Phil’s Top Picks 2015

philjason loves booksThe following titles, which I prefer to list without ranking them, are my top picks among those published in 2014-2015 that I reviewed during 2015. It would be easy to find room for another 5-6 fiction titles, but I’m staying with the top 12 selected.

Some years back, the nonfiction list was limited to a “top 8” because I reviewed far fewer nonfiction titles than fiction. That circumstance changed somewhat a few years ago when it became a top 10 list, and this year’s list for nonfiction is a “top 12,” matching an expanded fiction list.

The first two lists reflect my favorites among the trade publications that I reviewed. Separately, I’ve listed 4 self-published titles that seem to me especially worthy of notice.

The order in which the titles are listed has absolutely no significance.

FICTION [trade]

Alan Cheuse, Prayers for the Living

Michael Wiley, Second Skin

Ben Nadler, The Sea Beach Line

Jonathan Papernick, The Book of Stone

Robert N. Macomber, Assassin’s Honor

Alex Kava, Silent Creed

Joseph Kanon, Leaving Berlin

Steph Post, A Tree Born Crooked

James W. Hall, The Big Finish

Lisa Unger, Crazy Love You

Robert Levy, The Glittering World

Kim Michele Richardson, Liar’s Bench


Lyn Millner, The Allure of Immortality

Timothy Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapel, