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Culture » Book Talk

Top 5 Books of the Year

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"The Painter," by Peter Heller

An amazing novel that masterfully connects fly-fishing, high art, murder, revenge, and unimaginable loss into one breathless read. Heller's powerful descriptions are bleakly beautiful, and illuminate the nature of art, and the art of nature. Great read for the modern western man, and the women who put up with them.

"The Goldfinch," by Donna Tartt

Tartt is a genius of the Dickensian caliber—and her 2014 Pulitzer Prize proves it. Her third and greatest novel takes the reader on an epic journey through the dusty antique shops of New York City, the hollow McMansions of Las Vegas, and the dangerous world of priceless art fencing. Her characters are despicable and beloved, warm-hearted and unscrupulous, and will keep you captivated to the final page.

"We Are Called to Rise," by Laura McBride

The best book this year that you've probably never heard of. McBride's debut novel is a stunning multi-threaded narrative that follows a Iraqi war veteran, a young immigrant boy, a recently divorced housewife, and a beleaguered social worker through many twists and turns that ultimately lead to one heart-shattering reckoning. Their stories address so many of today's most difficult and timely issues including police brutality, post traumatic stress disorder, immigration, and more. It has the rare distinction of being both engaging and important.

"We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves," Karen Joy Fowler

A young girl who is raised alongside a chimpanzee by psychologist parents deals with the fallout of her unusual upbringing. The premise alone is fantastic! Fowler's poignant humor and deft characterization earned her a California Book Award, a Man Booker Prize nomination, and many more.

"Fourth of July Creek," by Smith Henderson

Another debut novel by a Pacific Northwest writer to look out for. Set in the rural wilds of Montana, "Fourth of July Creek" follows a well-meaning but hapless social worker who is obsessed with a fundamentalist family that lives off the grid. His efforts to help are rewarded with one failure after another, until he's left as broken and aimless as the children he's supposed to look out for (including his own daughter). Gorgeously written, with a narrator who is both wholly unlikeable and heroically irresistible.

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