2015 was the first year I consistently tracked my reading from start to finish. Plus, I started tracking movies and everything else (albeit haphazardly, mostly by memory) around April. In total, I read (or listened to) 115 books, graphic novels, and comic volumes (thanks Goodreads). Movies and everything else I would have to add up manually, so meh, I’m not going to. I’ll spend that time, instead, organizing and presenting my favorite books and other media that I enjoyed this year.
This is going to be sort of long soooo…
The Best Things Kendra Read/Watched/Listened To in 2015!
1. The Hours, Michael Cunningham, 1998
I had a very Virginia Woolf-y year. I was already having a very Virginia Woolf-y year before I picked up The Hours, actually having next-to-no idea what it was about (I still have never seen the movie). If you live in the library stacks long enough, you start to have psychic whims like this.
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1890
I read The Importance of Being Earnest some years ago and wasn’t wild about it (badum tsh!). I’m still not entirely sure why I loved this book so much, I just did! Philosophy, humor, a bit of fantasy. It’s dark and it’s light. Accessible and relatable over 100 years later.
3. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005
Okay, this one is very polarizing. People apparently love it or loathe it. This is another one of those books I picked up having basically no idea what it was about, which, as it turns out, is the best and perhaps only way to read it. And even then, you might still hate it, because, yes, it’s kind of depressing. But it’s also surprising and thought-provoking and exactly what I want in a story.
4. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory, Caitlin Doughty, 2014
My top nonfic book of the year. Yes, it’s about death, yes it’s macabre and maybe even cringe-worthy at times. But it’s also amusing and fascinating and sheds light into such closeted topics like how funeral homes operate and what actually happens to the human body after death. Most importantly, it addresses why everyone should really ought care about such things.
5. The Room, Jonas Karlsson, 2015
THE Room, not to be confused with Room, which was all a-buzz because of this year’s book-to-movie release (read both, liked this room more). This book served up two of my favorite things – antihero narration and “Kafka-esque” surrealism (that gets overused, but it really applies here). To top it off, it’s hilarious.
TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS
1. Batwoman: Elegy, Greg Rucka, 2010
Okay, this is technically part of the New 52 series, but I’m calling it a graphic novel because this is my list and I can do what I want yeah yeah.
2. Delphine, Richard Sala, 2012
I really disliked this book right when I finished it. I basically closed it and was like, “what the hell was that?” But then I gave it some time because it’s a haunting story, and I guess it irked me enough to continue thinking about it. Once I eventually “got it” – or at least found my own meaning in it – I fell in love with it. Plus, the art is creepy-awesome.
3. Here, Richard McGuire, 2014
This book reeks. I mean really, it smells just downright awful. But enduring that overwhelming ink stench is so worth it. I just love the concept of this book – overlapping layers of history. It squeezes my heart in the best way possible.
4. Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash, 2015
I’m a sucker for a good graphic memoir, and I especially enjoyed the very down-to-earth colored-pencils-y art style.
5. Nimona, Noelle Stevenson, 2015
All I can do is just echo all the positive things people are saying about this book. Whether or not you know the webcomic, it’s just wonderful.
TOP COMICS (SERIES)
1. The Wicked + The Divine
Total eye candy + an amazing story + a killer cast of characters? I’m obsessed. And I’m someone who doesn’t really follow celebrity culture or music fandom. Doesn’t matter. Obsessed.
2. Y: The Last Man
Yes, I know I’m about a decade behind. No matter, I got to enjoy the series from beginning to end.
All you people in the cafe judging me for reading this need to go read this series right now so you understand that I am, in fact, reading a brilliant, incredibly creative story, not just casually looking at alien smut or something. Psh.
4. Alex + Ada
Looked interesting. Read it. Was interesting. Read all 15 issues. Loved it. I’m all about stories that explore the definitions of humanity.
Oh, just plain fun!
Why did I love this movie so much?! I don’t know, I just did!
2. Back to the Future
I had never seen this classic before, and what better year to watch it than 2015, right?
Interwoven plot lines are just my thing. Also, raining frogs.
4. Mulholland Drive
Uh oh. I’m apparently a David Lynch fan? And not even ironically?
5. Inside Out / Jurassic World
DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE BETWEEN EMOTIONS AND DINOSAURS PLEASE!
TOP EVERYTHING ELSE (TV, PODCASTS, GAMES, ETC.)
1. Welcome to Night Vale
Is this podcast made just for me? Because it seems like it is. The fact that Welcome to Night Vale exists and that it has a huge following means I’m apparently not alone in my particular brand of humor. ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD.
2. Serial (Season 1)
Said I wasn’t going to get sucked in. Got sucked in. I don’t even like crime series! It was just that gripping.
3. Adventure Time: Stakes (miniseries)
AT Season 7 is killing it. The Stakes miniseries featured everything I love about AT, plus backstory, plus major character development.
4. Fran Bow
This creepy, infinitely creative point-and-click horror adventure was amazing. Just when you think it can’t get weirder… it gets weirder. Add an engaging story, clever puzzles, and gorgeous 2D art – just wow.
5. No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life (Great Courses, audio)
I listened to a couple Great Courses this year, and this one was my favorite. Nothin’ like learning about existentialist philosophy whilst folding the laundry, am I right?
In 2015, I was introduced to the world of podcasts and some excellent comics series. 2015 also offered a lot of great in-theater films. I read a lot of good books (and some meh books), and I gave my library card a proper workout. I’m liking this whole “tracking what I’m reading/watching” thing, and hopefully I’ll keep up the habit!