We’ve asked our contributors and book clubbers to share their favorite books they read this past year. We’ve got 17 of these great people to share their best reads, which makes up a list of 84 different novels that you might still want to try! If you’re curious about our favorite books from last year, you can find those here. Feel free to leave your own favorites in the comments and happy holidays!
Esmée de Heer
Co-host of Bored to Death book club & YA book club + owner of this blog
It’s always a little boring for me to share my favorites, because I’ve already beaten you over the head with them during the year on this blog. However, I’ll gladly share them again if it means you might pick one or two of them up.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
This book is so funny. Talking about this book just makes me want to share all the jokes that are so strange and hilarious and weird with anyone who will listen. I love just telling people this book is funny, because it will lure them into a sense of safety about reading it. They will pick it up and be completely unprepared for the terrible, gut wrenching feelings that are about to come their way. Together with the movie Come and See, this book has been one of the worst-best media experiences of my year.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
I’m going to start buying this book for everyone I know. While I think Catch 22 isn’t a book everyone will like, I feel that Gilead is one of those books that connects so many different people, all because they loved this novel. It’s filled with beautiful lines and it made me want to underline my favorite sentences and scrawl in the margins. When I finished it I felt like re-reading it immediately and I’m pretty sure I’m going to back to this novel a lot.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This book made me believe that there was still another fantasy series out there that I could love again after losing The Magicians. The characters and the setting are so vibrant that I find myself thinking about traveling to all the different London’s way too often. Luckily part two of the series is coming out next February and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I liked this book so much that I soon will own two copies of it, so that should say something.
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
I found a new favorite author this year. Get in Trouble is Kelly Link’s first adult story collection, but she has written so much that I haven’t even skimmed the surface. Her stories are fantastical, magical realism, just like I would want to write them. Her work is clever and emotional and interesting and I’m only a little jealous, but mostly very impressed.
The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato
This book combines my love for Taylor Swift with my love for adventure stories and my love for pop culture. I feel like this book might have been written just for me, hitting so many of my interests. Now, I know this book is not going to be for everyone. It’s a very ‘now-book’, appealing to a very specific group of internetty, pop-culture pop-princesses, but still worth a shot if that doesn’t describe you. Disabato’s writing is very exciting and the tale she spins will make you sit behind your computer for hours, just to check what is and isn’t real.
Owner of Ik Vind Lezen Leuk & YA book clubber
1. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
2. Dubbelgangers – Jesper Wung-Sung
3. Isa’s Droom – Marco Kunst
4. Het Vierde Rijk – Maria Nygren
5. The Scorch Trials (Maze runner #2) – James Dashner
So here is ‘my best of 2015’ list. I’ve read a lot less than in previous years, but there were a few hidden gems and ultimate classics…
1. Voorbeeldige Zelfmoorden – Enrique Vila Matas
Vila Matas is one of my favorite contemporary writers, because of his dark humor and his references to art and literature. The short stories in his Voorbeeldige Zelfmoorden, or Suicidios Ejemplares are a great example of his absurdist style.
2. The Plague – Albert Camus
An ultimate classic, but somehow surprisingly up to date again when Ebola struck Africa in 2014 and 2015. It is a beautiful read about despair, hope and the will to live.
3. De Joodse Messias – Arnon Grunberg
To be honest I’m not always very fond of Grunbergs footnotes in De Volkskrant, but I have to admit that this totally absurd book was a brilliant read. Not for the faint of heart though.
4. The Goldfinch – Donna Tart
Oh how I love a book like this! Tart writes about art, antiques, literature, food, New York and Amsterdam and all this in the course of a very exciting and breathtaking novel.
5. The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi
A very funny, but at the same time very touching story about a boy from Pakistani and British descent who tries to find his way out of the South London suburbs towards the thrilling London life in the 1970’s.
