Was one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2015 to read more? And did that go about as well as resolutions usually do? No worries. There’s still time to enjoy the rich bounty of great books from 2015. And it was quite a year for books. Harper Lee’s long-awaited Go Set A Watchman was released, and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train took readers by storm. But there are many more great reads that you might have missed during the year.
For instance, Helen Macdonald found deep insights into the nature of life and death by caring for a fierce goshawk. xkcd’s Randall Munroe created an illustrated guide to just about everything in the known universe. And my beloved podcast Welcome to Night Vale released a weird, lovely novel about the nature of time, families, and piñatas filled with bees. Basically, 2015 was a banner year for memoirs, historical fiction, and inspirational books alike.
So here is a quick list of some of the year’s highlights for my fellow readers. There’s still time to knock out a book or two before the year’s end, and at least a few of these titles are bound to spark your interest. Get that e-reader charged up, download a new audiobook, or even — gasp — visit your local bookstore or library for these reads. And here’s to another year of fantastic literary escapes.
1'H Is For Hawk' by Helen Macdonald
Helen Macdonald's H Is For Hawk is the firsthand account of a what it takes to adopt and raise a goshawk, a beautiful and ferocious predator. The author muses on her own personal griefs and struggles as she provides tremendous insight into the world of falconry.
2'The Story Of The Lost Child' by Elena Ferrante
Italian author Elena Ferrante and translator Ann Goldstein bring The Story of the Lost Child to life. The final installment in a four-book series, this novel follows Elena and Lila through their successes and setbacks in Florence and Naples.
3'The Argonauts' by Maggie Nelson
2015 was a year that challenged many people's notions of sexuality and identity, and Maggie Nelson's memoir The Argonauts presents the author's account of her relationship with a gender fluid artist. It challenges readers to take on new thoughts about love, gender, and sexuality.
4'Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff In Simple Words' by Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe, creator of the brilliant xkcd comics, presents a humorous look at complex systems in Thing Explainer. Simple explanations of everything from the solar system to helicopters give you a better understanding of how the world works.
5'Fates and Furies' by Lauren Groff
Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies is a novel that examines a marriage from different points of view. By seeing events from both the husband and wife's perspectives, readers get a sense of the truths and secrets that comprise their relationship.
6'Humans of New York: Stories' by Brandon Stanton
Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York: Stories presents interviews and photographs of New Yorkers from all walks of life. The intimate portraits are hilarious, heartbreaking, and all too human.
7'Big Little Lies' by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies is a novel that profiles three women: the passionate Madeline, the beautiful Celeste, and the new mother Jane, and the way they cope with the shocking secrets of their small town. Fast-paced and witty, this novel looks at what lies beneath seemingly perfect facades.
8'The Marriage Of Opposites' by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman's The Marriage of Opposites profiles the story of Rachel and her scandalous marriage to Frédérick. This poised work of historical fiction looks at the vibrant life of the woman who would eventually become the mother of painter Camille Pissarro.
9'Yes Please' by Amy Poehler
Amy Peohler's Yes Please is a funny and inspirational collection of the writer/actress/producer/director's stories and advice. This memoir also includes stories about her two sons, as well as info about her experiences at Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation.
10'Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear' by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic teaches readers to embrace their creativity with practical advice and approaches. Whatever your medium, Gilbert's advice can help you break through the blockades and embrace your creative side.
11'Welcome To Night Vale' by Joseph Fink and Jefrey Cranor
Welcome to Night Vale, a novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, is based on their successful and surreal podcast of the same name. But even newcomers to the desert town of Night Vale can enjoy the story of Jackie Fierro's reluctant search for adventure and Diane Crayton's struggle to parent her changeling teenage son. (Bonus tip: try the audiobook narrated by Cecil Baldwin.)
Images: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier / Flickr