The New York Times and Goodreads have published their lists of the top books of the year. Now let me add my little list of personal favorites to the interwebs. Of the dozens of books I read in 2015, here are the five that I enjoyed the most.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
I not so secretly want to be a small farmer who uses poop for fertilizer, raises chickens, and cans all her own food, so every year or so, I read a big, crunchy book about raising your own food. Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible, writes about a year of living off the land with her family of four. From everything you ever wanted to know about asparagus at the beginning to turkey sex at the end, this NYTimes bestselling memoir is cover to cover interesting!
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Auggie, a super smart 5th grader with severe facial abnormalities, has been homeschooled his whole life when his parents enroll him in a mainstream middle school for the first time -- an environment that is usually not kind to kids who are different. The author jumps around between different characters' points of view to tell this fictional story of Auggie's school year. It is a really quick, easy, fun read and the central message of kindness, although a little beat over the head, seems very relevant these days. And it's a #1 NYTimes Bestseller.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Putting this book on a list of "reads" is misleading. The Artist's Way is more than just a book. It is an international, bestselling 12-week course replete with exercises designed to help people discover, uncover, and unblock their creativity. It is a lot of work and a lot of fun, and it changed the way I view and approach art and got me creating like crazy.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
This book makes my list because it's just so darn creative. The Crossover is a fictional story about family, illness, and basketball written from the perspective of a black, middle school kid. Every chapter is a poem or verse. (If you're thinking sonatas, you're way off. If you're thinking rap or spoken word you're onto the writing style). The Crossover won both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award in 2015.
Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
In this book, John Ortberg delves into what the soul is and how to best care for this crucial yet fragile part of us through practices like gratitude, slowing, and silence. Much of the content is based off of a decades long mentor/mentee relationship between Dallas Willard and John Ortberg. Ortberg takes Willard's thoughts that are often as hard to digest as concrete and makes them super sticky and digestible.