Books

The 8 Best Books I Read in 2015

It’s tough to narrow down my yearly reads into favorites! Some novels are bursting with eloquence and artistry, but something about them just didn’t sit right with me emotionally. With other novels, I’m aware of some imperfections, but I just don’t care because the rest of the book was that good.

In any case, here are 8 books I read this year that most resonated with me:

Novels

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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

A combination of three things I love: historical fiction, fantasy, and immigration stories! Set in late nineteenth-century New York, this novel ruminates on friendship, faith, and identity. Chava and Ahmed – the titular Golem and Jinni – are believable characters, with a romance I rooted for the whole time.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A human-centered post-apocalyptic story. Lots of different story threads converging in different places, tied together with a sense of fateful retrospect. Much is made of the importance of finding meaning and beauty in daily life, the ways in which people navigate (and are shaped by) trauma, and the changes in relationships over years/decades. The ending definitely felt rushed, but I love the rest of the book so much that it still manages to find a place on my top 8.

bestnovels2

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

When Peter, a minister, accepts an offer from an enigmatic corporation to evangelize to the natives of a newly colonized planet, he must leave behind his beloved wife. Themes include faith (and a lack thereof), the frailties of the body, the necessity of emotion/attachment, and the psychological workings of a long-distance marital relationship. The sentence of each chapter is its title, granting the narrative a pre-ordained sense of coming full circle. I had the nerdiest thrill at the author turning a bunch of Heart of Darkness references on their heads.

Perla by Carolina de Robertis

Magical realism based on Argentina’s desaparecidos: a privileged young woman named Perla begins to question her origins when a wet, naked man appears suddenly in her home.

Short Story Collections

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Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr

Six stories revolving around memory, featuring characters old and young living all over the world. Anthony Doerr’s stories brim with sincerity and revel in the beauty of the world.

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

Beautiful prose. Intriguing vocabulary. Striking, surprising imagery. Most stories are set on the same imaginary island off the coast of Florida. Each touches on a relationship between children and the adults in their lives. Karen Russell has a real knack for finding the humanity in bizarre situations.

Classics

best-classics

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Each city is chronicled as if in a dream by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan: lands he has supposedly seen on his travels described in wild miniature ethnographies (and sometimes, obtuse Gnostic-sounding parables). Each is impossible, fantastical, irrational, paradoxical; hopeful or horrifying. They’re about the psyche of a city’s inhabitants, playing with the boundaries of self, language, perception, and/or reality.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Ah, nostalgia for a time before I was born. Cannery Row describes a town as a bustling ecosystem of sympathies, longings, tacit alliances, petty slights, all of which run parallel to the ocean’s ecosystem.

Honorable Mentions

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish, where bloggers share their top ten responses to a given theme.

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22 Comments

  • Reply Lianne @ eclectictales.com December 14, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Awesome list! It really is hard to narrow a year of awesome reading down to ten slots (in my case, I made it 20, haha!) Guh, Invisible Cities is such a stunning book (and haunting its own way in Italian); I think it definitely made my list a few years ago. Station Eleven made my honourable mentions list, it was beautifully written. I think if the ending was a bit more fleshed out, I think it would’ve made my top ten (but difficult to say still!). Yay for Jane Eyre πŸ˜€
    Lianne @ eclectictales.com recently posted…Top Ten TuesdaysMy Profile

  • Reply Chrissi Reads December 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Wow. A lot of these books have got such stunning covers! πŸ™‚ I am intrigued by a lot of them. I want to try and read Bone Gap soon!
    Chrissi Reads recently posted…Top Ten Best Books I Read in 2015My Profile

  • Reply nikki @bookpunks December 15, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Yey list! Illuminae made it onto my list this year, even though part of the ending pissed me off enough to knock it down a star. It was interesting to see Calvino on your list; I have to admit Invisible Cities is not my favorite of his. (That honor probably goes to If on a winter’s night a traveler.)

    The Golem and the Jinni needs to get on my tbr list; I have been hearing a lot of good things about it. And The Book of Strange New Things, which I pick up every time I go to the book store, and then don’t take home with me because it is so long, and I am in the mood for 200-300 page novels at the moment.

    Happy reading!

    Oh and my top ten list is here, if you’re interested: http://www.bookpunks.com/year-books-best-books-2015/

    • Paloma
      Reply Paloma December 15, 2015 at 11:55 am

      I haven’t yet read ‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’, but it’s on my bookshelf waiting to be read!

