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Top Five Books of 2015

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Edited: Dec 22, 2016, 11:52am Top

Continuing one of my favorite LT traditions, I asked the staff to come list their top books they read in 2015, and the results are over on the blog.

What were your top five reads for 2014? Tell us all about it here, or add yours to the list!

Dec 23, 2015, 7:14pm Top

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel, by Harper Lee
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, by Jim DeFede
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel, by Jojo Moyes

Dec 23, 2015, 8:45pm Top

American Copper, by Shann Ray
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
A Big Enough Lie, by Eric Bennett
Rumor of War, by Philip Caputo (a re-read, still one of the best)
A Beauty, by Connie Gault

Dec 23, 2015, 9:36pm Top

Miss Mole by E. H. Young
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Night to Remember by Walter Lord
Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

Of course, there is over a week left to the year, and a pile of SantaThing books under the tree, so something could still change.

Dec 23, 2015, 9:39pm Top

>9 SylviaC: I love A Night to Remember! It's an excellent book.

Dec 23, 2015, 9:49pm Top

>10 fuzzi: You would probably like Miss Mole, too.

Edited: Dec 23, 2015, 10:55pm Top

OK, five:

The Memory of Love, Aminatta Forna
Left Neglected, Lisa Genova
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, Elisabeth Tova Bailey
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker

I regret that I had to leave a couple of works by Pearl Buck off to get the list down to five.

Actually I realize I have read very few books this year! No wonder I'm so tired...

Dec 23, 2015, 11:09pm Top

Sister by Rosmond Lupton
In wilderness by Diane Thompson
Catification by Jackson galaxy
Prince of thieves by Chuck Hogan
We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Edited: Dec 25, 2015, 5:51pm Top

Doomsday Book
Verschollene Städte: Archäologische Abenteuer im Land der Maya
In the land of invented languages
Wiener Küche: Wirtshausgulasch & Topfenpalatschinken
Weave, knit, wear

I have to start up the other computer, so maybe there I can reorder them. This is the right order. (Done.)

Doomsay Book is sort of a stand in for the three Connie Willis books I read this year. I originally had All Clear listed, but decided to get this one higher on the list, as someone else already listed it.

Dec 24, 2015, 6:51am Top

The Finger and the Moon by Geoffrey Ashe
Sharpe's Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell
A Question of Identity by Susan Hill
Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr
Uncommon Danger by Eric Ambler

Berlin Noir is a cheat because it's a trilogy. Honorary mentions to Peter May, Stuart McBride and Val McDermid whom I discovered this year but I haven't awarded enough stars to any of their books to make it into my top five.

Dec 24, 2015, 7:24am Top

1. Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult
2. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America - Jill Leovy
3. Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton
4. The Book of Speculation - Erica Swyler
5. It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War - Lynsey Addario

Dec 24, 2015, 7:26am Top

As of today:

1. The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union by Serhii Plokhy
2. Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia by David Greene
3. Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: Letters of Richard P. Feynman by Richard Feynman
4. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
5. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

Not a great year for fiction, even though I read more than in recent memory. I did enjoy The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (there, snuck a sixth one in!)

Dec 24, 2015, 7:26am Top

I also loved Lyga's trilogy!

Dec 24, 2015, 7:28am Top

>12 VioletBramble: got a couple of yours on my BB list, thanks! (I think...)

Dec 24, 2015, 9:23am Top

>6 JSWBooks: I'm so happy that The Day the World Came to Town made it to someone's list. I loved that book, but read it last year.

I am going to take liberties and make it the five books I enjoyed the most, not necessarily the five best written books.

1. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
2. Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden
3. While Drowning in the Desert by Don Winslow
4. The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
5. Signal by Patrick Lee

Dec 24, 2015, 11:35am Top

My reading life in 2015 started well, took a nosedive, recovered during May, fell off a cliff during the rest of baseball season, and then recovered again a little in December. I read mostly fiction in 2015.


