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.


Re Jane Book Book Review

To the uninitiated, Charlotte Bronte’s classic Victorian novel Jane Eyre, is about a young woman who overcomes adverse circumstances by trusting herself and her instincts to define her own happiness.  As a reader, especially with a book that was initially published in another era, you know it’s something special when initial reviews were not kind.

Writer Patricia Park has taken Jane Eyre out of rural Victorian England and into modern day New York and Seoul with Re Jane: A Novel.  Jane Re is half Korean, half American. Her American father is dead and unknown to her. Her Korean mother is also dead, Jane has been raised by her strict Uncle and his family. She starts off the novel by working at his grocery store and feels unappreciated.

When Jane gets the change to be the nanny for a couple of professors in Brooklyn, she jumps at the chance. Beth Mazur and Ed Farley adopted their daughter Devon from China and need a nanny.  Jane does not know that Devon will be the easy part of this job. Beth is teaching her daughter and Jane about feminism while Ed starts to see Jane as more than his employee.  Then a family tragedy pulls Jane to Korea. When Jane returns to New York, she and Ed hope to pickup from where they left off, but something is in the way. Will Jane follow the traditional route or will she blaze her own path?

I liked this book, for several reasons. First is that Ms. Park remains true to the source material. While some elements have been altered to reflect the modern time and culture, other elements are as they exist in the Jane Eyre.  The second is that any New Yorker will recognize the neighborhoods in the novel. Whether it is the heavily Asian Flushing or the pretentious intelligentsia that move into Cobble Hill and Park Slope, Ms. Park keeps the novel true to the city that her character is raised in.

I absolutely recommend it and I hope that Charlotte Bronte would be proud that her novel is still being talked about and adapted a century and a half after it’s initial publication.

%d bloggers like this: