28 December 2015

Favorite Books I Read in 2015

Wrapping up another year reading a book a week, I thought I'd take the time to share reasons why the ten books listed here are my favorites from the 52 books I read in 2015. My reading this list year included books read for fun and books for professional and personal growth.

My favorite books read for fun in 2015

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

With all the conversations about immigration in America right now I think it's important that we remember people and their stories. In this novel, Henriquez's characters tell their stories and reasons for coming to the United States. One character says "We're the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them." Check out the short review I wrote for Cake and Whiskey Magazine's blog here.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

This book makes the list because, well, because I'm not funny and Amy Poehler is. Honestly, I avoided this book for the longest time because I never really followed Amy Poehler carefully and wasn't sure I'd enjoy her humor, but when I had to drive to the other side of our state (10 hours round trip) for the second time in one month's time span, I knew I needed something other than my thoughts and music to occupy the time. Cue the audio book version of Yes Please. Poehler's humor was just what I needed in those ten hours, and each time I stopped I could hardly wait to get back in the car for more life wisdom from this comedian. No review from me on this one, but check out this fun review from another blogger.

Exposed: Tragedy and Triumph in Mountain Climbing 
by Brad and Melissa McQueen

Coincidentally, the authors of this book were in Steamboat Springs for a talk at a local bookstore at the same time we were there this summer. Their book kept me on the edge of my seat; I read it in two days while vacationing in Steamboat Springs. It's not just the adventure and beautiful scenery that keeps me reading books like this. I also appreciate the perseverance and experiential learning the authors share in their journey.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott 

For years I've followed Lamott's writing but hadn't read Bird by Bird, so when I received the book for Christmas in 2014, my 2015 reading journey started with this one. Terrific start to my year with numerous quotes applicable to life. Read more about what I thought of the book here.

Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail 
by Jennifer Pharr Davis

My interest in hiking/adventure memoirs continues and I read several more this year including Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis. This was her first book about her early journeys on the AT. You can read about her record setting AT hike in Called Again. You can read my short review for Cake and Whiskey magazine's blog here.

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

This memoir reminds you of the importance of being grateful for life, and it helps you appreciate creativity while also maintaining hope. I blogged about the book for Cake and Whiskey and then wrote a follow up post around Thanksgiving on my own blog because this book had just that much impact on me. It's one of those books I won't forget.

Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
Another favorite novel I enjoyed this year included Amercanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie. This was the first book I've read by Adichie, and I suspect it won't be the last. Her ideas resonate with me, and I appreciate her writing style too. This was another book I blogged about for Cake and Whiskey.

My favorite books read for professional growth in 2015

Most Likely to Succeed by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

This book by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith probably had the biggest impact on me professionally because of the multiple opportunities I have had to see the film and to meet Dintersmith. His ongoing passion for reimagining education is incredibly authentic and refreshing. For more information check out this blog post about Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for The Innovation Era.

Smart Parents: Parenting for Powerful Learning 
by Bonnie Lathram, Carri Schneider and Tom Vander Ark

This book had the biggest impact on me as a parent and a blogger because Getting Smart contacted me through my blog to see if I would be interested in reviewing the book. Not only was it fun to review and promote the book, I enjoyed the wealth of information available for parents and educators, and I learned about the Smart Parents movement. You will feel empowered if you read this book...so go for it!

What Connected Educators Do Differently
by Jimmy Casas, Todd Whitaker, and Jefferey Zoul

There's really no comparing the amount of reach and connection this book has brought me. First of all, I wrote this post about how the book describes my own journey as a connected educator. Second of all, the authors are engaging and encouraging, and they even participated in a book Twitter chat I hosted this year. Finally, amazingly, somehow, my blog post about this book skyrocketed to the number one most read blog post in my four years of blogging. Really, if you are not connected much yet you should read this short and informative book right away.