These are my ten favorite books published in 2015. Not in any particular order, or with any specific criteria other than they made an impression on me.
Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Middle grade fiction. Published by Scholastic Press.
The Da Vinci Code meets 39 Clues, only 10x better than both of those. Tons of action and intrigue, an amazing protagonist, a worthy sidekick, and a secretive religious group with a hidden compound. What more could you want?
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Adult fiction. Published by Riverhead Books.
A really compelling mystery that kept me guessing straight through. I listened to the audio book, which featured three different voices, truly bringing the story to life. This is Hawkins first novel and I am eagerly anticipating her next.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Teen fiction. Published by Balzer + Bray.
A beautifully quiet novel that is incredibly well-written. This book reads like a magical realism fairy tale. Totally immersive, I truly did not want it to end.
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Adult fiction. Published by Knopf.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Morrison herself, which I highly recommend. The book is not long, but Morrison squeezes the most out of every page. A story about the hardest type of forgiveness: forgiving one’s self.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Non-fiction. Published by Spiegel & Grau.
Part memoir, part manifesto, Coates writes this book to his son. Addressing so many issues in a small volume, this book should be assigned reading for all Americans. Coates presentation of the present, account of history, and discussion of the future are thought-provoking in a way that stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
One Family by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanca Gomez
Picture book. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
An important addition to any picture book collection. Gomez’s illustrations are charming, representing Shannon’s descriptions of an inclusive range of familial possibilities.
Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt
Picture book. Published by Tundra Books.
This book is hilarious. The bug, a fly, gets sucked up into the vacuum cleaner, and then works his way through the stages of grief as he comes to accept his new reality. Watt is masterful in her expressive illustrations. Though the topic of grief is fairly serious, Watt presents it in a way that is palatable and with enough humor to take the edge off. Brilliant.
Dime by E.R. Frank
Teen fiction. Published by Atheneum.
This book sucked me in and I would not let me put it down. I am a longtime fan of E.R. Frank, and she delivers again with tragically beautiful storytelling. The young women in this novel feel real, which is a stark reminder that they *are* real, despite this being a work of fiction. Frank perfectly captures the voices of these young women, stuck in a cycle of choiceless choices, trying to do the best they can to protect themselves and each other.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena; illustrated by Christian Robinson
Picture book. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.
This is one of those picture books that should be required reading for all humans of all ages. A beautifully illustrated story about a boy and his grandma and their weekly pilgrimage to the soup kitchen.
Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks
Juvenile graphic novel. Published by First Second.
To be honest, I haven’t even been able to read this book straight through. I read bits and pieces as the book spends minutes on my desk before it is snatched up and checked out by another kid. Wicks has done an amazing job of introducing the human body through a lens that is very appealing to the tween set. Very clever and very informative on topics from digestion through puberty.
These are favorite books that I read this year, but were not published in 2015.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker
Adult fiction. Published by Harper, 2013.
Haunting and epic. A truly unique story.
Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith
Adult fiction. Published by Mulholland Books / Little, Brown and Company, 2013+.
J.K. can do no wrong.
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Middle grade fiction. Published by Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014.
When the new kid at school turns out to be her grandfather, Ellie’s first year of middle school gets a lot more complicated. With a quest for secret to eternal youth, a couple of misfit friends, and a good old fashion caper-plot, this book is a winner.