My Top 15 Books of the Year … So Far

Published by The Connected Reader on

My Top 15 Books of the Year ... So Far

It’s July, y’all. We are well into summer here in Texas, and actually have only 4.5 more weeks until school starts again. 

Every year, for the past couple of years, I’ve made a goal of reading 100 books. I’ve never actually met the goal, but I enjoy working toward it. This year, I am at exactly 50 books at the halfway point of the year. To celebrate, I’m sharing my list of best books of the year, so far. This is a list of both new and previously released titles, spanning many genres because that’s where I’m at in my reading life.

Best Non-Fiction I’ve Read This Year

Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy

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This might be the book that is sticking with me the most. I read it in January  and I think about it and act on it every day. Not perfectly, but steadily. Lots of concrete actions to take, walks you through specific scenarios and behaviors, and for me, was the perfect balance of a hug and an encouraging push.

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

Print    Audio

I’ve read several books about the opioid epidemic and this is the best one. The storytelling and structure of the narrative is so compelling; definitely a nonfiction book that reads like fiction, except this is our real life hellscape where we can trust no institution to have our best interest in mind.

Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey

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This is a book from the founder of The Nap Ministry. I read this slowly, taking time to stop after each section and write notes and reflections; to simmer, to gaze up into the sky and let my mind wander. That is the spirit of this book. It is not a how-to; it is a thought-provoking work that calls out the systems of white supremacy and capitalism that hold us down and explores how we can push back through community connection and rest, in all its many forms.

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H.

Print   Audio

My best book of the year, no question. It hits all the notes for me; interesting structure, beautiful writing, engaging narrative. I’ve read a lot of memoirs lately that are surface level and this one is so, so much more. Even while still being in the struggle, the author tells a story of coming of age, found family, and making sense of belief and the Quran through the lens of being a queer woman.

Best Literary and Commercial Fiction I Have Read This Year

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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This is a historical fiction novel based in Iceland in the early 1800s. I just re-read that sentence and can’t believe I read this book and loved it so much – it is totally outside of my usual genres. (I picked it up for a reader retreat I attended, otherwise I would have never read it.) What did it for me was the multiple perspectives, the beautiful, unexpected moments of connection between characters, the setting, and the suspense. Even though it is based on a real-life event and you know that ending, I still felt like I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

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This book is about four women scientists who create a time traveling organization and the conflict that ensues over the course of their lives. This is another one that I normally would not pick up, mostly because the logistics of Time Travel make my brain hurt. But again, the setting – moving through decades in the 1900s and early 2000s – multiple perspectives, and the world-building drew me in. If you liked the Time Traveler’s Wife or any of Blake Crouch’s books, you will likely enjoy this.

Book of Extraordinary Tragedies by Joe Meno

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This book is a contemporary story about an immigrant family living in Chicago, told from the perspective of the 20-year-old Aleks, a former piano prodigy who is now trying to figure out who he is while keeping his family – his mother, father, grandfather, sister, and niece – together. It is one of those books that has small moments that, as I said in my monthly recap, stop your heart and restart it.

Your Driver is Waiting by Priya Guns

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This is a satirical novel about Damani, a rideshare driver in the U.S. city. There is so much in this story. A queer woman navigating a new interracial relationship. Grieving one parent while caring for another. The daily struggle of working to live. A community of found family. What it means to be an activist and an ally. It is wild and a thought-provoking commentary on American society.

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter

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This book tells the story of a woman who grew up with a father and mother who were dealing with mental illness and addiction, and how it impacts her own relationships with friends and romantic partners as a teenager and adult. But what made this story for me was the structure – the way the book is organized is unique and based on the main character’s career as a marine scientist, with shifts back and forth in time, and sections written in the second person.

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez

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This book is about a family that has one daughter go missing as a teenager (not a spoiler) and how they process this over the next decade plus. It is heartbreaking and funny, and full of real, and beautiful, moments between sisters and between mothers and daughters. It also has a wonderfully wild climactic event that just had me laughing and crying at the same time.

Best Young Adult and Middle Grade I Have Read This Year

Pet by akwaeke emezi

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I read this in February and still feel so unsettled by it – in a “I can’t believe how the author structured this and created a world so vibrant and haunting to portray a traumatic event in a community” kind of way. The mixture of reality and magical realism was so unique. Lot’s of trigger warnings here, but worth it if you are in a space to manage and process it.

Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez

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I wanted to savor this one and also couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages. This is a novel in verse about Aniana, a middle-school-aged girl processing a chronic illness diagnosis, her relationship with her mother, and the hold that a traumatic event from the past has over her family. The author plays with a variety of poetic structures, and the voice and story just jumped off the page for me.

The Davenports by Krystal Marquis

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I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, so I loved this representation in the Young Adult space. The book takes place in the early 1900s and tells the story of a wealthy Black family in Chicago. It is told through the perspectives of four women in or around the family as they come of age and navigate racism, classism, and breaking out of the expectations put upon them.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Print   Audio

This is the first in a four part middle grade series that came out over a decade ago. I’ve been reading it aloud with my 8-year-old. The series is good (except for the weird third book that I would totally recommend skipping), but the first one is the standout. There is something so magical about the way the world is crafted and how you discover its secrets along with the main characters.

Best Romance I Have Read This Year

Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa De La Cruz

Print   Audio

This will not be for everyone, but it was for me. It is a re-imagining of the year between when Jo wrote the first and second parts of Little Women and it was everything I felt was unsatisfying about the actual Little Women.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Even if you don’t use the links, I highly recommend checking out Bookshop.org and Libro.fm for access to tons of titles while still supporting an indie bookstore.

Categories: Book Lists

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