Best Books of 2015

As the year comes to a close and all the time spent with the weird uncle during family gatherings reminds us to get our lives together, like two old work buddies who awkwardly run into each other in public and make empty promises to keep in touch, we keep up the tradition of making New Year's resolutions we know we'll never keep. (Who thinks they can actually give up cheese? And why!?) 

However, another end-of-year tradition that's less painful is compiling best of lists. So, I've asked some of our bloggers and staff to submit their “Best Books of 2015” and “Best TV Shows/Movies of 2015” lists for your enjoyment. Needless to say, if you haven't read/seen any of these—step up your entertainment game in 2016. 

Paul Hochman:

The Martian by Andy Weir

Although originally self-published in 2011 and re-released in 2014, the movie adaptation was released this year, so I'm including it. 

This book is out of this world! Seriously, one of the great reads of 2015 and it makes science super cool. You say potato and I say potahto; either way you’ll never look at a spud the same way again.

Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams and Drugs with the Grateful Dead by Bill Kreutzmann

Boy would it be easy to go with the Long Strange Trip quote here. Rather, I give you:

Copper-dome Bodhi drip a silver kimono

like a crazy-quilt stargown
through a dream night wind

While I’m no closer to knowing what the hell that means, Kreutzmann’s book is an anti-establishment trip down the psychedelic rabbit hole that’ll leaving you screaming for an encore.

Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon

While I’d like to think that Simon and I have a few things in common—publishing for one (her dad’s name preceded & Schuster) and sleeping with vain people (I, too, refuse to reveal who!)—her memoir is infused with celebrity anecdotes and makes for the perfect '70s soundtrack.

 

Rachel Kramer Bussel:

Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle

The long-running coffeehouse mystery series moves from Greenwich Village to Washington, DC in the latest installment. Clare Cosi is dealing with a recalcitrant chef at the DC branch of the Village Blend coffee shop/jazz club when she learns that the reclusive First Daughter has been wowing her audiences during their open mic nights. The drama amps up early on and doesn't stop in this fast-paced and fascinating cozy mystery complete with White House intrigue and Presidential coffee trivia.

 

Brian Greene:

Savage Lane by Jason Starr

Starr’s latest crime novel is a work of suburban noir that looks into the disturbed lives of characters living in seemingly normal ways in a pleasant, upscale New York neighborhood. Troubled marriage, adultery, obsessive attraction, alcoholism, and violence all come into play in a novel that is darkly funny at times but mostly tautly suspenseful and scarily explosive.

Boxes by Pascal Garnier

The latest in Gallic Books’ run of new English translations of the novels of Frenchman Garnier, whose work read likes a combination of Georges Simenon’s edgier crime novels and the best examples of French new wave cinema. A middle-aged man goes ahead with a planned move from the city to the countryside despite the fact that his wife, with whom he made the plans, has gone missing. His progressively fractured lifestyle and mindset in the village is what drives Garnier’s quietly disturbing story.

 

Scott Adlerberg:

Death Don't Have No Mercy by William Boyle                                                                                                                                                         

A marvelous collection of eight noirish stories about men who drink too much, have damaged souls, and whose lives, for all purposes, may already be over. None of the main characters is all that old—we're talking about men in their twenties and early thirties—but already they've made a lot of bad choices and continue to make bad choices. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to encounter more entertaining, compelling fiction about sad people than the fiction you'll find here. Boyle has a style of elegant simplicity that makes for compulsive reading, and his way of evoking place, Brooklyn around Coney Island, upstate New York, a hotel room in Montreal, is impeccable. 

 

Adam Wagner:

Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt

It's no surprise that the guy whose eight minute, improvised Star Wars filibuster on Parks and Recreation wrote a book about being addicted to movies. Comedian/Actor/Author Patton Oswalt is at it again with his second book, Silver Screen Fiend, a memoir of coming up in the alternative comedy scene of the late '90s while spending all of his free time at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. If you're a fan of comedy or film, or you want to be, I suggest chasing the dragon with Oswalt down the road of addiction to the silver screen.

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