This year I finally reached my goal of reading 50 books in a year. I’ve been trying since 2011, so it feels especially good to have surpassed my goal in 2015. With that said, it was pretty tough to pick the top five books I read this year. It was so hard that I decided to pick five and then add in a few honorable mentions.
Looking back through the books I read this year, I was surprised to see how much fiction I read. I’m usually a big fan of memoirs, self-help, and midwifery books, but I branched out more in 2015 and I’m so glad I did.
Secrets of a Charmed Life begins in present day England with a young American student interviewing Isabel McFarland, an elderly woman who is finally ready to discuss lifelong secrets she has kept from World War II, starting with her identity. The author then weaves in the story of fifteen-year-old Emmy and her younger sister, Julia who live in England in the 1940s. As Hitler wages a war against London, children are forced to evacuate to foster homes in the countryside. While Emmy and Julia find security and peace in a lovely cottage with their foster mother, Emmy’s desire to return to London and work with a fashion designer battles with Julia’s need for her sister. Just as the Luftwaffe begins its destruction of London, the sisters are torn apart and their lives change forever.
This book. I was hooked once the story of Emmy and Julia picked up and couldn’t stop reading it. I loved it so much that I forced my mom to read it (who claims she’s not big into reading) and she said she adored it. We agreed that we liked the bond between the sisters and their mother and felt that it was very realistic. I highly recommend this book.
The Light Between Oceans is the story of Tom Sherbourne, an Australian lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. His lighthouse is so secluded that it’s half a day’s journey from the coast, and a supply boat only visits once a season. Tom meets and marries Isabel, and she lives with him on Janus Rock. Through the story, Isabel suffers two miscarriages and a stillbirth. One day, she hears a baby’s cry, and it turns out that a boat washed up on Janus Rock with a dead man and living baby on it. Tom wants to report the incident right away, but Isabel want to keep the baby. They end up keeping her and naming her Lucy. When Lucy is two, the family returns to the mainland and everything goes haywire.
At first, I wasn’t into this book. Once I became more invested in the plot, it was absolutely riveting. I have heard this it’s going to be turned into a movie this year as well. I’m very excited to see it!
The Residence is a nonfiction book that gives an account of the service staff of the White House. The author discusses many of the first families that have lived in the White House as well as the dedicated professionals who maintain the 132 rooms in the six-floor mansion. What I loved about The Residence was that it covered so many different aspects of the White House, from President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle to how the professionals get the White House ready for holidays and events. From the moment I began reading this book, I was absolutely fascinated. I’m also delighted to hear that the author has another (similar) book coming out in 2016!
The Secrets of Midwives is about Neva Bradley, a young third-generation midwife who is pregnant, but keeping the details of who the father is under wraps. Neva’s secret mirrors her grandmother’s past in an eerily same way, and her grandmother must choose whether or not to share her past. I was fond of this book not only because it was about midwifery, but because the author totally nailed the mother-daughter relationships in a way that was very real to me. This book was a page-turner, but I wouldn’t read it if you’re squeamish about details concerning childbirth.
The Boston Girl is about a young Jewish immigrant, Addie, who tells her life story to her granddaughter when asked how she became the woman she is. Addie’s story begins in 1915, and follows her through quite a few life changes. The book has a strong feminist theme, and proves that the author has a keen eye for history. When I first read about The Boston Girl online, I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy it but I was dead wrong. I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted to know what would happen next in Addie’s life. There are so many plot twists and turns, I was never bored with this book for a second.