Every year the readers on Goodreads.com vote for the best books published in the preceding year, and every year in December, they announce the readers’ choices. The complete list can be found at https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2015, and a number of the Readers’ Choice Best Books of 2015 can be found right here at the Field Library.
The number one book in fiction, to nobody’s surprise, is Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. This book, a sequel to the immortal To Kill a Mockingbird, was THE book everybody was talking about this summer: a return to the characters we loved in Mockingbird, facing the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, as Scout comes to terms with the changes in her father, Atticus.
The top mystery/thriller book, again, isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s been looking at the best-seller list or waiting to get their hands on a copy. It’s The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, which will soon be made into a movie. The plot, for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, turns on the observations of a somewhat unreliable woman who’s been taking the same commuter train for months and who’s made up histories of all the people she sees living their lives as she rides past. When one of the people she’s been watching disappears, was it murder? Was she imagining things? A twisty ride that’s kept people turning pages all year.
The Goodreads readers voted overwhelmingly for The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah as the best historical novel of the year (by a better than two to one margin over the second best historical novel). The book, extensively researched and exquisitely written, centers on the lives of two sisters living in Paris under the Nazi occupation in World War II. One sister is forced to share her home with the enemy, and she and her child are under constant watch. The other joins the French Resistance after being betrayed by a partisan she loved, and she plunges into the dangers of undercover action. A different look at the war, not from the perspective of soldiers doing the fighting, but of the women left behind to face their own horrors of war.
We also have on our shelves the winner of the Goodreads best fantasy of the year, a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman called Trigger Warnings. Anyone who has read Neil Gaiman’s work knows what to expect from his work: beautiful writing, disturbing plots with characters touching on universal archetypes, and a sly sense of humor underpinning it all. Here you’ll find short stories inspired by Sherlock Holmes, by social media, by his own wonderful book The Ocean at the End of the Lane and by his award-winning American Gods.
The most popular horror book in the Goodreads world is the final book in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz, Saint Odd. After two years of adventures and encounters with the dead and with evil, Odd Thomas is finally coming home to save the people he loves, and maybe the whole world, from a terrifying evil which it is his destiny to confront and, hopefully, to defeat. Wiser and stronger in his powers than he was when he first started, with friends and allies he’s made along the way on his journey, Odd Thomas is ready to bring the saga to an end, and maybe, he desperately hopes, to reunite with his lost love. Not the book to start with, but if you’ve been reading Koontz’ Odd Thomas books over the years, this is the capstone and the triumph of the series.