Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Oh boy. For such a short book this packs a lot of punch. I follow Coates on twitter so I knew what to expect but wow. This one is hard. Coates forces you to check your privilege at the door and open your eyes to uncomfortable things, but it is so worth it. There is a reason why this book has had everyone talking and why it won the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston
Funny, thought provoking and a great read. For those who enjoyed the Coates but would like to move on to something a bit lighter. I highly recommend the audiobook version of this gem.
On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
I picked this up because I was worried about the recent surge in parents getting their children exceptions for immunizations. This book did not comfort me, but it did make me think deeply about public health and the responsibility we all hold for keeping each other free from disease. A great, short, thought-provoking read.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This was a re-read for me, the only re-read to make my top 10 actually! I hadn’t picked up this book since middle school English class and boy, did I remember it wrong! I thought this whole thing was about the scary man across the street (Boo) but really it is about small town life and the prejudices that creep up when people are too scared to take a stand. This book really hit a nerve with me this year and I am so glad to have re-read it with an open mind.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This book was everywhere last year but I stubbornly dug in my heels. I don’t read middle grade, I said. Verse novels are weird, I said. Holy Goodness. This book is wonderful, lyrical and all the wonderful things people have said about it x 10,000. Buy a copy for every kid you know in grade 4-9 and then grab a few for you and your friends.
Make it Happen by Lara Casey
If you follow me on social media (twitter, instagram) you know that I am a huge believer in Lara Casey and all that she does. She’s the founder of Southern Weddings magazine, the creator of the Powersheets, and runs the Making Things Happen conference. Her book is part self-help and part memoir but it is all uplifting, encouraging and a swift kick in the rear. You’ll want to get off your bum and go MAKE IT HAPPEN by the end of this book. So give it to your friends still looking for jobs after graduation, okay? (just kidding. sort of.)
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
There’s always that one book by an author you love that you never manage to pick up. For me, it has always been Austen’s Northanger Abbey. While I was in England last fall, I picked up a beautiful copy of this books and finally bit the bullet. And oh what a joy! This book is all Austen wit and charm, with a great dash of tongue-in-cheek commentary on the popular novels of her day. If you are at all familiar with Gothic novels and their crazy happenings AND you have a penchant for one Mr. Darcy, you will love this book.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
You know how everyone went gaga over The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up this year? Well, I went gaga over Hatmaker’s 7. It’s like Tidying Up but with a really wonderful message which is….you are not the center of the universe. It’s so easy to feel like #firstworldproblems are real problems but, let’s face it, we have it pretty great. Hatmaker spent 7 months giving up 7 things to bring herself closer to God, humanity, the poor….and sometimes closer to divorce. Hatmaker is laugh-out-loud funny which makes the painful wake-up call this book has to offer a little easier to bear. It’s the perfect antidote to holiday excess.
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
I read this one in January and immediately knew that it would be one of the best books I read this year, easily. I have a thing for books set on islands, especially after I read Wide Sargasso Sea. This feels like an updated version of that, without the weird Jane Eyre ending. There are folk tales, familial drama, strange happenings, and that amazing sleepy quality that only happens in books set by the sea. Get thee to a bookstore immediately.