Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Top 15 Stand-Alone Books [Jan. 2015]

Hey, y'all! So back in July, I did a post where I discussed my 15 favorite stand-alone books (which you can check out HERE, and said that I would probably make it a bi-annual series. SOMEHOW, it's already January, and time for an updated top 15 list!

As I've said in the past, this list is not limited just to Stand-Alone novels. It really just includes any book that is not part of a series. I find that series tend to sometimes muddle my lists up, because you can only put Harry Potter on your favorites list a few times before it becomes repetitive. Very repetitive. Also, for the recurring books, I'm going to leave the same description, only tweaking when necessary. 

#15: 172 Hours on the Moon
by Johan Harstad

This was one of the books that I read for my October Horror Marathon (Full discussion here). It was a really interesting novel. I did think that the pacing was a bit off-- the beginning was very slow, and then once it hit the action, it seemed like everything happened way too quickly. However, I really enjoyed it other than that. It really kept me guessing as to what was going on, and that suspense kept me intrigued and I got through it really quickly because of that.

#14: Carrie
by Stephen King

I discussed this book in my book discussions post #1 (Click here to check that out).The story and characters were interesting, but the way it was written was the star of the show. The main plot of the book is intertwined with articles, book excerpts, interviews, etc. about the "incident." I absolutely loved that. It made the book significantly more interesting and added anticipation for the scene at prom. This book was a very pleasant surprise. And I still haven't seen either of the movies based on this book. I haven't heard many good things about the new one, but I do really want to see the old one.

#13: Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

This one is very interesting. Although I definitely enjoyed this book, I think that my feelings lean more toward appreciation than enjoyment. I thought that this book was really well-crafted and interesting. The book kept me guessing all the way up until Gillian Flynn actually told us what was going on. I probably won't be re-reading this book, because for me most of the enjoyment came from wondering what was about to happen, but I do think that it's a really well-done book.

#12: The Princess Bride
by William Goldman

Generally, I'm of the mindset that the book is always better than the movie, but in this case, I have to say that I like the movie better. I grew up with the movie, and didn't pick up the book until high school. That being said, I do still really enjoy the book. This is one of my books that I really feel like I need to re-read. Maybe I'll like it even more when I re-read it!

#11: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky

Given my love for young adult books, you might be surprised that it's not higher on my list. Although I really liked this book, I feel like I didn't love it as much as everyone else seemed to. Its strengths are the characters. All of the characters are really interesting, unique, and multi-faceted. It's also written really well and I really like the letter format. I guess that the reason it's not a little higher is because while I liked the plot, it wasn't amazing. That being said, it's obviously in my top 10 stand-alone books, so I do really enjoy the book. For this one, it's just the difference between like and love that keeps it in the lower half of my top 10.

#10: 1984
by George Orwell

I also discussed this book in my stand-alone book discussions post #1 (Click here to check that out). I absolutely love the concept behind the world in this book. This one and the book at #9 tend to go back and forth as to which one I prefer because they're both classic dystopians, so they're pretty interchangeable.While the entire world isn't quite as fleshed out as the book at #9 (because 1984 is a little more character-based and we only really see the world surrounding that one character), I think that the concept behind the world is amazing and terrifying. A world where you can't even think freely, let alone speak or write freely is just terrifying, and I can see how it terrified people who read it before 1984. And the ending is so great but so terrible at the same time.

#9: Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

This book is a combination of several things that I really love. I love almost anything that came out of the first half of the 20th century- books, music, art, etc. I love it all. I'm also a big fan of dystopian novels. What I love about dystopians is learning about the world that the book is set in. That's my favorite part about Brave New World. The plot is kinda meh for me. But the world is incredible. And I love that a lot of the focus is upon the world, and the commentary that Huxley is making using this dystopian world. The plot and characters really take a backseat, and I really appreciate that. Like I said, Brave New World and 1984 are mostly tied, but I had to put one above the other, so I gave the higher spot to Brave New World this time since 1984 got it last time.

#8: The Fault In Our Stars
by John Green

We have officially gotten to the books that I love, love, love. From this point onward, all of these books are super special to me. Also, as you might notice, this is a signed copy. I came across it in Target and thought it was a joke. NOPE. I hate that I can't get the red cloud off (it's not a sticker- it's part of the jacket) but my desire for a signed copy won out. We all know all about this beautiful book. You're probably just surprised it's not #1 or #2. While I do really love this book, there are books that I love even more. You'll also notice that I don't have any other John Green books on this list. I've only read 2, and I did NOT like the other one. Anyway, this book is great and I sobbed all the way through it. Also, I read both this and The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the first time in the same day. Bad decision. All the feels.

#7: This Is Your Brain on Music
by Daniel Levitin

If I were to name the one book that has had the most impact on my actual life/future, I'd have to say this one. I read it my freshman year of college for a class called "The Psychology of Music." The class is still my favorite class that I've ever taken. Ever. (It helps that my advisor/music theory prof./favorite prof. ever was teaching it). I need to go back and re-read this because I procrastinated and had to read this book in a very short time period. Regardless, I absolutely loved it. Levitin likes to focus on the mind/thoughts and music rather than the neuroscience aspects, and I really agree. This entire book was just a wonderful look at psychology and music and I absolutely love it. 

