9 Great Books That Came Out in 2015 You Should Finally Read Over Holiday Break
My year is always paved with great reading intentions. In 2015, I swore I would up my books-read-per-month count significantly. Then a bunch of superannoying things like spending quality time with loved ones, doing satisfying, fun work, and sleeping six to eight hours a night got in the way. That's why catching up on the stack of books I've been meaning to tackle for the past 11 months is one of the biggest reasons I look forward to having some time off over the holidays. Here are nine standout books that you've likely heard you should check out — hey, you might even have an uncracked copy on your bookshelf as we speak — and should finally actually read now that you're about to luxuriate in a little downtime.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me might have been this year's most talked-about book, and with good reason. Journalist and thinker Ta-Nehisi Coates's letter to his son about what it means to grow up black in the United States should be mandatory reading for every American — even Toni Morrison thinks so. If this has been on your list, the holidays make for an ideal opportunity to tackle this impactful book, which requires just as much of your time reflecting on it as actually reading it.
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Eileen is the debut novel from writer Ottessa Moshfegh, whose dark and oddly funny short stories have been a mainstay in The New Yorker and The Paris Review for years. The novel, set during Christmas week, revolves around the unlikely relationship between two women working at a juvenile prison. Just a warning: there's little that's merry or bright about the story, but it's one of the most unique, brutal books of the year. And when the big twist arrives toward the end of the novel, you'll get the kind of goosebumps no hot toddy can cure.
Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
Somehow, Black Chalk didn't land on my 2015 radar until just now — but now that it has, it's at the top of my Thanksgiving break to-read list. Why? Mostly because it seems the number one rule of reading Black Chalk is not to talk about reading Black Chalk. Every cryptic review of the book I've read plays obnoxiously coy about the mystery at the heart of the novel, which only makes me want to find out what it is even more. What I do know? It's about a group of college freshmen who get caught up in a game with consequences much greater than they ever expected . . . and I plan to find out just exactly what they are.
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman
Alexandra Kleeman's You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine requires your full attention, making the lazy, unencumbered days of holiday break a fitting time to tackle it. Kleeman's main character, A, ruminates on body image, identity, religion, pornography, advertising, and female friendship — but this isn't some plotless wandering. Instead, it's the kind of book so weirdly compelling and gracefully written it will keep you up at night.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
If you're looking to kick your own ass into gear in 2016, Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic is a great place to start gathering fuel for your New Year's resolution. Even if you weren't a fan of Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert's ability to give practical, down-to-earth advice about dream chasing is unique — and her baseline belief that creativity is central to living a meaningful life is quietly revolutionary.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Aside from the lazy comparisons — they both have "girl" in the title! they're both in the "chick lit" section in the library! — The Girl on the Train does have some things in common with Gone Girl worth noting. It's a bestselling mystery about what lies beneath seemingly perfect romantic relationships. And it's being made into a film with a stellar cast (Emily Blunt is starring) and an award-winning director (The Help's Tate Taylor). So, if you regretted seeing Gone Girl on screen before you read the book, just read The Girl on the Train already, OK?
Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
What happens when a secret tears a family asunder? Hopefully you don't find out at Thanksgiving dinner! But seriously, that's the question Julia Pierpont's Among the Ten Thousand Things explores. When a father and husband's affair is inadvertently discovered by the most vulnerable people in his life — his children — things unravel and weave themselves together in unexpected, painful, and even hopeful ways.
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
If you're like me, Judy Blume greatly shaped your childhood and adolescence. While many of her devoted preteen fans may have wandered away from Blume after she helped guide them through periods and kissing and freckles — rude move, dudes — her forays into writing for adults have been worthy in their own right. I'm guilty of backburner-ing In the Unlikely Event this year in favor of more "serious" books, myself, and I'm admonishing myself for it the more I read about it. The novel is loosely based on a series of plane crashes that happened in Blume's New Jersey community when she was a girl, and The New York Times Book Review gushed that the resulting book captures the "pure shock and wonder of living." I think this might just be the book I end my year with.
You Don't Have to Like Me by Alida Nugent
Alida Nugent got her start blogging as The Frenemy and became something of a hero to a certain subset of millennial young women. Now, she's sharing her experiences with growing up biracial, discovering feminism, and forging a creative career in You Don't Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism. Twenty-somethings will treat this book like advice from a slightly older sister, and 30-somethings will look at it with a fond nostalgia for the time when they were starting to figure that stuff out. My personal favorite takeaway? Treat every woman like you just met her in a bar bathroom.