Contributor for our blog & book clubber
The News, a Users Manual – Alain de Botton
Sex, Shopping and the Novel – Alain de Botton
The Violin – Yehudi Menuhin
Habibi – Craig Thompson
Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk
1. Submission – Michel Houellebecq
I haven’t always been the biggest Houellebecq fan, but this is written so incredibly well and is also very, very relevant in our current times.
2. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – Hilary Mantel
I think short stories are always very underrated, I enjoyed this one in particular!
3. De zomer Hou Je Ook Niet Tegen – Dimitri Verhulst
Best boekenweekgeschenk ever.
4. The Circle – Dave Eggers
I was quite late to read this, and although some of its plot is quite obvious, I enjoyed it very much as the pageturner it is, and it also is an interesting read regarding privacy issues
5. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
I wish someone told me before how fun this book is to read – it was first published in 1873 but reads as well as a contemporary novel!
Owner of Just plain Suus & book clubber
1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. The Martian by Andy Weir
4. The Yellow Wall-Paper, Little Black Classics #42 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Saskia den Ouden
Redshirts – John Scalzi
I cannot express how much I love this book. If you’re in anyway familiar with Star Trek and the concept of red shirts, you’ll understand why a book written from the perspective of Red Shirts is hilarious. Scalzi really knows how to point out the problems of the show without depreciating the original source material.
How To Kill a Rock Star- Tiffany DeBartolo
This is a book about love, loss and rock music. When I started I didn’t expect much of it, but it’s charming and endearing. Debartolo really has a way to transfer music to the written word.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post– Emily M. Danforth
A great book about growing up, finding out who you are and where you fit in.
The Gone-Away World – Nick Harkaway
What can I say? This book is weird and it has everything: clowns, pirates, ninjas, in a sort of dystopian society. Harkaway makes some interesting observations (about managers mostly) and really has a handle on how to build a world.
What If? – Randall Monroe
Not a novel, but worth your time nontheless. This book deals with a bunch of weird hypotheticals (such as ‘what if all the water in the sea drained away?’) and tries to give them serious consideration. It often leads to really funny answers and sometimes you learn something in the process.
1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
3. The World and Other Places by Jeanette Winterson
4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
5. De Gevleugelde by Arthur Japin
1. Gun Dealers’ Daughter by Gina Apostol.
It was the first novel I reviewed for Bored to Death and after reading dozens of books, it still sticks fresh in my mind though I read it many months before. The beautiful language and wordplay, Soledad’s self-deprecation, the flow of the story, and so much more created a wondrous book. Apostol gave me a protagonist I can really connect with and the fact that she’s also a Filipina in my age group was a rare blessing. I never read an entire novel with a main character who has a face like mine. To find such a connection in a sea of white just granted me more courage to voice my own experiences and I could never thank Apostol enough.
2. 98 Wounds by Justin Chin
I’m currently an intern at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York City and I grabbed this book from their library. I’m ashamed to admit that I never read a gay literature book until this year at the age of 27. I’ve read poems and short stories, but never a full book. This is the most depraved and revolting book I ever read, no matter the sexual orientation of the characters. There’s scat and lots of it. But it didn’t make me nauseous because of how Chin strings words so wondrously. It was breathtaking how he dives deep into his characters and pulls out such beauty from their circumstances. And the innovative ways he plays with form makes me want to work harder as a writer. I want to buy this book and keep it forever, and I can’t wait until another work of his comes in the mail.
3. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and translated by Lucia Graves
Prior to reading this book, I never read any Gothic literature, was a fan of period pieces, nor read much translations. This book changed all that. Zafon has created an incredible melodrama with a strong love for literature that deeply affected me. His gorgeous prose, witty banter, devious twists, and the depth of history and lore of his cemetery of forgotten books is too incredible. The cemetery is actually a maze of books that are the only copies left of works that have been lost to the memory of past decades and centuries. Zafon’s works center around this intriguing and mysterious fixture. Plus you follow along generations of book shop keepers, the Scepters, from the early 1900s. It is a remarkable ride and I cannot wait to read the third book of the series, The Prisoner of Heaven.
