2015 was a good year for reading! (I admit that I didn't read as much this year as last year, but it was a busy year.)
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Americanah. (2013).
- I loved this book. It gave me a whole new perspective on being a Nigerian, being an African-American from Africa, and being an American. I enjoyed the narrative of Ifemelu, and (although not all my colleagues agree) the love story that follows her and Obinze from high school through emigrating and then returning to Nigeria. Also, through her blog post, Ifemelu was able to comment on race in America in a completely refreshing way. Note that this is not a beach-read; I do highly recommend it to start many interesting conversations
Adler-Olsen, Jussi. The Alphabet House. (2015).
I grab every Jussi Adler-Olsen book the moment it comes out in English. The is not a Department Q mystery; instead this is a terrifying story that begins in a Nazi mental institution, where half of the former soldiers are faking their illnesses, so they can live happily after the war with the treasures they've stolen. Two English pilots end up there, and fake illness, too. So that's the premise. This is an amazingly horrifying story. It's one of the best books I've read in a very long time.
Blume, Judy. In the Unlikely Event. (2015).
- I love Judy Blume, so of course I read her most recent book. I love the main character, Miri, who is not only dealing with the plane crashes but also their effects on her hometown and her friends. Somehow Miri keeps her head on her shoulders, and those greatly affected by that year in her life, she succeeds.
Carey, M. The Girl with All the Gifts. (2015).
- I'm not one for zombie books, but I love this one. It looks at zombie-ism in a whole new way, and questions how we humanely deal with tragedy, apocalypse, and human mutations.
Conroy, Patrick. The Water is Wide.
- I'm a huge Pat Conroy fan. (Do all of my comments start out like this?) This is a non-fiction memoir about his time teaching on Yamacraw. Every teacher who loves teaching should read this. It's real; it's hard; and it's inspiring.
Creech, Sarah. The Season of the Dragonflies. (WilliamMorrow 2014).
Okay, this one is admittedly on my 2014 Reading List as well; however, my review of it is now available on Friends of Atticus!
Faber, Michel. The Crimson Petal and the White. (Cannongate Audiobooks 2011).
This is a really smart book about a 19th century prostitute named Sugar. It echoes a lot of 19th century British themes, and does so very well. It also plays with those themes, commenting on "gentlemen" and femme fatales in its engaging story.
Fabiano, Laurie. Elizabeth Street.
I really enjoyed this multi-generational story about Italian American immigrants and their trails. It was also interesting to read a book that discredits Mario Puzo. The grandmother is constantly telling her granddaughter to turn off The Godfather because nothing about the Black Hand should be appreciated. Excellent read.
Fitzek, Sebastian. The Child. (Audible Studios 2014).
- I actually didn’t love this. It’s a dramatized mystery, and the premise was okay: a dying orphan gets hypnotized for his birthday and finds out in his past last that he was a serial killer/vigilante. The people he was hunting down in his past life are still alive, and so he precariously partners with a detective. Yada yada yada. Got it? Expect there were too many threads in the plot, and they weren’t developed enough.
Hawkins, Paula. Girl on a Train. (2015).
I gave into the buzz about this book. I probably spent an extra twenty minutes in my car after I pulled into the driveway listening to this on multiple occasions. It was mesmerizing. I won't give any details away because you have to read it. If you enjoyed Gone Girl, you'll enjoy this.
Johnson, Adam. Fortune Smiles. (Random House 2015).
- Read it. Every story is great. This is a deserving winner of The National Book Award.
Kearsley, Susanna. The Firebird. (Brilliance Audio 2014).
- This is a combination historical fiction and romance, combined with some psychic main characters. It was a great and enjoyable read, and much better than the other book I read recently based on the firebird myth.
Lagercrantz, David. The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A Lisbeth Salander Novel. (Random House Audio 2015).
- Okay, I remember when another writer took over my favorite series, The Boxcar Kids. I gave this one a shot even though the original author of the Lisabeth Salader Novels died. I liked it; it was true to Lisabeth, the other characters, and the themes. While it wasn’t as unexpected as the others, it was like watching a new version of your favorite plot.
Lansdale, Joe R. The Bottoms. (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard 2010).
- I really liked this book. It reminds me a lot of the first series of True Detective and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman. (HarperCollins 2015).
Limon, Ada. Bright Dead Things. (Milkweed Editions 2015).
- Unfortunately, this was one of the only collections of poetry I read this year. I loved it! Limon’s poetry is precise and real. She has something new to say.
Mandel, Emily St. John. Station Eleven. (Knopf 2014).
I enjoyed this post-apocalyptic novel that mixes the moments before Georgian Flu ravages the Earth and the world after it in a six-degrees of separation from the story's celebrity sort of way. It was a quirky and fun read.
Moriarty, Laine. The Hypnotist's Love Story: A Novel. (Penguin, 2012)
- I love Laine Moriarty's writing. It's consistent, and it always keeps me hypnotized (pun intended). This love story doesn't disappoint.
___. The Last Anniversary. (Tanter Audio 2014).
- The characters in this one are so much fun! I won’t give too much away, but the family secrets are worth the read.
Moyes, JoJo. The Girl You left Behind. (Penguin Audio 2013).
- A story about a captivating painting taken during WWI... it’s been done before, but this version is still interesting. What I like best is the detective who is assigned to find the painting ends up falling in love the potential illegitimate owner of the painting.
___. One Plus One. (Penguin Audio 2014).
- I always go to Moses when my heart needs warming. This might be one of my favorite books of 2015. It’s not as genius as Fortune Smiles, but it’s a wonderful story about quirky characters doing their damnedest to survive in a world that isn’t always nice.
Ng, Celeste. Everything I Never Told You.
- h my gosh. This is an amazing story. It's about a Chinese American girl who drowns, and what led to her death, how her family reacts. The characters are wonderful and deep. They each develop and grow as you read the story. There were multiple times that I sat in my car after driving to school to keep listening for a few more minutes.
Rash, Ron. Above a Waterfall. (Harper Audio 2015).
- I was not impressed, and I usually really like Rash. Unfortunately, I didn’t love these characters as much as others. They were just trying to be moral, and that wasn’t quite enough. I reread “Dead Confederates” this year, and that story is just so much better.
Shannon, Samantha. The Mime Order. (Bloomsbury USA 2015).
This is the sequel to The Bone Season, and I picked it up on a snow day, and read right through it. I loved it. I love Shannon's world and it's rules and, especially, how Paige uses her strength to break all the rules and make this urban dystopia a little bit more tolerant.
Stryon, William. Lie Down in Darkness. (Vintage 1992).
- This is a great Southern gothic novel. And all of the characters are unlikable. If you like Southern lit., and haven’t read any Stryon yet, you need to read this.
Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch.
- The Goldfinch is not a beach read, but I actually read it twice. While it's not an epic, it spans the life of the main character. And the things he goes through! Wade through this one; it's worth it.