I've already written about my favorite non-fiction and fiction picks, but using some different criteria, here are the ten books that truly blew my mind this year (and the reasons they did so). Note: These are books read in 2015, not necessarily books published in 2015.
Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff: I went into this not knowing what to expect, and what I wasn't expecting was a book that turned itself completely upside mid-way through. The success of this novel is a testament to Groff's talent as a crafter of sentences, of characters, and of story.
The Dead Ladies Project, by Jessa Crispin: Yes, I loved this book. No, I won't stop talking about it. It showed me the potential for the personal essay to be both introspective and entirely embedded in the context of the world around it. It's fabulous.
H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald: Macdonald's memoir of her experience training a goshawk in the wake of her father's death made me realize I could, actually, enjoy memoirs. So that's new and exciting.
Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman: I will never not be astounded by Gaiman's breadth of imagination, or his ability to pull others into those imaginings. Trigger Warning proved no exception.
Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimimanda Adichie Ngozi: Ngozi's novel about the Biafran War was excellent for many reasons. It also reminded me how little I know about the world--and that's a good thing to remember.
A Man Called Ove, by Frederick Backman: Heartfelt but never sappy; tear-inducing but never saccharine. This ranks with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in stories that serve to remind readers of our humanity and the importance of our connection to the world.
The Mark and the Void, by Paul Murray: Murray's novel is mind-blowing for two reasons: one, it's a very meta story about a writer named Paul writing a story. Two, and perhaps more impressively, it's a really, really good story about the financial crisis--which isn't something you see very often.
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell: Others have been consistently mind-blown by Mitchell's writing in the past; I'm just behind the times. Cloud Atlas reads like a nesting doll of stories, pulled apart and put back together again. It's fabulous.
Getting Things Done, by David Allen: So simple, yet so easy to overlook. Allen's guidelines for simply getting shit done really overturned the way I approached my work this year; I'm hoping to read the updated version and reconsider how to apply the learnings there to my personal life next year.
The Shore, by Sara Taylor: Taylor's novel-in-stories is one of the more impressive debuts I've ever read. She writes about not one generation, but several, not one family, but many, not one time period, but decades--and she writes it all well.