The GILLY Awards: Honoring the Best (and Worst) Books I Read in 2015

Posted: February 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

We have come to the time of year that the entertainment industry knows as “awards season,” a time when award shows are held to honor the best in music, movies, television shows, etc.

30-Rock-GIF

I don’t really pay attention to these award shows. I think I went to an Oscar’s viewing party once just to get out of the house on a Sunday night, but other than that, all I know about what goes down at these shows is what Buzzfeed tells me. My taste in entertainment is rarely appreciated by critics anyway, and as much as I say that critics’ opinions don’t matter, it still irks me when overrated celebrities, shows, or movies receive award after award while my favorites are snubbed. I must admit I feel validated when something or somebody I love receives acclaim, but I guess I just have to remember that other people’s opinions don’t necessarily make something true.

gif-youre-entitled-to-your-wrong-opinion

And speaking of being snubbed, one medium of entertainment is largely ignored during awards season: books. Which is really too bad, because everybody knows that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.

having fun

Sure, there’s the Pulitzer Prize and other book awards out there, but nothing that is broadcast on TV like the GRAMMYs or the Oscars. Granted, I don’t think that many people would actually watch an award show for books, but I certainly would, and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?

high fiving gif

So today I would like to do my part to honor books, those forgotten slabs of paper that so often get overlooked. These awards shall heretofore be called “The GILLYs.”

The GILLYs will focus on books that I personally read in 2015, not necessarily books that were released in 2015. I know that’s not how award shows usually work, but come on, did you actually expect me to personally read every single book that came out in 2015?

aintnobodygottime

Keep in mind, I only read 25 books throughout the year, which is not an impressive number by any means. But seeing as I’m pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADD, it was quite the accomplishment by my standards. Also, I can be pretty picky when it comes to books. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I definitely do. And I am not a fan of books with uncut or deckle edges. Seriously, what kind of terrible monster thinks that’s actually a good idea? But worst of all, in my opinion, are books written in the present tense. I’m looking at you, Suzanne Collins. Do you honestly expect me to believe that Katniss Everdeen is competing in the Hunger Games as we speak? Lies! I mean, I can usually look past present-tense writing if it’s a really good book (like the first Hunger Games was), but if I’m on the fence about a book and see that it’s written in present tense, I will immediately put it back on the shelf. I can’t be the only one who is bothered by this disturbing trend. Authors around the world, I implore you to hear my cry: NO MORE PRESENT TENSE!

you have to stop

On a more positive note, before I jump into awards for books that I read in 2015, I want to honor the series that single-handedly jump-started my love for reading. And yes, I’m talking about the Harry Potter series.

As cliche as it sounds, the Harry Potter books taught me to love reading. Granted, for the longest time, they were the only books that I read. Every time I tried reading something else, I would just inevitably go back to the Boy Who Lived. I read those books so many times that I lost count.

I branch out quite a bit more these days (in fact, I’ve been Harry Potter sober for a couple of years now!), but rarely do I get the same feeling that I got when I curled up to read a Harry Potter book: like I was immersing myself in a world where the characters were so real, they were like friends. That might be more a commentary on my lack of a social life than anything else, but I digress.

Even though I don’t have any kids yet and probably won’t anytime soon, I still find myself looking forward to the day when I can read the Harry Potter books to my children. Of course, that idea might backfire on me. My dad used to try to read The Hobbit to us when were younger, and we would always just fall asleep. He was much more forgiving than I would be. If my kids ever get bored while I read them Harry Potter, so help me… I will be hard-pressed to not have this reaction:

five seconds

Without Harry Potter, I’m not sure who I would be today: most likely a drug-addicted porn star, or even worse, a citizen of North Dakota. So thank you, J.K. Rolwing, for keeping me away from drugs and porn. And for keeping me out of North Dakota.*

Now, without further ado, it is time to honor the best (and, in one case, the worst) books I read in 2015.

The 2016 GILLY Awards 

Award #1: Best Memoir

Nominees:
Bossypants by Tina Fey
My Story by Elizabeth Smart
We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

And the winner is…

we should hang out sometime

This was a tough one, because all of the memoirs I read this year were great. But We Should Hang Out Sometime resonated with me the most. I related so much to his stories about trying to date that it literally hurt a little bit… and then I realized that pain was just bad gas. But still, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever struggled with dating–so, basically, everyone.

