This year has been a reading rollercoaster—exciting highs mixed with ho-hum lows. No sooner was I soaring from some fantastic piece of fiction than I was shutting a book after 100 pages because ‘life is too short’ to keep reading something that isn’t holding my interest or is poorly written. Now, as it comes to a close, I’ve corralled the reading I love into lists. Today is favorite books, but in two categories—those you’ve probably seen or heard about from other people (because they ARE great) and then some that are quieter in their fabulousness, but definitely worth checking out. The title of each links to my full review so you can get an even better taste of why you need to read these books.
Let’s start with the ones that made a big splash with me and a lot of other bloggers:
- Fates and Furies– This was a 5 star creative endeavor for me. Groff parses the truth behind a marriage in a novel split neatly between the perspective of the husband and that of the wife.
- Circling the Sun– Paula McLain’s historical fiction about the life of Beryl Markham, a woman who never let fear stand in her way.
- Infinite Home– a quiet novel about 5 unusual people who call one old Brooklyn brownstone home.
- A Little Life– A story of four friends in NYC and one of the most emotionally difficult novels I’ve ever read. Profoundly powerful, but not for everyone.
- The Nightingale– Two French sisters and the choices each makes to survive during World War II.
- The Lake House– Kate Morton is a master of multi-generational family dramas and this one is no exception.
These eight are books that you have not have heard of, but are well worth adding to your reading list.
- The Jaguar’s Children– A novel that takes place inside a water tanker transporting humans from Mexico into the U.S. Intense look at human trafficking and what world politics has done to desperate people.
- The Household Spirit– Two quirky neighbors beset by life’s problems
- The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty– One of the most interesting premises in a novel I read this year. If you lost your identity in a foreign country, what would you do? When it happens to a young woman in Morocco she finds herself.
- The Undertaker’s Daughter– A little girl’s life growing up in a small Southern town’s mortuary. A memoir but reads like fiction.
- Crooked Heart– A con woman and an orphan make an unlikely pair trying to get by in World War II London.
- The Improbability of Love– A painting as narrator? YES! I loved this one for it’s art history, snarky humor and mystery.
- The Girl Who Slept with God– An intriguing novel about coming-of-age in a family of religious fundamentalists.
- Alice in Bed– a fictionalized account of the quiet life of the fascinating Alice James, the little-known sister of Henry and William.
Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest says
One of your picks will also make my top books list (A Little Life – I’m still reeling). Pleased that a handful of your other favourites are in my TBR stack for next year – Fates & Furies, Circling the Sun, Diver’s Clothes and Lake House.
Oh my gosh- you have such great reading ahead with that TBR stack!
tanya (52 books or bust) says
Love the new look!
Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest says
Also, I’m on a book-buying-ban next year. But thankfully there are a few more shopping days left in 2015 and Alice in Bed may have just fallen into my shopping cart… Looks fascinating.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
Love how you divided this up into 2 categories. And – sensing a bit of a human trafficking theme with Jaguar’s Children and The Guest Room. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty sounds fascinating!
Jaguar’s Children is so so good and heartbreaking- gives a whole new perspective on people trying to get into America. The Diver’s Clothes is written in the second person which is tough and why I think it didn’t get better press, but I loved it.
Marisa @ The Daily Dosage says
I’ve been waiting for this post!! I missed Infinite Home and Circling the Sun somehow this year. I had every intention to read them but, life, you know. Jaguar’s Children, Undertakers, and Girl Who Slept With God were also on my radar and glad to hear you really liked them.
Yes on life getting in the way of reading! I look at the awards lists of nominated books and it’s like ‘I haven’t heard of most of these- what have I been doing?!’
Marisa @ The Daily Dosage says
Oh and I forgot…love your new look!
Lynn @ Smoke & Mirrors says
2015 was a rip-roaring reading year for me! I have never really liked making these lists myself, but I do always enjoy what others feel are their favorites. I plan to post something similar on my blog, but I am uncertain when that will happen. I have added a few to my TBR list from your list…of course! And I love the fact that you separated them into the better known and lesser known categories. I may do something similar. Alice in Bed was totally uknown to me. It sounds fascinating!
Thanks for sharing!
Tara @ Running 'N' Reading says
Okay, I know I’m a little behind on my blog reading (marathon recovery is tough, you know – ha!), but how about this new theme of yours?!! WOW! I love this, Catherine!! Way to go; it looks fantastic!! On to the books…I wish I would stop forgetting to get a copy of Infinite Home; I’m checking my library’s website RIGHT NOW and thank you for the reminder. Thank you, too, for the additional recommendations; The Household Spirit, The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty and The Girl Who Slept with God all sound great! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday!
If I ran a marathon I’d still be in bed. I wasn’t able to swim for 2 weeks and was gasping when I went back yesterday. You dedication is amazing! Thank you on the new theme- I’m pretty pleased so far.
Our Christmas was lovely, hope yours was too!
I really need to read “The Nightingale.” I bought it when the ebook was on sale, so I really have no excuse….
Shannon @ River City Reading says
Great to see Infinite Home on here – such a great book. I definitely need to read The Household Spirit, it sounds like it’s very much in my wheelhouse.
I think you might like The Undertaker’s Daughter as well. Even though it’s non-fiction it is SO Southern and reads like fiction with a strong-willed tomboy at its center.
Just finished Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans – wonderful book! A lot of the others are in my (ridiculously large) TBR pile, so will probably be on my list for next year. I’m still reading and reviewing for 2015, and hopefully will have a list up on New Year’s Day. Note to self – review books v soon after reading them, otherwise you’ll have to speedread them again, when you could be reading a new book!
That is a great note to self, says the woman who is looking at a stack of 10 books read in the last month which have not been written about yet. It is so smart and easier to do but why don’t we do it?!
I’m so glad to have Fates and Furies and Infinite Home ahead of me. And since you reminded me, I went on and added The Undertaker’s Daughter to my official wishlist.
I haven’t gotten round to reading The Nightingale yet but it sounds great. Currently binge reading everyones Best of 2015 lists so that I can add them all to my reading list this year!