Best Books Of 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, many of us make lists. Some things on the lists are good, some things on the lists are bad. This is my best books of 2015. In no specific order are the best books (and honorable mentions) of 2015.

Best Books

  • As If: Author and journalist Jen Chaney interviewed cast and crew to provide readers and fans with an inside view of the making of Clueless. A good book and a good read, especially for fans of the film.
  • The Nightingale: A World War Two era drama about two sisters whose lives are altered by the war. An intense historical drama with real relationships that is one of the best books of the year for me.
  • Lady Maybe: A lady’s maid travels with her employer. When her mistress appears to be killed in a carriage accident, the main character is presumed to be her dead mistress. I’m not really a fan of historical romance novels, but the writing was excellent and it was without the over sexed romantic sap that is usually part and parcel of novels of the genre.
  •  Fear Of Dying– Erica Jong’s most recent novel about an aging former actress still trying figure out what she wants out of life. Fans Of Jong will recognize the voice from her previous novels, but there is also an appreciation for women of a certain age, which is not often seen in our culture.
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves– The story of two young women coming of age in the South in the 1950’s. One is black, one is white. While the reader may think they know what is coming, there is a twist that elevates this book to a new level.

Honorable Mentions

  • Becoming Un-Orthodox– Former Orthodox Jew Lynn Davidman interviews other adults who made the conscious choice to leave the extreme religious communities that they were raised in. The book is revealing, but can get tedious with the same stories being repeated over and over again.
  • Stolen Legacy: The story of a Jewish woman trying to regain property that was stolen from her ancestors by the Nazis during World War II. A fascinating memoir, but a bit dry.
  • Young Elizabeth: A memoir of the life of Queen Elizabeth II from birth to her coronation at the age of 25. Another fascinating memoir that was also a bit dry.
  • Re Jane: A modern re-telling of Jane Eyre. Jane is half Caucasian, half Asian. Living with her late mother’s relations who treat her poorly, Jane takes a job as a nanny for a couple in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. A nice re-telling of Jane Eyre that would make Charlotte Bronte proud.
  • Emma: A modern take on Jane Austen’s classic novel, Emma. While the book is true to the source material, some changes might turn off readers who prefer the original novel.

This will be my last post of 2015. Thank you to everyone who read, liked and commented on my blog throughout the year. Wherever you go, whatever you do, have a safe and happy New Year. I will see you in 2016.


Lies We Tell Ourselves Book Review

There is an old saying: “may you live in interesting times”.

In Robin Talley’s new book “Lies We Tell Ourselves“, her main characters not only live in interesting and life changing times, but they must also face the world that they live in.

Sarah Dunbar is a young lady with a bright future. She is intelligent, capable and looking forward to what the future might bring. But she is also an African-American teenager living in the American South in 1959. The courts have ordered that “separate but equal” is illegal and schools must start to integrate. Sarah is chosen, with a small handful of classmates to leave her all black high school and integrate the town’s all white high school. She is well aware of the hatred and prejudice that she will experience, but she does not anticipate how it will forever change her life.

Linda Hairston’s father is the editor of town newspaper. Her father is among many in the town who firmly believe that “separate but equal” had worked just fine up to that point and should continue to exist as is. From the time she was born, Linda, has been taught that because she was born Caucasian,  her rights and abilities will forever supersede those of the African-Americans in town. Linda is initially not happy when she is paired with Sarah for a project, but gradually learns to appreciate Sarah and see beyond the blind hatred she was taught.

This book may be labelled a YA book, but the appeal goes beyond the standard YA label. Teaching respect and acceptance of others who are different is a universal and ageless message. Ms. Talley writes in a compelling manner with vivid language, fully rounded characters and a story that should be a must read for all ages. What shocked me most of all, was the ugly language and actions that Sarah and the rest of the African-American students experienced. I’ve heard stories of the violence and hatred of those who dared to stand up for themselves, but to experience it through these characters broke my heart.

What struck me most of all was the lessons we can learn from Sarah and Linda.

There is a unique twist to this story, which I will not give away, but I will say that it was unexpected and fit right in with the overall arc of the novel.

I absolutely recommend it.


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