I love making book lists (as is very obvious from this blog) and one of my favorite lists to make every year is the top ten books I’ve read over the past year. To be clear, these weren’t all published in 2015 (although a couple of them were). So, here they are–my favorite reads of 2015, some of which will join the all-time favorite book list or the list of authors that
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – 5 stars
I’m typically more of a science fiction/fantasy reader, but my number-one read of 2015 turned out to be an intensely relevant realistic fiction book. Americanah is about race, identity, alienation, and finding your place in the world–and it’s also a love story. It’s beautiful and thought-provoking, and I plan to read one of Adichie’s earlier books, Half of a Yellow Sun, in 2016.
2. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – 5 stars
Another realistic fiction read! Although technically it’s less realistic than most, since it does deal with a family that raises a chimpanzee as a child. It’s a premise that doesn’t seem like it could be taken seriously, but it was the most heart-wrenching book I read this year. Told from the perspective of one of the family’s human children who is in college years after the experiment that brought Fern, the chimpanzee, into her family’s life, I dare you to read this book and not cry. It makes you think about ethics and what it means to be human, and the ways in which our families shape us.
3. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – 5 stars
I’m a huge N.K. Jemisin fan and have read and loved both of her previous series (the Inheritance trilogy and the Dreamblood duology), so the first book in her new series was an instant buy for me when it came out this summer. Her worldbuilding is so impressive–her planet of successive disaster events and earth-mages is intricately planned, and none of the three separate stories told within the book went in the directions I’d predicted. It was a perfect creative fantasy, and I’m anxious for book 2 to come out next summer.
4. Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt – 5 stars
I was really not expecting to love this book the way I did. It was a random find at a library book sale that turned out to be part of the Canongate Myths series. It’s a testament to the power of myth, and deals with a young child in England during World War II reading Norse mythology, which helps her to better comprehend the horrors of war.
5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – 4.5 stars
One of two absolutely fantastic YA reads this year. Six of Crows is an adventure that’s also moving, it’s exciting but it also really makes you care about each of its characters. In particular, Kaz, the mysterious gang leader at the heart of the book’s caper, is one of my favorite characters of the year. It’s been described as a magical Ocean’s Eleven, and that’s not too far off. I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but I can’t wait for book 2 to come out in 2016 and I really hope all of the characters find what they’re looking for.
6. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – 4.25 stars
Carry On is a special, special book. It’s a love letter to Harry Potter that doesn’t hesitate to point out the book’s flaws. It’s also a really beautiful YA romance, one of the best I’ve ever read. I read this one during the Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon, and I’m glad that I had planned in advance to spend all day reading that book, or else I definitely would have canceled whatever plans I’d had and done it anyways.
7. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – 4.25 stars
Super creative fantasy/scifi/horror that managed to be both disturbing and hilarious.
8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – 4.25 stars
Beautifully written book taking place right before, during, and after a flu pandemic and celebrating the importance of art.
9. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – 4.25 stars
It took me way too long to get to this book–I loved the creative structure and was so impressed that the author was able to inhabit so many different voices.
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami – 4 stars
Haunting and beautifully written. The pacing was strange, but the book had so many moments of beauty, and the ending was perfectly done.