THE BEST BOOKS I READ IN 2015

  1. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
    I have told every literate person I know for the past six months that they should read this book, except for people I hate, because I don't want to share this beautiful book with them. Every page and word is so immanent, I felt possessed by this book. Her prose is wistful and haunting but doesn't overshadow her characters. The beginning of the flu epidemic gave me chills, no pun intended. And the traveling post-apocalyptic acting troupe motto is from Star Trek. It couldn't be more perfect.
  2. Euphoria, by Lily King
    This book grabbed me, full of regret and lust and sweat and violence and strange languages and bitter tastes. It felt alive and arcane at the same time.
  3. Mr. Peanut, by Adam Ross
    Mr. Peanut freaked me out. It's brilliant but not always enjoyable. It gave me the willies by describing nearly exactly a trip to Kauai that I had taken a year ago, within maybe one of the most arresting sections of the book. This is a book I wish I'd read as an English major, when my brain was smarter at this stuff. It's an often ugly and brutal book but within its complex formal exercise lies real emotion.
  4. The Vanishers, by Heidi Julavits
    I first looked for Julavits' work after reading Women in Clothes, which she co-edited. The Vanishers made me wish I was still in English, so I would be better equipped to unpack the arguments around authenticity and identity inside this strange eerie book, which at the same time captures exactly the particular intimacy and potential for violence within female relationships.
  5. White Girls, by Hilton Als
    My partner and I have a running understanding that nothing really gets my cultural theory engine going like class and race issues. The essay he writes about being asked to write on photographs of lynched black Americans was electrifying and razor sharp. Some of his other essays went above my head, but I know they're brilliant.
  6. Thrown, by Kerry Howley
    What is this book and how did it come to exist? A woman well-versed in theory finds transcendent physicality and self-realization in two MMA fighters. It's unlike anything I've read before, and I did a shitty job explaining it because I read it five months ago.
  7. The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
    David Mitchell draws me in, in this very particular way - the strange constructs and the plot of his books somehow also produce that feeling of predetermination and connection in me. It's a bewitching and hollowing feeling, with fear and seduction there too. The Bone Clocks did the same, with a slightly clearer emotional centre than Cloud Atlas (but perhaps at the expense of that feeling of bound interconnectivity).
  8. Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer
    Meg Wolitzer is a fantastic author (I say the last words of The Interestings to myself at least twice a month) and this technically teen novel is exactly what teens deserve to have written for them. The emotions felt in adolescence aren't villainized or moralized or minimized, and the way through them isn't mystified either.
  9. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris
    Joshua Ferris is interested in how we work, particularly white collar professionals in America, and his dentist fascinated me and broke my heart a little bit.
  10. The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey
    I read this late in the year and it snuck onto the list because it's the anti-formulaic post-zombocalypse book and it is incredible. You can tell the author has background in comics because the plot moves swiftly and decisively.