The Best Books of 2015

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We asked our students, alums, and faculty to tell us a few of their favorite books of 2015…even if the book didn’t come out in 2015…and it appears this was the year of Joshua Mohr, Elena Ferrante and our own Jill Alexander Essbaum.

Megan Eccles:

RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard

RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo

THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison


Dave Martinez:

BALL by Tara Ison

ALL THIS LIFE by Joshua Mohr

MRS BRIDGE by Evan S. Connell


Gail Mackenzie-Smith: THE GOLDFINCH Donna Tartt





Mark Haskell Smith: THE ARGONAUTS by Maggie Nelson, THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty, YEAR OF THE GOOSE by Carly J. Hallman, BARBARIAN DAYS by William Finnegan, THE FINE ART OF FUCKING UP by Cate Dicharry, and THE PAPER MAN by Gallagher Lawson.


Stephanie Green Smith: BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME Ta-Nehisi Coates.


Eli Ryder: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, John Ajvide Lindqvist. KNOCKEMSTIFF, Donald Ray Pollock, LEAVING THE SEA, Ben Marcus.


Emile Barrios:  Wolf In White Van, John Darnielle

Appointment in Samarra, John O’Hara

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami


Jenny Hayes:  GET IN TROUBLE, Kelly Link


Heather Scott Partington: Gutshot by Amelia Gray, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, The Meursault Investigation by
Kamel Daoud, A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, All This Life by Joshua Mohr, and the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante.


David Ulin: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson; Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson; The Odd Woman and the City by Vivian Gornick; M Train by Patti Smith; The Other Paris by Luc Sante; The Brothers by Masha Gessen; The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud; Killing And Dying by Adrian Tomine; Then Came Marriage by Robert Kaplan; Everything Eventually Connects by Loris Lora.


Xach Fromson: Escape From Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair, and Rage by Nicole Sconiers

Vermillion by Molly Tanzer

The Paper Man by Gallagher Lawson

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay


Jason Metz: Blackout by Sarah Hepola; Alligator by Lisa Moore; Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle.

David Zimmerle:  Some Things That Meant the World to Me by Joshua Mohr

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierce

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn


Penne Berry Richards: Blackout by Sarah Hepola; The Way We Weren’t by Jill Talbot; Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum; The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman; Gabriel: A Poem by Edward Hirsch; Half of the World in Light: New and Select Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera; The Logan Notebooks by Rebecca Lindenberg.


Stephen Larsen:  War Music by Christopher Logue;  The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat; and  Slade House by David Mitchell.


Ruth Nolan: The Little Brother – Victoria Patterson; Notes on the Assemblage- Juan Felipe Herrera; M Train – Patti Smith; Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum; Gangsterland – Tod Goldberg; Electric City – Elizabeth Rosner;  Girl in a Band – Kim Gordon.


Guy Nicolucci: The House of 20,000 Books by Sasha Abramsky


Jim Jennewein: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson


Annie Connole: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson


Shawnacy Kiker Perez: Fourth of July Creek – Smith Henderson

Can’t and Won’t – Lydia Davis

The Stone Raft – Jose Saramago


John Schimmel: The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham; My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg; Labyrinth by David Ulin.


Eileen Shields: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen , A Little Life by  Hanya Yanagihara,  The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber; The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.


Jill Alexander Essbaum: Jillian Lauren, Everything You Ever Wanted

Flannery O’Connor, A Prayer Journal (2013, but just got around to reading it now)

Rebecca Whitney, The Liar’s Chair

John Krakauer, Missoula

Uncle John’s Fantastic Bathroom Reader (#28)


Clarinda Ross: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum; The Widow’s Trail by John Ehle


Lisa Quigley:

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor


Jack Chang:

Long Divison by Kiese Laymon

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sonnets by Ted Berrigan

30 Lessons for Living by Karl Pillemer

Work Happy by Jill Geisler

This Won’t Take But a Minute Honey by Steve Almond

Soul Without Shame by Byron Brown


Annette Fuller: Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss; The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.


Sami Jankins:

Once I Was Cool – Megan Stielstra

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews

Naked at Lunch – Mark Haskell Smith

Pity the Animal – Chelsea Hodson

Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

Year of Yes – Shonda Rimes

Poking a Dead Frog – Mike Sacks


Cat Martin Darby:

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Sidewalking by David Ulin

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The Logan Notebooks by Rebecca Lindenberg


Tod Goldberg:

All This Life by Joshua Mohr

A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

The Cartel by Don Winslow

Dragonfish by Vu Tran

The Whites by Richard Price

Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

Blackout by Sarah Hepola

Notes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum


Liska Jacobs:

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante; That Mad Ache by Francçise Sagan;  The Waitress was New by Dominique Fabre;  Stoner by John Williams; Ongoingness by Sara Manguso


Theresa Corigliano:

Stoner by John Williams; A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter; The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and Empire Falls by Richard Russo.


Ajit Dutta:

A Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux

The Mersault Investigation by Kamel Daoud

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Manhunt by James Swanson


Elizabeth Crane:

LONG DIVISION by Kiese Laymon and THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison.


Marion Ruybalid:

The Unspeakable, Meghan Daum; The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri; An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination, Elizabeth McCraken; The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr; Hausfrau, Jill Alexander Essbaum.


Tom Gianakopoulos:

CREATIVITY, INC. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace


Mark Forde:

The Blue Guitar by John Banville;  Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann;  A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.


Stephen Graham Jones:

Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

The Martian by Andy Weir


Heidi Simmons:

“Population Wars” by Greg Graffin

“Fastest Things on Wings” by Terry Masear

“Big Magic” Elizabeth Gilbert

“Life #6” by Diana Wagman

“Girl Waits With Gun” by Amy Stewart

“Bull Mountain” by Brian Panowich

“Gutshot” by Amelia Gray

“Honeydew” by Edith Perlman

“Elon Musk” by Ashlee Vance

“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough

“Ghost Boy” by Martin Pistorius


Ross Helford:

Ghost Town — Robert Coover

The Fine Art of Fucking Up — Cate DiCharry

The Once and Future King — T.H. White

The Paper Man — Gallagher Lawson

Perdido Street Station — China Miéville

Art Hanlon:  

All This Life –  Joshua Mohr; This is Your Life, Harriet Chance – Jonathan Evison; The Whites – Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt; The Emerald Light in the Air– Donald Antrim; Purity – Jonathan Franzen. The Flamethrowers –  Rachel Kushner; A Sport and a Pastime – James Salter; Barbarian Days – William Finnegan.
Jeff Meyers:
“Bitter Seeds” by Ian Tregellis, “Sharp Teeth” by Toby Barlow, “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson, “Oyster” by Jeanette Turner Hospital. Short stories: “Ripples In The Dirac Sea” by Geoffrey A. Landis, “Thirty Seconds From Now” by John Chu.
Keri Picolla:
A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan, EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED by Jillian Lauren, and A LIFE IN MEN by Gina Frangello.
Julia Watson: 
Tracy Granzyk:
Black Man In A White Coat by Damon Tweedy
There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
Oxygen by Carol Casella
Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines and the Mojave by Deanne Stillman
By | 2017-05-18T16:48:11-07:00 December 27th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Best Books of 2015

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