At AbeBooks we have software engineers, accountants, marketers, customer support reps, account managers and we all share one thing in common: a passion for books. We asked people around the office to share some of the books they read this year – it’s a fascinating list and perhaps you’ll be inspired to read some of these recommended titles.
Share your favorite books of the year in the comments section below.
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak This was a wonderfully emotional and thoughtfully written book about a young German girl during the 2nd World War. Highly recommended to anyone who doesn’t mind letting a tear or two warp the pages of their novels.
2. The Kingkiller Chronicle (books one and two) by Patrick Rothfuss (waiting on the third one!) Would strongly encourage anyone who’s missing the Harry Potter school days and anxiously waiting for the next Game of Thrones book to give these a read. Lyrically written with action, romance, and music aplenty.
3. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins Funny, odd, and charming, this book has helped stave off winter doldrums with enchanting characters and quirky humor. It has also inexplicably increased my beet consumption by 100%.
1. Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognizes his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognize him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. A strangely entertaining look at today’s media landscape, using one of the biggest taboo subject in Germany.
2. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick Having been to Korea this year I enjoyed this fascinating look into North Korea’s daily lives. A sometimes “scary” trip into my personal past behind the iron curtain.
3. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho Simply one of the most beautiful written books I ever read. Well, kind of read for the third time…
1. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter I really enjoyed this book, it was a little dark and graphic at times and if you have a teenager daughter it may be a book to avoid reading. Great story!
2. The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen Human trafficking is not something I ever thought about. This book is a great story and truly puts it into perspective. A little dark but a great read!
3. Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs I’ve read a lot of Kathy Reichs and usually enjoy them, I guess reading so many make them a little predicable. I knew the ending a long way from the end. I’m probably going to avoid future Kathy Reichs unless her style changes.
1. Wait Until Spring, Bandini by John Fante I was hooked: will the family stand as catholic mother shuts down seemingly unfaithful and constantly unemployed father? What kind of man will a young Arturo become as he wrestles with his Italian heritage and his attraction to carnal affairs?
2. The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante I was annoyed: a teenager is a teenager, even if it’s Arturo Bandini.
3. Ask the Dust by John Fante I was mesmerized: Arturo meets Camilla Lopez and the drama develops so fast and so strong, yet so gentle and profound by balancing explosive personalities and vulnerable hearts. This is now one of my all time favorite books.
4. Dreams from Bunker Hill by John Fante I was sad: it’s simply impossible to measure up to “Ask the Dust”. Bandini is now an up-and-coming Hollywood writer, and he’s more miserable than ever. Arturo is trying to find his place between hollow and pretentious studios, and gritty and rich Bunker Hill.
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez One does not simply write an epic story across seven generations, he shall also name all the characters after their fathers. All those love, hate, pain and struggling that are so vivid at the time, all eventually faded in history and became a part of the eternal time.
2. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham “The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard”. A book that makes you rethink about your life.
3. Takemitsu Zamurai An epic seinen manga series I would totally recommend. It was drawn with ink brushes and very oriental artistic.
1. Future Crimes by Marc Goodman If you want to be scared into taking better care of your data online, this is the book. At times it felt a bit sensationalistic, but after double-checking his stories, it all just plain scary.
2. I Must Say by Martin Short This is a fantastic auto-biography of a fascinating person. But I have one caveat: don’t read this. You absolutely MUST listen to the audiobook – which is performed by Martin himself.
3. Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung An amazing, true-life story of one person’s escape from North Korea. If this doesn’t get turned into a movie, I’ll be seriously disappointed. Reading this sends you through sadness, fear, excitement, jubilation, and then back to the beginning all over again.
4. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe The best science book of the year. Not only is it highly educational, but it’s absolutely, gut-splittingly, hilarious. Ever wondered if you could cook a steak from the re-entry heat of dropping it from space? Yeah, me neither – but the answer is here anyway.
5. The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth The funniest thing ever written about the English language. The best part is how the author uses each technique to introduce the next chapter. Well worth reading a second time.
6. Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia A brand new fantasy novel from one of my favorite authors. Novels always live or die on the strength of their characters, and Larry creates some of the best.
1. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik This is a non-fiction book about journalist Adam Gopnik who moves to Paris with his wife and child. It follows the trials and tribulations of living abroad.
2. Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius A non-fiction book about the author who fell ill in grade-school and became completely unresponsive and mostly paralyzed. What no one realized is that mentally he was still very aware, with no way to communicate, until finally someone gave him a chance.
3. The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless Written by the sister of Chris McCandless (of Into the Wild fame) this non-fiction book is about their childhood and gives insight into perhaps why he ultimately made the decisions he did that cost him his life.
4. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald A memoir about the author losing her father. Grieving her loss she closes off the rest of the world and dedicates herself to her passion of falconry and trains a notoriously sour bird, a Goshawk.
1. The Fall and The First Man by Albert Camus I was pretty much disappointed by “The Fall” (maybe the translation was bad) but after that began reading Camus’ posthumously published “The First Man” which I enjoyed immensely.
2. Mr. Sammler’s Planet by Saul Bellow “Mr. Sammler’s Planet” was great too but I got stuck towards the end and still need to finish the last 10% some time.
3. Down and Out in London by George Orwell George Orwell’s first book, published in 1933, is a much thinner book and I finished it in a couple of weeks – highly recommended.
1. The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson Sanderson introduces another refreshing magic system to us in the world of Roshar in an epic fantasy destined to be his magnum opus. Highly Recommended!
2.Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson Sanderson made 1000+ pages fly by in the follow up to Words of Radiance. If you liked The Way of Kings you’ll love Words of Radiance. My best read of 2015!
3. The Final Empire (Mistborn #1-1) by Brandon Sanderson An innovative and complex magic system based around properties of certain metals keeps the pages turning. Recommended!
4. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge A classic Sci-Fi novel involving many intelligent races from different zones of the galaxy fighting for the fate of millions of lives. Highly recommended!
5. Shift Work by Tie Domi As a big fan of Tie Domi and hockey enforcers in general, it’s a nice insight into how players end up in those roles. Recommended for hockey fans!
1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah This is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve read the last page. As a mother of two young girls, there were parts that were difficult to read as a parent, but it’s just so good (and sad and hopeful and heartbreaking and full of love) that I recommend this book to everyone!
2. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill Considered a love story, this short novel takes a profound look at a marriage that was once full of love but starts to fall apart as the years go by. Written in a journal-like account, this story is both funny and sad.
3. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng An intimate look at a family grieving over the death of a family member. I read this book in one sitting – I couldn’t put it down.
4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr This shouldn’t come as a surprise that this book has shown up on this list – pretty much everyone has read this Pulitzer prize winner (if you haven’t read it, you must!). This epic story takes place during World War II and focuses on a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives cross paths. What’s so incredible about this novel is how knowledgeable the author is about so many subjects. This book is definitely at the top of my “favorite books of all time” list.
1. Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby This was my favorite book of year. It’s an amazing piece of non-fiction about how Newby escapes from a German POW camp in Italy and is then hidden in the mountains by various families and lonely souls in remote villages. It’s a story of kindness and also very, very funny, particularly when Newby is living on a farm with a family that was two very forward teenage daughters.
2. When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss This is a massive biography of legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi – the man who was misquoted to have said: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” It took me 10 months to pick up the book after getting it in Christmas 2014. I loved hearing about how he started out before even ending up with the Packers.
What were the best books you read this year?