The 10 Best Books I Read in 2015

By Piyushi Dhir

The Ten Best Books I Read in 2015

In my last blog on How I Read 85 Books in 2015 thanks to the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I had promised to come up with a list of 10 of the very best from those 85. I was humbled and motivated to get down to creating the list pronto after seeing people’s comments that they were waiting for my recommendations.

So here goes!

By the way, the list is in no particular order, that is, the numbers don’t indicate rankings.

  1. The Lake House, by Kate Morton

An 80-year old murder that was never solved, a family that doesn’t want the mystery resolved and a persistent detective who is herself, neck-deep in trouble. The Lake House makes for a fantastic murder mystery, with a story within a story within a story. Multiple mysteries run in parallels, each keeping the reader riddled right until the end.  The ending of the stories however, are tied up a little too neatly, and that was the only moment I felt a little let down by the book.

All together though, I’d say that if murder mysteries appeal to you, you do not want to miss this one!

2) The Witness, by Nora Roberts

Young Elizabeth witnesses an event that sends her scrambling to save her life. Living in hiding, while she is sought by the Russian mafia, Elizabeth runs into a stubborn police officer who is determined to uncover her secrets.

The Witness made for a great story! It has a fluid story-line, suspense and action, and a touching connection between Abigail and Brooks that tugs on your emotions throughout the story. I lost count of the number of times this book could elicit a smile on my face or evoke tears from me.

The heroine is fantastic- a gun-toting, strong, smart, logical woman, she is a far cry from your usual romance heroine. Nora has created characters you would love, scripted a story that will keep you hooked and penned scenes that will arouse your emotions. The Witness is definitely one of Nora’s bests, and definitely worth picking up.

3) The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

This book is frequently likened to Gone Girl. Having read both, I would not deny that The Girl on the Train is just as much of a psychological thriller, with mystery shrouding the story, every step of the way.

Each character in this book is a psychological mess, and the depth of their instability is increasingly uncovered as you proceed through the story, until you start wondering if anyone at all in the story is normal. In this murder mystery, almost everyone seems to be a potential murderer.

Discomforting, unsettling and yet, engrossing, The Girl on the Train, will keep you hooked.

4) The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldon

There are at least 8 books in this series and the author is writing yet another one. But don’t get frightened away. If you like what I have to say about the series, start with the first and move on until it has your interest. I myself, stopped after the fourth book.

Our heroine, Claire Randall, a strong, spirited woman in the year 1945, finds herself mysteriously transported to 18th century Scotland. 200 years of time-travel! As the first book begins, you may wonder if you’ve picked up yet another Alice in Wonderland, but as the story moves on, it turns into a hard-hitting narrative of what the Scots suffered in the hands of the English in that era. The personal angle comes in when Claire, who was married in 1945 England, finds herself in love with the Scot hero, James Fraser, in 1743.

A powerful story, with very memorable characters, the Outlander series (at least the first three books) come highly recommended.

5) Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have previously read Half of a Yellow Sun, by the same author and enjoyed the depth in that book. Once again, in this book, Adichie takes us on a journey into Nigeria, but this time the narrative is from the perspective of two people who grew up in the country, immigrated to the west and then returned to Nigeria.

Adichie dwells beautifully on racism in America till date, its existence in the very repeated denials of its existence. Subtle threads of themes flow throughout the narrative: reverse-racism, depression, identity, love. The book dragged a little at times, but the themes were thought-provoking and once it was over, I felt that I had truly read something meaningful.

6) The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, by Nadia Hashimi

This is a lovely book with a story beautifully told. Nadia has done a great job in putting together the parallel narratives of Shekiba and Rahima, flowing back and forth in time, while she acquaints us with the unique tradition of bachhaposh, where little girls in Afghanistan are raised as sons.

The book was reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini’s writings, yet unique because one sees the lives of Afghani women from a woman’s point of view. Heart-rending and thought-provoking, this book is difficult to put-down.

7) The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

If the post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction genre is new to you, I would suggest you start with The Hunger Games. However, if you have already delved into this world, you may enjoy The Mistborn series. Personally, I liked the second and third book in the series more than the first. But that’s good news, right? Coz it means the story gets better and better as it progresses.

Vin makes for an unlikely heroine, frightened, bullied and dirt-poor, that is, until she becomes Kelsier’s protégé and discovers the power of Allomancy that has been lying dormant within her. Elend Venture is an idealistic young nobleman, who wants to overturn the oppression prevalent in his society, but how? The Lord Ruler is the perfect villain, reminiscent of Lord Voldemort, protected by inhuman guards who are indestructible.

With power-packed action, ancient legends and a world to be saved, the Mistborn series had me hooked.

8) Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

Based on a true story, Cheryl’s incredible courage is indeed very inspiring.

Her life was on a downward spiral after her mother’s death, until she throws it all away and goes on a thousand mile trek, starting from California, going all the way up to the Canada border. The catch? She’d never trekked before.

Live her journey from ‘lost’ to ‘found’ with her, experience her lows and highs, worry when she faces dangers and smile when she bags small successes. Somehow, Cheryl’s belief in herself makes you believe in yourself. The way she pushes her limits makes you feel you can do it too. The parallel narrative of her past makes for an equally compelling story, pulling you in and taking you along. A great book and a must-read, especially for women!

 9) Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese

This book is a poignant saga of two twins, Marion and Shiva, born in a remote hospital in Addis Ababa. Their mother dies in childbirth and their father disappears, leaving them to the care of two other Indian doctors at the hospital. This is the story of their lives, as they grow up in an Ethiopia that is wracked with problems, and yet on the edge of a revolution.

They fall in love with the same woman, are torn apart by the civil conflict in their adopted country and Marion is forced to flee to America, where he uncovers the real story of their parents.

Emotional, fascinating and heart-breaking, Cutting for Stone is the debut novel of an Indian doctor who himself grew up in Ethiopia.

10) The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri

This novel is a narration of the story of two brothers who grow up in Calcutta, around the time of the rise of the Naxalite movement in the 1960s. Deeply connected to each other since childhood, they find themselves drifting apart for the very first time when one of the brothers embraces the revolution while the other escapes to America to study further.

Lahiri’s narrative sweeps across generations and geographies as we see the family break apart and away. In the backdrop of the personal tragedy that plays out, is the tragedy of the Naxalite movement.

 

I hope you found something of your interest in this list! I would love to read which ones you zeroed in on. Or maybe, you’ve already read some of these and would like to share your own perspective on the books. I’m waiting to see your comments below!

 

Happy Reading!

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About the Author

PIyushi Dhir is the author of the romantic novels, 'In Search of Love' (2014), 'I'm Yours, The Next Time' (2015) and 'Enmeshed Evermore' (2015). A voracious reader, a keen traveler and an ardent dog-lover, Piyushi currently resides in Ivory Coast, Africa. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.

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