Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2015

The Year of the "Tied for #X Place" Books


Despite the fact that there are two books published in 2015 that I haven't even begun to read (Patrick Gale's A Place Called Winter, and Therese Walsh's The Last Will of Moira Leahy), being dyslexic, and considering the length of my present reading list, I have my doubts I'll be able to finish either before the year finishes. Because of this, I've decided that I'm going to give you my top five fiction books of 2015 a little early.

While last year a slew of curmudgeons dominated my list, this year seems to be much more eclectic. However, the glut of excellent books made is especially hard to pick only one title for each of my top five slots, hence the year of the "tied for #X place" book list for 2015 with the following countdown (which is also my 200th post to this blog).

5. The Sunken Cathedral: A Novel by Kate Walbert and The Room by Jonas Karlsson

Both of these two novels are innovative and unusual, but equally as compelling. These come together because of their particularly interesting concepts. With Walbert's novel, the use of impressionism in her writing was what impressed me the most. Karlsson, on the other hand, uses very plain language to investigate what seems to be a type of mental illness.

4. It's. Nice. Outside. by Jim Kokoris

This book takes on a subject that most authors have ignored - dealing with a young adult learning-disabled autistic son. That's one that (as far as I know), even Jodi Picoult hasn't tackled, and that's her loss. Good thing too, because this book isn't the least bit sensationalist, nor is it sentimental. Furthermore, it packs a punch with a level of literary flair combined with simple language that makes every page sing. My only worry is that someone will want to make this into a movie that won't do the book nearly the justice it deserves.

3. Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb

This genre fascinates me - historical fiction spotlighting unknown or lesser-known women who played important parts in the lives of well-known men. In this case, we learn about the sculptor Camille Claudel, a talent in her own right, who studied with August Rodin, and with whom she had an affair. Webb brings Camille into beautiful focus, showing us both her genius and her flaws, and how those two elements led to a tragic life, partially because she lived in an era when women in the arts were woefully under-appreciated. (Despite the fact that I read this book in 2014, it wasn't published until 2015 so it deserves to be on this list.)

2. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood and Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Say what you will about these two authors, but the thing that unites them is their ability to use just the precise level of satire in their genres to express their political opinions. Atwood's novel takes on the dilemma of the growing economic gap, and speculates what kind of solution the 1% might decide to employ to solve that problem. Rushdie, on the other hand takes fantasy and magical realism to debate the growing polarization between those driven by blind faith in their religion and those who abandon religion in the face of logic, science and reason. Together these two books hit on the most sensitive nerves of today's world.

1. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler and My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman

Okay, so maybe this was obvious from my reviews of these two books, but yes, these two are certainly my favorite books of 2015. The absolute and pure enjoyment I felt while reading these two novels is precisely the reason why I read in the first place. I loved these books so dearly, I cannot stop recommending them to everyone I meet. What more can I say besides "read them, please," because if you do, you won't regret it? 

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