1. Books

Colette Bancroft's favorite 2015 books — and a few she didn't like

Published Dec. 23, 2015

Picking 10 favorite books from the past year is always difficult. Not thinking of 10 books I loved — that's easy, in any year. The hard part is choosing which of the 30 or 40 other books I loved to leave out.

Without further ado, then, here are 10 favorites chosen from the books I reviewed in 2015. (That also leaves out some great books that I read this year but did not review, including Ta-Nehisi Coates' powerful Between the World and Me, Andrea Wulf's fascinating The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World and Claire Vaye Watkins' blistering Gold Fame Citrus.)

The 2015 top 10 books are listed alphabetically by author. You can find full reviews at

1 Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett. This wide-ranging nonfiction book by a Gainesville investigative reporter gracefully weaves together history, science, literature and much more.

2 Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. A surprising, poignant, profane novel whose main character is a haunting reimagining of John Lennon.

3 The Crossing by Michael Connelly. The thrilling, complex answer to the question of what LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch will be like when he's no longer a cop.

4 Purity by Jonathan Franzen. Set aside all the Franzenscheude; this brisk contemporary tale of love and betrayal is a great read and, I must say, my favorite of his novels so far.

5 Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. This novel, by another Gainesville author (what's in the water up there?), is a dazzling, moving exploration of the lies we tell for love.

6 Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson. The author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, grew up among the black elite and writes about that experience with fearless intelligence.

7 World Gone By by Dennis Lehane. This novel, set in Tampa in the 1940s, completes Lehane's classic gangster trilogy, a darkly lyrical look at the downside of power, legal or not.

8 H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. This startlingly original memoir of grief and healing is as fierce and vivid as the creature in its title.

9 On the Move by Oliver Sacks. Another surprising memoir, this one revealing the extraordinary personal life of the doctor and bestselling author, who died not long after its publication.

10 The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert. This beautifully written and emotionally resonant novel is among the most realistic depictions of loss and mourning I've read.

Contact Colette Bancroft at or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.


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