Patricia’s Top Ten Reads of 2015

Sigh. I love pouring over the end of year book lists and seeing the full range of what’s out there for us to read and savour. Without further ado, here’s my humble offering of the year’s best reads:

crookedheartCrooked Heart* by Lissa Evans

Best for fans of: Quirky characters, dark comedy, fiction set in WWII

What’s the appeal? Evans draws wonderfully full characters.  I loved Noel and Vee and Mattie and didn’t want their story to end.

George by Alex Ginogeorge

Best for: Reading aloud with your middle-grader, exploring new viewpoints

What’s the appeal? George is a girl who was born a boy and is determined not to let her sex get in the way of her dream of playing the lead role in the class production of Charlotte’s Web.

watchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Best for: Fans of To Kill a Mockingbird who can stand to have their ideas shattered

What’s the appeal?  I found Watchman a very tough book to read because it forced me to question how I could ever have been utterly convinced that a young girl be a completely reliable narrator.

nestThe Nest by Kenneth Oppel

Best for:  Staying up all night reading, fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline

What’s the appeal?  It’s rare to find a horror novel that’s suitable for children and adults, but Oppel strikes a fine balance, creating a fine-tuned sense of anxiety and absurdity.

outlineOutline by Rachel Cusk

Best for:  Fans of literary fiction, readers who appreciate when authors play with narrative form

What’s the appeal?  The novel is told in ten conversations each of which help us sketch out the narrator’s story.  If the concept doesn’t grab you, it’s worth reading for the writing alone.

PurityPurity by Jonathan Franzen

Best for:  Someone in the mood for a sprawling read, readers of Thomas Pynchon

What’s the appeal?  The Sunday Morning Herald said it best, “Franzen’s greatest strength remains his old-fashioned dedication to the slow time of the artform: its patiently constructed psychology, its slow accrual of event and subsequent resonance.”

rednoticeRed Notice by Bill Browder

Best for:  Those who like to read about lone individuals taking on political corruption and conspiracy

What’s the appeal?  I read this book because I didn’t know much about Sergei Magnitsky beyond the name. While Browder is difficult to relate to at first, how he has dealt with Magnitsky’s murder is exceptionally powerful. What a transformation to undergo.

shadowshaperShadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Best for: Fans of YA urban fantasy

What’s the appeal? The blurb promised a cross between The Mortal Instruments and Caribbean folklore, and that’s pretty much exactly what Older delivers. 

shamedSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Best for: Someone looking for a quick, but informative read

What’s the appeal?  Ronson frames our modern day obsession with public shaming via social media in terms of the history of public shaming.  His writing is witty, yet not glib — Ronson fully admits his own complicity. 

symphonySymphony for the City of The Dead: Dmitry Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

Best for fans of: Narrative non-fiction, music history, Russian history

What’s the appeal?  It’s a brilliantly told tale of the survival and triumph of artistry amid political turmoil

What was your favourite read of 2015?  Sound off in the comments below.

–Patricia

 

2 comments

  1. Great list as you’ve got a few outside the box. 2015 for me will be the year of H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald and The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury. If I Fall, If I Die, by Michael Christie was the biggest surprise and left the most lasting impression for new Canadian fiction by a first time novelist. Shout outs for Voices in the Ocean by Susan Casey and watch for One Breath by Adam Skolnick in 2016 (I read an advance copy – great adventure/extreme sport read)

  2. Thanks, Ron. Both H is for Hawk and Michael Christie’s debut are in my ever-growing TBR. I’ll move them to the top. I hadn’t hear of The Fish Ladder, but will make a point of picking up a copy. Thanks for sharing!

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