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The 15 Best Books of 2015

The books — memoir, fiction, poetry, short stories — that represent the creative crop of 2015.


The Japanese have a word for the pile of books on your nightstand. “Tsundoku” refers to two things: the act of buying and never reading books, and to those on your bookcase you’ve been meaning to get to, but in actuality probably will never crack open. We’re all guilty of it. Whereas movies and music are immediate and largely passive experiences, books require investment. They require time, and silence, and the staving off of the stream of anxious habits and tired thoughts you carry around all day.

The fact is, books necessitate a quietness of mind and focus, two things that smartphones have been waging a battle against, especially in 2015, the most recent year of the Internet age. View the following list as a new set of weapons against tsundoku — a curation of writing that stands up to the corrosion of attention spans and the shallowness of social media. (How ironic that a quick list hopes to pull you away from an Internet full of quick lists.) Now without further ado, here they are, in no particular order: GP’s favorite books of 2015.

If you think we missed something, let us know on Facebook, or send a note to sayhello@gearpatrol.com.

The Sellout

Cutting Racial Satire: In Beatty’s fourth novel, he tells the biting, satiric story of a young man in California who goes all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to reinstate slavery and segregate the local high school. Named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times Book Review.

By: Paul Beatty
Length: 304 pages
Published: March 3, 2015

Buy Now: $12

H Is for Hawk

Naturalist Nonfiction: Naturalist Helen Macdonald recounts adopting and training a vicious goshawk named Mabel in the year after her father’s death. Named the best nonfiction book of the year by Time.

By: Helen Macdonald
Length: 288
Published: March 3, 2015

Buy Now: $10

Between the World and Me

Intimate and Immediate: Coates, a writer for The Atlantic and one of the foremost thinkers on race of our generation, pens a letter to his son about growing up black in America. The work has evoked comparisons for Coates to James Baldwin, and won him the National Book Award.

By: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Length: 176 pages
Published: July 14, 2015

Buy Now: $11


Documentary Photojournalism: The collected work of Magnum Photographers Paolo Pellegrin and Alex Majoli, showcased sans captions or photo credits, provides an immersive experience and study of the Congo. Proceeds from the sale of Congo go to the nonprofit Lynx for Hope.

By: Paolo Pellegrin & Alex Majoli
Length: 270 pages
Published: May 26, 2015

Buy Now: $293

Shoji Ueda – Special Edition B

A Japanese Great: This rare collection of previously unpublished photographs shows what made Shoji Ueda one of the most remarkable photographers of the landscape, the food and the mundane of Japan. This copy is sold with a 18 x 24cm limited-edition print on fine art paper, stamped and numbered on the reverse.

Photography: Shoji Ueda
Short Story: Toshiyuki Horie
Graphic Design: Atelier Pentagon
Length: 188 pages
Published: October, 2015

Buy Now: ~$493

From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail

Best Coffee Table Book: From the iconic Steve McCurry comes photographic exploration of coffee growers from the Andes to Tanzania to Vietnam — the ideal book to keep on a coffee table.

By: Steve McCurry
Length: 128 pages
Published: May 15, 2015

Buy Now: $41

The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?

The Struggle Over Schools: The New York Times bestselling look at how Mark Zuckerberg, Cory Booker and Chris Christie were unable to transform Newark public schools when faced with opposition from those who seek to maintain the status quo of an education system worth near $1 billion.

By: Dale Russakoff
Length: 256 pages
Published: September 8, 2015

Buy Now: $15

Did You Ever Have a Family

Humanity through Loss: In Clegg’s first novel, a woman who loses her entire family in a single tragedy travels across the country, full of despair, and finds humanity in those she meets along the way.

By: Bill Clegg
Length: 304 pages
Published: September 1, 2015

Buy Now: $16

Fates and Furies

Truth of Marriage: A two-sided look at the course of a seemingly enviable 24-year-long marriage, Groff’s third novel, and a National Book Award finalist, tracks the evolution of love and the difference between perceptions and reality.

By: Lauren Groff
Length: 400 pages
Published: September 15, 2015

Buy Now: $13

The Story of the Lost Child

The Fourth and Final: In the final installment in the Neapolitan novels, Ferrante closes out her series on a high note. Elena and Lila are now adults; the trajectory of their relationship, which binds together the four novels, is nuanced, deep and real.

By: Elena Ferrante
Length: 482 pages
Published: September 1, 2015

Buy Now: $10

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History

The Everyday Made Interesting: Barnett’s third book on water takes a broad view of rain, from the first traces of water billions of years ago, to the science of precipitation and its impact on humanity, ranging from drought to more specific examples, like Morrissey, Thomas Jefferson and Kurt Cobain.

By: Cynthia Barnett
Length: 368 pages
Published: April 21, 2015

Buy Now: $16

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

Best Photography Memoir: This finalist for the National Book Award looks back at the roots of author/photographer Sally Mann and her family in the American South. This time she pairs her stunning photography with revealing prose, showing the birth of an artist.

By: Sally Mann
Length: 496 pages
Published: May 12, 2015

Buy Now: $15

Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems

Best Poetry: A poetry debut that looks at the pleasant and horrific roots of ideas about the black female figure and has taken home the National Book Award for poetry.

By: Robin Coste Lewis
Length: 160 pages
Published: September 29, 2015

Buy Now: $18

Delicious Foods

Best Story of Struggle: A metaphorical, and often quite literal, story of addiction. Darlene is lured away from her son, Eddie, by Delicious Foods, who represents crack cocaine. Tasked with hard labor on a far-flung farm, and under the influence of drugs, she must find her way back to her son.

By: James Hannaham
Length: 384 pages
Published: March 17, 2015

Buy Now: $18

A Little Life

Chasing Dreams in NYC: The story of four friends from small-town Massachusetts who move to New York City to chase their dreams. Poor but ambitious, the four age and their relationships twist around success and addiction. Hanya Yanagihara’s door-stopper of a novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and a finalist for the National Book Award.

By: Hanya Yanagihara
Length: 736 pages
Published: March 10, 2015

Buy Now: $15

Honorable Mentions
The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar by Jamey Stillings
Bright Dead Things: Poems by Ada Limón
Elegy for a Broken Machine by Patrick Phillips
Welcome to Braggsville by Deckle Edge
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

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