4. The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time by Beau Sia
Sia is absolutely my favorite poet ever. His spoken word videos speak to the Asian American experience and he can elicit laughter, tears, and gasps in any damn second. His book does not disappoint. Reading his words from physical pages is akin to reading his diary: deeply personal, self-effaced, and so poignant. I had no idea that he suffered head trauma from a car accident but there it was in a poem, where he worries about never writing as well as he did before. How wordplay and connections that used to come so easy, must be now hard won. But years after this poetry book was published, he came to NYC and I saw him perform for the first time. He was as amazing as ever, making me laugh and smile so hard and going so deep with his words. It was a beautiful experience and this is a beautiful work. Read it.
5. The Anatomy of Being by Shinji Moon
This book. Dear God, this book. To read this and realize that this was published by a burgeoning poet when she was friggin’ NINETEEN, barely scrapes the surface of how delectable, delightful, and daring this work of literature is. Every poem is laced with such strong imagery and gorgeous words. It blooms for you continuously with every rereading. I am deeply in love with her book and the way she writes. I can’t help but be drawn into her world and the special, particular way she looks at it. If this is what she publishes when she had yet to leave her teens, then I’m so ready to drop jaw when she publishes her work in her twenties. I cannot wait.
YA book clubber & contributor for our blog
Charlotte de Heer
Co-host of Bored to Death book club & contributor for our blog
I couldn’t pick just five, so I divided my top 10 into fiction and non-fiction. Special privileges for book club owners!
The Wallcreeper – Nell Zink
A Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour – Joshua Ferris
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
Almost Famous Women – Megan Mayhew Bergman
H is for Hawk – Helen MacDonals
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
Running Like a Girl – Alexandra Heminsley
If Only You People Could Follow Directions – Jessica Hendry Nelson
Why Not Me – Mindy Kaling
Maaike van den Vlis
5. Beautiful Disaster – Jamie McGuire
4.The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson
3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
2. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
1. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
Co-host of the YA book club & contributor for our blog
Picking five books just can’t be done if you host a book club, so these favorites are divided into ‘adult books’ and ‘YA books’.
Falling Into Place – Amy Zhang
We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
Mosquitoland – David Arnold
The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth
Oog om Oog – Buddy Tegenbosch
Gwen Kerkhof Mogot
1. The Kindly Ones (Les bienveillantes) – Jonathan Littell
2. The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber
3. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
4. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
5. Atonement – Ian McEwan
Muriël de Kroon
Even though it’s hard to choose I made my top 5. It took me like an hour to choose though…
1. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
It was mostly the starting of the year, but it’s still one of my favorite books (the entire series is amazing though)
2. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
The book finally came out in Dutch!
3. Half Bad by Sally Green
It’s just amazing.
4. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
One of the few books I (nearly) cried over while reading.
5. The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen
The third book was translated this year as well and I just love it.
Jessica Yearwood Travezan
In no particular order:
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (and the other three books from The Witcher I read… One still needs to be translated to English!)
All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr
The Martian by Andy Weir
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (& Fangirl, and maybe also Landline or Attachments… Rainbow Rowell overall)
Roy den Boer
Book clubber & contributor for our blog
I’m excluding book club books for this, since I’ve said plenty about all of those:
1 – The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Started and stopped many times over the past ten years. Glad I finally went through the whole thing.
2 – The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Chandler’s style has been copied a million times over the years, and that makes it all the more impressive that Chandler still manages to pack a punch.
3 – Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips (technically five trade paperbacks, but whatever)
Sure this comic starts firmly in film noir/Hitchcock tropes and takes a surprising left into Lovecraftian tentacle demon faced murder cults – the real surprise is the emotional depth it creates.
4 – The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Over the summer I started a bunch of books in a row that I didn’t finish. The books weren’t bad, but nothing was hooking me to read on. This book finally got me. I don’t really know why, but credit where it’s due: I really liked this book.
5 – The Martian by Andy Weir
A really fun read. Everybody knows this.