2015 Notable Books announced: Year’s best in fiction, nonfiction and poetry

CHICAGO—The Notable Books Council has announced the 2015 selections of the Notable Books List, an annual best-of list comprised of twenty six titles written for adult readers and published in the US including fiction, nonfiction and poetry. The list was announced today during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting.

The 2015 selections are:


“All My Puny Sorrows” by Miriam Toews, McSweeneys
How much sacrifice does the love of a sister require?

“All the Light We Cannot  See” by Anthony Doerr, Scribner
Navigating the dark of World War II a German boy and a French girl survive using senses other than sight.

“The Bone Clocks: A Novel” by David Mitchell, Random House
The human condition: bleak but not without moments of redemption.

“The Children Act” by Ian McEwan, Nan A Talese
A deceptively simple story reveals complexities of life choices.

“The Crane Wife” by Patrick Ness, Penguin
A thoughtful exposition of love, in all its endless varieties.

“The Enchanted: A Novel” by Rene Denfield, Harper
Death row inmates await escape through execution in this weirdly gorgeous tale.

“Narrow Road to the Deep North: A Novel” by Richard Flanagan, Alfred A.  Knopf
Australian beaches, Burmese jungles, love and death permeate a story of World War II POWs.

“On Such a Full Sea” by Chang-Rae Lee, Riverhead
From fish farm to big pharma, 100 years later it’s all the same.

“Orfeo: A Novel” by Richard Powers, W.W. Norton
On the run from Homeland Security, Peter Els reflects on a life of attempted creation and immortality through music and chemistry.

“Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories” by Ron Rash, Ecco
A brutal and beautiful collection of human tales set in the Carolinas.

“Station Eleven: A Novel” by Emily St. John Mandel, Alfred A. Knopf
Love, music, and Shakespeare sustain survivors of a global pandemic.

“Tigerman” by Nick Harkaway, Alfred A. Knopf
Funny, strange, and dangerous, the island of Mancreu may be beyond saving, but perhaps a superhero can bring redemption. “Full of win”.


“The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution” by Jonathan Eig, W.W. Norton
The not-so-immaculate conception of the first oral contraceptive.

“Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris” by Eric Jager Little, Brown and Company
Political intrigue that starts with a murder and ends with a throne.

“Dark Invasion: 1915 Germany’s Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America” by Howard Blum, Harper
German spies collaborate to unleash a campaign of terror in the United States at the start of World War I.

“Factory Man” by Beth Macy, Little, Brown and Company.
Made in America vs Made in China—is it too late to save one of these labels?

“In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette” by Hampton Sides, Doubleday
Glory and heartbreak on the rocks.

“Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” by Rick Bragg, Harper
“Can a man play rock and roll and still go to heaven?”

“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson, Spiegel & Grau
A searing indictment of institutionalized racism and state-sanctioned death.

“The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses” by Kevin Birmingham, Penguin Press
Biography of a notorious classic which changed the landscape of literature and launched the Modernist movement.

“No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” by Glenn Greenwald, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt
A real life spy thriller and a cautionary tale about government data gathering.

“Pandora’s DNA: Tracing the Breast Cancer Genes Through History, Science, and One Family Tree” by Lizzie Stark, Chicago Review Press
One woman’s face-off with her genetic fate.

“The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore, Alfred A. Knopf
Suffering Sappho, we need to teach these girls to have some fun!

“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert, Henry Holt and Company
Whether it’s rats or cockroaches that inherit the earth, this tale of species loss forms a narrative of evolution and annihilation.


“The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems” by B.H.Fairchild, W.W. Norton
A regional American experience through myth and memory.

“Gabriel: A Poem”, by Edward Hirsch, Knopf
A father’s lament.

The winners were selected by the Notable Books Council whose members include twelve expert readers’ advisory and collection development librarians. The Council considers titles based on stellar reviews published in standard library reviewing sources and other authoritative sources. Derived from this list is the longlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, ALA’s highest honor for books written for adults.

The Council includes Katharine Phenix, Anythink Libraries, chair; Liz Kirchhoff, Barrington Area Library, Barrington, IL; Victoria Caplinger, NoveList / EBSCO Information Services, Durham, NC;  Stacey Hayman, Rocky River Public Library, Rocky River, OH; Jason A. Reuscher, The Pennsylvania State University Libraries, Schuylkill Haven, PA;  Mary Callaghan “Cal” Zunt, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, OH;  Sharon Castleberry, Dallas, TX;  Sarah Jaffa, Kitsap Regional Library, Bremerton, WA;  Sara Taffae, Albuquerque, NM; Craig Clark, Upper Arlington, OH; Vicki L Gregory, School of Information, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC, Atlanta, GA.

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more about the association at www.ala.org/rusa.

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