Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Top Five Books of 2015

Every December, LT staff members compile a list of our top five favorite books we’ve read this year. You can see past years’ lists here.

We also like seeing members’ favorite reads, so we compiled a list that all of LibraryThing can add to. We’re interested in not just the most read books of 2015, but the best of the best. What were your top five for 2015? Note: books on this list weren’t necessarily published in 2015—these are the best we’ve read this year, regardless of publication date.

»List: Top Five Books of 2015—Add your own!

Without further ado, here are our staff favorites!


Euphoria by Lily King

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
This is one of the most unusal and unexpectedly lovely WWII stories I’ve read.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
Only Sarah Vowell can write a history of Lafayette (Everyone give it up for America’s favorite fighting Frenchman!) that mentions the recasting of Darrin on Bewitched.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn


Among Others by Jo Walton
My only regret is that I didn’t discover this one sooner. An amazingly well-written book about loss and how the narrator deals when her identity is ripped away from her at a young age. That somehow manages to not be too depressing. It also helps that the narrator is an avid reader, and the book is full of references to (real) books she’s read.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow
Short (for me), simple (in terms of plot), and moving. Plus, Jen Wang’s illustrations are lovely.

Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
I read all of The Expanse series (so far) in about two months. Each book was better than the last, and this one was no exception.

Bitch Planet, Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Loranne’s honorable mentions:

  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: So well-written. I laughed; I cried; I mostly cried. Because we all know how this one’s going to end.
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin: This was a SantaThing gift I received last year, and it was such an amazing pick that I probably would have missed on my own. I have a sneaking suspicion that Jemisin’s latest, The Fifth Season, will make my 2016 list.


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

One of my favorite movies (and books), this memoir specifically about the making of The Princess Bride was an excellent listen. Cary Elwes narrates the majority, but
Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin, Bill Goldman, and Rob Reiner all read from their interviews from the book.

Seeker by Arwen Dayton

Combining archaic, steampunk, and modern technologies, while deftly bringing the main characters’ stories together through dedicated chapters, this truly is the best new fantasy I’ve read in some time.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I enjoyed this one more the further I got into it. By the last page, I was ready for the next book in the series. While I was wary of another retelling of Oz, it was well done and didn’t feel tired.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Son by Lois Lowry


A bad year for fiction, except for all the books I read or reread with my son (e.g., Holes, Hobit, Heinlein).

Blue Guide Istanbul by John Freely
This and Freely’s others got my family though Isanbul.

The Fall of Constantinople by Steven Runciman
Great book, but especially so since it formed the structure of an hour-long retelling of the Fall that I did with my son, over dinner in the Galata tower, overlooking the action.

What Philosophy Can Do by Gary Gutting
Should be required reading for everyone who argues onlne.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
I cast around for good science fiction, and rarely find it. So I was expecting to drop this after a few chapters. It’s a much better book than that.

The Classical Tradition by Anthony Grafton
A huge, new encyclopedia of the reception of Antiquity—hugely enjoyable, but perhaps not for all.


Find Me by Laura van den Berg

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell
Delightfully strange story I picked up as an ARC at ALAMW14. It stayed with me long after I finished it.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
TBC is the last book I read before giving birth to my son and I’m SO GLAD it was good enough to hold me over until I had the brain capactiy to once again read.

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Kaling’s second effort outshines her first. While her first book focused on what guys should wear to look hot, her second is a collection of opinions on being a successful woman and not apologizing for it. And also gossip. It was delightful.

Kate’s honorable mentions:
Blackout: The Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Chris H.

The Martian by Andy Weir

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
I live on random knowledge and this book was chock full of the stuff. Loved it.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
One of the more beautifully written books that I’ve read in a while.

Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey


Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker
The author puts my heart into words, when it comes to planes and the heart-longing-lonliness of why we travel. Reminded me how much I once wanted to be a pilot.

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Much like a perennial favorite of mine, The Manticore by Roberston Davies, his person’s trip through therapy was therapeutic in itself to read. I also highly recommend the related (Tony winning) book/musical Fun Home, if you like using theater to feel big feelings.

1914 by Jean Echenoz

The Green Road by Anne Enright
I’m always a sucker for dysfunctional Irish families and also “enduring holidays with people you don’t like” narratives, so this was perfect.

KJ’s honorable mentions:


The Secret Place by Tana French
Everything in the Dublin Murder Mysteries series is good, and this is no exception. Great read, great character development.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
I read all 3 of the Cormoran Strike novels this year. All of them were great detective stories, but the first was my favorite.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks
The third book in Brent Week’s Lightbringer saga. Not as great as the other two, but keeps the story going with enough cliffhangers to want to read the next installment.


The Martian by Andy Weir

Abomination by Gary Whitta

Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone by Bo Burnham

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

Movie Title Typos: Making Movies Better by Subtracting One Letter by Austin Light

Chris C.

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco
A classic anyone who develops software in an organization should read.

The Musician’s Way by Gerald Klickstein

Data Scientists at Work by Sebastian Gutierrez
Interesting read especially about the mindset of people working in this field.

The Jazz Bass Book by John Goldsby

Becoming a Better Programmer by Pete Goodliffe
How could I get any better? Seriously though, a helpful collection of essays or lessons focusing on various aspects of the software development process.


The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
This was a fun YA read, and I probably liked it so much because it was the first fiction book I’ve read in a *long* time. It was also reminiscent of a lot of the fantasy novels I read as a kid. I had a pretty long stint of reading non-fiction, DIY, and self-help books. Happy that my Secret Santa from last year’s SantaThing awarded me this book! Will definitely be reading more from this series.

Slade House by David Mitchell

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
This was my first novel by Waters, and it won’t be my last. Waters’ writing immerses you into the time where the novel is set, her attention to detail draws you into the story in a way that only a skillful writer can. Excellent character development.

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson
What an interesting aspect of WWII research. This historical novel looked at the war through the lens of music and its influence on entire cultures and nations. Not just any music, but that of the famous Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich, peering into his entire tumultuous, revolutionary life in Leningrad and seeing the common “chord” through it all that never lost Shostakovich’s focus. A passionate story that bolsters music as one of the all-time unifiers in life.


You Don’t Know JS: Scope and Closures by Kyle Simpson
Hands down best book(s) on javascript that I have read. Author has the gift of conveying deep and advanced concepts in a concise and compressed manner. A good read for all whether just starting out in javascript or advanced in understanding concepts

The Art of UNIX Programming by Eric S. Raymond
3.5 out of 5 stars. While, no doubt, various precious gems can be derived throught this work of Raymond, the text is too bloated with outdated and irrelevant examples

Introduction to Sociology by Anthony Giddens
This was an academic text book and it did the job. I was interested in certain topics and was able to extract useful information regarding those topics


Tell us about your favorites for 2015 on Talk, or add your own Top Five to our list!

Labels: holiday, lists, reading, recommendations, top five


  1. Phyllis Courtney says:

    Thanks ror your suggestions. I’m ready to begin! Rlc1933

  2. Sonya6565 says:

    My 5 favorite books for this year are:
    The Sea Breeze Series by Abbi Glines
    Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks Series) by Miranda Kenneally
    Propositioning Mr. Raine by Laurann Dohner
    With Me in Seattle Series by Kristen Proby
    Easy by Tammara Webber
    I wish everyone would read Easy & Breakable. I think it would benefit boys & girls, but especially girls. It has valuable lessons & hopefully keep people safe.

  3. Jim says:

    My favorite 5 read in 2015 are:
    1. The Goldfinch
    2. All the Light We Can Not See
    3. The Nightingale
    4. The House at Tyneford
    5.a. The Life We Bury
    5.b. Defending Jacob
    5.c. The Kind Worth Killing

  4. Renate says:

    My Favorites of 2015

    All the Light You Cannot See
    The Bone Clocks
    The Martian
    The Wright Brothers (nf)
    The Soul of an Octopus (nf)

  5. namfos says:

    In no particular order:

    The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret by Kent Hartman
    The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
    Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst
    The Tug is the Drug: 30 Fly-Fishing Essays from The New York Times & Beyond by Chris Santella
    The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

  6. Lynne says:

    1: My Dalek Has a Puncture, by Simon FISHER-BECKER, a humourous autobiography for Dr. Who and Sci-Fi fans.
    2: Black Rabbit Hall, author Eve CHASE, for a three generation mystery.
    3: All Involved, by Ryan GATTIS, for background of characters involved in the Los Angeles riots.
    4; The Killing Lessons, by Saul BLACK, for a series of murders over three years and eleven states.
    5: The Doll’s House, by M J ARLIDGE, for crime and gruesomeness.

  7. Jane Rawoof says:

    Ones I liked best in 2015:

    1. Abbess of Whitby
    2. Parthenon enigma
    3. War at the edge of the world
    4. Company of liars
    5. In Kithairon’s shadow

  8. 2015
    “John Adams”
    by David McCullough (All books by him!)
    “Killing Series”
    by Bill O’Reilly

  9. Michelle Rafael says:

    All the Light We Cannot See
    The Nightingale
    We Never Asked for Wings
    The Same Sky
    The Marriage of Opposites
    The Boston Girl

  10. mclane says:

    All the light we cannot see.
    Station Eleven.
    The storied life of A.J. Fikry.
    Thirteen ways of looking.

  11. Cathy says:

    1. Norwegian By Night
    2. The Martian
    3. The Water Knife
    4. All The Light We Cannot See
    5. The Sixth Extinction

  12. irishmac473 says:

    Here is my comment now that I know you can’t use HTML:
    1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    2. It by Stephen King
    3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
    4. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    5. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

  13. Bill says:

    1. A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
    2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
    3. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    5. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

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