My Favorite Five Reads of 2015

January 14, 2016

Tags: The Unwinding, George Packer, The Whites, Richard Price, We're All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler, Fates and Furies, Lauren Goff, Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Gárcia Márquez

Only two of these books, THE WHITES and FATES AND FURIES were actually published last year. The others I just finally got around to enjoying, including THE UNWINDING , LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA and WE’RE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES.

THE UNWINDING, by George Packer.
The only non-fiction book of this bunch struck me as the most daring and insightful examination of the United States since AMERICA WHAT WENT WRONG. Through artful stories of unknown and famous Americans, it captures what’s happened to the country in the past twenty years and how and why the inequalities snowballed. It’s also just a creative portrait/collage of current America.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Not sure why it took me till now to get to this, but what a thrill and a pleasure to read it for the first time. Such an inspiringly funny and wise meditation on love and aging. From puppy to elderly love, from lust to adoration, from falling in and out and all the comic and tragic complications. And of course it’s about death too, because all his stories are. His twists and dalliances in this one are irresistible.

This is a daring book that somehow manages to be a family novel, a collegiate comedy and a brilliant meditation on how we treat animals. Avoid reading about the book or even glancing at its summary. Just dive into that wonderful opening chapter. It won the 2014 Pen Faulkner Award for a reason.

THE WHITES by Richard Price
This novel is about veteran New York cops obsessing over crimes and criminals they still can’t get past, and how they each deal with their psychological white whales. Might be tedious in other hands, but we’re talking Richard Price, whose pitch perfect reportage fiction, palpable language and dialogue has dazzled me through all of his books, starting with Clockers—the seed for HBO’s THE WIRE.

This unpredictable novel about marriage and secrets rides Goff’s electric and original prose from beginning to end. One downside? It may leave you feeling short and undersexed.


  1. April 26, 2016 8:35 PM EDT
    My favorite reads will be listed after this:
    I am into the 15th page of BTW, and as with all of your novels, I am hooked...line and sinker (I couldn't resist). I know zero about sailing, but I now see in my future $$$ I don't have being sunk into something that barely floats very soon. After the first paragraph of BTW, I thought "this is like meeting up with a friend I haven't seen in a few years"-your writing is like that, toward the positive. A reminder to me of something missing. So, thanks to you I will be sleeping separately from my husband tonite; Beyond the Wind is a one-sitting read. Should it end similarly to your past efforts, I'll wish that it was longer, and that I could hold fast to the characters and the storyline, longer. Here's to a late night.....

    Favorite 2015 reads (not in any order)
    1. Fates and Furies - Lauryn Groff
    2. The Light Between Oceans - ML Stedman
    3. Thirteen Ways of Looking - Colum McCann
    4. Did You Ever Have a Family - Bill Clegg
    5. Our Souls at Night - Kent Haruf
    - Pam Small
  2. July 10, 2016 5:20 PM EDT
    Such a lovely note. Sorry for the delayed response. I think we may have exchanged notes over Facebook. Regardless, hope you enjoyed the book. And thanks for your enthusiasm, and for sharing your five faves of 2015.
    - Jim Lynch