Whether your New Year’s resolution is to join a book club or you’re looking for something juicy to make your commute more enjoyable, this list has you covered. Taking into account buzz, critic reviews and copies sold, these are our picks of the very best books of 2015.
1. “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Toni Morrison called Ta-Nehisi Coates’ tome “Between the World and Me” required reading, and it’s easy to understand why. Coates asks big, thought-provoking questions about race in America, framing it as a letter to his teenage son. In it, he attempts to explain the ugly truths about the country's racial divide, from the Civil War to present day tensions. It weaves a personal story with broader themes, making it a moving read.
2. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
“The Girl on the Train” is one of the most talked about books of the year and was lauded as “the next ‘Gone Girl’” by a slew of critics. A gripping emotional thriller, the book is about a woman who sees the same couple on her commute to and from work each day. She builds a fictional story about them in her mind, but things get complicated when she actually befriends them. An alcoholic, she makes for an unreliable narrator, which just makes things more interesting.
3. "Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee
All hell broke lose when it was announced that “To Kill A Mockingbird” author Harper Lee would release a new novel, her first in decades. Was she forced into it? Did she need the money? Was she of sound mind? The controversy aside, the novel itself lived up to the hype, reminding people of why Lee’s first book became required reading in high schools across America. It sold over 1 million copies in one week and over 3 million after a month — the best-selling book in Harper Collins' history.
4. “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari
The “Parks and Rec” star is killing it with his Netflix show “Masters of None,” but his first book, “Modern Romance,” isn't doing too shabby either: It became a best-seller immediately after its release and was praised by critics as well as fans. Similar in voice to his standup comedy, Ansari shares his personal stories about dating, while asking deeper questions such as what love is and if soulmates actually exist.
5. “Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll
Reese Witherspoon loved this Young Adult novel so much that her production company quickly snatched up the rights. Full of shocking plot twists, it’s about a woman who seems to have it all, but there is something about her past that haunts her. The mystery stems from her teen years, when she was a misfit at a fancy private school. The book shocks all the way to the last page.
6. “Purity” by Jonathan Frazen
Every time “The Corrections” and “Freedom” author Jonathan Frazen releases a new book, the highbrow hipster world goes wild, and the same happened when “Purity” came out. Frazen continues his complex commentary on society tucked into a tale about a millennial searching for the hidden truth behind who she really is.
7. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
Taking into account reader reviews from Goodreads and Amazon, virtually everyone who reads “The Nightingale” absolutely loves it. The book centers on an old woman, who is thinking about her past, especially what it was like to be a woman living in France during World War II. The book shows the hardships of what it was to be a woman during wartime, something that isn’t often talked about.
8. “Spinster” by Kate Bolick
The memoir that spawned dozens of thinkpieces, The Atlantic editor Kate Bolick writes about her decision to actively choose the single life. while also giving the history of what it was like to be an unattached woman in eras past. Bolick’s book sparked a fresh debate about what is means to have it all, raising some unexpected points.
9.“In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume
Judy Blume is widely celebrated as a young adult novelist, but her latest release — her first since 1998 — proved she has something to offer adults, too. Based loosely on the true events of a series of plane crashes that occurred between 1951 and 1952, the novel is an intergenerational family drama.
10. “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling
A follow-up to her 2011 book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” Mindy Kaling scored herself another instant best-seller with “Why Not Me?” Similar in style to her first book, “Why Not Me?” is a collection of laugh-out-loud essays with heart, ranging from stories about work, romance and body acceptance. Her next book will be co-authored with her ex-boyfriend-turned-friend B.J. Novak, and the two reportedly are raking in $7.5 million for it.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence