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My 2015 Book List

January 2, 2016

Every year, a group of friends and I share a list of every book we read throughout the year and what we thought of it.

Here is a link to my 2015 Book List.

Looking back, at first I was thinking it was a down year. Steinbeck’s Cannery Row was early in the year, and it is now on my list of favorite books ever. But then there were a number of books that weren’t as good as I’d hoped– The Secret Wisdom of the Earth and How to Be Both had glowing reviews, but I was underwhelmed. And The Bone Clocks was ambitious and virtuosic, but spun out of control at one point. Even the fun stuff like Yes Please turned out to be a little meh.

But then there were some sleepers and some that have grown on me since I read them. Broken Harbor was better than last year’s Gone GirlHow We Got To Now, Cool Gray City of Love and The Wright Brothers all delivered great trivia. And Sylvia, EventideThe Winter of Our Discontentand West of Sunset were all richly textured and full of quiet melancholy.

I have four books on my list from people I know in some way or another–three from ad industry people and one from a former fiction teacher. I enjoyed all four, though I’m probably a little biased.

Redeployment was a punch in the gut, just one of the war-related books I read. The others—1776 (Revolutionary War), Cloudsplitter and Manhunt (Civil War personalities), Rasputin (WWI), Slaughterhouse-Five (WWII), The  Red Circle (SEALS), Killing Pablo and Chasing the Scream (War on Drugs)—were a mixed bag.

I read a handful of books about or set in the South. And, of course, the smattering of advertising books—a couple on design, one on business, one on presenting, and Mick Ebeling’s inspiring book about redefining what’s possible.

But the book that most affected me was Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. My “review” of that one went totally off the rails and ended up running five pages.

I spend so much time writing reviews—time that might be better spent on writing my own stuff—that I’m considering putting a word limit on them next year. I should be able to say everything I need to say in a few paragraphs, max. We’ll see.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite annual traditions. And after looking back, I think it wasn’t a down year after all.

I love to hear what you read, particularly what you loved. Please share in the comments.

And because most people don’t want to read through so much blah blah about books, here’s the short version:


  1. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  3. West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan
  4. Sylvia by Leonard Michaels
  5. Redeployment by Phil Kay


  1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  2. Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari
  3. Not Impossible by Mick Ebeling
  4. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Thanks, and happy reading in 2016!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2016 7:29 am

    I also enjoyed Cannery Row. The Wright Brothers sounds interesting.

  2. Tim Brooks permalink
    January 3, 2016 11:51 am

    East Of Eden is my fave Steinbeck… but Grapes Of Wrath and Tortilla Flat are close….

    • January 3, 2016 12:34 pm

      I know I have East of Eden on my shelf. I think I have Tortilla Flat somewhere too. That one’s harder to find. I need to start using the Dewey decimal system.

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