Top 15 Books of 2015

2015 was a big year for me. I graduated from college, moved to Houston, TX, started this blog, and started working on the first draft of my novel! However, I also managed to read a ton of books. So, with it being the end of the year, I decided to name my fifteen favorite books from 2015!

None of the books on this list are in any particular order, because asking me to name my favorite book is like asking me to name my favorite body part—it’s a weird question to ask and impossible to answer. Also, many of these books were published prior to 2015. This year I set a goal to try and read only from the large pool of books I already owned, but had previously never read. I failed miserably, because there were so many amazing books that came out this year, but I did succeed in getting some books checked off that list. So, these are just my favorite books I read this year and not my favorite books that were published this year.

1) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

I don’t even know where to start with this book. It has ancient curses, an artfully embellished and probably biased history of the Dominican Republic, romance, murder, and countless comic book, sci-fi, and nerdy references. In short, it has a little bit of everything. The true testament to how much I enjoyed it is that I wrote a fifteen page paper about this book for a class and I STILL really love it. Though, I expected nothing less from Junot Diaz.

2) The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Now, this book actually was published in 2015, so this was one of the books I defiantly purchased despite my promise to read only the books I already owned. The cover was too pretty to pass up, so I snagged it and definitely don’t regret it. The language was so rich that the entire book felt like poetry. The story follows two ballerinas and a girl locked up in a juvenile detention center. The three girls become inextricably linked as they try to solve the mystery of what happened the night several girls were murdered and the cell doors at Aurora Hills Juvenile Detention Center burst open. A supernatural murder mystery thriller that kept me glued to my seat. I’d highly recommend picking up a copy. Read my review here.

3) Haints Stay by Colin Winnette

Haints Stay is another book published in 2015 that I just had to buy. The cover was beautiful and the front cover described it as a modern spin on the classic western, so I had to see what it was all about. It definitely didn’t disappoint. Beautiful language, two contract killers on the run, and a little orphan named Bird trying to make a life for himself. Read my full review here.

4) Columbine by Dave Cullen

I tried to read more non-fiction books this year, and that proved to be a great decision when I stumbled upon Columbine by Dave Cullen. The book deals with very heavy subject matter, but Cullen handles it with grace. The book focuses on the circumstances that could lead to a tragedy such as Columbine and not as much on the actual shooting, which keeps the book from feeling like it’s cashing in on the tragedy. Overall, I devoured the book in a weekend and you can read my full review here.

5) The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff

A charming coming of age story about a Jewish boy in 1970s New Jersey, The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green has something in it for everyone. Joshua Braff writes this slightly peculiar story with a sharp tongue and an open heart. Just when you think the story will simply be a funny bit of fiction, Jacob Green’s family starts to split at the seams and he has to figure out where he belongs. This is one of my favorite books, not just of 2015, but of all time.

6) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer’s life comes to a crashing halt when her friends are suddenly killed in an accident she miraculously survives. The kicker? She can’t remember the accident at all. Throughout this first installment of the Mara Dyer trilogy, Mara is forced to grapple with the unbelievable reality she is discovering and the unlikely explanation her parent’s are forcing on her. This trilogy is a mix of supernatural, mystery, romance, and action, and it is all of these things almost flawlessly. One of my favorite series of the year by far.

7) The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones

When Lindsay survives a murderous rampage that leaves all of her friends (and homecoming court) dead, she chooses a host of virgins, misfits, and former final girls to replace them. However, she doesn’t just want a new group of friends, she wants to become the ultimate final girl.

If you’re like me and enjoy a good slasher movie, then this book is definitely for you. In full disclosure, this isn’t very high on my list of favorite books ever, but the countless horror movie references and screenplay-like format made it an enjoyable book from this past year. Read my full review here

8) We Were Liars by E Lockhart

Full disclosure, reviews about this book are often mixed. Either you LOVE it or you HATE it. From my experience, there isn’t an in between. Luckily, I’m one of the people who absolutely loved this book. The writing style was poetic and lush, the characters—although all from the same ridiculously rich family—were three-dimensional and damaged, and the storyline kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. Without giving anything away, this story features a private island, a group of four friends—the Liars, an accident, a secret, and the truth. It’s beautiful and absolutely one of my favorite books.

9) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Okay, I bought this book because I thought it had a cool title. Then, the book arrived at my house and I realized it was about vampires. At that point, the book sat on my shelf for almost a year. I was not ready to embark on yet another Twilight-esque journey, thankfully, this book was nothing like Twilight at all. Once I finally put my prejudices aside and read it, I couldn’t read it fast enough. The story was unique and fast-paced, the characters were endearing, and the coming-of-age story mixed with a vampire horror story really set this book apart from the rest. Highly recommended for all lovers of supernatural YA.

10) Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

Helter Skelter is the top-selling True Crime novel of all time, and my second attempt at reading more non-fiction. I’ve always had a morbid curiousity when it comes to serial killers, and the story of Charles Manson and his followers is one of the most publicized and bizarre cases the United States has ever seen. The 700-page book covered every aspect of the crime, the victims, the killers, and the case. I will say, this book is not for the faint-hearted. I considered myself rather tough when it comes to scary stories and gore, but I was left with more than my fair share of nightmares while reading this behemoth. Overall, I enjoyed learning more about the Manson Family's crime and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys murder mysteries or crime television. Read my full review here.

11) Emma by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has been one of my favorite books since my junior year of high school, yet I somehow managed to not read Emma until my senior year of college! Why it took me so long I’ll never know, however, I’m overjoyed to add this wonderful book to my favorite books of 2015 list! Jane Austen’s classic wit shines in this tale of misunderstandings and wrongfully made assumptions. The characters may be obnoxiously polite, but Austen proves that you can’t trust anyone. (Plus, the classic 90’s flick, Clueless, is a modern-day adaptation of Emma! So, if you love Cher and Josh as much as I do, then you’ll love Emma.)

12) We the Animals by Justin Torres

While reading We the Animals this last year, I felt like I was being taught something fundamental about writing. Justin Torres used language to display the unbreakable bond of even the most damaged family and the alienation one can feel when surrounded by a world full of people. This story is euphoric and heartbreaking and deeply personal. I loved everything about it and I can’t recommend it enough. (Plus, for being so powerful, it’s a relatively quick read!)

13) Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

Full disclosre, I have not finished reading this book of short stories. However, the stories I have read have been phenomenal! Each scary story is inspired by other well-known stories, whether fairytales, classic horror stories, or old movies. For instance, one of the stories was a horrific reimagining of Alice in Wonderland and another was an unbelievably creative mash-up of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Rear Window. My favorite thing about this book (and probably the reason I haven’t finished it yet) is that you don’t have to read the entire book! You can pick it up, spend thirty minutes in a bone-chilling story, and then go on with your day. It’s perfect for people who feel like they don’t have enough time for reading.

14) To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf is one of those authors I always meant to read, but never got around to. Luckily, I got around to it this year and I couldn’t be more thrilled. To the Lighthouse features her classic stream-of-consciousness style and uses it to describe in depth the varied and personal struggles experienced by members of the Ramsay family. Woolf allows an insight into the family’s lives during three highly tumultuous times, showing the reader the human capacity for change.

15) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I really struggled choosing my fifteenth book for this list, but I eventually narrowed it down to Cinder, Scarlet, or Cress by Marissa Meyer and realized that I would just have to choose the entire series! Meyer’s futuristic re-telling of classic fairytales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel are fun and engaging. (I’m working on reading Winter, her latest book that reimagines the story of Snow White, right now, and will hopefully be able to finish it and post a review in the next month.) With Once Upon a Time being so popular on television, this book definitely has mass appeal, so I won’t hesitate to recommend it to everyone. Plus, who doesn’t love seeing classic storybook characters fight mutant wolves and fly around in spaceships?!

Okay, there you have it, my top fifteen books of 2015! I really struggled to narrow down my choices, and I know I left MANY worthy books off of this list, but these are the books I enjoyed the most this past year. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them! If not, let me know if I’ve encouraged you to give any of these books a try!

Happy Reading,

Mallory