I’m a sucker for a good End-of-Year list, so I’m sharing some of the books I most enjoyed in 2015. I read many other good books this year, but these are the ones that made a lasting impression and taught me something (either writing-wise or life-wise). These are in no particular ranking, just the order I read them.
- LOST FOR WORDS, Edward St. Aubyn. Fun literary satire about the leadup to a British book award. An entertaining read for bookish types.
- STONE MATTRESS and MADADDAM, Margaret Atwood. OK, I’m cheating by putting two books here, but they both made me worship Margaret Atwood all over again. Stone Mattress is a set of short stories (many about aging) that manages to be both funny and touching. MadAddam finished up a futuristic trilogy that was terrifying at times, moving at others. Atwood is now officially one of my literary role models.
- THE SECRET PLACE, Tana French. Layers upon layers upon layers in this story about a murder at a girls’ school. One of those books I had to simply sit and think about once I’d finished.
- THE GOOD GERMAN, Joseph Kanon. I’ve read a lot of World War II books. This is the first one that made me understand what Berlin was like right after the war (a perspective you don’t often see in novels). Plus, there’s a mystery that keeps the plot moving.
- LIFE AFTER LIFE, Kate Atkinson. Not the easiest read–in fact, I’d tried it twice before and given up. BUT….once I plowed through the first 50 or so pages, I got invested in the characters and the concept made sense. Like the best books, it created a world (worlds?) I got lost in.
- ELEANOR AND PARK, Rainbow Rowell. Are you brave enough to mentally return to your most awkward teenage moments? These characters took me there (esp. since it’s set in the 1980s). A love story that felt painfully real.
- CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Neil Patrick Harris. I don’t read a ton of celeb memoirs (sorry!) but this is one of the best I’ve ever tried. Funny, honest, and a hilarious concept overall. Plus, it comes with cocktail recipes!
- A JUDGMENT IN STONE, Ruth Rendell. OK, this is kind-of cheating, because I’ve read this book a few times before. But I picked it up again after hearing of Rendell’s death this year, and was thrilled to see that it still held up. I couldn’t stop reading–even though I knew exactly what was going to happen!
- HONORABLE MENTIONS (other books I raced through once I’d started): THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins (everyone knows that one, right?), ELIZABETH IS MISSING by Emma Healey (narrated by a woman with dementia–a really challenging voice to write, pulled off well), CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith (murder mystery set in Stalinist Russia), STORM OF SWORDS by George R.R. Martin (the 3rd in the “Game of Throne” series, this book had some seriously “OH MY GOD!!” moments).