One of the most exciting parts of working in a book company is helping to choose our Best Of The Year list. We’re finalizing 2015’s list right now, and rapidly reading late entrants with the hopes of pushing our favourites up the rankings. If you want to see where we are already, check out our Best Of The Year So Far list.
Which got me thinking, what is my personal Best Of The Year So Far list? Some are of too narrow interest to make anybody else’s list. And some I might be pushing on my colleagues as we speak in the hopes of rallying support for them and getting them into stores across the country. Thus the standard disclaimer: this list is purely personal and my own opinion.
10. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Moving, reflective, and the most depressing book I have read. Ever. The story of four friends making their way in New York city over several decade. Lots of trigger warnings with this one.
9. The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto: Three brothers in tribal Pakistan set out after breakfast one morning. Over the next five hours, the author weaves the threads of their stories in a spellbinding tapestry of family and the choices that can tear it apart.
8. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Have a woman in your life? Take an hour, read this book, and change the way you think.
7. Spinster by Kate Bolick: It’s about finding your own way, especially if you rely on books to get you through the lonely night. Excellent for women and men, lovers and the lovelorn.
6. Stephen Harper by John Ibbitson: If you know John from The Globe & Mail then you already love his happy-snarky tone. The selling point here is the first half of our enigmatic Prime Minister’s life. A real eye opener about Harper, who he is, and why he does what he does. Discover the Harper you never knew.
5. Ghettoside by Jill Leovy: One of the most underappreciated books of the year. It needs to sell more! I’ve described it as the real life story of The Wire. Young black men are dying while a band of underfunded, resolute cops insist on pursuing the truth.
4. Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf: Literally, his dying work. A novella about love in old age that guarantees tears. From even the most hardened soul.
3. The Middle Ages by Johannes Fried: Like it says, simply a history of the millenium from 500-1500. And how it wasn’t the dark ages, but gave birth to reason, intellect, and the individual. I find it hard to believe something better will be published in the next quarter century and true medievalists will enjoy the jeremiadesque epilogue against our understanding of the Enlightenment.
2. The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks: A wonderful, proud book about a modern day Yorkshire shepherd. Who tweets. And breaks the internet with pictures of puppies. You’ll learn more than you thought possible about an ancient way of life lived out amidst the challenges of the modern world.
1. Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs: The best, most imaginative, most readable
history book I have read in some time. No tired chronology of the Wars, Depression, or Vietnam here. No, instead you get a Bill Bryson-type rollercoaster ride of the ideas the made and broke the century we all just finished. Relativity, the id, rockets, sex, and TV. Just mind-bending, and still brings it together under one BIG idea.
Hope I’ve sold you on adding some of these to your reading lists. But if you have better ideas, let me know!