Audrey (cow)
Brother Cadfael's Penance
De Potter's Grand Tour
March: Book Two
Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating

Honorable mentions:

Aliss at the Fire
The House Behind the Cedars
Knowledge of Angels
Reaper Man

Authors I read for the first time and loved:

Arthur C. Clarke
Greg Egan
Carla Kelly
Rosemary Kirstein
Lydia Millet

Edited: Dec 24, 2015, 2:30pm Top

There are many reasons to make any top five; for these books it's something like "explains the world around us (and therefore us)".

On suicide bombing by Talal Asad

Between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen and Barbara Fields

The history of white people by Nell Irvin Painter

The heart of whiteness by Robert Jensen

Hmm, all non-fiction...

For balance:

Pan by Knut Hamsun

Il cavaliere inesistente (The nonexistent knight) by Italo Calvino

Amica geniale (My brilliant friend)--by Elena Ferrante

The space child's Mother Goose by Frederick Winsor and illustrated by Marion Parry

Joseph Cornell's manual of marvels--by Joseph Cornell, selection by Dickran Tashjian. An artistic alchemical experiment whereby an agricultural manual becomes a poetic, airy, surreal work of fantasy and suggestion.

Dec 24, 2015, 4:29pm Top

Well, I've got a few days reading left this year, including my annual Boxing Day Do Nothing But Read Day, but here are five that I loved this year.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

It was pretty hard to get down to just five.

Dec 24, 2015, 6:42pm Top

I've still got a book or two to read yet this year, but my favourites this year were

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Crooked Hearts by Lissa Evans
The Illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan.

Edited: Dec 25, 2015, 12:12am Top

Interesting group of titles, so far. I thought about this, and have decided that only one really belongs here. Sure, I read lots of things, but many of them were not new to me, or are, as yet, unfinished.

I found The Wonder by J. D. Beresford to be remarkable, and interesting, especially so, considering its age.

There is also One World by Wendell L. Willkie which I read near the beginning of the year, and then gave away to a young friend. Very worthy read.

Dec 25, 2015, 12:48am Top

These are authors/books I've not read before. Most of my 5 star books are either books or authors which I've read and loved.
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
Comrade Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi - OK, yes, I've read this before, but I love it.

Lots of Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher and Lois McMaster Bujold are in the 5 star list. They are my comfort go to authors.

Edited: Dec 26, 2015, 4:47pm Top

>31 MrsLee: Unbroken was on my best list for 2014. And my comfort reads are by CJ Cherryh and Louis L'Amour. Merry Christmas, my friend!

Dec 25, 2015, 8:06pm Top

The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics) Turtle is a great character and made the story for me.

The Star Wars Trilogy: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi I am glad I read the novelizations of the famous movies.

The Wrecker (An Isaac Bell Adventure) I enjoyed this book a lot, as I have most Clive Cussler books I have read.

Revival: A Novel Stephen King writes the down-and-out-needs-a-fix-but-recovering drug / alcohol addict so well, I kind of feel sorry for him as I think (though don't know) he is writing from experience.

Tom Clancy Support and Defend (A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel) Like those well written action books with feel good endings.

Dec 25, 2015, 9:42pm Top

My five:
- The Lion Trees, by Owen Thomas (Book 1 The Awakening and Book 2 The Unraveling, so I guess that takes up two spaces, but worth it -- a freaking amazing literary ride of a book)
- Euphoria, by Lily King
- All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
- Emma and Otto and Russell and James, by Etta Hooper

Dec 25, 2015, 11:29pm Top

>34 mainrun:

Revival: A Novel Stephen King writes the down-and-out-needs-a-fix-but-recovering drug / alcohol addict so well, I kind of feel sorry for him as I think (though don't know) he is writing from experience.

He is, actually. You should read his On Writing if you haven't already - he's very forthcoming therein about his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction.

Dec 26, 2015, 7:32am Top

Hm, well, I've read so little this year, but I suppose the best...
The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Conan Doyle
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Max Havelaar - Multatuli
The Ten Thousand Things - Maria Dermoût
The Most Wanted Man in China - Fang Lizhi

>34 mainrun: Ooh The Westing Game has been one of my favorite books since 7th grade!

