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Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Bookseller Top Tens!

I did it. The top tens before the end of January. And this year, in the format of one really, really, REALLY long post. We've got 28 lists of 280 (or so) great books for you. So, you have some reading to do.

Remember, our top tens do not have to be composed of books published only in the last year. If you read it this year, even if it was written and published 200 years ago, it can be on the list.

Also, new this year, I've consolidated all of our lists into one, giant, mega-top-ten list. The ten favorite books among all of us. Don't worry, all of our lists are available in their entirety after the jump.

The first four titles on the mega list had the most votes. The remaining six all had two votes each, as well as another nine titles. I chose the final six based on how much I heard coworkers talking about these books and what was said. For example, Ancillary Justice made the list over others based on the fact that I know two other booksellers who liked Ancillary Justice, just not quite enough to make their top ten. Negative comments overheard about books also factored in. It's a totally scientific, totally legit process. Trust me.

Third Place Books' Definitive Best Books of 2015 
Colossal Top Ten List
  1. Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates
  2. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagahara
  3. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
  4. Barefoot Dogs by Antonio Ruiz Camacho
  5. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  6. Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh
  7. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
  8. Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso
  9. Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
  10. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Click through for all our other favorites!
Alex at Ravenna

Anje at Lake Forest Park

Chelsea at Lake Forest Park
  1. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
    • Robert Todd Lincoln was probably cursed by a gypsy.
  2. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
    • There are corpse eating turtles in the Ganges...so metal.
  3. The Captive Condition by Kevin P Keating
    • If your ex-husband invites you to check out the giant pine box he just made, say no.
  4. The First Bad Man by Miranda July
    • Boxing isn't just for the gym.
  5. Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson
    • You should pay closer attention to your children's fantasies.
  6. Act of God by Jill Ciment
    • Bioluminescent fungus is probably not covered in your renter's insurance.
  7. The Most Dangerous Animal of All by Gary L. Stewart
    • Organ's are oddly unifying instruments.
  8. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
    • Don't be fooled by intelligent vegetation.
  9. Unabrow by Una Lamarche
    • If planning a home birth, gift baskets for your neighbors is a nice touch.
  10. Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
    • "Angels may or may not be real. They are all named Erika."

Christina at Ravenna

Courtney at Lake Forest Park
  • When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
    • 70% of the poems in this collection are real gut kickers, the other 30% will cause you to gape and cry out loud in public. Every single poem in this  collection is moving, thought provoking and startling. Basically the whole thing is incredible and you should read it immediately. 
  • Trans by Juliet Jacquez
    • As much as this book is a narrative of gender and life, it's relationship to the body, depression etc. it's also an essential book for anyone to read no matter where they find themselves on the Kinsey spectrum or LGBTQA community. 
  • Ai Weiwei Speaks with Hans Ulrich Obrist
    • Ai Weiwei is in my opinion, the most important contemporary artist around. This is a quick, introductory read on Wei Wei and his reaction to the censorship in China, which in itself is a huge bummer. This guy is a genius. Seriously. I'm a little bit in love with him. 
  • Crush by RIchard Siken.
    • This is the type of poetry collection you keep under your pillow at night and cry about. Good luck reading it and not getting feelings.
  • Tinkers by Paul Harding
    • This was given to me by  my friend last year right before he killed himself. As big as a bummer that is By itself, this book made me cry in public three times. Twice in an airport. I've read nothing that has ever brought me closer to understand the wondrous frightening nature of our existence and made me question whether time and space exist anywhere but within our selves so many times. 
  • Beautiful You by Chuck Paulhniuk
    • This book made me want to vomit, throw it against a wall and run away several times. It's crass, offensive, deranged and not even close to being politically correct in the slightest. It's great! I love Paulhniuk so much, sometimes I worry that I only moved to the northwest in order to be closer to him. I'm only bummed because it's over and now I have to go back to refreshing his website several times a day in order to hear about a new release.
  • We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson
    • I'm mainly putting this on my list in hope that someone else has read this or will read this, and we can talk about how weird it made us feel together.
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
    • Let me start this off by saying Bechdel is one smart cookie. She is the prized chocolate chip cookie on a plate full of oatmeal raisin. Not only is the artwork fantastically done in this tragicomic but oh her prose! her prose is so lyrically complex and oh so beautiful it makes me shiver. Its also a huge bummer so tread lightly if you have an parental issues and prepare to feel feelings several times.
  • Enola Gay by Mark Levine
    • I have read this numerous times throuought this year,in particular the first poem 'Then for The Seventh Nigjht'. It bummed me out all year long, throuought the spring and into the winter, just can't shake it.
  • M train by Patti Smith.
    • Patti Smith is everything to me. I seriously considered stalking any and all cafes through out Seattle when she was here, in hopes of "accidentally" running into her and playing it cool. She's everything I want to be when I grow up and it bums me out that I don't know her personally.

