The 5 Best Books I Read in 2015

Man Reading in the Shadows

Be Here Now by Ram Dass

New Age/Spiritual
I started studying the teachings of Ram Dass a couple of years ago when I saw the amazing documentary Fierce Grace on Netflix, but somehow I never got around to reading the book he’s probably the most well-known for until this year. Be Here Now is part autobiography, part reference material, and part huge long scroll filled with poetry, thoughts, mythology, crazy illustrations and beautiful truths that help you wake up and love your cup-runneth-over life. I liked it so much I send copies to friends and recommend it to strangers.

Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal

Literary Fiction
This book took me one day to read and weeks to process. The main character is an eccentric little man who has a job slaving away at crushing piles of paper in a huge compactor, and he rescues books that call to him through their poetry, beauty, or wisdom. He gets lost in his own inner world while he works and imagines entire rat kingdoms (complete with rat battles) in the walls of his building, and revisits bizarre and creepy memories from his past. There is just no way to really describe this phenomenal little book, you have to read it. All I can say for sure is that the author is definitely a genius.

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Western
I got this one for 99 cents on Amazon (it’s still 99 cents as of this writing), and I didn’t expect much. Boy was I surprised. Reading this book was like watching an engrossing movie. It had it all—suspense, drama, romance, mystery, and a dark and brooding hero that could have been the prototype for Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I was also very impressed by the way Zane Grey writes setting details. He described the mountains, valleys, and gorgeous rock formations of Utah so clearly I felt like I was reading a travel memoir.

Follow Me Down by Shelby Foote

Crime Drama/Literary Fiction
I got into Shelby Foote because I’m interested in the Civil War and he wrote a huge long series on it. He was also great friends with another of my favorite writers, William Faulkner, so I figured I’d give one of his novels a shot to see if I liked it. And I definitely did. Follow Me Down reads like a murder mystery, although you know who did it right from the start. The story is told from six different points of view (including the murder victim and the murderer) so it’s a great pick for writers looking for examples of how to do multiple POV and do it well. It was the perfect mix of a suspenseful page-turner blended with a profound narrative.

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Horror
This book is seriously messed up. And it’s definitely not for everyone. There are graphic, bloody, twisted, psychologically disturbing scenes. But it is very, very well done. Little Star is by the author of Let the Right One In, the bestselling vampire novel that came out a few years ago that spawned two movies (the US version starred Chloe Moretz) and it has all the elements I loved in that book: Ugly duckling outcast kids and teens, 80s and 90s pop culture, and a strong emphasis on alternative music (Ajvide is a BIG Smiths fan). The main character was so freakin’ weird and brutal and cold I found myself astounded that anyone could sympathize with her—and then I fell in love with her. However, I really only recommend this one to those with a strong stomach.

Those are my top five book picks for 2015! How about yours? I’m always looking for good recommendations. And if you’re on Goodreads you can friend me here!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Kim Smith 31 December, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for this list, Lauren. I’ve added the first two to my Goodreads “to read” list, and sent you a friend request. (I’ve not been using my Goodreads account much but am hoping to change that.) Happy New Year!

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