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Old 12-09-2015, 02:59 PM   #1
HomeInMyShoes
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What Were Your Favorite Books Read in 2015

Quoting the source...

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Originally Posted by Dazrin
Since we now have our 2016 challenges up and running and we're reviewing what we've read this year and deciding on what we want to challenge ourselves with next year, I thought this would be a good time to chime in on what we enjoyed last year.

What were your favorite books of 2015?

Anything goes from favorite classics, guilty pleasures, new obsessions, thought provoking works, unexpectedly charming stories, etc. These may be 5-star, award winning (or at least should be award winning!) books or the type of book that exemplifies the "self-published for a reason" stereotype but for some reason really struck a chord with you.

Help us increase our TBR piles* as we start the new year and share your favorites from last year!

*Note for those who have "reduce my TBR pile" in their 2016 goal, add these now so they don't count against you in 2016...
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Old 12-09-2015, 03:19 PM   #2
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I'll start off. A year of books is really hard to look through and find a best one. I could rationalize any of ten or so titles as my best read this year and the range of genre and topic is rather large. From Canada to Japan to Azerbaijan. From history to science fiction dystopia to magical realism to even romance and a memoir. In the end, I’m going to give the nod to:

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston. This is the book the literary club should have voted for in the month I gave the nominations. It had me from the storm on the pack ice and it didn’t let me up for all 592 pages. I laughed, I gasped, I rolled my eyes. I loved it all.

Other notable reads in no particular order:
Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. Murakami at his alternate world best. A book my mom dismissed as nonsense. I loved it.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. If dystopian post-apocalypse can be poetry then this is it.

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. A book about how to live. There is more useful information on how to forgive and move on then any book I've read. I’ll throw in Indian Horse by the same author in the best reads for this year as well. It is a brilliant book.

Ali and Nino by Kurban Said. A love story written many years ago that still resonates with themes for today.

February by Lisa Moore. Gut-wrencher of the year award for the first fifty pages.

Executive Summary: read things from Canadian authors, eh.
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Old 12-09-2015, 04:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeInMyShoes View Post
I'll start off. A year of books is really hard to look through and find a best one. I could rationalize any of ten or so titles as my best read this year and the range of genre and topic is rather large. From Canada to Japan to Azerbaijan. From history to science fiction dystopia to magical realism to even romance and a memoir.
Thanks for kicking off the annual wrap-up! I'll come back with my own list, but I have a suggestion for you for next year; at least it works for me. I have a category at Goodreads each year for Best of 201? and whenever I read a truly standout book, I add it, with a goal of hitting ten for the year. The list isn't definitive until year-end and it's subject to being tweaked, but at least I've got a list generated in the flush of enthusiasm for when it's time to finalize my choices.
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Old 12-09-2015, 04:36 PM   #4
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Good idea. I've got a spreadsheet of my reads each year and usually highlight ones as I go through the year, but I also go back and look at all my 4+ * reads on GoodReads to find the suspects. I've got categories for each year to make it a little easier.
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Old 12-10-2015, 08:47 AM   #5
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Best books of 2015. A real mixed bag. Surprisingly, several of them were Advance Readers' Copies. Listed in the order that I read them:

How to Fly with Broken Wings by Jane Elson
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie Czerneda

There are as many or more in the second tier of highly recommended books. And then there are over 100 books enjoyed but nothing special. Many of these are in one or more series ... enjoyable stories with characters that I have come to like, but which don't stand out from any others in the same series.
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Old 12-10-2015, 10:14 AM   #6
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For my ten best list each year, I try to go for a split between fiction and nonfiction and that's how it fell out this year, without tweaking. Non-fiction is represented by history, biography and memoir, a nice mix, but I'm afraid that my fiction titles with one exception fall into the classic rubric, with one popular title. I need to be aware of including more current literary fiction next year.

Non-fiction

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy, by Carlos Eire, is the best memoir I've read in years. Beautifully written, effortlessly shifting time, following random associations and bringing them back to topic, incorporating the attitudes of both the boy and the man, this is both a personal story and an account of the last days of an ancien regime and the change to a new.

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro, is nearly as good as it's cracked up to be, which is very good indeed. A must read for anyone interested in New York, the sociology of power, or urban planning and development.

Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, by Luc Sante, is an account of the social and criminal life of New York's down and out around the turn of the last century. It wasn't all robber barons or even the noble poor. This is what life really was like, for those who had to negotiate those mean streets.

