Beyond Books, Reflections
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One Reader’s 10 Most Memorable Books of 2015

booksAs a professional reviewer, book award committee member, teacher, and bibliophile, I read a lot of books in a given year. A. Lot.

I recorded 170 titles in Goodreads for 2015, but that barely scratches the surface (as my local librarians can attest). Those were the titles that I liked enough to review, were getting lots of “buzz,” or for which I needed to flesh some thoughts out before an official review. In other words, those 170 were theoretically the books I spent more time thinking about. And yet, when I look at my year in review on the Goodreads site, I don’t even remember reading some of them!

Other books have stuck with me–even ones I didn’t first take time to record. As I muse over the ones that “stuck,” I seeseeking allah finding jesus

  • books I reread multiple times,
  • an imminently practical work I immediately applied to my life,
  • books that were relevant to me personally,
  • books I read because I chose them (as opposed to being “assigned” them)
  • and books I read over the course of a long time because they were meaty and required my full attention (the grown-up nonfiction books all fall into this category!).

We would do well as parents and teachers to remember these types of categories when we encourage the children in our lives to read. Quality is more important than quantity, even though quantity can provide excellent entertainment in its own way. The following is not a list of recommendations so much as the 10 most memorable books I, personally, read in 2015.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Q’reshi. Fascinating read of a Muslim’s conversion to Christianity. True story. Adult.

The White Cascade by Gary Krist. The deadliest avalanche in U.S. history happened just north of where I currently live in Washington state. The story takes place during the same time period as the Titanic shipwreck, and has the same “gripping” feel in parts since the reader knows disaster is imminent. Adult.

finding-winnieFinding Winnie by Lindsay Mattock and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. This year’s Caldecott winner! A charming bed-time read about the real Winnie-the-Pooh (written by the granddaughter of the soldier who first found Winnie). Picture Book and a true story. Win win.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. (The Young Readers Edition) Wow. I have nothing to complain about. Nothing. And I’m a wimp. These guys are heroes. (I hear the grown-up version is even better!) Middle grades/Young Adult.

Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser. The World Picture Book of the Year. One of my favorites from the first read (and I’ve read it aloud many times). Picture book.RR_Squirrel and Moon

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba. (Young Readers Edition) Terrific story of a young inventor, persevering against cultural, academic, and socio-economic obstacles. Middle grades.

Goodbye, Stranger by Rebecca Stead. This book will resonate with all who work with middle schoolers–particularly in today’s tech-savvy culture. See my review for a caution. Middle grades.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. One of this year’s Newbery honors. I read this book a year ago, and I still remember much of it vividly. A fun read. Middle grades graphic novel.

Keeping House: the Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson. A wonderful reflection on why we keep house more than a “how to.” Perfect for us philosophical types who need motivation for the practical.

Do More Better by Tim Challies. A great counterpoint to the secular productivity titles out there. Worth a read if you enjoy those sorts of books!

What are some of your most memorable 2015 reads?

Talk amongst yourselves...


  1. Leslie Rayner says

    My MOST memorable read of children’s literature of 2015 (I also review titles) is Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley! It was well written & an amazing story, one that a middle school child and an adult can enjoy on separate levels. Also, I enjoyed Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick – it was just a great read – also for middle schoolers.

  2. Betsy says

    I enjoyed Circus Mirandus, too! Absolutely Truly is a great, solid middle grades gem as well. And yea for enjoying the JB Cheaney books :-). We’re pretty partial to her work around here!

  3. Wayne says

    Hi ,

    Your site is very helpful for a single dad, so thank you. I know it’s a new book (2016), but I just found a very nice book called “Cooking With Mr. C. by John Contratti. It has a wonderful message for kids. I found it on Amazon. My boys love it. I thought I’d share it with you. I check out your site weekly, so thanks. “Cooking With Mr. C.” is definitely going to be on my Top 10 of 2016.


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