2015 Books in Review
Adult Mystery/Thriller (14)
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
Disclaimer by Renee Knight
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg
The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi
The Secret Place by Tana French
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone
Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Literary Fiction (18)
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
What the Family Needed by Steven Amsterdam
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
You Could be Home by Now by Tracy Manaster
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
Among the 10,000 Things by Julia Pierpont
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford
The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus
This is Your Life Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison
Japan Took the JAP out of me by Lisa Cook
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
I Can’t Complain by Elinor Lipman
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Contemporary Fiction (25)
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Newlyweds by Beth Kirkpatrick
The Night Gwen Stacy Died by Sarah Bruni
Friendship by Emily Gould
The Comfort of LIes by Randy Susan Meyer
Forever by Catherine Mackenzie
We Are Water by Wally Lamb
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
You Knew Me When by Emily LIebert
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
The Actress by Amy Sohn
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
What the Nanny Saw by Fiona O’Neill
Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood
Dietland by Sarai Walker
City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman
Who Do You Love? by Jennifer Weiner
The Kept Man by Jami Attenberg
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis
She’ll Take It by Mary Carter
The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore
Young Adult (10)
Tagged by Diane Mullin
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
All the Bright Places by Jennifer NIven
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Middle Grade (1)
The Rat with the Human Face by Tom Angleberger
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri FInk
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
On Immunity by Eula Biss
Decisive by Dan and Chip Heat
It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright
Celibacies by Benjamin Kahan
Science Fiction/Supernatural/Paranormal (5)
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Overbite by Meg Cabot
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
No Harm Can Come to a Good Man by James Smythe
Number Of Books You Read: 86
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary fiction. Note with this list I slotted in genres as best I could. Is Station Eleven “literary” or “science fiction? – who can say?
In particular, there are a lot of books that I’d consider “literary” that others would consider “contemporary” and vice versa. Is This is Your Life Harriet Chance any different in quality from The Admissions? Nope. Both are great. But neither one of them are quite in the same genre as, say, Wolf Hall.
I read a lot of women’s fiction anyway, but made a specific effort to read comps to my book this year.
Best Book You Read In 2015?
A pretty impossible question, but I have highly recommended The Paying Guests, Belzhar and On Immunity, depending on what people are looking for in a book.
Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I wanted to love The Dog Stars. I did not enjoy it. It’s an incredibly well-written book, but I am a) burned out on post-apocalyptic and b) to me it felt like a slog due to the sparse prose.
Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
The Cuckoo’s Calling has been on my TBR shelf for two years, and I was amazed how much I enjoyed it. (Of the three in the Cormoran Strike series so far, however, The Silkworm is my favorite). I also was surprised how long it took me to read Wolf Hall, and how difficult I found it to keep track of the characters. It’s a tough book y’all.
Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright, and it’s a little too soon to tell, but so far people seem to love the 13 worst breakups in history. (Note on my list this was paired with my old friend Benjy’s Celibacies, a fantastic juxtaposition with reading about people who have lost their minds over bad relationships.)
Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
The Cormoran Strike series was my favorite discovery of 2015 (thanks NPR!) The only “series” I finished was Meg Cabot’s Insatiable books, which I don’t think counts because it was two books. I loved all sequels in the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny.
Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
I am now super into Meg Mitchell Moore (The Admissions was the last book I read this year). I hope to go through her backlist in 2016.
Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? I was practically forced at gunpoint (i.e. book club) to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Holocaust and spiritual are not my typical jams. But it’s a fantastic book, well-worth its acclaim.
Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Almost all the mysteries I read this year were great (although I strongly disliked Disclaimer) but in terms of absolute “I’m doing nothing until I finish reading this book,” the award goes to Luckiest Girl Alive.
Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I almost never re-read, but am planning to re-read Louise Penny’s How the Light Gets In, which was the first Armand Gamache I read years ago. I then started at the beginning with Still Life and worked my way through the other nine books.
Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, which is a memoir about face blindness.
Most memorable character of 2015?
