Thomas’s Top Ten 2015 Reads

Friends, welcome to my top ten books out of the 103 I read this year! Because I stopped posting the book reviews I write on this blog, I included a link to each book’s full review on Goodreads to force you to get an account yourself. You will see lots of books about mental health as well as feminism, and I have to say, choosing between the top ~15 stellar works of nonfiction I read almost slayed me to bits. Now, without further ado:

Top 5: Fiction

the handmaid's tale by margaret atwood5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. A chilling dystopian story in which women known as handmaids exist for the sole purpose of giving birth. With her signature deft prose, Atwood tackles themes of feminism, the power of language, reproductive justice, trauma, and more. For better or worse, a still-relevant classic. Full review here.

 

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera4. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. A dark and twisty young-adult novel about sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto, who wants to forget his past to find happiness. Adam Silvera addresses sexuality, race, mental health, and SES in this fantastic debut, wrapped up with a touch of science-fiction and a lot of heart. A depressing, redeeming book. Full review here.

 

Paperweight by Meg Haston3. Paperweight by Meg Haston. Gritty and unforgiving, Paperweight centers on seventeen-year-old Stevie, a young woman who finds herself trapped in an eating disorder treatment center in New Mexico. Meg Haston delivers several harsh truths in her raw debut, all pertaining to mental illness, family dynamics, and battle to recovery. Full review here.

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Celeste Ng’s debut revolves around the Asian-American, mixed-race Lee family, whose eldest daughter Lydia dies at the book’s onset. Ng examines the brutal weight of familial expectations, the inter-generational effects of race and prejudice, and what it means to love after a horrifying loss. Full review here.

 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I slept with this book after I read it because I could not let its characters go. An exhilarating and exhausting exploration of the human mind and body after unspeakable abuse, and a true mediation on the merits of friendship. Compassionate, maddening, and hopeful, A Little Life slayed me. Full review here.

 

My honorable mentions in fiction go to All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

Top 5: Nonfiction

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resche5. Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. A book that will change your relationship with food forever, Intuitive Eating focuses on eliminating dieting to get you back in touch with your body’s natural needs. I would recommend this well-researched, thoughtful book to anyone who has ever dieted or felt dissatisfied with their body. Full review here.

 

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff4. Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff. What does it mean to treat yourself with compassion? Kristin Neff answers this challenging question through the tenets of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Rife with research, insight, and relevant anecdotes, Self-Compassion will alter the way you act toward yourself, for the better. Full review here.

 

The Merry Recluse A Life in Essays by Caroline Knapp3. The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays by Caroline Knapp. With great intellect and vulnerability, Caroline Knapp writes about a gamut of topics in this collection: her struggles with anorexia and alcoholism, her deep relationship with her dog, and her journey to find contentment in solitude. My favorite writer and my inspiration. Full review here.

 

Night Falls Fast by Kayredfield Jamison2. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison. A renowned clinical psychologist and expert on bipolar disorder, Kay Redfield Jamison provides a thorough scientific and historical perspective on suicide. She writes with great urgency and understanding, and with courage she discusses her own attempt at the age of 28. Full review here.

 

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison1. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. A provocative essay collection about empathy, its strengths and its limits. With a clear and unique voice, Leslie Jamison analyzes a range of experiences, from dealing with phantom diseases to great personal loss, and she shares how we can become more kind, graceful, and humble humans. Full review here.

 

My honorable mentions in nonfiction go to Willow Weep For Me: a Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz, and Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt.

Any books you recognize, agree or disagree with? What books did you enjoy the most this year, and which do you want to read in 2016? Hope everyone has a fabulous transition in 2016 and look forward to another post by the end of the week (a personal one, that will have to do with the in-construction resources page you see above)!

*also, all covers came from Goodreads, the best website ever, in my objective and unbiased opinion

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25 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, 4.5 stars, 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

25 responses to “Thomas’s Top Ten 2015 Reads

  1. Your fiction list sounds spot-on. Bookmarking for future reference.

  2. Thank you for sharing this list! All the Light We Cannot See is one I really want to pick up in 2016. I am halfway through A Little Life, but I ended up gifting my copy (I was too late in purchasing my friend a copy in time for Christmas; and they’re sold out in stores). And I’m not at all surprised that The Handmaid’s Tale and Self-Compassion made it onto this; I know you really loved them. Happy new year, Thomas!

    • Aw, Summer, I am so grateful that you remembered The Handmaid’s Tale and Self-Compassion from previous posts/other things you’ve read in the past. I feel like you would enjoy All the Light We Cannot See, and I hope you get to restart A Little Life later on down the road. Thanks for taking the time to comment and I hope you have had a magnificent weekend.

  3. I must admit, I’ve seriously neglected my reading time this year, but your list gives me absolute motivation to start concentrating on reading again! Atwood is somewhat of a legend here in Canada; her books occupy 1/5 of all the used book stores I’ve been to, so I guess I could start there :P. Awesome list Thomas, and I’ll have to check out your full reviews (because they are absolutely bomb)!

    Happy New Year, may it bring you great opportunities and bonding!
    Grace 🙂

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind wishes, Grace! Interesting that Atwood has such supremacy in Canada, though it makes sense considering her literary legacy. Hope your 2016 has been fabulous so far.

  4. The Handmaid’s Tale and A Little Life made it to my top books of 2015 too! I really need to read The Empathy Exams; it’s been sitting on my TBR list since the beginning of the year lol.

  5. Haven’t heard about most of these books. Here’s my top12 of what I read last year 🙂 – http://bit.ly/1ZDDquM

  6. I’ve been eyeballing “More Happy Than Not” for awhile, so maybe will go ahead and read it with your recommendation. You already saw my favorites list and I would recommend anything by Gail Carriger as her series are awesome! I have sort of planned out what I would like to read for 2016, we’ll see how that works out for me.

    • Would definitely recommend More Happy Than Not if you’re interested in a book that will surprise you and make you feel deeply. Hope your reading in 2016 has been going according to plan, and thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  7. You’ve had some intense reading this year! I’m sticking to lighter fiction for awhile, but your list looks very thought-provoking.

    My top 10 are up on my blog.

    Also, seeing you around the blogosphere makes my heart warm and happy 🙂 Here’s to a healing, happy, healthy 2016 for you!

    • A comment from you always makes my heart warm! Glad to see that you’ve been updating your blog regularly and I hope your 2016 is as splendorous as you are.

  8. Randee M.

    Happy New Year, Thomas! I enjoy reading your re views on Goodreads and I am your friend, Randee M. I just started reading your blog here. I do a top 10 list each year for one of my book clubs and since we often share the same opinion, I thought I would share mine. I reviewed all of these on GR’s in more detail if any of them pique your interest.

    The Best
    1. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
    My favorite book of the year and the author’s debut novel. I am wishing on all shooting stars that there will be a sequel.

    2. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
    Donna Tartt knows how to write and tell a story like nobody’s business.

    3. Good Chinese Wife A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong by Susan Blumberg-Kason
    This is a true story but it reads like a thriller. We know it’s going to end badly but the suspense was first rate.

    4. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
    The author broke the mold and created a horror story like no other I’ve read.

    5. Slade House by David Mitchell
    The author of ‘The Bone Clocks’ wrote this horror tale with sophistication for the intelligent reader.

    6. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
    Another master storyteller, I loved how this was executed and plotted. Everything fell into place despite many characters and time changes.

    7. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda, #1) by Tom Angleberger
    Cute, funny, charming and so much more. Kids from 9 to 99 should read this outstanding children’s book.

    8. Day Four (The Three #2) by Sarah Lotz
    A cruise ship navigates into ‘The Twilight Zone.’ And it is so satisfying for the reader joining them.

    9. Furiously Happy A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
    A laugh a minute. The author would fit in well with me and my friends.

    10. The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford
    The author tells a horror story but depicts childhood in suburbia so well that I felt like these kids lived on my childhood street.

    Honorable Mention:

    Black Butler, Vol. 1 (Black Butler, #1) by Yana Toboso
    Abandon by Blake Crouch
    Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine
    The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne
    The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #9) by Jeff Kinney
    One Summer America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

    The Worst

    1. The Red House by Mark Haddon
    The only book I put down and didn’t finish this year. Surprising to me since I love 2 other Mark Haddon books.

    2. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
    If her goal was to make herself dislikeable, she succeeded brilliantly.

    3. You (You, #1) by Caroline Kepnes
    Ugly and predictable.

    4. Angels with Dirty Faces by Kelly Garni
    Capitalizing on someone’s death does not a friend make.

    5. City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
    This should have been the 2nd book I did not finish. At 944 pages, it was, at least, 644 pages too long.

    • Thank you for this detailed list, Randee! I find it intriguing how you also include your least favorite books – giving all of us fair warning, I suppose. I have marked several of the books you have named as “to-read” based on your recommendation. I find myself most excited to read Good Chinese Wife, the memoir; it sounds like such a unique story and I am curious as to how the author navigates the cultural complexities while maintaining her voice in memoir form. Hope your transition into 2016 has been wonderful.

  9. Hooray for The Handmaid’s Tale! I can’t read books featuring anorexia because it upsets me too much (because of a dear friend) but that’s a great reading list there altogether. You know what mine are, quite different from yours but I love seeing what other people read. I miss your book reviews on here, actually. Goodreads is too unwieldy for me!

    • Glad that you are respecting your limits in terms of what you will read and what you will not read. I also appreciate how we have different tastes yet can honor each others’ preferences for books and the art of reading in general. Hopefully the links to the reviews themselves are not too unwieldy – perhaps at the end of the year you will get just the best of the best reviews. Hope your 2016 has been fabulous so far, and thank you for dropping by!

  10. Ksenia

    Belated Happy New Year, Thomas! Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera are on my tbr-list.

  11. I personally did not like The Handmaid’s Tale, but All the Light we cannot see has to be one of my favorite books I have ever read. Beautifully written, it will certainly stick with me for a very long time.

    • Glad you loved All the Light We Cannot See and that we can agree to disagree on the Handmaid’s Tale! It is always wonderful when you find a book that resonates with you and that you will come back to for a long time.

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