#6: Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

I typically don't read a lot of contemporary novels, but this one really caught my attention because I knew that the main character was a quiet girl in her first year of college who writes fan-fiction. It just reminded me a lot of myself and so I was really excited to read it. And it definitely didn't disappoint. It was super cute, and I absolutely giggled my way through this book. And I really don't giggle very much while reading books. It was just too adorable. If you want, you can check out my full discussion on this book here.

#5: All-American Girl
by Meg Cabot

I'm honestly not sure how well-known this book is. For the longest time during my childhood, this was my favorite book. You can probably tell how many times I've read it just because of how beat up the book is. It was brand new when I got it. I haven't always been so nice to my books. Anyway, I remember getting this at a book fair. My memory says that it was in 4th grade, but it doesn't seem to fit timeline-wise, because I feel like I read it before that. Maybe I got it in 2nd or 3rd grade? I dunno. It took me a while before I actually read it, but once I did, I fell in love. I recognize now that it's not actually an amazing book, but I've read it so many times and loved it for so long that I just can't help but continue to love it. This book is a heavier dose of nostalgia than even Harry Potter, because I read it before I read Harry Potter. And yes, this book technically has a sequel, but it's terrible and I pretend it doesn't exist.

#4: Unsaid Things... Our Story
by McFly

This may be obvious since it's at my #4 spot, but I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. I've mentioned this several times on here, but McFly is my favorite band. And I don't mean it in a way where I'm just a casual fan and I just like their music. I love all four of these guys and I absolutely love reading the story of the band from their POV. I'll be the first one to say that this book isn't for everyone. This isn't one of those deep autobiographies that can be enjoyed even if you don't know much about the person. It's not an incredibly written piece of literature. It's for the fans. It gives fans an inside look into the entire history of the band. For me, it's the emotional connection I have to the band that causes me to love this book so much. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed some more. It's great. 

So, we're now getting down to the nitty-gritty. These top 3 are super special.

#3: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

I was just absolutely blown away by this book. I loved everything about it. I absolutely love dystopian novels, 80s culture, video games, and virtual reality. I loved how all of those elements combined, added with the adventure of the tasks and gates. Overall, I just cannot say enough good things about this book. After I read it, I was so obsessed with it that I wanted to read something else that was really similar to it, and since this is such a unique book, there wasn't really anything that was like this, so I went into a little bit of a reading slump. This book is just really wonderful and I've wanted to re-read it since the second that I finished it.

#2: Thirteen Reason Why
by Jay Asher

I remember seeing this book in Barnes & Noble right after it was released in 2009 and thinking that it was a really cool concept. But I hadn't ever heard of it, and didn't want to pay full-price for a brand-new hardcover. Fast-forward about a year, when I found it for $7 at Half-Price Books. I recognized it and remembered how awesome the concept had sounded, so I decided to get it. One of the best decisions I've ever made. Like I said, I thought this concept was really interesting, and I think it was really well executed (unlike Jay Asher's other book, The Future of Us). This book is just so emotional, and I love the back and forth between Hannah's story and Clay's story. Overall, it's just an amazing, tear-jerking book. I love it. So much.

#1: And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

I don't even know what all to say about this book. It's just... so perfect. There's a reason that this is the best-selling mystery book ever. This is the most intricately and brilliantly concocted mystery... ever. When I got to the final reveal, I was awe-struck and amazed. I've read this book countless times, and even though I know what happens I still love it every time. I don't know what else to say... it's incredibly written, an incredibly clever mystery, and just an amazing book. I love it so much.

Books That Will Hopefully Make My Next List!

Just like last time, I decided to give y'all a little glimpse at the stand-alones I hope to read before my next post. The following books are the stand-alones that I have up highest on my TBR. My last list didn't turn out so well (Read 2 and only 1 ended up on the list-- Ready Player One) so hopefully I do better this time. And even though I've dubbed this year the year of the series, there are definitely still stand-alones that I want to read.

The Book Thief
by Marcus Zusak

This was on my list last time as well, and I didn't get to it. I'm not totally sure that I'm going to get to it this time, but I definitely still plan to read it.

by V.E. Schwab

This was on my list last time and even though I started it, I only got a few pages in. I plan to hopefully actually read it this time. Crossing my fingers!

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien

I just really need to read this. It's time.

The Body Electric
by Beth Revis

I really loved her Across The Universe trilogy, and this has a really interesting premise, so I hope to get to it really soon.

by Scott Westerfeld

This book is really intriguing to me. I love the book within a book idea, especially since one book is about an author trying to get her book published, and the other is the book that she wrote. I think it sounds really awesome, especially since her book is a fantasy. So excite.

So, there you go, those were my top 15 stand-alones, and the stand-alones that I hope make the list next time around! Have you read these books? How do you feel about them? What books are your favorite stand-alones?
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