One of the nice things about having a bad memory is that when it comes time to write an end-of-the-year post and look back on the year, the stuff that happened at the beginning of the year isn’t really that much more hard to remember than the stuff that just happened. Obviously I’m sort of kidding—it’s annoying even if it’s not unfair to the beginning of the year.
This year, there were five books that really stood out to me. Three of them I read and studied for the MFA and the other two I’m planning to put on my list for next semester.
Eleanor & Park has been one of my favorite books since I first read it back in 2013, I think. I reread it a few months ago and enjoyed every second of it again. If I could write like Rainbow Rowell, I’d consider myself There as a writer. I reviewed it in August.
Louise O’Neill is one of my other favorite writers. This year, in June, I reviewed The Surface Breaks, which is a very feminist retelling of the Little Mermaid story. O’Neill manages to get her message mixed in with a very satisfying and engaging story every time.
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard is another great one to me. It was such a fresh story about a gender nonconforming girl who learns the value of female friendships over her bro relationships. I reviewed it in October. This is one I’m hoping my faculty mentor lets me put on my reading list for next semester.
Another book that I adored and studied for the MFA was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. This is a fantastic and tragic look at mental illness (undiagnosed bipolar disorder in this case). I really loved this book and happily reread it for the MFA. I reviewed it in January.
The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati is second book on this list that takes a hard look at mental illness. This one doesn’t end sadly, however, but does explore bipolar disorder in depth. I really enjoyed it and reviewed it in April.