We’re a passionate lot at Booktopia, and it has taken weeks of reading, re-reading, meetings, angry coffee dates and re-re-reading to come up with The 2015 Booktopia Books of the Year
These selections are not in order, and while some amazing books have missed out, we can’t resist a list so here we are. Hopefully you see some of your favourites too.
An emotionally brutal story about adulthood and the demons of the past, very unlucky not to have taken out the Man Booker Prize. Marked Hanya Yanagihara as one of the most exciting and ambitious novelists working today.
One of Australia’s finest novelists delivers again with an intense, unsettling dystopian fable of misogyny, power and the dark corners of the human condition.
A fitting conclusion to The Neapolitan Quartet, perhaps the finest literary series of the last 50 years. A brilliant, insightful, evocative novel from the elusive Elena Ferrante.
A haunting story of isolation and motherhood, perfectly paced and beautifully written by Stephanie Bishop, one of Australia’s most talented novelists.
Franzen’s legendary acerbic prose is softened (only slightly) to great effect with Purity, a sweeping Dickensian saga about idealism, power, sex and money. His best work since The Corrections.
Very honourable mentions: Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, Mark Dapin’s R&R, Geraldine Brooks’ The Secret Chord
One of the world’s greatest storytellers, Kate Morton delivers again with a enthralling mystery centring on the memorable Detective Sadie Sparrow.
The kind of sweeping, epic love story that Allende does better than anyone, a book that encompasses territory from the internment camps of WWII to modern day San Francisco.
A starting point towards a greater work it may be, but impossible expectation clouded the reality that Go Set a Watchman is still a promising, ambitious novel worthy of serious consideration.
One of Australia’s favourite storytellers at the top of her game, Forsyth’s gorgeous prose and eye for detail makes The Beast’s Garden a remarkable, enthralling story of love and loss.
Meticulously researched and beautifully written, The Perfumer’s Secret solidifies McIntosh’s place as one of Australia’s most loved storytellers.
Very honourable mentions: Di Morrissey’s Rain Music, Judy Nunn’s Spirits of the Ghan, Cathy Kelly’s Between Sisters
CRIME & THRILLER
JK Rowling has more fun with the gruff Cormoran Strike than ever before. A gripping plot full of twists and turns confirms Rowling’s place at the table amongst the genre’s finest exponents.
A distinctly bookish thriller, Stephen King takes the chance to ruminate on the power of the written word in a way he hasn’t since On Writing. A wonderful, dark tale from the master of the wonderful, dark tale.
The bestselling phenomenon that debuted at number 1 on the New York Times best sellers list in both print and ebook, the pure definition of a page turner. A thriller of the highest order.
Incredibly, The Girl in the Spider’s Web didn’t disappoint the millions of fans of the late Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. David Lagercrantz uses Larsson’s iconic characters to full effect, hitting all the right notes in a riveting tale.
Another year, another breathtaking novel from Gold Dagger winner Michael Robotham. An emotional thriller with the incomparable Joe O’Loughlin in the driver’s seat.
Very honourable mentions: Garry Disher’s The Heat, Don Winslow’s The Cartel, Emma Viskic’s Resurrection Bay
The Queen of Paranormal Romance delivered again with another passionate, ghostly tale from the darkness of the Carpathian Mountains.
Nalini Singh continues her stunning run of novels with another dark tale in her internationally bestselling Psy-Changling series.
Nobody writes a bad boy quite like Christina Lauren. Contemporary romance at its best.
The first novel in J.R. Ward’s much anticipated new series didn’t disappoint with a scandalous tale of wealth and privilege.
Worth the hype. Captive Prince was the biggest buzz book of 2015 and somehow it delivered on the expectations and laid the foundations for a brilliant series.
Very honourable mentions: Rachael Johns’ The Road to Hope, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Heroes Are My Weakness, Kylie Scott’s Lead
An exceptional collection of bittersweet memories that Clive James would be proud of. Glover injects humour into the family drama, carrying Flesh Wounds far beyond the usual memoir.
Magda Szubanski blew us away with her writing chops in this remarkable, fearless and deeply personal memoir.
A funny and at times immensely confronting memoir from one of Australia’s most talented writers, Rosie Waterland announced herself as a talent to watch on the Australia literary landscape.
Something of a companion piece to Winton’s acclaimed 2013 novel Eyrie, Island Home is a triumph. Evocative, passionate and unique.
A game changing work on race and politics in modern America. Coates channels James Baldwin and Maya Angelou in this extraordinary book that deserves to be read by every human being.
