2015 End of Year Book Survey


I’ve never participated in Perpetual Pageturner’s End of Year Book Survey before, but I enjoyed Akilah’s survey results so much that I decided I had to join in.



Number Of Books You Read: 581 (includes picture books)
Number of Re-Reads: 7 (not including picture books)
Genre You Read The Most From: Picture Books!



1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

sorcerer to crown

I’ve got to go with the book that broke my reading slump, Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown. It’s Jane Austen meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell along with something that’s Cho’s very own. Wise, witty, wonderful.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

orbiting jupiter

I just knew I was going to love Orbiting Jupiter, and it is beautifully written, but the entire book strained credulity for me in a big way.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  


I surprised myself by absolutely loving Liesl Shurtliff’s Red, her third middle-grade fractured fairy tale.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

when i was the greatest

Jason Reynolds’s When I Was the Greatest sports what is maybe my favorite book cover of all time. It basically sells itself! Still, I pushed and pushed away with this title. It made the rounds in a couple of my classes.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

bird and squirrel on the run

James Burks’s Bird & Squirrel series is my new favorite graphic novel series for younger readers. The sequels are just as fine as the first book.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

That’s easy!

zen cho

Zen Cho! I’m reading her collection of short stories, Spirits Abroad, right now, and saving her historical romance, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, for my next reading slump. Cho also loves Naomi Novak’s Uprooted as much as I do! And Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell! We’re reading soul twins!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

fortune smiles

I don’t read much literary fiction written for grown-ups, and I don’t read many short stories, so Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles was doubly what I don’t typically read. But it was so good, I went to the library and checked out several more collections of short stories for grown-ups.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

great greene heist

Every night I told myself I would only read 2 or 3 chapters of Varian Johnson’s The Great Green Heist aloud to my son. And every night, I was still reading, 5 or 6 chapters later.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

100 essays i don't have time to writeI don’t have words for how much I loved this book or how thought-provoking I found it. Some of Sarah Ruhl’s essays are just a sentence or two in length, yet they resonate. Ruhl is a playwright, and many of these essays are about theater business, which I didn’t think I had much interest in. Turns out when Ruhl writes it, I want to read it. The most profound words in this book, for me, are about motherhood and creativity. A book I will definitely reread in 2016.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

when i was the greatest

You knew this was coming, right?

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

phoebe and her unicorn

I’m picking Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, the sarcastic and self-loving unicorn in Dana Simpson’s comic strip series, Phoebe and Her Unicorn.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

el deafo

When I reread El Deafo in 2015, I concentrated more on the writing than the illustrations, and I have to say, Bell’s sentences are totally Newbery worthy.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

from master teacher to master learner

Will Richardson actually changed my teaching life a couple of years ago, but his latest book, From Master Teacher to Master Learner, distills those life-changing lessons in just 80 pages.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

living between th elines

Lucy Calkins’s Living Between the Lines is one of the most important books about teaching writing that I’ve ever read. How have I possibly been teaching writing for 20 years without this book?

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

From Sarah Ruhl’s 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write:

both parenting and theater involve an embrace of impermanence, and both are embodied art forms.

I have spent the year thinking about motherhood as an embodied art form.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

I decided to share the book that FELT the longest.

candy shop war

It’s actually “only” 384 pages, but it felt like 3,384. Maybe because my son fell asleep within three sentences every night because it’s that boring of a book. So we were reading it FOREVER.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

beautiful darkness

That’s a girl’s dead decomposing hand on the cover. Enough said.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

OTP apparently means “one true pairing” and I don’t understand this even a little bit, but this is why Google exists. From Urban Dictionary:

also know as OTP. It is your favorite relationship in a fandom. It is the couple that fans prefer over all others.


I’m pretty sure this isn’t what the creator of OTP really meant, but the OTP of my reading life is obvious: Elephant & Piggie!

i will take a nap

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

ballet cat totally secret secretBallet Cat and Sparkles Pony!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

soul of octopus

I have read most of Sy Montgomery’s books in the Scientists in the Field series but none of her books for grown-ups. The Soul of an Octopus is simply incredible nonfiction. You’ll become more obsessed with octopuses than you might imagine possible.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Most of the books I read in 2015 were read based on somebody else’s recommendation. That’s the whole point of my wonderful Monday kitlit reading community! But here’s one that I never would have read or even found if I hadn’t read Amy Benfer’s review essay for Barnes & Noble.

lena finkle's magic barrel

I’ve pushed Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel on every reader I know, but so far, no takers. Clearly I need to find a new way to spin a review.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

I don’t think I have fictional crushes.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

zach delacruz

Jeff Anderson has several excellent professional development books about teaching writing, but Zach Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth is his middle-grade debut, and it’s a strong and engaging comic story, ideal for reading aloud or bookpushing with reluctant readers.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