Dec 26, 2015, 8:09am Top

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a book I want to shove into the hands of every American, and then stand over them, foot tapping impatiently, until they are done reading it.

So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba
Zami, a New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
Minnow by James McTeer II
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

Dec 26, 2015, 5:03pm Top

My Five best new to me Reads of 2015 (given that I doubt any of the ones that are underway are going to knock these out of the running)

The Martian by Andy Weir
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Sister by Rosamend Lupton

I'd add three others to that which were non-fiction
Pegasus Bridge by Stephen E. Ambrose
Wait for Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister by Deborah Mitford Cavendish
Sky Burial by Xinran (this is a re-telling of true events but the author was not able to find Shu Wen to add detail to her aspects of the story, parts may have taken liberties with the facts)

Dec 27, 2015, 11:21am Top

Signatures by Hetley - an ER title and one of the very few ER books to ever get 5* in my rating. I went on to buy and enjoy the rest of his work, although this remains the best.

The only other 5* read this year has been Beekeeper's apprentice as a re-read it remains fun, and one of the best pastiches of Holmes you'll read. Sadly the rest of the series doesn't hold up to the same level.

Then there's a clutch of nearly that good, and hard to separate between them -
Pendragon protocol for a very neat modern day arthurian fairie tale mish mash urban fantasy. It's almost as clever as it thinks it is
london falling from last year's santa thing - dark urban fantasy polcie procedural
parasite from the unbelievably wonderful Mira Grant, not as clever as Feed but close.

on the steel breeze, foxglove summer, touched by magic the boy from the burren and various other re-reads.

Dec 29, 2015, 12:04pm Top

This is tough!

Dead Wake by Erik Larson — One of my favorite nonfiction authors
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro — I can't believe I waited so long to read this one
Season Ticket by Roger Angell — I love baseball, and I love Angell's writing
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt / Theodore Rex / Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris — I'm cheating a bit and counting this 3-volume biography as one selection
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson — my first Watson, but definitely not my last

Dec 29, 2015, 12:51pm Top

>42 reading_fox: I love The Beekeeper's Apprentice, but Locked Rooms, O, Jerusalem, and A Monstrous Regiment of Women come close to being as good. I've reread those three almost as many times as I've reread the first (The Beekeeper's Apprentice).

Dec 29, 2015, 7:03pm Top

>36 artturnerjr: thanks for the tip. I think I have read or heard Stephen King battles addition, but was not certain. I hope he wins that awful fight.

>37 .Monkey.: I enjoyed reading your nice review of The Westing Game. I am happy to have read it in 2015.

Happy reading

Dec 30, 2015, 5:58pm Top

I narrowed down to a top six. I just can't bear to cut any of these.

Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.

Carbone, June, and Naomi Cahn. Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family.

Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves.

King, Lily. Euphoria.

Smith, Tom Rob. The Farm.

Waclawiak, Karolina. The Invaders.

Dec 31, 2015, 9:27am Top

Dec 31, 2015, 10:09am Top

All fiction except for one. I read over 130 books so this was wicked hard -

Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell, 1998
Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England by Tom Wessels, 1997
Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery, 2013
The Collector by John Fowles, 1963
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, 2007

Edited: Jan 1, 2016, 12:50am Top

Edited: Jan 1, 2016, 3:40pm Top

Last year was the year I decided to learn more about the movies, so most of my books were about the film industry , or at least were novels optioned by Hollywood. In general, I was disappointed with my fiction, but I loved my movie books so much I will continue into the new year with more Hollywood books. Some favorites:
The Parade's Gone By Kevin Brownlow. Interviews with the silent film pioneers, written in the 60's.
The Friedkin Connection by William Friedkin. Read with great verve by the author. This was a surprise hit, as I had not at that point seen any of this director's movies.
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind. The perfect combo of erudition and cattiness.
The Devil's Candy Salamon's critical--yet sympathetic--eyewitness account of a movie production gone terribly wrong.
The Making of the Empire Strikes Back My first enhanced ebook, complete with audition tapes, blooper reels, and Ralph McQuarrie's wonderful artwork. Great fun.

