It’s no secret that I love books, and that I love talking about books. I even like the way they look: my decorating scheme can be best described as “Piles of Unread Books.” I read voraciously, and review the books I like on my website.
Since this is the beginning of 2016, and everyone else is putting out a “what you should read this year” list, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and give a rundown of my top ten reviews from 2015 as decided by a completely random process of me going through the list and deciding which would make the best mix. There’s old and new, fact and fiction, profane and profound, and some completely random choices. So, in no particular order:
- Carter and Lovecraft, by Jonathan L. Howard. Howard is one of my all time favorite authors. His plots are unusual and creative, his characters complex, and he’s very funny. None of his books are based entirely in reality. This book is part detective story, part fantasy/horror, and all fabulous. Click here to read more.
- Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrandt. This meticulously researched story about Louis Zamperini’s time as a World War II bombardier and POW in a Japanese Internment Camp is so vivid and real. It was made into a movie, but read the book. They don’t make people like that anymore. Click here to read more.
- All Who Go Do Not Return, by Shulem Deen. This book is a memoir written by a once pious Yeshiva boy living in an insular Hasidic community turned Brooklyn hipster. His journey questions the meaning of faith and tradition and family, and is absolutely fascinating. Click here to read more.
- When to Rob a Bank, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner of Freakonomics fame. This is the thinking person’s short attention span theater – a collection of random questions, some without real answers, that will change the way you view things. Click here to read more.
- Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Young Adult romance at its best. Intelligent, witty and oh-so-squee-worthy, Rowell captures awkward coming of age and first love perfectly. If you like John Green, you’ll like Rainbow Rowell. Click here to read more.
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne. A simple, pure, gorgeous, heartbreaking read told from the perspective of the 9 year old son of the Commandant of Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Bruno understands little of what is going on, but pieces things together in his own way. Click here to read more.
- Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. Chast’s day job is as a cartoonist for the New Yorker. This graphic memoir for grownups features drawings, cartoons, photographs, and narratives about her journey caring for her ever aging parents and her younger family. Perfect for the sandwich generation (me!) I have insisted that a lot of people read this book. Click here to read more.
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. Jenny Lawson, AKA the Bloggess, is probably the funniest writer ever. I almost qualified that by saying “female” but honestly her snort-soda-out-the-nose to page ratio is up there with Dave Barry. With the added bonus of being somewhat profound in her insanity, her tour of the inner workings of her warped upbringing and brain are not to be missed. Click here to read more.
- Dog On It by Spencer Quinn. This book made the list because of the sheer cleverness of the premise, and the skill with which it is pulled off. This is the first in the series of detective novels starring Chet and Bernie. What saves it from being run of the mill is the fact that it is told from Chet’s perspective, and Chet is a dog. To read more, click here.
- The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is the story of a former foster child, Victoria, who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder (though this is never mentioned in the book) and as a result sabotages every decent relationship she has. Speaking from her heart is difficult: so she learns to speak through the Victorian meanings of flowers. To read more, click here.
That should get you started for 2016! When you’ve finished, be sure to check back here for what to read next!
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Told You…” is set to be released in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.