your best friend is an anxious to see Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander as you are, then gather your Galleons and buy them The Hogwarts Library! This box set not only includes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard as well.

For Your Secret Santa:

Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham

You’ll stay under your $10 limit with this paperback by the creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls. This collection of hilarious, wise, and personal essays chronicles the lessons one woman has learned through the struggle that is growing up.

This book of three interconnected short stories is the perfect read for your Secret Santa during winter break. Falling snow, twinkling lights, and wrapped presents transform one town into a romantic winter wonderland in which laughter and love is found.