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Best Books of 2015

Thank you for visiting our “Best Books of 2015” page. We hope you find these books as interesting and entertaining as we have. This year’s books were selected by a group of twenty-four booksellers from across the country. We had the privilege to review 100s of books that were published this year and as always it was very difficult to choose which books made the list. If you agree or disagree with our selections please let us know by tweeting with us @HudsonBooks or by posting on our Hudson Booksellers Facebook page. Enjoy!

2015 Book of the Year

African American men constitute roughly 6% of the population but a devastating 40% of all victims of murder. In Ghettoside Leovy, a long time reporter for the Los Angeles Times, chronicles the ‘plague of murders’ that cripple South LA. Using individual cases to tell the grim story Leovy manages to personalize and bring immediacy to her analysis of a cycle of violence that ravages the community. –Matt, Los Angeles

Best Fiction

Mary Rose has put her writing on hold as she stays home with her 5 and 2-year-olds while her partner Hilary travels for her work. This book covers a week where Mary Rose is immersed in child care when she starts having recurring pain from a childhood illness. As a parent she struggles to keep her patience and humor with her willful daughter Maggie. As an adult she deals with memories of her depressed mother and her siblings that didn’t survive. As a child she copes with parents that may be developing dementia. MacDonald deftly draws Mary Rose as a character we recognize, we empathize with and we cheer for as she balances her responsibilities and the memories that flood her consciousness. This is not a new story but it is told in a lively and vivid way that is thought provoking and ultimately uplifting. –Sydne, Atlanta
 
 
 
 
The Making of Zombie Wars is about an aspiring screenwriter in Chicago who is full of ideas for Hollywood blockbusters, whose new zombie script is really starting to take shape. Raunchy, funny, weird – zombie shower sex?! It still sounds pretty straightforward, right? But this is Aleksander Hemon, so not straightforward at all. Really cool. Also sad. It’s a many layered amalgam of philosophical questions, unique literary style, pure entertainment, and Hemon’s usual blurring of fiction and reality. Wait, that’s impossible: there’s no such thing as the walking dead. Or is there? –Sara, Atlanta
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Seth Grahame-Smith made his big break out with an idea of a literary mash-up combining Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice with zombies. His follow up bestseller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter made it to the big screen. Now Seth leads this new creative style of literary genre with his recent creation The Last American Vampire, a novel that lays out a time-sequenced past clashing with clever fiction. From the violent crime spree of Jack the Ripper, to the outlandish plan conjured up by Mark Twain to snuff out the invincible vampire Rasputin, the reader will witness an entertaining rewrite of history. -Mike, Albuquerque
 
 
 
 
This is a strange book. 17 year old Lucien (Lucy) Minor, compulsive liar and village mollycoddle, leaves home to take a post in the far away Castle Von Aux. Oddness and adventure ensues. Charming and occasionally absurd Undermajordomo Minor is an amalgamation of bildungsroman, fable, adventure tale, and comedy of manners. There is something very Edward Gorey about this one, others have compared it to Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel and I totally get that too. Lively prose and laugh out loud dialogue throughout. -Matt, Los Angeles
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Slade House is a strange and inventive novel and much like David Mitchell's previous works, The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas, it defies an easy description. At its heart, it is a haunted house tale but there is much more at play here. Like an alchemist dabbling with different ingredients, Mitchell skillfully mixes and blends genres and time periods. The result is a well-orchestrated, often manic, journey that begins as all good mysteries do, steeped in uncertainty and confusion. The story twists and winds, revealing more details with each turn of the page. Deftly written from start to finish, it is the perfect accompaniment to a dark winter evening. –Ryan, Chicago-ORD
 
 
 
 
What do you do if the moon explodes before your eyes? Everyone on earth scrambles in a last-ditch attempt to save the human race from the apocalyptic aftermath, rushing to send as many people and genetic materials as possible to a cobbled together International Space Station. The survivors quickly find out that the Hard Rain that is set to destroy the earth is really nothing compared to the social, political, scientific, and moral questions that await them. Will the human race be able to successfully reboot itself? -Christine, Chicago-ORD

Best Non-Fiction

Modern Romance is standup comedian and actor (Parks and Recreation) Aziz Ansari's peek into today's dating world and the frustrations of communicating using modern technology. It's not just a humor book though. Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg take the dilemmas of finding a partner seriously (there are even graphs and charts) and they have filled the book with their insights. There are plenty of laughs and the book appeals to both single people and anyone looking for a funny glance into all the options of finding someone special in this modern world. -Len, Chicago-ORD
 
 
 
 
A spinster was originally a young lady who spun wool in medieval times and later used to describe a woman working in textile mills of the 18th century. This was an occupation that an unmarried woman could have to achieve a modicum of independence. The pejorative connotations came when the term was used for single women beyond a marriageable age. Kate Bolick posits that this is not a terrible fate that befalls women but can be conscious choice in order to live a full and fulfilled life. She starts with her own experience and also examines the lives and choices of some women that lived a life that suited them and not necessarily society including Edith Wharton and Edna St. Vincent Millay. This book is both personal and global – women have been making these choices and dealing with all of the associated joys and fallout for ages. –Sydne, Atlanta
 
