Picking the Best of the Best: Incredible 2015 Fiction Books

I read a lot of really great books last year, and a lot of so-so books, and a few really crappy books (very few of that last, actually, because I tend to just put aside books I don't like). In no particular order, and to complement my favorite 2015 non-fiction books and the ten books that blew my mind in 2015, here are the best fiction books I read this past year:

2015 Releases:

Our Endless Numbered Days, by Claire Fuller: This is one of those incredible books of 2015 that I loved but never quite found the words to use in a review. On its surface, it's the story of a young girl and her father fleeing the end of the world in a cabin in the woods; but dig a bit deeper and it's much, much more than that. I've recommended this to three book clubs so far, and will continue to do so.

The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins: Not 100% sure how I managed to write my list of ten books that blew my mind without including this one, so let's just say it blew my mind so much that I couldn't even remember it. Hawkins takes readers on a wild, crazy ride with this book--you have to trust him, but it's worth every moment of confusion. (My full review, originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers)

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, by Neil Gaiman: I've long been enamored with Neil Gaiman's incredibly, unfathomable imagination; Trigger Warning packed that large imagination into the shortened form, and did so excellently. (My full review)

Saint Mazie, by Jami Attenberg: Saint Mazie is the story of Mazie Phillips-Gordon, cobbled together from scraps of her unpublished autobiography, journal, and interviews with those who knew her. Through this kaleidoscopic lens we see Mazie's life, lived in the ticket booth of the Manhattan movie theater where she worked, dedicated to quietly helping the streets of New York in its worst moments. "She had just lived a big life," Attenberg writes, "even though it was in this confined space. And when you live big you fall big."

Did You Ever Have a Family, by Bill Clegg: I'm often skeptical of books with this much insider buzz, but when the bookstore owner in my town said it was the book she'd be pushing into everyone's hands after it published, I knew I couldn't miss it. She was write: it's a book worth pushing into readers' hands, a story of grief and loss and community and what it means to lose everything and find something in the ashes.

The Mark and the Void, by Paul Murray: I loved Skippy Dies, so was eager for Murray's latest novel--though a bit hesitant about the subject. The financial crisis? This was supposed to entertain me for 600+ pages? It did, and then some. Murray writes with a clever wit and humor that belies the seriousness of his chosen subject, and takes readers on a journey that explores the very human side of the financial crisis. (My full review, originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers)

The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma: Obioma's debut novel reads like a myth surrounded by a novel, or a novel surrounded by a myth? I'm not even sure that statement makes sense, but I'm sticking with it. Regardless, it's an incredible story of four young brothers and the terrifying, unexpected role of a prophesy on their lives. (My full review, originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers)

Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff: Another buzz book that lives up to every ounce of hype heaped upon it. The story of a marriage, Fates and Furies explores the many ways we can know a person intimately and completely and not at all. Groff's writing is just brilliant. (Side note: this would make a great pick for book club discussions when it's out in paperback.)

Backlist (published 2014 or earlier, but read in 2015):

Americanah, by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie: I fell for Adichie's writing (speaking?) style in We Should All Be Feminists. After hearing--again and again--how excellent Americanah is, I finally got around to reading it this year. Everyone was right: it's excellent. Adichie explores race and place in ways at once familiar and unique.

Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward: The first word that comes to mind in explaining this novel: heavy. The second: heart-breaking. The third: important. And so on. The story of an impoverished family facing the oncoming Hurricane Katrina, Salvage the Bones is worthy of its National Book Award and then some.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, by Carol Rifka Burnt: This was the first book club book I read for the club I joined after moving in January 2015; it's telling that I was able to devour it in time for a meeting less than two days later. I couldn't look away from Burnt's story of a young girl coming of age amidst the death of her uncle from AIDS, and the family drama that surrounds them both. Just make sure you have tissues on hand, yeah?

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