‘Tis that time of the year…. for Best Of lists. From movies to tv shows to books, these lists are always a delight to read. Of course, we take particular interest in the book lists.
Here at Robbins and Fox, we put together our own 2015 Best Books list. All of these books were read in 2015 by our staff, most of which were published in 2015.
And the 2015 Best Books are (in no particular order)….
Willow, in our Circulation department picks The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett. “It’s the fourth book in the Tiffany Aching series, about a young girl becoming a witch and finding her power, with help from some unusual allies. There is suspense and humor and lovely deep moments, all wrapped up with witty social commentary and a coming-of-age story.” Willow also says, It’s the very last book by this author, so I’m trying to make it last as long as possible…” Willow also gave a shout out to Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. “It’s a wonderfully accessible story about a blue crayon with a red wrapper. Try as they might, they cannot be red, even though that is what everyone expects. ”
Andrea, Library Director, picks Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. She says, “I loved this novel because it made me laugh out loud and it’s very rare for me to laugh out loud at a book. Semple’s grasp of 21st century modes of communication make for a perfectly modern comedy of manners, mixed with a mystery, mixed with a send-up of bohemian bourgeois life (think Portlandia). The characters are deliciously drawn and very eccentric but not cartoonish. I wanted to have them all over for dinner.”
Julie, in Adult Services (and creator of the fantastic taxidermy display), wants you to read The Fifth Season by acclaimed fantasy author N.K. Jemisin. “Jemisin starts a new series with The Fifth Season. Deft storytelling, imaginative world-building, and a nuanced exploration of culture, oppression, and injustice make this novel a gripping and rewarding read. ”
Linda, Head of Adult Services and super reader, picks Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics, “which I once heard described as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s worst nightmare. That is why I love it! It’s about a teenage girl who lives with her family on the prairie in the 1800s and is being haunted by the events of the previous tough winter, as the family moves to a new, slightly disturbing, home. It is creepy and psychological, capturing the loneliness of the prairie and the difficulty of life in rural America at this time. The main character is totally recognizable as a regular teenage girl, but the secrets she is carrying and the terrifying circumstances she finds herself in make this story unforgettable.Oh geez, now I want to read it again.” Check it out before Linda does!
Lauren, one of our Children’s librarians, picks The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall. She said, “Set in 1963, the story opens with young Arthur heading to court because he threw a brick at the neighborhood Junk Man. Doesn’t really make you want to be friends with Arthur….Arthur should be heading to jail; but, the Junk Man has made a strange request: can Arthur serve community service time helping him? And at that moment, two lives are forever changed. This story was SO much more than I was expecting it to be. A 5 star recommendation.”
Sophia, in the Children’s Department and purveyor of the DIY kits, said “My submission is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The world as we know it is history, a flu pandemic having wiped out 99.9% of humans. The book follows various characters who were connected knowingly or unknowingly to one character who didn’t survive the apocalypse. The novel explores what remains, and finds hope through love and beauty, in a devastating future. I read it more than once, and recommended it to everyone I know.”
Aimee, our Teen Librarian, writes “The book that stands out the most in my mind from the past year is None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio. It is about Kristen, a senior in high school, who finds out that she is intersex. Kristin is a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and a loving boyfriend. What happens now that everyone knows that she is intersex? Will her scholarship be taken away? Will her boyfriend still love her? What does being intersex really mean for Kristin? Is she not the young woman she always believed herself to be? While I knew that people could be born with both male and female parts I never understood the complexities of being intersex. I did not know that someone could go almost 20 years knowing they were a girl only to be told by a doctor that their internal anatomy was male. None of the Above is a book that I think everyone should read. Like all powerful fiction, the book has stayed with me and led to me researching more about the term intersex.”
And she couldn’t resist shouting out a few more titles: My other top teen picks from 2015 are Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (great for middle schoolers), and Fairest: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer.
Stephanie, one of the Children’s librarians, picks The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. Historical fiction set in Baltimore in the early 20th century. (Also, starred reviews in the 4 major review sources! Wow!)
Pam, Head of Children’s, pick is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson, a “beautiful memoir told in poetic prose.” (Also a 2014 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature! And a Newbery Honor Book.)
Maura, our new Assistant Director, picks Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. “From the first pages of this book, I was deeply drawn into the marriage of two people through Groff’s brilliant use of language. Told in two parts, the reader sees the marriage unfolding and growing, first from Lotto’s perspective, the fates, then of his stunning wife Mathilde’s, the furies. It’s about the things that go unsaid in a marriage, filled with Greek chorus-like commentaries. President Obama also picked this as his favorite book of 2015, so now we’ll have something to talk about at a party!”
Yvonne, who you can find at Fox on Fridays couldn’t pick just one. So she has 4 titles in a variety of genres:
Adult mystery – Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olson
YA fiction – Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
J fiction – Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
Picture book – Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry
Ellen, one of our Adult Services Librarians, picks In the Kingdom of Ice: the grand and terrible polar voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides. She says, “A page-turning thriller, an incredible survival tale, as harrowing as it gets – this is also a true story. The year is 1879. Hoping to be the the first country to reach the North Pole, the American ship USS Jeannette, with Captain George Washington de Long at its helm, proudly embarks on a voyage into the almost completely unknown and largely uncharted polar region. What befalls the crew is so utterly beyond belief you will be unable to put this book down.”
Now it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments about the best books you read in 2015!