Year in Review: Mara Shapiro Weighs In On The Year’s Hit List
I’m calling it. 2015 was the year that crazy people, sequels and dysfunctional but warm-hearted families replaced Lady Porn. It’s true. I don’t think I’m speaking just for myself when I say that while there’s still value in getting lost in a good romance, getting wowed, wondered, mystified, and yes, maybe even get creeped out a bit, has moved up the list.
As I browse through my Kobo library, I notice more of an eclectic lineup than I have purchased before. And, a lot of titles. I stopped counting virtual spines when 50 rolled around; chances are good that I exceeded the magic 100. Which, of course means that I read even more than the 38 pages the average Canadian turns each day (as reported by Kobo’s global study on reading).
Surprising to me is that a lot of books in my library were left unfinished. I finally seem to have perfected the art of walking away from a book that doesn’t turn my crank. Never fear—I’m still a complete bookworm, but now, since I’m so busy co-editing BrazenWoman.com, I want to actually adore WHAT I’m reading, too.
I’m not alone. Many women feel the same way, as I discovered when talking to members of our Brazen Woman community. I wasn’t surprised to learn that busy women with busy lives prefer to read books based on recommendations (duh!). Totally explains the immense popularity of series like E.L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, whose virality was spurred solely via word of mouth.
What else do women like to read? Books with buzz turn us all on: book-to-movie adaptations, erotica, romance, and popular fiction. We also dig celeb memoirs and real-life stories about smart women.
So what did I consume this past year? What did I love and what do I recommend? It’s extremely tough to choose six top books from 2015. There were so many great ones. Luckily, two of my picks align with Kobo’s most downloaded books of the year. And, their third most popular is my personal walk of shame. I’m following up with three more that are not on Kobo’s lists - but definitely should be!
Got time? Here are six books you must download before doing anything else.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard of this thrilling novel about a sad drunk girl who peers from the window of a commuter train while slurping white wine from a to-go cup. The Girl on the Train is an intriguing thriller by a talented first-time author and topped the lists at Kobo - and just about everywhere else. While it's definitely on-trend with its cast of whacked out crazy people, nobody could resist obsessively page-flipping simply because it’s just plain too good to put down. If you haven't jumped on this train, do it before the movie comes out in 2016.
Grey by E.L. James
You know where I just said that I might choose another genre over erotica? I was lying to look smart. You know who else is smart? E.L. James who capitalized on the release of the movie version of her megahit trilogy by releasing a fourth book. This companion novel flips the story around, re-telling Fifty Shades of Grey from Christian’s perspective. I don’t even care whether the book was written to rebut claims that the themes are abusive or if it was just a way to get more money out of me. Either way, it was the second most read on Kobo for 2015, which means we’re still interested in our smut, supersized.
Centre of Gravity by Laura McNeil
Chilling, surprising, mesmerizing. This novel of a fairy tale life gone horribly wrong was one of the best novels I read last year. Author Laura McNeil is particularly good at unravelling a story and she has created a psychopathic manipulator of epic proportions as the protagonist. I could not press pause on this one, and recommended it to every single person I came into contact with, including the clerk at the liquor store.
Come Away with Me by Karma Brown
Oh, how do I love you? Let me count the ways. I might know the author but I’m not biased at all. Part travelogue, part romance, part heart rending tale of love, grief and redemption, Come Away with Me is a must-read, and I can’t stress that enough. Freshman author Karma Brown has a way of giving you the feels, the smells, the visual sensations. You can literally touch the words in this novel.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
I’m a foodie who loves to read. I’m a reader who loves food. Put them all together and you’ve got a delectable—and unique—taste sensation with surprising depth and sensitivity along the lines of Chocolat. It’s a unique proposition to see a character develop as the author unfolds her recipes and once-in-a-lifetime palate. Not only do I wish I knew main character, Eva, but I wish I could eat her food and absorb some of her passion. I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about Kitchens of the Great Midwest, but it’s time to change that.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Pulitzer Prize Winner. Bestseller. Goodreads Readers Choice Winner. "Thrilling, stunning, gorgeous, dazzling”. I’m feeling very guilty right now. I have this novel downloaded to my Kobo, but got so busy, I never made it past the first page. Well, the apology should be to myself because it’s been touted as one of the best books of 2015. I’m making a deal to set all others aside until I reach the end.
What did you love in 2015? I’d like to take you up on some of your recommendations.
Mara Shapiro is the founder and co-editor at BrazenWoman.com, the lifestyle blogazine written by woman 35+ for woman 35+. It’s the only kid-free zone for woman who can dive deep into content about beauty, fashion, food, travel, entertainment and more!
BrazenWoman.com is the lifestyle blogazine written by women 35+ for women 35+. BrazenWoman is the only online destination for women 35+ that does NOT feature content on parenting or menopause and aging.