By Cathleen Towey Merenda
Because there are so many books published, it’s never easy to choose the best for the year. These titles all feature excellent storytelling, quality writing and well-developed, memorable characters. Borrow them from the Westbury Library or consider giving one as a holiday gift.
A Spool of Blue Thread by Ann Tyler (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015). In her years of writing 20 beloved books, Pulitzer-prize winning author Tyler always immerses the reader in a humorous, quirky and loving American family. Her stories typically take place in Baltimore and this one is set mostly in the family home, custom built by the father, where the cast of related characters play out their roles.
Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg (Scout Press, 2015). This book opens with an unimaginable tragedy. The author then skillfully unravels the stories of the many characters who are touched by the event and weaves a tale of their shared humanity. It ultimately optimistically depicts how people survive great sorrow with unexpected strength and the concern and support of others.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Random House, 2015). An engrossing and captivating story of a married couple which considers the question of how well one person ever really knows another. This book causes the reader to think about issues of intimacy, such as if a person can start over or what should be revealed (or not) in a marriage. The story is told from the perspective of the husband and the wife, similar to The Affair.
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (Grove Press, 2015). The author was interested in birds of prey since she was a girl and eventually becomes a falconer. When her father suddenly dies, MacDonald adopts a dangerous goshawk predator in an effort to help with her healing. This an exquisite and unforgettable memoir that combines natural history with a story of loss and change.
The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) An original and engrossing story of Leda, a young women who is a gifted violinist and emigrates from Italy in 1913 to meet her fiancé in Buenos Aires. When she arrives, the surprise Leda must deal with compels her to create a new identity for herself in order to survive.
Other Notable Titles
Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau, 2015). A black man’s letter to his son.
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic, 2015). Selected by the Westbury Library staff as the year’s best children’s book.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer (Doubleday, 2015). Does justice work?
Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine Books, 2015). A page-turning psychological thriller.
The Turner House by Angela Florney (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). A beloved home in Detroit and the family that it built.
Cathleen Towey Merenda is the Director of the Westbury Memorial Public Library and served on the Carnegie Medal Committee for the American Library Association in 2014.