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Our Most-Recommended Books of 2015

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Before we launch headlong into a new year of books, here in Readers Services, we thought it might be fun to reflect on the 365234298657 billion books (an exact number) we recommended in 2015.

via GIPHY

Our suggestions for adults are often tailored to an individual’s reading preferences, but some titles check so many boxes—and some we just love so much—that they pop up again and again.

Many of these books aren’t brand-new releases, and it was fun to delve into the Library’s backlist for books that were nonetheless at the forefront of our minds.

Happy reading! Here’s to a bright, book-filled 2016.

Adult Fiction

brief history

Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
A fictional (but very real-feeling) account of events surrounding the attempted assassination of Bob Marley and his family in 1976. Character-driven and exciting.

 

 




 

circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers
A page-turner about a woman hired to work for a ubiquitous Internet company that builds users’ profiles into one massive online presence. Rings a creepy bell, right?

 

 



 

dept of speculation

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
This meditative, stream-of-consciousness story—about a new mother dealing with her new role in life—is perfect for people looking for an unconventional, language-driven novel. 

 






 

fates furies

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Our search box auto-fills Groff’s name when we start typing it in—that’s how many times we’ve recommended this book this year. A suspenseful look at a marriage built on lies, told from both partners’ perspectives with a Greek chorus thrown into the mix.

 

 

 

 

night watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Amazing characters in the unforgettable setting of London under siege during WWII, and a good pick for readers who love a serious love story.

 

 

 



 

untamed state

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
The first few pages of this novel about a woman who’s kidnapped in Haiti are so realistic and scary that we sometimes issued a warning with this recommendation. An incredible read.

 

 

 



 

vampires

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Fantastical short stories, perfect for readers who are looking for an element of creativity and magical realism. You may never look at animals the same way again.

 

 

 

 

 

we need new names

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Set partly in Zimbabwe and partly in the United States, this novel about a girl’s emigration is heartbreaking and important and amazing.

 

 

 

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

lies of locke lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
One of our go-to titles for readers who were clamoring for more after Game of Thrones. Nothing is an exact GoT match, obviously, but this fantasy series also features memorable characters and an astonishingly complete alternative universe. (And George R.R. Martin himself wrote a blurb for it!)

 

 

 

 

ready player one

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ernest Cline’s second young-adult novel came out in 2015, but we couldn’t stop talking about his first foray into the virtual reality of the future. Grown-up gamers love it too.

 

 

 

 

 

sparrow

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Readers looking for great world building and/or a sensitive, introspective treatment of religion often received this suggestion.

 






 

spiral

Spiral by Paul McEuen
A fast-paced page-turner that incorporates real, fascinating science… sound familiar? This book was one of our favorite readalike recommendations for people who loved The Martian.

 

 

 

 

Nonfiction

empathy exams

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Honest essays that require a little soul-searching on the part of the reader.

 

 

 

 


 

headscarves

Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
An important book told in an important way. Journalist Eltahawy brings the personal and the political together in one fascinating mix.

 






 

missoula

Missoula by Jon Krakauer
Everyone in our lives is sick of hearing us drone on and on about this incredible book, which explores rape on college campuses. Just read it, so we can stop bothering you about it.

 

 

 



 

one of us

One of Us by Åsne Seierstad
This tale of the massacre in Norway grabbed us and wouldn’t let go. We also issue with a “read at your own risk” warning because it’s so disturbing, but it’s an important and all-too-relevant book.

 

 


 

Bonus: Books Recommended TO Us

We love that the current flows both ways: Plenty of readers also give us suggestions about books we should check out!

all the light

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This WWII story topped a lot of lists this year, including the biggest one of all: the Pulitzer Prize committee’s.

 

 

 

 

 

george

George by Alex Gino
A very smart fellow librarian put this wonderful middle-grade novel about a transgender kid in our hands a few months ago, and we were grateful for it.

 

 

 

 

 

girl all the gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
We’re steeling ourselves to read this creepy zombie story (tagline: "not every gift is a blessing"!) in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

uncovered

Uncovered by Leah Lax
The autobiography of a woman who left a Hasidic community to join the secular world as a lesbian. We’re starting it today!

 

 

 

 

 

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

Comments

Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

The Night Watch

The setting of the Night Watch was WW I, not WW II and was published in 2014. Some 2015 must-reads missing here: The Sellout/Paul Beatty Doomed to Succeed/Dennis Ross The Year of Lear/James Shapiro The Girl on the Train/Paula Hawkins M Train/Patti Smith Happy reading!

The Night Watch

The setting of the Night Watch was WW I, not WW II and was published in 2014. Some 2015 must-reads missing here: The Sellout/Paul Beatty Doomed to Succeed/Dennis Ross The Year of Lear/James Shapiro The Girl on the Train/Paula Hawkins M Train/Patti Smith Happy reading!

The Night Watch

The setting of the Night Watch was WW I, not WW II and was published in 2014. Some 2015 must-reads missing here: The Sellout/Paul Beatty Doomed to Succeed/Dennis Ross The Year of Lear/James Shapiro The Girl on the Train/Paula Hawkins M Train/Patti Smith Happy reading!

Not meant to be a 2014 list

Thanks for your comment. This list is for the books we recommended most last year, many of which were published before 2014. We noted in the introduction that it's "backlist" titles. Also, Sarah Waters' The Night Watch is definitely set in London during World War II! It was published in 2006.

Small Library's Most Recommended

From a small library out on LI: we most recommended "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah, "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr, and for the last few months we've been suggesting "Furiously Happy" by Jenny Lawson!

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