Best of 2015 (so far)
When it comes to entertainment, August is a tacit line in the sand: When September comes rolling in, so will the “important” content — the Oscar-bait movies, the shiny new TV season, the honking big reads. But before we get there, we want to look back on the goods that the first eight months of the year brought us, and they were plentiful. To wit, here’s the best of 2015 (so far) in Books.
10. SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED, BY JON RONSON
It’s 2015 and if you haven’t read about one of the subjects of Ronson’s societal examination on shaming, you’ve probably been living under a rock. This is me shaming you publicly for your failure to keep up with news. It’s pretty light in the grand scheme of things as you still have a job, and a life, and are hopefully pretty happy. Ronson will show you more of the public history with shaming and how it’s coming back with a vengeance now.
9. THE GHOST NETWORK, BY CATIE DISABATO
A young pop star, a cultish Utopian architectural society and Chicago are the stars of Disabato’s debut novel. With a nod towards true crime in the story style, the disappearance of Molly Metropolis and her obsession with Chicago’s public transportation system will keep you completely hooked from beginning to end. Don’t be surprised if it sends you to find a copy of The Westing Game afterwards for various reasons.
8. SPEAK, BY LOUISA HALL
With the internet, we can reach out and touch somebody with words, photos, and more. Hall’s novel discusses the very nature of communication and what it means to be human through the development an artificial intelligence. Told with many voices and experiences, she shows that the uniquely human need to connect crosses time and space, and grows more important even as we move towards new intelligences and communication advancements every day.
7. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, BY JENNIFER NIVEN
Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Collectively we have accepted that YA is just a name and not a rule. In a tale of outcasts, death and grief, Niven finds the possibility of love and acceptance between two teenagers. Read this before it hits big screens and all the teens you know are completely obsessed with it.
6. MODERN ROMANCE, BY AZIZ ANSARI
How does technology affect that search for the perfect mate? What are we looking for now? You have to laugh at love or you might just cry all the time, right? Comedian Aziz Ansari went the extra step and worked directly with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg to study the modern state of romance for this excellent look at love in the twenty first century.
5. COME AS YOU ARE, BY EMILY NAGOSKI
Sex. It makes the world go ‘round, right? Dr. Emily Nagoski’s in-depth look at female sexuality contains a number of important lessons for readers all based on the most recent and acclaimed scientific research in the field. You and your partner may walk away with a new appreciation for the complexity within each of us as well as some ideas for extracting the most pleasurable experiences all around.
4. THE FISHERMEN, BY CHIGOZIE OBIOMA
Chigozie Obioma is being hailed as a bright new voice in African literature, and this epic new novel with explicit Cain and Abel mythology at its heart is the cause. Brothers will play when Father is away, and in this moment of truancy, the lives of one family and a village in Nigeria will never be the same thanks to the power of suggestion and prophecy. This one is worth a hardcover purchase.
3. GO SET A WATCHMAN, BY HARPER LEE
Perhaps one of the most highly anticipated books of the last decade, Harper Lee’s previously unpublished manuscript has been controversial since the moment of its discovery. The reading public has not received the novel particularly well as Lee’s beloved characters are no longer the paragons of To Kill A Mockingbird, but one cannot deny that the story has engendered important conversations on ethics, race and history on a grand scale.
2. ALL THE RAGE, BY COURTNEY SUMMERS
The plot sounds ripped directly from news headlines: Summer’s protagonist, Romy Grey, is a young woman used to having her life ruined by Kellan Turner, but the new accusations against him force her to reexamine her own history and the society that has raised her to understand that a man’s reputation is always more valuable than a young woman’s safety in its eyes. This novel comes with a trigger warning.
1. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, BY PAULA HAWKINS
I read this book on a train, and I’m okay with that. Hawkins’s debut novel is being described with words like Hitchcockian and compulsively readable so you can bet that once you start reading the thriller you will not be able to put it down until you know exactly how one commuter’s life changes and why. This is your watercooler conversation starter for the summer.