Award #2 – Best Nonfiction Book That (Arguably) Wasn’t a Memoir

Nominees
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha
Conversions by Craig Harline
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

And the winner is…

modern romance

Oh, Aziz… is there anything you can’t do? This is yet another book about dating, which I wouldn’t expect to like because dating is the worst, but apparently it makes for entertaining literature. I was delightfully surprised at the data Aziz gathered and impressed by how interesting the data was presented. A highlight of the book is when he looks at dating in different countries, like Japan and France.

Award #3: Best Sequel

Nominees:
The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2) by Rick Yancey
The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2) by James Dashner
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah Maas

And the winner is…

infinite sea

This was an easy one. The other sequels I read were mediocre at best, at worst cause for outright concern about humanity. But The Infinite Sea manages to be one of few sequels that seems to be on the same level as the original.

Award #4: Scariest Book

Nominees:
Psycho by Robert Bloch
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Hell House by Richard Matheson

And the winner is…

hell house

Just the ending alone of The Woman in Black almost earned it this award, but as a whole, Hell House is scarier: not pee-your-pants, stay-up-all-night scary, but just scary enough to be the perfect Halloween read.

Award #5: Best Suspense Thriller

Nominees:
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

And the winner is…

dark places

It’s difficult (at least, for me) to find a really good suspense novel that isn’t downright cheesy, but this one did its job well. Though not quite at the level of Gone Girl, this book was almost just as thrilling and kept me guessing until the end. Gillian Flynn sure has a dark mind, to the point that I almost fear for her husband and loved ones, but she is probably one of my favorite authors. The movie adaptation is worth watching too.

 Award #6: Best Fantasy

Nominees:
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

And the winner is…

scorpio races

I’ve always been suspicious of horses, and thanks to The Scorpio Races I finally know why! I’m not sure why Maggie Stiefvater had the idea of making horses come out of the ocean and eat people, but I liked the end result. Despite my love for the Harry Potter series, I’m not actually the biggest fan of fantasy, but I would recommend this book even to people who don’t particularly enjoy the fantasy genre.

Award #7: Worst Book

Nominees:
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2) by James Dashner
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

And the winner is…

scorch trials

It’s probably unprecedented to have a “worst of” award, but I had to make this opinion known. I understand that Lord of the Flies and A Christmas Carol are classics, and I can see why… well, not really, but I can respectfully admit that many other people think these books are classics. However, I cannot stand for the atrocity that is The Scorch Trials. I enjoyed The Maze Runner, but this book just needs to go die. The other nominees just put me to sleep a little, but this book makes me outright angry just thinking about it. It was a chore to finish, and I hated the stupid replacement curse words the author used because he didn’t want to actually swear. If I read the word “shuck” one more time, I was going to tell the author to go shuck himself. Am I being over-dramatic? Perhaps, but personally, I don’t think I’m being dramatic enough. Actually, I can’t even remember why I hated this book so much. I just know that my overall reaction to The Scorch Trials can be summarized in this gif:

boo

Award #8: Book of the Year

Finally, here it is: the biggest award of the evening. This is my overall favorite book that I read in 2015. The nominees are:

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

And the winner is…

the secret history

 The Secret History had me hooked from start to finish. It was one of the few times I genuinely didn’t want the book to end. This was not only the best book I read in 2015, but also one of the best books I’ve read in my life. It is not, however, for the faint of heart. The plot revolves around a group of college students who murders their friend, and that’s not even the most twisted part of the story. Prepare to be disturbed.

That wraps this year’s GILLY awards. I read some great books in 2015, and I look forward to reading even more in 2016. During the course of this new year, I don’t want to set any specific goals for how many books I want to read, but I definitely want to read more than I did last year. I know there are so many great books out there just waiting to be read! This year I also want to finally read one of the Game of Thrones books–just one! Even if it’s the death of me! I might even want to write a book of my own. In fact, I’ve already started writing one. Here’s what I have so far:

awkward dancing girl

OK, so I haven’t actually written anything. But at least I’ve finally written my first blog post of the year. Baby steps!

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*I should clarify that I don’t actually have anything against North Dakota. I’m sure it’s a lovely state, and I apologize if I offended any North Dakotans out there.

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