I adored Naomi Novak’s Uprooted, a fantasy novel set in a magical world that feels slightly medieval and uniquely Novak’s own.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

dory and real true friend

A new Dory book by Abby Hanlon is cause for celebration. I ADORE this series.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

boats for papa

Jessixa Bagley’s Boats for Papa is both beautiful to look at and heartrending (in the best possible way) to read.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

everybody paints

I wasn’t expecting to love Susan Goldman Rubin’s Everybody Paints! The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family–much less to fall in love with Wyeth family art. But there you go.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

the boy who was raised as a dog

Bruce Perry’s collection of essays based on case studies of traumatized children from his psychiatric career made me think it was high time for the apocalypse because people are so horrible to each other. But then there are people like Perry himself, devoted to helping traumatized children heal, and then there are the children themselves, who show such incredible grace and resilience.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

dreaming in indian

Dreaming In Indian collects art, essays, fiction, poetry, interviews and more by and about contemporary Native American young people. It’s a gorgeously designed book–almost a coffee table book for the YA reader.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

drowned city

Don Brown’s beautifully illustrated, compelling Drowned City fired me up all over again about the incredibly incompetent Bush administration.


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

I’m enjoying the thought-provoking conversations at Reading While White.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

I don’t really do stand-alone reviews. I do write a lot of book lists, however. One that I really enjoyed compiling was Graphic Novels for Grown-Ups.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Teaching Unplugged, which describes an experience guest-lecturing in another professor’s classroom where no devices are allowed. I’ve been really happy with the way I use technology in my classes–until I taught this class.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

NCTE, of course!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

Meeting Philip Stead and Erin Stead was pretty cool!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Year-long reading slump. SIGH.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

The post that received the most comments this year was Stupid, a slice-of-life I wrote about the challenges of school for a kid who learns differently.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Freewriting Without Tears: How to Build a Classroom Practice of Powerful Freewriting is one of my favorite pieces on writing this year.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

A local independent bookstore that I didn’t know about!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Ha. See My Reading Year.


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

everything leads to you

Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

My son is really excited about the sequel to The Great Greene Heist.

to catch a cheat

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I don’t keep track of debuts.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

elephant & piggie

The last Elephant & Piggie book will be published in May. Sob!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Read a lot of good books and blog consistently. That’s it!

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:


Kwame Alexander’s new verse novel, Booked, publishes in April, and it’s another must-read.





7 responses to “2015 End of Year Book Survey”

  1. Melissa Rosfeld Avatar

    When school starts again, I’ll borrow you The Boy in the Black Suit and A Search Past Silence if you will borrow me The Soul of an Octopus and Fortune Smiles. I have both of those sitting in my Amazon cart right now which is overflowing with books off Best of 2015 lists and professional development instead of overflowing with the textbooks it should be.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I actually got both Soul and Fortune at the Rapid City Library, but I am happy to check them out and loan them to you. I have Boy in Black Suit–just haven’t finished it yet. I often read 10-15 books at once so things inevitably fall by the wayside, even books I really like. But I will take Search Past Silence! And textbooks. Yuck. I’m glad I mostly got rid of those years ago!

  2. Akilah Avatar

    That Jason Reynolds cover is pretty amazing. Great Greene Heist is so fun! I told my daughter I would read to her this year (she’s 16)–one of the Read Harder challenges. I have to pick something good, and I’m thinking a middle grade novel would be best. I SHALL SEE.

    I loved this. I should have put Awkward down as my rec’d book! I found out about it through IMWAYR. Ah.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Sometimes my son makes scornful comments about when he’s in high school and I don’t read to him anymore, to which I say Pshaw! I will ALWAYS read to you! I am determined not to give it up. We’re reading Scott Savage’s Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention, and it’s quite good. It’s hard for me to imagine a time when he will be happy in the world of YA (he really likes good parents and happy endings, which automatically scratches half the YA I read!), so we may stay in middle-grade for a long time. So many wonderful books! Much as I’m trying to avoid reading challenges, I’m planning to participate in the Book Riot one. Looks fun!

  3. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    I enjoyed The Great Greene Heist a few years ago. I’m glad there is a sequel. I haven’t met many people who like it, and it isn’t an easy sell at my school. (But I keep trying) Thanks so much for this list – I’ve added a few that might make it on my must read list for this year.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I can’t imagine anyone not liking The Great Greene Heist! Of course it’s implausible, but what heist isn’t?! It’s very well done, and I am incredibly appreciative of that diverse cast of characters. We need so many more books like this! Glad you found a few new titles to read. #bookpusher4life!

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