There are many things this list isn’t. It’s not a “best of” list. And it’s certainly not comprehensive. It’s an off the top of my head list of some of the books that stuck with me from this past year, many of which were published in other years– in some cases, many years ago– but which happened to land in my lap in one way or another in 2015.
So, with all of those caveats out of the way, here are some of the books that gave me the most joy in 2015:
— Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson. Where has this book been all my life? (Short answer: in print, since it was published in 1938. They even made a movie out of it, which I also managed to ignore.) It’s a madcap romp about a down on her luck governess sent to the wrong address, who suddenly finds herself plunged into Life with a capital L. It’s brilliant and beautifully done.
— The Rivers of London series, by Ben Aaronovitch. It’s as if my favorite British police procedurals moved from the screen to the page, with a snarky, first person narrator and more than a touch of the supernatural. Think Harry Potter meets DCI Banks.
— The Esther Diamond series, by Laura Resnick. I seem to have a theme here…. These are set in New York, rather than London, and the snarky first person narrator is an Off-Off-Off-Off Broadway actress, rather than a member of the Metropolitan Police Force, but these are also mysteries set in a world where magic, real magic, lurks just below the surface, and it’s up to some rather specialized organizations to find and control it. These books are laugh out loud funny, particularly my favorite, Vamparazzi, in which Polidori’s novel is turned into an Off-Broadway Goth cult hit play. If Rivers of London is DCI Banks meets Harry Potter, these are what would happen if Castle had a love child with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Together, Rivers of London and Esther Diamond got me through the writing of the final Pink Carnation novel, for which I am exceedingly grateful.
— While I’m on mysteries…. I rather belatedly picked up Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling this past fall and then careened through The Silkworm and Career of Evil. They’re wonderfully written, twisty mysteries that remind me a great deal of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories.
— Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. We know at the beginning that someone died, but we don’t know who or why. The book goes back in time, and as we inch up to the murder, we begin to get an idea of just what might be going on…. The voices were so strong that the book felt like a gossip session with old friends.
— Sara Gruen’s At the Water’s Edge. Who can say no to the Loch Ness Monster? I’ve already written about this book for RT Book Reviews’s annual round-up, so I’ll just say that this was a book that kept me up until three in the morning, wanting to know how it would all turn out.
— Moving away from my usual reading fare, I ventured into the realm of sci fi this year: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honor and Sharon and Lee Miller’s Scout’s Progress, both of which I loved. My college roommate sold me on the latter with the argument, “There’s technology in it, but, socially, it’s like Georgette Heyer.” And she was right. As always.
What did you read this year that stuck with you?