My Best Books of 2015

imagesHere are my My Top 9:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This psychological thriller is set in London and told from the perspective of three women: unreliable narrators, treacherous marriages, internalized misogyny…well done and VERY suspenseful.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July. Psychosomatic, obsessive-compulsive Cheryl Glickman, manager of a women’s self-defense studio, is the protagonist of this story of a real awakening. July creates an odd world of outsiders, violence and eroticism that you won’t see coming.

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison.  As always, Morrison’s theme is the experience of African-Americans, particularly women. She has a way of interweaving mythic and poetic themes into her novels. This story is about the journey of a woman born too black, unloved by her mother, trying to become a woman herself, the path that led her on and the mistakes she made because of it all. It is a triumphal story of Lula Ann, who changes her name to Bride, and her story of neglect and child abuse. It’s also about perseverance and the lies we tell ourselves to justify our actions. The novel is less than 200 pages and the prose is poetic. Highly recommended.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith. This is the 16th No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novel. Our heroine, Precious Ramotswe goes on a vacation, but cannot help herself, so funny and wise, as she unravels another family mystery and tragedy. This series is precious to me, and you will always get a happy ending.

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela VidaFrom my review from earlier this year: As I opened the book I was immediately thrown off my center as it is written in an unusual second person narrative style, i.e., “You say your name”, “You pick up your suitcase”.  “You” is traveling to Casablanca, and even though her guidebook says that when you get to Casablanca you should leave immediately, she doesn’t. What starts off as a novel about the nightmares of foreign travel, turns into an intriguing exploration of identity change.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar. I am so familiar with Virginia Woolf and her family, as well as The Bloomsbury Group, but this novel helped me see it with fresh eyes. It is written from Vanessa’s point of view, Virginia’s less brilliant but more stable sister. Brilliantly describes complex family and personality dynamics, and in particular, Virginia’s emotional breakdowns. Very well done.

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. The story of two very different sisters in occupied France…one does her work out of love, the other for social/political activism, enduring incredible, unimaginable circumstances.

On The Move by Oliver Sacks. This is neurologist Sacks’ memoir where he finally comes out of the closet, thankfully, because, sadly, he passed away this year. He lived an amazing life, as you know, and it is beautifully documented here. Here’s the New York Times’ review, I couldn’t say it better: On The Move.

The Gay Revolution by Lillian Faderman. From the NY Times’ review: “Faderman is often called a “lesbian historian,” based on her distinguished work in the field, notably “Surpassing the Love of Men” (1981) and “Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers” (1991). She brings the heft of a career to bear here — of the more than 150 interviews she draws on for this new book, some date back decades, like her 1987 interview with the lesbian pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. An expert in lesbian history certainly has an advantage in writing a truly balanced account of the movement as a whole, given that such accounts have often heavily favored men.” Faderman also interviews Melinda’s father, Bob Basker, when he was involved with the Miami-Dade county movement against Anita Bryant. She brings everything to this huge and very comprehensive book, and the stories come alive in a way that no has before her.

Here are some other Good Books I can recommend:

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Mislaid by Nell Zink

M Train by Patti Smith

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Art of the Memoir by Mary Karr

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Perry

Negroland by Margo Jefferson

Here is the New York Times’, my greatest resource for reading, 100 Notable Books for 2015.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. tradeswomn
    Dec 10, 2015 @ 02:27:38

    Fern you are just a reading fool! Thanks for the reviews.



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