Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year and My Favorite Book of 2015

Happy New Year! May it bring you your heart's desire!

Unless you have avoided media completely for the last week or so, you have seen many, many "Best of" lists! This post is not one of those. I may not read a book in the year it was published, so instead, I chose my favorite book of 2015.

My criteria for a favorite book are stringent. The book must:
-be well-written as a whole (plot, characters, setting, theme)
-hold my interest intellectually and emotionally
-reveal some truth about life, preferably a positive, hopeful one
-stay with me for a long time after reading it.

The ending must be so satisfying that I reread the last lines to let them soak in, and then, taking in the whole, I clutch the book to my chest before setting it down. 

With that in mind, my favorite read for 2015 was (drumroll) 

 The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This was published in 2008! What took me so long? Well, it's narrated by a dog. How precious would that be? And we know how dog stories tend to go, so I avoided it. I'm so glad I read it! My curiosity from a writer's perspective finally forced me to see how a novel narrated by a dog would work. And I was hooked from the first page, because it's obvious that that this dog story was going to go the way they usually do, and how can a deceased character narrate a book? I found Stein's solution completely satisfying. See my review for more, if you haven't read the book.

I got to hear Stein speak at our state library association conference this fall. His storytelling in person is every bit as engaging as his writing, full of humor and pathos with a big dash of reality. It was worth standing in the loooong line to meet him and get my books signed.

In case you didn't know, he has a couple of Enzo (the dog) picture books out. In the newest, Enzo and the Christmas Tree Hunt, Enzo saves the day for Denny and Zoe, and the same themes as Art of Racing emerge here. (I just found this book in the New Books bin at the library or I'd have featured it before Christmas, but kids will like the story any time of year.)

Here's an interview where Stein gives some background about The Art of Racing in the Rain:

Stein also has a new book out for adults, A Sudden Light, that I look forward to reading.

What book was your favorite read of 2015? Are your criteria similar to mine? Here's to a happy, healthy new year full of good reading!


  1. I love The Art of Racing in the Rain too! And I just started A Sudden Light last month. I had to put it down to finish the CYBILS and get all the Christmas preparations done, but I'll be getting back to it now!

    1. Hard to balance the need to read! Thanks for your comment, Juliana!

  2. I liked the book very much, Jane, but didn't know Stein had picture books out about Enzo, too. I'll look for them. Thanks for reminding me about this sweet book.

    1. He also created a middle grade version of "The Art..." which has "the adult situations" removed. Thanks for your comment, Linda B.