The Taste Of War: World War Two And The Battle For Food, by Lizzie Collingham, tells of the political and economic issues driving the production and distribution of food to populations both civil and military. Food as a weapon. Enlightening and disturbing.

An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America, by Nick Bunter. The Brits' eye view of how and why the American Revolution happened. Not only does it give the other side, it's a tale wonderfully told, reading like a novel.

Fiction

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton, set in New York's age of robber barons, is the story of the heartbreak underlying every life and mistakes that are irrevocable. A MR book club selection and one of two rereads on my list; it was even better than I remembered.

Villette, by Charlotte Brontë, is another tale of a young girl forced to make her own way, but with characters much more subtle and nuanced than those in Jane Eyre and
Spoiler:
it doesn't have a happy ending.


For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway, my other reread. The best of Hem, I think; he doesn't hesitate to show the evil on both sides while saying that a choice must be made.

Our Man in Havana, by Graham Greene, another book club read. This is both flatly hilarious and penetrating in its account of spies and a society in its death throes.

The Surgeon's Mate, by Patrick O'Brian, the seventh of his Aubrey/Maturin series set in the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars,is my "popular fiction" choice. This is a wonderful series and this was the best of the bunch so far for me, with action ranging from Halifax to the Baltic to Paris and significant character development.

In looking over my list, I see that two are set during Battista's last days, three are set in New York (two non-fiction) and four are about war (again, two non-fiction). New York was a theme for me this past year and war is a recurring theme, but picking two books set in Cuba during the same time period was entirely coincidental. Villette is the odd book out.

Last edited by issybird; 12-10-2015 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 12-10-2015, 11:37 AM   #7
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I don't have the standouts I did last year but the ones I enjoyed the most so far were two books by Brandon Sanderson, Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Jim Butcher's steampunk debut The Aeronaut's Windlass, and a non-fiction book by Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things.
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:15 PM   #8
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My best of 2015 so far:

Science Fiction:

Chris Beckett, The Holy Machine
C. J. Cherryh, The Faded Sun trilogy
C. J. Cherryh, Wave Without a Shore
Robert L. Forward, Dragon's Egg
William Gibson, Neuromancer, Count Zero (Sprawl trilogy)
Peter F. Hamilton, Pandora's Star, Judas Unchained (Commonwealth saga)
Ursula K. Le Guin, City of Illusions (Hainish cycle)
Walter M. Miller Jr, A Canticle for Leibowitz

Fantasy:

Robert Holdstock, Mythago Wood, The Bone Forest(*) (Ryhope Wood series)
Michael Moorcock, Elric of Melniboné(*), The Fortress of the Pearl (Elric saga)
Gene Wolfe, The Wizard Knight

(*) Refers to the title story in a collection, not the whole collection.

Crime:

Leif G. W. Persson, Story of a Crime trilogy (AKA Fall of the Welfare State)
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Old 12-11-2015, 05:32 PM   #9
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My best reads for 2015 (all 4/5 stars) in no particular order:

Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
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Old 12-12-2015, 02:01 AM   #10
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My top three for 2015, ordered alphabetically by author surnames:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The Martian by Andy Weir
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Old 12-12-2015, 02:57 AM   #11
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My favourites so far:

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
The Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves
The Great Library by Rachel Caine
The Martian by Andy Weir

My favourite series this year:
Lincoln Rhyme by Jeffery Deaver
The Body Farm by Jefferson Bass
The World's Scarriest Places by Jeremy Bates
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:01 AM   #12
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I'm glad I read "The Dead Mountaineer's Inn" by the Strugatsky brothers, "The Dark Forest" by Cixin Liu, the Detective Adamsberg mysteries by Fred Vargas, and "Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn" by Hugo Pratt.
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:51 AM   #13
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These are all fantasy or sci-fi...

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Martian by Andy Weir
The Fold by Peter Clines
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:16 PM   #14
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I'll limit my lists to thrillers. The best of the bunch this year:
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  • The Kind Worth Killing, by Peter Swanson
  • Little Black Lies, by Sharon Bolton
  • Pretty Baby, by Mary Kubica
  • The Ice Twins, by S. K. Tremayne
  • The Pocket Wife, by Susan Crawford
  • Secret Smile, by Nicci French
  • The Guilty One, by Lisa Ballantyne
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Old 12-12-2015, 05:07 PM   #15
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Fiction

The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid

SciFi

Avogadro Corp, by William Hertling

The Three-body Problem and The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

The Martian by Andy Weir

Biography

What do you care what other people think by Richard Feynman

Non Fiction

Fordlandia and The Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Horror

Dismemberment by Richard Herley
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