Jan 4, 2016, 9:06am Top

My Top 5 Books Read in 2015:

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace
The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Jan 4, 2016, 10:11am Top

>52 flying_monkeys: A Finnish year for you! They're my neighbours (and I've met Emmi) so I'm ashamed to say I haven't read either yet. I must read my (signed) copy of Memory of Water soon...

Jan 4, 2016, 11:12am Top

I absolutely positively LOVED these:

AMan Called Ove by Frederik Backman
Wonder by R J Palacio
kitchens of the Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal
My Grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry by Frederik Backman
The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms

Jan 5, 2016, 8:41am Top

>53 anglemark: Yes! You must read Memory of Water soon - it's THAT good :) Here's my very brief "review" (more a reaction, really) http://www.librarything.com/review/116471807 I wish more people were reading/raving about it...

>54 cdyankeefan: I have My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry in my stack for this month's reads. It looks so good; I can't wait to start it but I have six books ahead of it in the queue :(

Jan 5, 2016, 8:45am Top

>55 flying_monkeys: Are you that disciplined that you can keep to a list? Yikes!

Jan 5, 2016, 8:50am Top

>56 2wonderY: I strive to be, yes; it doesn't always work out that way. :) Best intentions and all that. It's usually new releases and friends' recommendations that distract me, but I've found if I start off each year with direction then I wind up roundabout where I wanted to.

Jan 8, 2016, 4:23pm Top

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Blackman
All the Light we Cannot see by Anthony Doerr
The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters
Pied Piper by Nevil Shute
Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille

I read lots of good books last year. This was just a sample. Currently on a Pearl Buck re-read kick.

Jan 26, 2016, 8:32am Top

The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates (arc read 2015)
Happiness, Like Water: Stories by Chinelo Okparanta (2013)
98 Reasons for Being by Clare Dudman(2005)
A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent (2015)
When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen (2015)

Best nonfiction:
The History of the Gothic: American Gothic by Charles L. Crow (2009, literary history)

Best crime novel:
The Unquiet Dead by Usma Zehanat Khan (2015, debut novel)

Best SF:
Spirit; or the Princess of Bois Dormant by Gwyneth Jones (2008, UK)

Best I can do to whittle the list down (apples & oranges). And best I post before I change my mind.

Feb 3, 2016, 4:16pm Top

Here are my Top 5s:


Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf*
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty
Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng


Being Mortal by Atul Gawande*
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee

Graphic Novels

Sandman Overture by Neil Gaiman*
The Leaning Girl by Benoit Peters
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Stumptown by Greg Rucka
Velvet Volume 1 by Ed Brubaker


Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith*
And Sometimes I Wonder by Walter Mosley
Rose Gold by Walter Mosley
Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Ancillary series by Ann Leckie*
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Winter by Marissa Meyer

* = favorite

Feb 3, 2016, 6:41pm Top

Lonesome Dove was very good, as I recall.

Dec 22, 2016, 10:15am Top

In this very strange year of political discord, an on-line article pointed me to these books:

Dog Whistle Politics by Ian Haney Lopez
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist

Then there is the children's book highly recommended for adults as well--

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus

Dec 22, 2016, 10:22am Top


As an environmentalist, I mostly read non-fiction. Some of the books I have enjoyed this past year include.

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
The David Suzuki Reader by David Suzuki
How Did We Get Into this Mess by George Monbiot
Common Ground by Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Tar Sands, Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, by Andrew Nikiforuk

in the process of reading Understanding Video Games, an essential introduction by Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen (Author).

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.

Dec 22, 2016, 10:49am Top

You know that this is last year's discussion, right? The one for 2016 is here: Top Five Books of 2016.

Dec 22, 2016, 11:42am Top

>65 anglemark: Yeah, a version of SOTT got partly sent before we caught a typo that had a link back to the 2015 thread. ::facepalm::

I've updated the links in the OP to go to 2016's list/blog post, just in case.

Dec 22, 2016, 12:50pm Top

Ah, yes I got both, but didn't realise that was the problem.

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