I will be thinking about TifAni FaNelli for a long time (Luckiest Girl Alive)
Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
All My Puny Sorrows.
Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
Man’s Search for Meaning made me think a lot of our views on suffering.
Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
I had heard for a while that Tell Me Again How a Crush Should feel is great, and IT IS. That said, it came out in 2014, so I don’t feel too far behind.
Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
“You’re all equipped for the world, for adulthood, in a way that most people aren’t,” she continues. “So many people don’t even know what hits them when they grow up. They feel clobbered over the head the minute the first thing goes wrong, and they spend the rest of their lives trying to avoid pain at all costs. But you all know that avoiding pain is impossible. And I think having that knowledge, plus the experiences you’ve lived through, make you definitely not fragile. They make you brave.”
Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest, at 74 pages, was The Man Who Planted Trees.
I’m not positive, but am pretty sure the longest was We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (676 pages)
Book That Shocked You The Most?
Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg. Not to give anything away, but the body count is much higher than I would have thought, and I was shocked by the ending.
OTP of the Year?
Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. I know Galbraith is playing the long game by keeping them apart, but sheesh.
Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year?
The We Are All Made of Molecules relationship between step-siblings Ashley and Stewart was delightful.
Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg. Nothing will replace The Middlesteins in my heart, but this was great too.
Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?
Wolf Hall because two of my friends raved about it, only to find it neither one of them made it past page 75.
Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
That Thomas Cromwell seems like a real catch. Wonder how things will work out for him?
Best 2015 debut you read?
In terms of debuts, I was very impressed by Stephanie Clifford’s Everybody Rise, Sarai Walker’s Dietland and Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not. Those kids are going places!
Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Dumplin’ totally nails beauty queens and small-town life in Texas.
Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
I received an ARC of We Are All Made of Molecules at ALA and it was SO FUN.
Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
I’m pretty sure I teared up at the end of Man’s Search for Meaning.
Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Divorce Papers, which came out in 2014, and which I am delighted to have gotten at least one person to read.
Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. It’s a marvelous debut but there’s no way around the despair contained in it. On the non-fiction side, Five Days at Memorial is brutal.
Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Broken Monsters. Everything Lauren Beukes writes is interesting, even if it gives me nightmares.
Book That Made You The Most Mad?
The ending of No Harm Can Come to a Good Man made me mad. But ultimately Disclaimer made me so mad I couldn’t get my copy out of my house fast enough.
Final notes: I’ve become much more conscious of which books I buy, what I borrow from the library and what new authors I push myself to discover. Out of the 86 books, I read about 19 men (I’m including Robert Galbraith here, although “he” is more popularly known as J.K. Rowling.
Book seller of the year award goes to Third Street Books in Oregon, which graciously sent me a new copy of The Secret Place, which weirdly had 30 pages left out of it. (This is the first time, ever, that this has happened to me).
In terms of what I bought/borrowed/received and then read, my notes aren’t perfect. But I read 14 ebooks, the majority of which were from the Chicago library system (although I did quite enjoy Oyster in early 2015).
I bought 20 new books at Fully Booked (Manila), Book Cellar (Chicago), City Lit (Chicago), Barnes and Noble (Chicago), Open Books (Chicago), Third Street Books (McMinnville, OR), Hatchards (London), Reader’s World (Holland, MI), Powells (Portland, OR) and AWP. I purchased three books from Amazon.
I read 10 ARCs or ALA copies. I received and read about 20 gift books, most of which were from my Amazon wish list. I purchased a dozen used books at Uncharted Books (Chicago), Open Books (Chicago), Book Escape (Baltimore) or Myopic Books (Chicago).
The remaining books were print editions that were borrowed from friends/family, or the Chicago library system. I read about the same proportion of print/ebooks in 2015 as in 2014, roughly 14%. I did not listen to a single audio book this year, but hope to fix that next year.
Additionally, I want to push myself more to read authors of color, given that’s only about 10% of what I read this year. I also thought I had hit my 2014 mark of reading the same amount of books – turns out last year I read 87, and this year read 86. Oops. Well, here’s to 2016.