Shelf Pleasure’s Top Books of 2015
2015 was a year for the books! As we enter the final month of the year, we’d like to honor some of our favorite reads—the books that moved us, made us laugh and cry, caused our hearts to race, and reminded us yet again why there is nothing better than great storytelling.
Though it started out slowly, we ended up loving Kaling’s latest essay collection. It left us laughing out loud and cemented why Kaling is the BFF we all want. Plus, there’s an awesome and inspiring essay on confidence ALL women should read.
It’s hard to believe that Grafton’s bestselling Kinsey Millhone series is up to letter X. Die-hard fans of the series will be crying that there are only two letters left in the alphabet (we’re already dreading the end)! This time, Kinsey is up against a ruthless, cold-blooded killer—a professional who leaves no clues. But when she finally discovers the identity of the murderer, will she be able to have him locked up…or will she become another victim? This is a page-turner that keeps on upping the suspense.
We were surprised to see actress Mary-Louise Parker hitting the literary scene—and to such amazing reviews. But this book, written through letters to real and imagined men who have played different roles in making her the person she is today, is moving, raw and unapologetic. There is the strongly worded letter to her daughter’s future boyfriend, the heartfelt note to the grandfather she never met and letters to former lovers. The tone and format lend a startling sense of intimacy, and Parker’s voice has the power to make you laugh, cry and think.
As die-hard fans of Friday Night Lights, this YA novel, which is the first in a new series, held strong appeal. In a small Southern town where Friday night football games are the major obsession, two damaged teens find that their kindred spirits. Popular football player West Ashby is hiding a secret pain—his father is dying from cancer. Only Maggie Carleton, the girl so traumatized by the past she won’t even speak, can help him. Their deepening bond is the only way to rise above the grief that threatens to envelop them both.
If you’ve been following Shelf Pleasure for a while, you know that historical fiction is one of our favorite genres. McLain, author of the wonderful The Paris Wife, returns with an ambitious, riveting story set in Kenya in the 1920s. Beryl Markham is a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote Out of Africa. We were not familiar with Beryl’s extraordinary story (we had no idea she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west), and relished reading about this amazing woman who defied convention and forged her own path.
Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
By now, most people have heard of Humans of New York—either reading the blog or following the super-popular social media accounts. Featuring people from all walks of life, their stories are inspirational and touching and serve to remind us that we’re all in this together.
Bestselling romance author Chase writes fun, sexy stories and this new novel in the Legal Briefs series is no exception. Jake Becker is a tough as nails attorney who has no time for commitment or family. A notorious womanizer, Jake’s life is turned upside down when he meets Chelsea McQuaid, a single woman taking care of her orphaned nieces and nephews. Before he realizes what’s happening, he’s taking on the role of Mr. Dad…and maybe it’s not so bad!
Shelf Pleasure Plug: Read our interview with Emma Chase on Shelf Pleasure here.
Though not quite as good as Moyes’ Me Before You, we were still thrilled to read the sequel and dive back into the world of Louisa Clark as she tries to move on after the death of Will Traynor. Louisa is a bit lost, working in a bar and attending a grief support group. A life threatening accident results in a second chance and a meeting with Sam, the paramedic who reduced her. As Louisa struggles to let go of the past and embrace the present, a young girl claiming to be Will’s daughter shows up on her doorstep and throws Louisa’s life into a tailspin. You’re going to need tissues for this one!
We were utterly absorbed by Hannah’s bestselling novel, The Nightingale. This powerful story takes place in France during World War II and brings you on an emotional journey. During the war, two sisters are forced to do whatever it takes to stay alive and hold on to everything they hold dear. For Vianne, the war means losing her husband to the Front while she is left to care for their young daughter—with no food or money. Forced to live with the enemy in her own home, Vianne is surprised to find how far she will go to keep her friends and neighbors safe. At the same time, Vianne’s sister Isabelle, never one to shy away from danger, joins the Resistance and risks everything to fight the Nazis.
If one World War II story isn’t enough for you, Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel also made our list. This beautifully written story tells the tale of a blind young French girl and a German boy whose destinies collide in occupied France as both desperately try to survive the war. Warning: We found ourselves forcibly holding back tears in public.
We’re already eagerly anticipating all the great new books coming in 2016 (don’t worry, Shelf Pleasure’s must-reads will be up soon)!
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