Deborah at Lake Forest Park

Emily at Lake Forest Park
  • Pieces of My Mother by Melissa Cistaro
    • Childhood memories and a trove of unsent letters fuel this emotional memoir about a mother who abandoned her family and the children who longed for her return. The author, now a mother herself, grapples with her own young daughter's questions, her mother's death, and the complex emotional life her mother never shared.
  • Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
    • Small acts seen from multiple viewpoints form a beautifully rendered story of love, friendship, tragedy, and so much more. Breathtaking.
  • Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos
    • This novel opened my eyes to the challenges of parenting a child who will never life independently. How can two parents with differing ideas work together to privide a good environment for the child? Vividly drawn characters and a familiar Seattle setting make this a compelling read, and it will make an excellent book club choice.
  • The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
    • This gripping page-turner depicts the American Southwest in a prolonged drought. Water is a precious commodity, and the wealthy in self-sustaining enclosed luxury towers while the poor suffer through dust storms under corrupt leaders and the constant threat of dehydration. The story feels eerily possible.
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
    • The best young adult book I read this year. The slow, quiet character development is surprising in a book for teens. Perfect. Just perfect. Go read it!
  • Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
    • Set in Seattle, this novel immerses the reader in an exploded view of the WTO protests. By Challenging assumptions and creating empathy for police, protesters, a delegate, and a homeless teenager, this gripping story shows the convergence of a vast range of perspectives within a few city blocks.
  • Thunder and Lightning by Lauren Redniss
    • I devoured this brilliant, engrossing mixture of art and science in one sitting. Full of facts and stories about different aspects of weather, it is approachable and never dry, with a perfect balance of illustration and text. Now I absolutely must track down and read this author's other books!
  • Theo Chocolate by Debra Music and Joe Whinney
    • Every year, I find one cookbook that I go back to again and again. For 2015, this is the one. It has savory recipes (chocolate for dinner!) as well as sweets, from the Theo kitchens as well as other Seattle chefs. The Nibby Crackers have chocolate and red wine built into the crackers. Genius! I've made dozens of homemade graham crackers (both regular and gluten-free) in the past two months, and they have been the basis for many s'more experiments.
  • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
    • Captivating from the first page! Period details from 1930s Seattle form a rich backdrop for a timeless story of illicit love. Adults and teens alike will enjoy this historical novel. The characters of Love and Death add the perfect touch of magic and mystery, reminiscent of The Night Circus.
  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
    • This engrossing work of historical fiction explores the early life of Beryl Markham, a pioneering female pilot famous for her memoir West With the Night. Raised by her father in Kenya, she had an unusual and exciting life. I was hooked right from the start.

Emily at Ravenna

Eric at Lake Forest Park

Erin at Lake Forest Park

James at Ravenna
  1. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  3. A Green Light by Matthew Rohrer
  4. Saga, Volumes 1-5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  5. Long Love Poem with Descriptive Title by Matthew Savoca
  6. War of the Foxes by Richard Siken
  7. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
  8. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
  9. Wildlives by Sarah Jean Alexander
  10. The First Bad Man by Miranda July

Jane at Lake Forest Park
  1. West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan
  2. A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert
  3. The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah.....to be released in February, 2016
  4. In the Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib
  5. Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg
  6. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  7. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
  8. Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos
  9. Between the World and Me by Na-Tehisi Coates
  10. The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsal

