Fifty seems like such a huge number but when I looked through my list of books read last year, whittling it down was brutal! There were so many amazing titles published in 2015 and I was able to read a whole bunch of them thanks to my recent attempts to limit my television time….possibly a case of trading one vice for another?
Hopefully we will have a lot of people attend our “Best Books of 2015” event next week as we share our favorites. With this post, I decided to give you my top five 2015 books that did not make it to my list of 20 I get to share at the program. These books were very enjoyable and just barely missed the cut.
As with all Brooks’ novels, this is a richly detailed piece of historical fiction which presents a unique twist on events or people already familiar. THE SECRET CHORD tells of King David’s rise to power and subsequent fall from grace. While I enjoyed the novel, I did not love it as much as I have some of the author’s previous works such as YEAR OF WONDERS and PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (which I recommend frequently).
Another favorite author of mine, Willig writes mainly historical romances. Her PINK CARNATION series first caught my attention years ago. However, she also writes stand-alone novels that I look forward to reading. They are light and fast-paced with fun, relatable characters. THE OTHER DAUGHTER tells the story of Rachel Woodley, the illegitimate daughter of an English Earl, and her attempts to confront her father with his abandonment of her and her mother.
THE PRECIOUS ONE is also a book about a daughter looking to come to terms with her father’s abandonment. Taisy hasn’t been in contact with her father in over a decade, so when he calls her and asks for her help in writing his memoir she reluctantly agrees. The story is told with alternating narratives between Taisy and Willow, Taisy’s teenaged half-sister who seems to have all the love and attention Taisy’s father was never able to give her. A great novel about family and forgiveness.
This is a groundbreaking book about the history and future of autism. What I really admired about this book was the author’s ability to present the science and history of the topic in a very personal and conversational manner. He tells of people and their stories which made it a riveting read.
McDougall is best known for writing BORN TO RUN which seemed to start an entire movement of barefoot running. In this new book he searches other areas of history to find the secrets to history’s greatest heroes and athletes. With a bit of World War II history, a fascinating look at the island of Crete, and inspirational stories of amazing physical abilities, this is a great choice for armchair athletes like me.
Please join us next week for even more recommendations from 2015! Plus, there will be cupcakes. Come for the books, stay for the cupcakes.
It's possible you've picked up a bit of a theme this week--in preparation for our Best Books of 2015 event next week, we're teasing some of our librarian's favorite books that came out last year. Next week you can come and hear us talk about our favorite books in a variety of categories: here's a small taste of what you'll find:
Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?
While Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play, they each share an important secret.
When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it's all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.
Recounts the life of Victor Lustig, an international con man who had swindled thousands of people, including Al Capone, and was best known for "selling" the Eiffel Tower.
2015 was a banner year for young adult fiction! Not only did we see an exciting surge in titles featuring diverse protagonists or titles penned by people of color, thanks to the awareness raised by the We Need Diverse Books campaign; but if 2015’s any indication, YA has entered its “Golden Age” and the market continues to mature as an art form.
In 2015, titles like BONE GAP by Laura Ruby challenged the way we view our place in reality; Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES reaffirmed the importance of each human life; we saw art explode into being in Daniel Jose Older’s SHADOWSHAPER, and history transform in Laura Amy Schlitz’s THE HIRED GIRL. Finally, Sarah Crossan’s novel ONE made us do a double-take at the lives of conjoined twins.
Here are the YA novels published in 2015 you should absolutely not miss:
Quite possibly one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, Laura Ruby’s BONE GAP won the 2016 Printz Award and was nominated for the National Book Award with good reason. In a story that blends magical realism with dreamlike imagery, readers meet Finn, a denizen of the rural town called Bone Gap, who witnesses the supposed kidnapping of his older brother’s girlfriend, Roza. Unfortunately, Finn’s own vague descriptions of the man who kidnapped Roza—and his own slowly-emerging disabilities—make it difficult for the police to find her. And Roza herself seems lost in a dream world, one in which a nightmare preys off the very essence of beauty itself.
If you attend the event on February 3rd, you’ll get to hear Anjie speak as passionately about this book as I have! (And yes, you most certainly want to hear Anjie talk about this book!) Growing up on a hardscrabble farm, Joan avoided her cruel father but adored her mother, who encouraged her to work hard, study her lessons, and earn her own way in the world. After Ma’s death, 14-year-old Joan clashes with her father and flees to Baltimore. Claiming to be 18, she’s taken into the household of a wealthy Jewish family as a hired girl. Joan works hard to please the Rosenbachs and their beloved, aging housekeeper, the testy Malka. Over the next few months, the girl makes her share of mistakes . . . and her overactive imagination, passions, and disregard for propriety often get her into trouble. Still, these qualities endear her to the Rosenbachs (and likely to readers everywhere, too!)
What else can I say about SHADOWSHAPER but this: READ IT. This book is unlike anything else I’ve read in YA, blending genres, cultures, and languages seamlessly and beautifully. When Sierra Santiago’s grandfather warns her that the paintings in their Brooklyn neighborhood are “fading,” Sierra’s puzzled. Through her own wit and determination, Sierra discovers she’s descended from a long line of shadowshapers, men and women able to animate art with the spirit of a departed soul. But now, Sierra’s community is under attack from an anthropologist seeking to appropriate Sierra’s family’s traditions and culture. In order to save it, Sierra must draw upon and amplify her ancestors’ spirits, before their art fades away for good.
From what I’ve heard from readers, this is a beautiful book, a sad book, but a life-affirming book. When Theodore “the Freak” Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—both considering suicide—it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship, and a journey to discover the "natural wonders" of the state of Indiana. Violet’s running from her sister’s death nine months earlier. Finch’s trying to deal with an undiagnosed case of manic depression. And as they fall into an oddball sort of love, both teens become desperate to save one another from the demons that plague them.
Last but not least, we have one of Breanne’s favorite books of the last year: A novel-in-verse about two sisters suffering from one unique problem. Attached at the hip—literally—conjoined 16-year-old twins Tippi and Grace have outlived every prognosis for their life span. Their younger, ballet-dancing sister, earnest Mom, drunk Dad, and free-spirited Grammie comprise their whole world until homeschooling funds run out, and Tippi and Grace enter a local New Jersey private school as scholarship students. Their first friends ever, the pink-haired, HIV-positive Yasmeen and sweet, humble Jon, dutifully introduce them to raucous teen fun while serving as vigilantes against bullying and ignorance. When separation surgery becomes a potential reality, crucial questions of how bodies shape identity, friendship, love, and commitment are explored. The pacing’s gentle here, but this isn’t a novel readers will soon forget.
Make sure to join Anjie, Breanne, and I on Tuesday, February 3rd for the YA portion of the Library’s Best Books of 2015 presentation!