The Best Books of 2015 So Far

Book Riot presented The Best Books of 2015 so far last week. I’m going to a highlight a few that I’ve either read or are on my (very) short list to be read soon.

  • The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL for adults, written with a penchant for old maps and undocumented 15th century explorers. For literary readers with a taste for suspense: two women hunt for a missing pop star and become ensnared in her secret society, following clues through the dark underbelly of Chicago.

I just started reading this book today. So far, I love the Chicago setting, and the author is doing some really interesting things with her narrator and footnotes. Question: does anyone like footnotes? Generally, I am inclined to say hell no, but this has been a hilarious journey thus far.

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)

A memoir from someone saying some of the most interesting, compelling, and somewhat controversial things about race in our country, this is a must-read for anyone interested in race politics and the necessary dialogue books like this inspire.

  • In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories from Mia Alvar, a remarkable new literary talent, vividly give voice to the women and men of the Filipino diaspora. Here are exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere—and, sometimes, turning back again.

On deck for my August book club meeting, I’ve heard about this book in four different places. I’ve had a lukewarm relationship with short stories until several years ago when I read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri; I think I read it it one sitting with my mouth half open and my heart beating quickly the entire time. Since then, I’ve been much more open-minded to to give collected short stories a try.

  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

I received this book in my June Owl Crate box and have been eager to start it ever since. YA books with LGBT characters are few and far between, and I’ve heard from several people that it’s a beautifully written narrative.

  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has traveled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us, people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly or made a mistake at work. Once the transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know, they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

This book passed The Non-Fiction Test, but just barely. I read it with colleagues, and I couldn’t stop talking about it with people for months. I’m shocked how much more I now empathize now with people I never thought I’d empathize with given how much more I think about public shaming, social media, and the responsibility of being a human so plugged in to the world around me. It didn’t answer many questions I had, but instead provoked many more of my own – this is one of the better outcomes for a book to have in one’s life, I think.

  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

“Whom to marry, and when will it happen—these two questions define every woman’s existence.” So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried.

Books like this appeal to me more and more as I get older–for obvious reasons. I heard of another one recently with similar themes except it gathers thoughts from people without children. I think the most important things to keep in mind when reading books like this is that they shouldn’t be criticisms of people who do indeed follow the life path that is more conventional; instead, I anticipate them being interesting, sharp insights into the hilarity of being so different from those around you.

We still have five and a half months to go, and 2015 is far from being over. I recently finished book #50 of the year, and I have some personal favorites of my own not mentioned on the list. Stay tuned for my re-cap on the year this December!

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