Kalani at Lake Forest Park
  • Favorite Collection of Stories: Yellow: Stories by Don Lee
    • After reading Don Lee's phenomenal novel "The Collective" last year, I slowly read his collection "Yellow" this year, reading roughly one story a month. Loosely connected stories all set in the fictional town of Rosarita Bay,California, this book is Asian-American writing at its absolute best. Hoping for more Don Lee soon!   
  • Favorite Work in Translation: Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin
    • This is technically a novel in letters that tells the story of a broken heart but it really serves as the author's actual suicide letter. Needless to say, this is a difficult read knowing that the author was revealing a lot about her own personal struggles before her tragic suicide at the age of 26. An unforgettable reading experience. 
  • Favorite Fictional Character: Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson
    • Instead of going off to college, Katherine Carlyle throws her cellphone in a river and disappears. Her journey in search of her true self takes her across Europe into the Arctic Circle. Never predictable, Katherine is a unique character that is highly relatable. Thomson's writing is full of emotion and intrigue. One of my favorite new release novels of the year.
  • The "Better Book than Movie" Award: Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
    • I was going to watch the new movie on Netflix after hearing the favorable buzz but instead picked up this short 150-page novel and was glad I did. While the movie was a worthy adaptation, the complexities of the African boy soldier Agu is properly presented in the book. This is a terrifying read that would give the The Lord of the Flies kids nightmares. 
  • Favorite Non-Fiction: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • Can't say I have much more praise for this book that hasn't already been said. Toni Morrison called it "required reading" and it absolutely is. A fantastic book that is as relevant as ever. 
  • Favorite Biography: The Fall: A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps by Diogo Mainardi
    • This book made me, a 28-year old guy with little interest in ever raising a kid, want to become a father. This is a book I will likely reread frequently. Deeply deeply touching.
  • Favorite "Sports" book: The Rider by Tim Krabbe
    • I've spent a little time in the world of competitive athletics and I must say, this novel depicts "race day" better than I have ever seen. The first page is the cyclist getting his bike ready for the race and the last page is the cyclist leaving to go home, the pages in between are full of pure adrenaline. 
  • Favorite Graphic Novel: Killing & Dying: Stories by Adrian Tomine
    • I only discovered Adrian Tomine earlier this year and have been reading everything he has ever published with a vengeance. His latest collection shows his maturation as both an illustrator and a master of short fiction (the comparisons to Raymond Carver are quite accurate). Still only in his early 40s, Tomine will be making great graphic stories for a long time. 
  • Favorite "Children's" book: Fox by Margaret Wild
    • I read around 30 children's books this year which is probably the first time since I was a child I've read that many. I accidentally stumbled upon this book while helping a customer and I almost wish I hadn't. While this is a "children's" book in every sense, I found it absolutely unforgettable due its shocking ending. The ending of this book is disturbingly dark for a child, but teaches all of us an important lesson about not taking things for granted. Find a copy of this and read immediately! 
  • The WTF Book Award: The Sellout by Paul Beatty
    • "What the hell did I just read?" This was my first thought after finishing this crazy bizarre yet masterful piece of satire. Imagine Kurt Vonnegut writing about race in America ...now imagine it even more demented. Must read!

Lish at Lake Forest Park
  • Lumberjanes and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
    • Two amazing graphic novels that I've grouped together because Noelle Stevenson was a creator on both, which practically makes them the same book. Fun and weird and everyone should read them.
  • Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
    • A book about magical chickens that also teaches you how to care for regular chickens. Super funny with great art, and the author is local!
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Fangirl  by Rainbow Rowell
    • It took me awhile to actually read this book because I kept buying it and then giving it to people because I knew they'd love it...even though I hadn't read it. Rowell's dialogue is the best. Also, check out The Attachements.
  • Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
    • Third book in the series and I think this series has been on my top ten the last two years as well. Who wants to take bets on book four making next year's list?
  • Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
    • This series tends to have the worst covers, but I love the characters and the authors balance action, humor, horror and romance well.
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
    • Because of this book I want to adopt a cat and name him The President. I laughed so hard I choked.
  • Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan-  Plucky lady scientists and dragons? Yes, please.
  • Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough- Set in 1930's Jazz era Seattle AND written by a local author. Again, you're welcome.
  • Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
    • I am a long time Kate Beaton fan. Her comic, Hark a Vagrant! is funny and smart. This is her first picture book and guess what? It's funny and smart and ADORABLE. Check it out. (And also her book, Step Aside, Pops.)

Lizzie at Lake Forest Park

Mark at Ravenna

Michael at Ravenna

Nicole at Lake Forest Park

Patti at Lake Forest Park

Patti at Ravenna

Rene at Lake Forest Park

Rich at Lake Forest Park

Robert at Lake Forest Park
Stats :
Titles that start with “B” :            5
Authors with 3 names :                2
Female authors :                           2
White American Male authors :   2
Translated Books :                        2
Non-Fiction :                                4
Short Stories :                               2
Amazing Books :                        10

Roman at Lake Forest Park

Sarah at Lake Forest Park

Shawn at Ravenna

Stephen at Lake Forest Park
  1. Lila by Marilynne Robinson
  2. Vertigo by Joanna Walsh
  3. Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgway
  4. Hav by Jan Morris
  5. Amerika by Franz Kafka
  1. How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis
  2. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  3. (In a Sense) Lost and Found by Roman Muradov
  4. Here by Richard McGuire
  5. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Wes at Lake Forest Park
  • Man V. Nature by Diane Cook
    • Is kooky eloquence a thing yet? If not, Cook's go a corner on the market.
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    • The book of the year. If you disagree, there's probably nothing between us.
  • The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits
    • Resplendent prose perfectly balanced with sharp, self-effacing examination without becoming maudlin.
  • Mortal Leap by Macdonald Harris
    • It is a crime against humanity that this book is out of print.
  • Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Biss
    • An enormously eye-opening and enriching reading experience.
  • What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
    • A slim little juggernaut, whatever heart I had left after Giovanni's Room and Call Me By Your Name was effectively destroyed by this debut.
  • Eve's Hollywood by Eve Babitz
    • Out-of-print for decades, Babitz's vaguely autobiographical vigniettes are timeless. LA cool with a subtle air of pith.
  • Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
    • The single most powerful recovery memoir since Caroline Knapp's Drinking.
  • Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso
    • Economy of language is rarely employed to such enormously moving effect. Manguso is a singular, opulent talent.

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