Originally published December 2015
So many books, so little time. Always.
I wish I had the time and energy to read a new book every day, but am thankful for the time I do scrape together to enjoy my favorite authors and discover new ones. This year, my Best Books of 2015 includes:
Hanya Yanagihara has a masterpiece on her hands with this doorstop of a book, 700+ pages detailing the life of Jude St. Clair and his friends Willem, JB and Malcolm. Each life a narrative of its own, Yanagihara deftly weaves each story together, with the center, Jude. Always, Jude.
This book is all about love, and that even in the midst of complete dysfunction borne from horrific circumstances, there is hope. It’s a tragic and beautiful read.
Stephen King is a juggernaut, but for me he really burst back onto the scene with 11/22/63. His latest, a followup to Mr. Mercedes and Book #2 in a trilogy, is old school suspense with a supernatural twist at the end.
Bill Hodges is back to help a young man keep his family together in the midst of a murder/money mystery, and I’m anxiously awaiting the final go-round in early 2016.
If I hadn’t read the first two, equally good, I wouldn’t be so engrossed with the Langdon clan and that family tree’s twisted and occasionally warped branches. This is a serial TV soap opera in written form—as if you are binge watching your favorite drama over the course of three hefty novels, the third tying up most of the loose ends and making you wish for a fourth to reach into yet another generation.
David Arnold’s debut effort made me cry ugly. UGLY. 16-year-old Mim Malone needs her mother, and hops a bus to find her when she moves several states away, a captive of her father and stepmother. Along the way she meets two soulmates in Walt and Beck, and I just wish I could be a part of their rendezvouski.
A perfect read not just for any teen but adults as well. Engaging, thought-provoking, and inclusive of the all-important twist readers so often appreciate.
Jonathan Franzen is a polarizing author, but color me #TeamFranzen. So if he’s not your cup tea, respectfully disregard the fangirl in me when it comes to his latest, a completely whacked out dysfunctional diatribe about Pip Tyler, her crazy-ass mother, and, as we come to discover, her crazy-ass father and his crazy-ass friends. It’s just a book full of crazy and I loved it. (It’s also about journalism and transparency and all-consuming love and the desire to be wanted by someone, anyone. Fabulous!)
I’m also a fan of great nonfiction, and Jon Krakauer delivers a strong, passionate condemnation of how justice isn’t always fair, especially in small college towns where football is the be-all, end-all. I read this right around the time Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane was initially under investigation for an alleged assault, making its topic—acquaintance rape and the subsequent attempts to bring assailants to justice—especially meaningful.
Regardless of which side you come down on in any given case, Krakauer’s storytelling will make you thoughtfully consider all sides of the equation.
Jay Bonansinga may be better known for his contributions to the Walking Dead series, but his 2015 venture into YA with Lucid was a wild ride. Lori Blaine, all of 18, enters a Sci-Fi world parallel to her own waking existence, just by opening the door in her dreams. A little Freddy Krugerish, yes, but spooky good fun. And, a Chicago-based author to boot!
Come January 1, I’ll be posting my entire “What I read this year” list, but these 7 were my favorites, hands down. And given my reaction so far to “City on Fire,” if I ever find time this holiday season to finish, it could end up among the best of the year as well.