      The length of ‘The Book of Strange New Things’ almost didn’t occur to me – I read it via downloaded library eBook. It’s weird how a lack of physical heft in your hand can affect your perception of a book…

  • Reply Jazz @ Jazmin Jade Reviews December 15, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Bone Gap’s cover is enough to get me interested in the book! All of these are so stunning. Great list, happy readings πŸ™‚

  • Reply Rosie @ Rosie Reads December 15, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Your blog is so cute! I love the name! πŸ˜€

    I haven’t read any of your top 8 (or your honorable mentions, for that matter), but I think I do want to read ‘Illuminae’ – so many people are raving! And I want to read the Grisha series – I have the first book to start it πŸ™‚

  • Reply Gwen @ The Book Lounge December 15, 2015 at 5:43 am

    I like how you broke it down. I haven’t read any of these books but I am currently on book #2 in the Grisha Trilogy πŸ™‚

  • Reply Paula December 15, 2015 at 6:24 am

    I haven’t read any of these yet, but several on my TBR list – The Golem and The Jinni, Station Eleven, and St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. The last one simply because it’s title is amazing!
    Paula recently posted…Top Eleven Best Books I Read In 2015My Profile

  • Reply giovanna December 15, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Can’t wait to read Bone Gap. Lots of people seem to LOVE it!

    Great List!

    My TTT! πŸ˜€

  • Reply Amanda December 15, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Great list! I loved the Golem and the Jinni so much! I just read Station Eleven as well and it left me thinking way too much! I really want to read St. Lucy’s Home – thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply Liselle @ Lunch-Time Librarian December 15, 2015 at 10:45 am

    The Book of Strange New Things looks particularly intriguing, I’ll have to take a look into it. And I like how you broke the list down into sections πŸ™‚
    Liselle @ Lunch-Time Librarian recently posted…Lost Girls Review – Flinging Figs at FearMy Profile

  • Reply Cora @ Tea Party Princess December 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Fantastic list πŸ™‚ Ruin & Rising almost made it on to my list.
    Cora @ Tea Party Princess recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #48My Profile

  • Reply SDCB Steph December 15, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Fantastic! You have listed several that I have read or that appeal to me. I need to get to Cannery Row.

  • Reply Whitney @ Imaginary Book Club December 15, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Oooh, that makes me want to re-read Cannery Row. I worked my way through all of Steinbeck in 2006-2008, but it’s been long enough that it’s worth a revist!

  • Reply Cait @ Paper Fury December 16, 2015 at 2:13 am

    So basically I’m IN LOVE with all the covers on this post. <3 (And I adore how you formatted it…I know that's random I just…gah, I love how you set this out. XD) Illuminae and Bone Gap were DEFINITELY top of my love list for this year, but they're all the ones I've read on your list! hehe.
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer // Real or not real? With a side-dish of screaming.My Profile

  • Reply Ayunda December 16, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I’ve heard so many good things about St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves . I really want to explore more short story collections and I think this one would be an excellent read. My TTT.

  • Reply Zoe @ Stories on Stage December 17, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Illuminae and Bone Gap were two of my favorite books of the year, so I am so glad to see them on your list! I haven’t read any of the other ones you’ve mentioned, but I’m definitely going to fix that ASAP because they all sound absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post + choices! ♥
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…WinterMy Profile

  • Reply Missie December 19, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I loved Ruin & Rising and Bone Gap! I will have to check out some of your other favorites! Your blog name is awesome!
    New Follower πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jolien @ The Fictional Reader December 20, 2015 at 3:14 am

    I really want to read Bone Gap, Station Eleven and The Gollem and the Jinni! All three of those have been on my TBR for a while, so I’m really excited to see them on your favorites list. I’ll have to check out some of the others you mentioned here, because they seem incredible.

    Great list!
    Jolien @ The Fictional Reader recently posted…Weekly Wrap Up | December #3My Profile

  • Reply Emily @ Ink, Inc. December 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Invisible Cities sounds so interesting! So does Cannery Row — I read Of Mice and Men a few years ago and I don’t really know why I’ve never picked up Steinbeck since!

    So much love for Jane Eyre — that book demands a reread. And I have Americanah, I’m v excited to read it!

    Emily @ Ink, Inc. // my TTT

  • Reply Deb Nance at Readerbuzz December 24, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Book of Strange New Things and Invisible Cities both look quite tempting.

    http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com

  • Reply Ksenia @ Something Delicate January 4, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Great list, Paloma! I plan to read Station Eleven this year.
    Ksenia @ Something Delicate recently posted…My new blogMy Profile

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