Best of the Best - 2015

Article by Jeremy

All holiday season, we’ve showcased our individual staff picks for our favorite books of the year. We laughed! We cried! We ranted and raved, vouched for books that deserved the hype and rescued books that did not make the New York Times bestseller lists. But enough about our favorites—you want the best, right? So, here they are, the best books of 2015: just for you, hand-chosen by the entire Brazos staff.

Hausfrau Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812997538
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - March 17th, 2015


Anna is not about domesticity. She is thirty-something, married to a Swiss banker, has three children, lives in Zurich—and she is bored as shit. In search for something that keeps her attention, she tries psychoanalysis, German lessons, and an extramarital affair. Shifting between the story proper and Anna’s sessions with her psychiatrist, Dr. Messerli, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel HAUSFRAU provides a neurotic, claustrophobic narrative and an ending that left Augusta desperate for a hot bath and a hug. Maddening and addictive.

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Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal Cover Image
ISBN: 9781941411049
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sarabande Books - August 11th, 2015


Though there are many important, life-changing, thought-shifting books about race that came out this year, we have special love for MULTIPLY/DIVIDE because it inspires more questions than answers. It is a contemplation rather than a manifesto. In essays and stories—some composed of facts and others extrapolations based on her experience, Wendy S. Walters examines the American real and surreal. She makes makes the argument that rather than locate the dividing line, we should recognize that both exist at once, and not at all. Dreamy and personal.

Our Souls at Night Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101875896
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - May 26th, 2015


A mere 192 pages, OUR SOULS AT NIGHT as a physical object is just as quiet, sparse, and unassuming as its prose. Kent Haruf brings us back to Holt, Colorado, and presents Addie and Louis, widows in their twilight years. Their spouses are dead; their children are gone; their connection is simple: they are lonely neighbors that have always known each other, always lived in the same small town. The thing about small towns, though, is that they’re small, and Addie and Louis’s neighbors have opinions about the couple’s behavior. Heartbreaking, captivating, worth your while.

War, So Much War Cover Image
By Merce Rodoreda, Martha Tennent (Translator), Maruxa Relano (Translator)
ISBN: 9781940953229
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter - November 10th, 2015


Long considered to be most important Catalan novelist of the postwar period, WAR, SO MUCH WAR is the last book Mercè Rodoreda published before she died. In short vignettes, we follow a young boy as he leaves Barcelona in search of freedom. Always, there is the presence of the effects of an unnamed war—in the adventures he encounters, in the strange characters he meets—but it never dominates. Lyrical and surreal, both Mark and Keaton championed this one.

The Art of Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062223067
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - September 15th, 2015


When it comes to the modern-day memoir, Mary Karr is essential. With her debut memoir, THE LIARS’ CLUB, she secured herself as a strong Southern voice that would rather saw off her arm than tell a lie. As memoir often gets attacked in favor of fiction, Karr offers THE ART OF MEMOIR, a collection of lessons and pitfalls that she’s experienced in her writing her own memoirs as well as the years she’s spent teaching students to write their own. Entertaining and accessible—as always!

Fates and Furies Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594634475
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 15th, 2015


Lotto and Mathilde are that couple you both genuinely admire and secretly love to hate, one of those deals where both people are disarmingly good-looking and ridiculously talented and hopelessly in love. In 2001, after ten years of marriage, Lotto has become a world-famous playwright, with Mathilde as his loyal counterpart. But is that the whole story? With her third novel, FATES AND FURIES, Lauren Groff paints the portrait of a marriage over twenty-four years, exploring the idea that there are always at least three sides to every story: yours, mine, and what others see. Complex and shocking.

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The Story of My Teeth Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 15th, 2015


Seriously, this book is cool as hell. Commissioned for an exhibition at Galería Jumex, THE STORY OF MY TEETH was originally an essay written in joint collaboration between Valeria Luiselli and Jumex factory workers. The story? Auctioneer Gustavo “Highway” Sanchez Sanchez sells teeth and not just any teeth—the coveted food munchers of famous dead people, including those of Petrarch! Impossible, you say, but for Highway, the art is in the storytelling. Strange on the surface, TEETH is also an expansive tribute to American art, literature, and politics. Funky and fun.

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The Door (Nyrb Classics) Cover Image
By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (Translator), Ali Smith (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590177716
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review of Books - January 27th, 2015


What is there to say about THE DOOR that we haven’t already said? It’s our bestselling novel of the year. (At the time of writing this article, we had sold 165 copies, with more on the way!) It was number one on the New York Times Notable Books of 2015. Five of us voted for it as our best of the best picks for this year. But, in case it bears repeating: Magda Szabó’s THE DOOR illustrates the relationship between young writer and academic Magda and her aged housekeeper Emerence, women opposite in every way except for their fierce love (and fierce need) for each other. Except it’s so much more than that! Compelling and psychologically intense, Corby described it as Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier’s Hungarian love-child. Just buy it.

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