Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Favorite Reads of 2015

As a writer for Shelf Awareness, I read and review at least three titles per month. Plus, I also read books for my own pleasure (although there is never enough time!)  Below are some of my favorite reads from 2015:


Act of God by Jill Ciment: The premise of Ciment's novel may seem zany--a fungus overtakes Brooklyn and affects the lives of two elderly sisters--but the absurdity serves to offer insights into the human condition in the modern world.
Crow Fair: Stories by Thomas McGuane:  Montana is McGuane's terrain, and this master of the short story form tackles the quirky bonds of friendship and family with a wry, comic edge and a host of "surprise" endings.
Days of Awe by Lauren Fox:  Fox's novel, infused with wit, centers on a woman's sudden death and how it challenges her best friend to reassess the meaning of her life, her marriage, motherhood and the possibility of a second chance at love.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart:  This imaginative, historical-based, true-crime novel takes place in Paterson, New Jersey in 1914 and is about three sisters (one of whom was a female sheriff) who took on the Mob...and all that that entails!
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee:  If this novel truly reveals Lee's original intent--before it was rewritten for more commercial, mass appeal as To Kill a Mockingbird--then this pared-down story about a woman confronting racial intolerance and discrimination in her Southern hometown and in her family shines on its own merit.
Like Family by Paolo Giordano: This short, beautifully written novel, translated from Italian and inspired by real events from the author's life, is a gentle, moving story about an older woman who becomes a nanny and confidante to a family of three and how her presence changes their lives.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: It's never too late to love...In this tender, understated, short novel, aging widowers--who have known each other for decades, but who live alone and have "no one to talk to"--form a deep bond of friendship and true intimacy that ultimately sparks controversy in their small town and amid their families.
Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor: Taylor delivers a bittersweet, entertaining story about a heartbroken, disillusioned young woman who returns home to a vineyard in Fresno, California in order to find herself—and untangle the vines of family and fortune.
The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes: Keyes' distinctive, clever brand of humor is in top form as her novel traces the life of an Irish beautician who is transformed by a mysterious illness and a charismatic neurologist who changes her life.
Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon: The Queen of Top Forty tells all about her life from childhood to family secrets, romances and even the creative inspiration behind her hit, "You're so Vain."
Drinking in America: Our Secret History by Susan Cheever: Cheever presents a riveting, well-conceived and well-balanced portrait about the history--good and bad--of one of America's favorite pastimes.
A History of Baseball in 100 Objects by Josh Leventhal: It's like visiting a well-conceived museum exhibit between the covers of a book...Leventhal presents a wide-range of interesting artifacts relating to every era of the game.
The Time of Our Lives: Collected Writings by Peggy Noonan:  Noonan is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and this collection offers her reflections and impressions of life in the USA--and beyond--over several decades. Compelling food-for-thought for Conservatives and Liberals, alike.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout: In spare prose, Strout (Pulitzer Prize-winner for Olive Kitteridge) crafts a luminous, moving novel about a writer who looks back at pivotal experiences in her past that ultimately shaped her sense of self and her destiny.
Happy Reading in 2016!