books link up top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books of 2015

The end of the calendar year means it’s time to compile Lists about All The Things and rate every aspect of our year. Yesterday I shared the Top 10 Posts at Critic & Fangirl this year and today I’m going to write about the Top 10 Books I read in 2015. A task which feels somewhat redundant in that regular readers have probably heard me babble about these ten books a lot already, but they are all good enough to merit further squealing. And, um, bandwagon meet Jen. Oh we already met.

Check out The Broke and The Bookish for more Top Ten lists!

Also – it’s the prompt for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday and the FOMO is strong.

To keep things interesting, I’m going to go all superlative yearbook style with this list and compare each book to a cliched stereotype from high school.


1: The girl all the boys want to take to the yard and they’re like it’s better than yours, damn right it’s better than yours, I could teach you – but I’d have to charge… Sorry, tangent – book that everyone obsesses over because their hair is so pretty like woah – and they are smart and funny, too – the jerks: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Start with Cinder. Prepare to never stop talking about it.

2: The younger sibling of the really popular kid who has a lot going for him but often gets overshadowed by their star sibling: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins was really good and was my nine year old’s favorite book this year but when most people think of Suzanne Collins they probably think of her other books.

3: The girl whose family is so big that you forget who is related to who and why, but you can assume that anyone in town is probably her cousin somehow: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter will seriously test your knowledge of the Greek Gods and also occasionally your patience as you endure the world’s longest “Do you think he likes me?” moment.

4: The quiet kid in class who is a little on the macabre side but then you get to know them and find out they are really smart and kind and you are so glad you decided to strike up a conversation with them: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey is a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up if my book club hadn’t been reading it – especially if I had actually known the whole plot! But I really loved it and I’m so glad I read it.

5: The super funny friend that writes you notes in class that you kind of want to keep forever because everything she says is genius and she’s probably going to be famous someday: Yes Please by Amy Poehler is one of the better “celebrity memoirs” on the block – Poehler’s writing  feels like you are talking to your best friend who happens to be one of the most amazing people on this planet – just like your real best friend, right?

6: The kid who always seems drunk and tells such crazy stories that you are starting to wonder if they are a pathological liar: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is basically the king of unreliable narrator driven stories.

7: The girl in English class whose poetry actually doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out with a spork: May B by Caroline Starr Rose is so beautifully written and for a book written in poetic form, it’s impresive how readable and not silly it was. A lot of times books written in poems or epistolary style feel contrived, but this was just wonderful and #allthefeels.

8: The girl who has a new boyfriend every week and is totally in love with love and draws hearts over all of her i’s still but she’s a total sweetie so you like her anyway: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han was kind of addictively wonderful even when it was cheesy and predictable. It had a surprising amount of heart and depth to it that kept me coming back for more. Han’s writing is imbibed with MSG and crack cocaine.

9: The president of the debate club who volunteers at the soup kitchen and organizes rallies for justice and makes you feel like the laziest person alive: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is one of those “you will be a better person just for reading this” books and it should probably be required reading.

10: The boy who was so good at all the things – so smart and sweet and funny and athletic and well written that he kind of ruins you for all future romantic relationship because you know you’ll just compare them to him and he’ll always win: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr pretty much won the Books Written About World War II Contest – and there’s a pretty broad field of contenders. My book club is already finding itself saying, “It was good, but it wasn’t All The Light We Cannot See good.”

family fun

Do you believe – part 2

2015 School Picture MM
2015 School Picture: 4th Grade

Last night I was watching Polar Express with the kids and in the middle of the movie MM asked me earnestly if Santa Claus was real and in my mind I was a nervous wreck because 1) I’m not ready for the magic to be over and 2) in my mind MM still looks like this:

after haircut

But also, his sister was sitting right next to me and at six years old she is still very much in the Santa Claus xoxoxoxox wheelhouse. Even if I wanted to have a frank discussion about Santa with my nine year old, I didn’t want to do it in front of her:


I thought fast and said simply that I didn’t know and what did he think? He seemed momentarily surprised at my lack of certainty – of course the years of me babbling about emailing Santa and us watching those dumb video letters from Santa probably didn’t help. He probably thought we were BFFs on speed dial, you know? But I told him that believing in Santa Claus is a lot like believing in God – it’s a personal leap of faith that only you can make and that there probably won’t ever be any absolute proof to support that  faith and that’s okay.

BB earnestly informed us that she definitely believes in Santa and he’s the best and there is no debate to be had. The end. MM remained quietly on the fence. He told me that his classmate said she’d seen her mother put out all the presents at Christmas one year, to which I replied, “Did she count them?” There will always be reasons to doubt.

The thing is, I realized as we were talking that it’s really not important if Santa is real or not – in the grand scheme of things. And it doesn’t matter if he believes or not, although on some level I hope he does because I think that kind of magic is a powerful part of childhood and every time you lose a little bit of that magic, the world becomes far less interesting.

But either way, the important thing I wanted him to know is this: It’s about choosing whether or not you want to believe in something you can’t see, whether that be a religious belief, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, magic spells, psychic powers or anything really. You can base that belief on fact if you want to or you can just trust your gut or be open to the possibilities of the universe. And regardless of what you decide, you need to be respectful of other people’s beliefs and not go out of your way to crush them if you disagree. Tread carefully around people’s dreams because they are fragile and beautiful things.

So how big will my children’s therapy bills be?