The Six Best Books of 2015

Jennine Capó Crucet
Jennine Capó Crucet
Courtesy of the author

Oh, the elusive end-of-the-year best-books lists — so many to read and so many to disagree with. Overall, 2015 was a very good year for books. And if you’re New Year’s resolution is to read more, you'll want to start here.

Loving Day, by Mat Johnson
Loving Day, by Mat Johnson

6. Loving Day, by Mat Johnson 
One of the most entertaining and complex protagonists of the year, Warren Duffy navigates (oftentimes unsuccessfully) his messy life of a failed marriage and career, discovers that he has a daughter, and deals with crackheads/ghosts and his own misgivings about growing up biracial. Johnson pours his heart into this nerdy, haunting, and ultimately timely novel about race and belonging. 

5. God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison 
Literary powerhouse Toni Morrison concentrates on color, beauty, and family relations in her latest novel. Unlike much of her work, the story is set in the present day, which is a nice change of pace. The title character, Bride, has a top-paying job in the cosmetics industry, but that isn't enough to keep her happy. In classic Morrison fashion, ghostly developments ensue, fires get lit, and worlds are shattered. 

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

4. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
Published less than two years after Hayna Yanagihara's debut novel, The People in the Trees, this 700-plus-page book feels, paradoxically, like it’s too short. The book’s strengths are in the small and large issues: the ebb and flow of four boys’ (and then men’s) friendship; the power a destructive past can have on a person; and the necessity of love — for oneself and for others. While all four friends initially take center stage, Jude — lame, brilliant, and a cutter — soon shines on his own in heartbreaking ways. It is the rare book that will visit you in dreams and follow you throughout the day. 

3. Make Your Home Among Strangers, by Jennine Capó Crucet 
Crucet’s impressive first novel follows her debut short-story collection (How to Leave Hialeah, 2009) and is sure to become a Miami classic. The narrator, Lizet, is Cuban-American and the first in her family to graduate from high school. When she leaves to attend an elite college, she grapples with the challenges of feeling "other," living far from home, and the guilt of leaving her family behind. Adding to the tension is the fact that her parents are recently divorced and Ariel Hernandez (a fictionalized Elián González) arrives in Miami from Cuba and throws Lizet's city and her mother into the spotlight. Crucet captures a very particular time in history with spot-on details, humor, and the honesty of someone who has lived it.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

2. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Inspired by James Baldwin’s 1963 The Fire Next Time, Coates' nonfiction book takes the form of a letter to his 14-year-old son, Samori. Coates mediates on the perils of being a black boy or man; on Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter L. Scott, and Freddie Gray; on misguided dreams; and on the complexity of life in general. Not only did it win this year's National Book Award in nonfiction, but it was also deemed “required reading” by Toni Morrison.

In the Country, by Mia Alvar
In the Country, by Mia Alvar

1. In the Country, by Mia Alvar
This debut collection by Alvar is perfect for anyone who wants to be blown away by short stories. The characters are Filipinos living under martial law in their own country in the 1970s or working abroad in the United States and the Middle East. Though the subject matter is indeed fresh, the real appeal belongs to the lush sentences, rapid pacing, and morally conflicted characters. The title story is a novella-length tale that Alvar is reportedly using as fodder for a novel, a welcomed gift we hope to read sooner than later. 


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >