The Best Books of 2015


I hope everyone’s 2015 ended with some great reading, family, friends, and fantastic food.

Of those I read in the year 2015 — those published in 2015 and before — these are the best in these categories:

Best Series:

Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle (The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue)

Best Children’s Book: (TIE)

Best Memoir:

Displacement by Lucy Knisley

Best Nonfiction:

LOVE: A Philadelphia Affair by Beth Kephart

Best Short Story Collection:

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War 

Best Young Adult Fiction:

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Best Reference:

How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis

Best Women’s Fiction:

French Coast by Anita Hughes

Best Historical Fiction: (TIE)

Best Fiction:

Best Poetry: (TIE)

Here is the list of BEST BOOKS PUBLISHED in 2015:

  1. Wet Silence by Sweta Vikram
  2. The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton
  3. Vessel by Parneshia Jones
  4. LOVE: A Philadelphia Affair by Beth Kephart
  5. The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck
  6. The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy
  7. Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor
  8. One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
  9. The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson
  10. The Sound of Glass by Karen White
  11. Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace
  12. Earth Joy Writing by Cassie Premo Steele, PhD

What were your favorites in 2015?

Earth Joy Writing: Creating Harmony Through Journaling and Nature by Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D.

Source: Ashland Creek Press
Paperback, 169 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Earth Joy Writing: Creating Harmony Through Journaling and Nature by Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., is more than a book about creative writing.  It is a book that will help readers become more creative writers and thinkers through the connections they develop or re-establish between themselves, their family, and nature.  With the right conditions and frame of mind, creativity can grow from not only our own experiences, current interactions with nature, but also through reflection and looking at the unknown.  Steele breaks down the book into the different seasons — Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall — and each section also has a monthly breakdown with writing exercises, reflections, and connecting with nature and emotions.

Readers will want to get a journal that they can use when reading this book, and they’ll want to do as Steele suggests and begin in the season and month that they are currently in, rather than start at the beginning of the book.  The book is laid out in a way that allows readers to tap into their current environment and season when writing or thinking creatively — generating a dialogue between themselves, nature, and potential readers of their own.  Beyond writing exercises and questions that readers can answer to start creating their own poems and stories, Steele also includes activities and experiences that will help frame the situation for those trying to be more creative.  For instance, she advises that readers take a trip to an art museum or look through an art book — not on the Internet — and journal about what piece of art strikes their fancy and encourages them to take the time to explore why.

Earth Joy Writing: Creating Harmony Through Journaling and Nature by Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., is a unique book about inspiring writers to think more creatively and to draw on nature to tap into their own creativity.  The book is about becoming more observant, less stressed, and more focused on connecting with nature, our natural selves, and those around us.  In this hyper-connected, Internet world, many of us find that we have over-scheduled our lives, and this book will help us slow down.  This is a book that will remain with those “prime” writing books in my workspace — one I’ll be using in the future.

About the Author:

Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., is the author of twelve books and audio programs on the themes of creativity, healing, and our connection to the natural world. She works as a writing coach with clients internationally.  Check out her website and the Earth Joy Writing website.  (Photo credit: Susanne Kappler)



Mailbox Monday #322

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Making Your Mind Up by Jill Mansell, my Christmas present has finally arrived!

Lottie Carlyle isn’t looking for love when she meets her new boss, Tyler Klein. Living in a beautiful cottage with her two kids in a idyllic village in the heart of the Cotswolds, she’s happy enough with her lot. Tyler’s perfect for Lottie and she quickly falls for him, but her children do not approve.

2.  Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, my second Christmas present has finally arrived!

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

3.  Earth Joy Writing by Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D. from Ashland Creek Press for review.

Earth Joy Writing is a writer’s guide to reconnecting to the earth. In chapters divided by seasons and months of the year, this book will guide you through reflections, exercises, meditations, and journaling prompts—all designed to help you connect more deeply with yourself, others, and your natural surroundings.

Weaving together poetry, stories, and cultural wisdom, Earth Joy Writing invites us to consider our connection to the earth and offers hands-on exercises that will help us meaningfully reconnect with our creative selves and with the planet we all share.

“Earth Joy Writing is about finding joy when we align our creative practices with natural principles. It is about living in harmony with our deepest selves and the natural world. It is about committing to a mindfully creative life in collaboration with nature and, in the process, healing both ourselves and the earth.” — Cassie Premo Steele

4. The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell my final Christmas gift.

Sophie Wells is a successful photographer with a focus on putting the past firmly behind her. When Josh Strachan returns to the seaside town of Cornwall from the States to run his family’s hotel, he can’t understand why the fun, sexy girl has zero interest in letting him-or any man for that matter-into her life. He also can’t understand how he’s been duped into employing Sophie’s impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited. Both girls remain mum about the reasons behind Sophie’s indifference to love. But that doesn’t mean Josh is going to quit trying…

5.  River House by Sally Keith from Milkweed Editions.

These are poems of absence. Written in the wake of the loss of her mother, River House follows Sally Keith as she makes her way through the depths of grief, navigating a world newly transfigured. Incorporating her travels abroad, her experience studying the neutral mask technique developed by Jacques Lecoq, and her return to the river house she and her mother often visited, the poet assembles a guide to survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable pain. Even in the dark, Keith finds the ways we can be “filled with this unexpected feeling of living.”

What did you receive?