Friday, May 1, 2015

Five Best Books of 2015 (so far...)

(This post originally appeared on RoscoeBooks' blog.)

We’re 1/3 of the way through 2015. Amazing! But for my money, the best 2/3 of the year remain — not only because of street fests, barbeques, the World Series, leaves, Christmas, etc., but also because here come some pretty great books! So far this year, though, there have also been some pretty great books. At the 33.33333 percent mark of the year, here are my five favorites so far.

5. The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins — The most popular book of the year so far is mostly worth the hype. It’s a riveting read, and even though I had a few minor issues with the novel, on balance, I liked it. It kept me up late reading, guessing, and feeling terrible for the poor hot mess of a protagonist.

4. The Kind Worth Killing, by Peter Swanson — Okay, but if you liked The Girl On The Train, you’ll LOVE this book. It’s populated with a bevy of unlikeable characters who plot horrible things for each other. At its root, it’s a dueling-narrative thriller about a failed marriage and a plot to kill the cheating wife — which, of course, doesn’t exactly go as planned. And the story gets pretty crazy from there. Give this one a shot — you may not have heard of it, but it’s really, really good.

3. Get In Trouble, by Kelly Link — Short stories: woohoo! These kooky, imaginative stories will certainly keep you on your toes. There are nudists, runaway teenagers, superheroes, sex dolls, astronauts, ghosts, and much more. But the idea here is that these fantastical (and fantastic!) stories allow Link to explore a theme of what is real, authentic, and genuine, and how can we know.

2. Glow, by Ned Beauman — This is the zaniest, most fun novel I’ve read in awhile. A nefarious American mining company operating in Burma is attempting to take over the drug trade in London. But why? And what’s the deal with the mysterious foxes popping up all over the city? This story is part Pynchon, with a mix of Murakami, and all good time. A guy who has something called non-24-sleep/wake syndrome has to try to solve the mystery of why this mining company is killing his friends. Along the way, he meets a beautiful woman named Cherish who may not be everything she seems.

1. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanigahara — It’s hard to imagine this won’t be my favorite of the full year eight months from now (even with a new Franzen and a To Kill a Mockingbird sequel!) — I was just blown away by this book. It’s as intense a read as you’ll find, but also incredibly engrossing and immensely rewarding. If you’re the kind of reader who misses the characters after you close the final page, well, that’ll be the case here too. I still miss them several months later.

(Honorable mention — Bonita Avenue, by Peter Buwalda. I just finished this massive tome about a dysfunctional Dutch family. And I really enjoyed it, but I need let it sink in a little more before I can assess its place on a “best of…” list.)


  1. For some reason all of the summaries I've read of 'The Girl on the Train' left me feeling less than pressed to pick it up. However, I am always a fan of hot mess leads so maybe I'll cave and grab a copy.

    1. Oh man, she is the hot messiest of hot messes, too. It's pretty great, just from that perspective.

  2. Alright. I'm about to read A Little Life because I keep hearing of its beauty. Thanks for the recommendation.
    I read The Girl on the Train and thought it was alright. I was a little bit let down :/

  3. Added a few to my TBR. Thanks for the recommendations!

  4. I know this is irrational, but I'm not reading anymore books with "the girl" in the title. I've had enough.

    But Kelly Link!!! Have you downloaded the Podcastle episodes that feature her work? I highly recommend The Hortlak. One of my favorites.

  5. Staggered - staggered! - that you recommended Glow. I considered it a pretty serious step back from The Teleportation Accident. All of these characters reveal information that could get them killed to someone who has no leverage. I considered it miserable. The Pynchon comparison is, like, apt in the sense that he's writing a paranoid conspiracy type of book, but completely blasphemous from a writing/quality perspective. Inherent Vice is Pynchon Lite but also fantastic, while Glow is - well, it would be too much to say that it's a pale reflection of Pynchon's greatness. That would be kind.