 
 
 
“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
I finished this book several weeks ago but in a way I haven’t finished it at all. I am still grappling with it, still trying to wrap my head around its message and what it says about the world. Couched as a letter to his 15 year-old son, Coates’ book is an attempt to come to terms with what it means to grow up as an African-American male in 2015. With the events in Ferguson, Baltimore, Staten Island, Charleston (etc., sadly, etc.) all fresh in mind, Coates recounts his own experiences with the legacy of racism and what he characterizes as the dream (delusion) of race. Profound and staggering, this is required reading. –Matt, Los Angeles
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This truly is one of the most remarkable rescue stories of all times. It is a heartwarming story of a homeless man inspired by a homeless dog to turn his life around. It progresses from John's turbulent childhood to living on the streets of London. John purposely gets caught burglarizing establishments to spend his winters in prison, but he realizes prison is not a viable option with George in his life. He then decides to resort to drawing sketches on the street and selling them. One thing leads to another and art becomes his redemption. –Valerie, Cleveland
 
 
 
 
Judd Apatow knew from a young age that he wanted to be a comedian and his passion for it shows in the highly entertaining book, Sick in the Head. The interviews date back to 1983, when a 16-year-old Apatow interviewed Jerry Seinfeld. Apatow has a way of getting comedians to reveal more than they would in a normal interview and illuminate the joy they get from making people laugh. He gets legends (Mel Brooks, Steve Martin), people he started out with (Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K.) and young stars of today to open up to him (Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen). I loved it. -Len, Chicago-ORD
 
 
 
 
William Finnegan has a little bit of attitude. I imagine that’s what enables him to take on the challenging waves that he does...or the big subjects that he writes about for The New Yorker, and in his previous books. But that outlook (plus meaningful introspection) and his adventures around the world also make him a compelling subject. Finnegan’s style is a blend of flash and restraint that works fairly brilliantly over the course of Barbarian Days. He fills 440 pages with descriptions of waves and never gets redundant. Each depiction is similar and also unique, in the same way that surfing itself must vary. And in that way he's also revealing the potential of words and writing and their uses. The cumulative effect is extraordinarily powerful. –Sara, Atlanta
 
 
 
 
The acclaimed photographer focuses her attention on her family and their past. Her skill with the camera is matched with her use of language. She grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and moved back there with her husband after attending schools in New England and she skillfully expresses feelings about her southern roots unflinchingly. Her favorite photographic subjects have been her three children and the controversy that sprang from pictures of them playing naked in the river which runs through their land brought a notoriety that Mann still has. Her views on art, family, and heritage are discussed in a way that doesn’t dismiss her detractors but seeks a common point where we can all view these subjects in a humane and thoughtful way. The book is full of photographs, Mann’s and others’, and I’d love an afternoon in the shade by the river for her to explain her vision in each of them. –Sydne, Atlanta

Best Business Interest

 
 
 
 
 
 
Elon Musk is one of the most intriguing and influential entrepreneurs in the world today. The mythology that is building around him and his current companies, Tesla, Space X, and SolarCity rivals coverage of Steve Jobs, and brings renewed excitement to the tech industry. When Stephen Colbert can ask Mr. Musk, “Are you a superhero, or a supervillain?” you know you’re dealing with a compelling subject. In this first major biography of Musk, Ashlee Vance offers fascinating insight into both the man and his work. I’m leaning towards superhero, but read the book and decide for yourself! –Sara, Atlanta
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Best Young Readers

The Thing About JellyfishBenjamin, Ali
Orbiting JupiterSchmidt, Gary D.
CrenshawApplegate, Katherine
 
The Curious World of Calpurnia TateKelly, Jacqueline
 
Circus MirandusBeasley, Cassie
Goodbye StrangerStead, Rebecca
 
 
 
The NestOppel, Kenneth
HomeEllis, Carson
 
Wolfie the BunnyDyckman, Ame
 
WaitingHenkes, Kevin
The Day the Crayons Came HomeDaywalt, Drew
I Don't Want to Be a FrogPetty, Dev
 
 
 
 
The Hired GirlSchlitz, Laura Amy
Red QueenAveyard, Victoria
The MarvelsSelznick, Brian
 
The Wrath and the DawnAhdieh, Renee
 
The Accident SeasonFowley-Doyle,
An Ember in the AshesTahir, Sabaa
 
 
 
MosquitolandArnold, David
Everything, EverythingYoon, Nicola

 

 

"Best of" Flashback - Page to Screen

 

We were excited to see many of our previous picks for best books of the year turned into movies this year. It gives us the opportunity to recommend them again to a whole new audience.

MockingjaySuzanne Collins
Emperor of All MaladiesSiddhartha Mukherjee
RoomEmma Donoghue
 
The Big ShortMichael Lewis
 
The MartianAndy Weir
Deep, Down, Dark (The 33)Hector Tobar
 
 
 

Bookseller Favorites

Anne - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Christine - Chicago-ORD

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jennifer - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Justin - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Len - Chicago-ORD

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Matt - Los Angeles

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mike - Albuquerque

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ryan - Chicago-ORD

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sara - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sydne - Atlanta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Valerie - Cleveland