2015 Book Review

At the beginning of the year I made a goal to read one book per month. I have never been very successful at keeping these promises but reading more was something that I really did want to start doing and this seemed like a reasonable way to keep me accountable.

I was doing really well; I had a strategy to read shorter books when the previous month took too long and longer books when I finished the previous one quickly. This went well until September and October came and I was busy with our wedding and honeymoon plans. I ended up reading 10 books this year which compared to the year before, is still a good accomplishment. Below are short reviews and my opinions on my 10 books of 2015.

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot | Bill O’Riley
In middle school big sunglasses got really popular and I followed the trend. One day my dad stated that I had ‘Jacquie O sunglasses‘ and the love affair began. I am not a Kennedy fanatic but I am honestly more attracted to the past presidential family than the average person. Of course I indulged in this interest by reading this book. Putting political preferences aside, I think O’Riley does an amazing job putting factual, historical and interesting stories in these books. Some of it wasn’t ground breaking information but speaking as a Kennedy fan you still learn a lot. My favorite parts of these books are the stories of the bad guys. My past passions have focused on the presidents but these books provide in-depth coverage of the complete story. I would recommend this book and the Killing series to anyone who likes history.

Walk Two Moons | Sharon Creech
I had previously read this book in elementary or middle school. It is for children but I found it on my bookshelf and couldn’t resist the urge to reread the story. It is a wonderful quick read about a young girl, with Native American ancestry, who is on a trip with her grandparents. While most of the book is a goofy story within itself, the ending reminded me why I liked the book so many years ago.

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever | Bill O’Riley
After all the praise for Killing Kennedy above, I do have to warn you that Killing Lincoln was my least favorite in this series, so far. While this one is still very informational and intellectual, the majority of the book takes place during the war and there is a lot of tactical and dry information surrounding that. While the story overall is still interesting, I had a hard time wrapping my head around all the general’s names, locations and small bits of military information holding the story together. If you choose to read this one, take your time with the details.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail | Cheryl Strayed
This and The Martian were my favorite books of the year. While I enjoy reading history I also like being taken on a journey. I like to immerse myself in something I feel I would never do (hike the PCT, travel to Mars, etc) and this was a great example of that. Reading books where the main character’s life is a mess helps me realize that I do actually have my shit together (in most cases). Wild was an adventure and a learning experience and I thank Cheryl for writing it so I do not have to walk for a month to learn what she did. The book can become tedious but it was also inspiring and insightful, making me cry more than once and I don’t know the last time a book had that effect on me. I do have to add that while I love Reese Witherspoon (who doesn’t?) and the movie overall was good; it was nothing like reading the book.

What Would Jackie Do? An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living Shelly Branch and Sue Callaway 
After reading the description for Killing Kennedy this book choice probably makes more sense. I was given this book by my dad and it provided a lot of new information on one of my role models. The format was question and answer, grouped into topics which was nice but I believe the authors took the liberty of inserting their opinion as fact. It was a fun read but I think I will stick with biographies for my favorite first lady.

Dirty, Sexy Politics | Meghan McCain
I decided to read this book after ending The West Wing. I guess I wanted to continue the political entertainment in my life. I have enjoyed following Meghan McCain since she visited Northwest Missouri State University and I was able to meet her. Reading the book provides insight into stressful campaign life, for not only the daughter of a candidate, but for a young journalist. This was a great perspective to learn from and one I enjoyed reading. Even if you aren’t a fan of the author, it is still a great look into a presidential race.

The Martian | Andy Weir
I will be honest, the only reason I read this book was because I knew it was coming out as a movie with Matt Damon as the star. The book is amazing, hilarious, and educational and I couldn’t put it down, but the movie ruined it for me. The movie was just okay and they changed the ending dramatically. If you don’t like science or the idea of space travel or even cuss words, don’t read the book but if you are the other 95% of people on Earth, take the time to read the book because trust me, it is way better than the movie.

Yes Please | Amy Poehler
I will be honest again, this was not the hit I was expecting. I really wanted to read this book, it was even gifted to me because I had talked about it so much but page after page, I really didn’t like it. I am not sure if the material wasn’t relatable for me because of the age difference, (Amy references a lot of things I am just not familar with) or if it’s because I am not a parent. I, like most 20 something’s, love the Amy Poehler and Tina Fey productions like Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and their work on SNL but to me, Amy’s book was disappointing. I might have had my standards high, I was expecting to laugh a lot but I am not sure I even sensibly chuckled during each chapter. I would say if you are a fan, read it, the book isn’t worthless or uninteresting, just don’t expect to bust your gut from each story.

Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency | Bill O’Riley
This was the most informational book in the series because I had the least background knowledge on the Reagan family. Learning about his history as an Iowan and why his legacy is so profound in the Republican Party was interesting. This book also seemed more personal for me because I can remember when Reagan died which is covered in the book. Reagan wasn’t all movie star status and smiles. Learning his darker secrets (or should I say Nancy’s secrets) provided to be a very interesting read.

Parallel Play: A Novel | Thomas Rayfiel
This was a random read. I was at my mom’s house for the holidays and had finished reading Killing Reagan on the car ride there so I need another book for the car ride back. This book was in the bottom of my closet, collecting dust. This book is probably not for everyone. It is about a woman in the city who has a baby and isn’t really into being a mom. It was interesting and a little random, but when I finished the book I found it was the third in a series. Knowing that I didn’t have the back story made me like it more and I have already purchased the two books I missed.

These are short but hopefully give you a little glimpse into each book. I did learn from writing this post that I should review the book directly after I read it, thinking back to these is more of a challenge than I expected. I also learned, twice unfortunately, that movies stink compared to the books. Just so you know, I am trying again in 2016. Wish me luck!

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