Very honourable mentions: Patti Smith’s M Train, Rosie Batty’s A Mother’s Story, Drusilla Modjeska’s Second Half First
The sleeper hit of 2015, elicited more than one TMI conversation in the Booktopia offices in 2015. You’ll never look at sauerkraut the same way again.
Another intriguing journey to the fringes of society, Jon Ronson is both voyeur and participant, joining this wonderfully odd collection of threads about the new world of public shaming.
If 2015 was the year of the colouring book, Lost Ocean was the book that stood at the top of the mountain. Even without colour, Johanna Basford’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous.
Not only one of the world’s greatest writers, but one of the world’s most intelligent writers, Kate Grenville does an astounding job in telling the story of her late mother in One Life.
Dubbed ‘Australia’s Greatest Explainer’, George Megalogenis dynamically joins the dots on Australia’s past and what it means for our future. A must read.
Very honourable mentions: Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling, Janet Hawley’s Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden, Ronnie Wood’s How Can It Be?
The Marvel Avengers of Australian cookbooks, with Stephanie Alexander, Kylie Kwong, Margaret Fulton, Maggie Beer, Matt Moran, Neil Perry and many more contributing, The Great Australian Cookbook will be a bible in Australian kitchens for years to come.
Adam Liaw’s best book yet, stripping back the misconceptions of Asian Cooking and presenting an easy to follow, informative and beautifully shot guide to mastering Asian dishes at home.
A one-of-a-kind collection of recipes and photography from culinary rockstar Magnus Nilsson.
Of course James Viles would produce a book of this standard. Australia’s most exciting young chef, Biota brings Viles’ acclaimed Bowral restaurant to life in this extraordinary cookbook.
The quintessential Greek cookbook, with beautiful photography and Calombaris’ signature sense of fun and adventure on every page.
Very honourable mentions: Alessandro Pavoni’s A Lombardian Cookbook, Neil Perry’s Spice Temple, Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi
Sarah J. Maas is a god to many young readers (and older ones too) and it’s not hard to see why. Queen of Shadows lived up to the hype with another thrilling instalment in her seminal Throne of Glass series.
Perhaps of the most influential YA series ever written came to an end after 28 years and 7 books. The Red Queen is a fitting, emotional, heart-stopping conclusion.
When a veritable supergroup of authors come together, you know it’s going to be good. But Zeroes isn’t just good, it’s great. Wonderful action sequences and memorable characters, this is a series to keep an eye on.
It’s easy to see why Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are taking the world by storm with this brilliant, intelligent and inventive sci fi thriller. Impossible to put down.
Hits all the right notes and threw debut author Becky Albertalli into the pantheon of great YA authors almost immediately. Funny, sweet, sad, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is not just a great book, but a very important book.
Very honourable mentions: Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Adi Alsaid’s Never Always Sometimes, Sarah Benwell’s The Last Leaves Falling
Aaron Blabey’s ode to Reservoir Dogs is a triumph, with hilarious dialogue, thrilling action sequences and characters we want to read again and again. And we can, with Book 2 now out as well.
An incredible collaboration from Julie Hunt and Dale Newman. Both remarkable local talents compliment each other in this amazing graphic tale.
Possibly our favourite book in Andy Griffith’s record-breaking Treehouse series, Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton show now signs of slowing down. Packed with cheeky gags for young and old.
Few writers are capable of the pathos of Morris Gleitzman and still keep a book moving for impatient younger readers. Soon is masterful, and another extraordinary addition to his already classic Felix and Zelda series.
Emily Rodda has that certain something that gets your attention from the very first page, hooking kids in and never letting go. Her return to Deltora was everything we hoped it would be.
Very honourable mentions: Jacqueline Harvey’s Alice-Miranda in the Alps, Tonke Dragt’s The Secrets of the Wild Wood, A.L. Tait’s Breath of the Dragon
Difficult to read as an adult and not feel a little emotional, Mr. Huff is beautifully illustrated and subtly told by master storyteller Anna Walker. Every child that reads this will understand their world just a little bit more.
A funny and charming story about embracing difference, Aaron Blabey’s illustations and cheeky prose fit perfectly in a story every child loved in 2015.
Entirely wordless, Bird is a breathtaking work from Spanish illustrator Beatriz Martin Vidal. A story of courage and imagination.
In the spirit of last year’s brilliant The Book with No Pictures comes This is a Ball, from local authors Beck and Matt Stanton. Sure to elicit plenty of uncontrollable giggles from kids everywhere with countless bedtime story requests.
We love Mr. Panda, even if he can be a bit of a hard case sometimes. Giving laughs and lessons to children everywhere, I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda is absolute genius.