My Favorite Books of 2015

My Favorite Books of 2015

This year was an amazing year of reading for me.  Back in January 2015, I set the audacious goal of reading 100 books.  I was shocked when I reached that goal by the beginning of November!  I ended the year with 121 books read–by far the most I’ve ever read in a single year.


So, it was a little hard to choose my favorites of the year.  I am sure that I left something off the list and will want to add it in another month of two!  Also, please note that these are books I read in 2015, regardless of publication date.  In no particular order, here are:


My Favorite Books of 2015


168 Hours

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is the reason that I started The Orthodox Mama.  No, it isn’t a book about how to start a blog.  The book did convince me, however, that despite the fact that I am a working mother of three young children, I really did have more time than I thought.  And, I should use that extra time to pursue my passions–in my case writing.

Through keeping a time log, evaluating my priorities, and identifying my core competencies, I was able to begin focusing on my goals.  We find time for what we prioritize.  So, with the help of Vanderkam, I decided to follow through and make time for writing.  You can see my full review of the book HERE.


the way of a pilgrim

The Way of A Pilgrim translated by Olga Savin

The Way of a Pilgrim is a classic in Orthodox spirituality, which tells the story of a pilgrim who longs to learn how he can fulfill St. Paul’s command to “Pray without ceasing.”  He begins a journey that takes him to dozens of spiritual fathers and leads him to learn The Jesus Prayer.  The Jesus Prayer is a simple prayer that one can learn in a minute, but also a profound prayer that one can pray for a lifetime.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, A sinner.”

By praying this prayer continually, inwardly, a person can become transformed.  After the pilgrim learns the prayer, the book chronicles his struggles and victories in leading a life of humility and repentance–constantly in the presence of God.  I read The Way of A Pilgrim for the first time last Lent, and I plan to make it a Lenten discipline each year.



The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

My sister-in-law handed this book to me as my husband and I were leaving on our child-free vacation.  She has flawless taste in books, so I eagerly began it.  I am so glad that I did!  Set in 1946 in postwar England, the book consists of letters to, from, or about Juliet Ashton, who is the author of a popular book.  Through these letters, Juliet learns more about the German occupation of the British island of Guernsey and of the lives of the island’s residents.  She eventually travels to the island, where she changes her life.  I knew very little about this historic time or event and thoroughly enjoyed this treat of a book!


happier at home

Happier At Home  by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin set out to make her home a place that she and her family were happy in–by focusing on one habit per month.  Her experience inspired me to Make Home My Happy Place, a place where we give warm greetings and good-byes, where we spend time with each other, and where our possessions are one that bring us joy.  If you are looking for a book to inspire you this new year, I heartily recommend Happier At Home.



In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Pollan’s book had been referenced in several books on healthy eating, so I decided to go to the source.  I am sure glad that I did.  Pollan’s simple motto is:  “Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  Simple, yet it has changed the way that I am viewing our family’s food.  If you are curious about how the Western diet is literally killing us, or if you just want to know how to eat more healthily, you’ll want to read In Defense of Food.


dead wake

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

One of my favorite book bloggers, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy, gave a rave review of Dead Wake, so I knew I had to read it.  Erik Larson presents the story of the sinking of the Lusitania in such a gripping manner that it almost reads like fiction instead of the well-researched nonfiction book that it is.  I am realizing more and more how woefully inadequate my understanding of history is, so I found the story fascinating.  I am definitely adding other books by Larson to my library hold shelf.


the fringe hours

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner

“Once I freed myself from the bondage of perfection and embraced a lifestyle that made time for my passions, I was happier in all of my pursuits and responsibilities.”  Yes, yes!  Turner’s book completely resonates with my experience this year.  Making time for my priorities and interests (in my case reading and writing) has helped me become a better wife, mother, teacher, and person.  Somehow our culture has impressed upon moms that they are selfish when they do things just for themselves.  However, the opposite is true.  When we are refreshed, we are better able to love all those we come in contact with each day.  If you feel like your life is too busy for “me” time, or that you don’t even remember the passions and gifts you used to have, The  Fringe Hours is a must-read.


Runners Up:  Bread and Wine, The Astronaut Wives Club, French Kids Eat Everything, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


What were the best books you read in 2015?

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(Linked to Share the Wealth, Small Victories Sunday, Quick Lit.)

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10 thoughts on “My Favorite Books of 2015

  1. The Fringe Hours was my favorite read of the year. I really enjoyed The Guernsey book when I read it a couple years back. So many good books! I had a couple years of reading more than 100 books in a year, but now with a 1 year old and another baby on the way – and time spent focusing on my blog – my reading count was in the 40s this year. To everything there is a season! 🙂 Here’s to a new year full of good books!
    Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving recently posted…Most Popular Posts of 2015My Profile

    • There are definitely seasons, Kristen! That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about my 2016 Reading Challenge–one book from a different category each month. Totally doable, but it will still expand my reading tastes. We would love to have you join!

  2. This list includes both fiction and nonfiction. I read a lot more nonfiction than fiction. Books are not listed in any particular order. According to Goodreads, I read 68 books in 2015. I probably won’t read so many in 2016, probably 40-50. I don’t like rushing through most books (unless it is an absolute page turner which I can’t put down.) So here are my favorites from 2015.

    1. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larsen
    2. A Full Life: Reflections at 90 by Jimmy Carter
    3. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
    4. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (Armand Gamache #8)
    5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
    6. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    7. Lights Out by Ted Koppel
    8. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    9. Wartime Britain by Juliet Gardiner
    10. A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs #11)
    Florence recently posted…January PoetryMy Profile

    • What a great list, Florence! I need to add The Wright Brothers to my list. I listened to a podcast that interviewed David McCullough about that book and it sounded fascinating. I’ve also heard really good things about Being Mortal. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • I hope you do! The fist few pages are definitely a bit slower–setting the stage. It’s such a sweet book, and it made me want to find out more about Guernsey, the Channel Islands, and the German occupations of them.

  3. I keep seeing many of these books on recommended reads list–time for me to start paying attention! I loved In Defense of Food, and the other Gretchen Rubin books I’ve read.

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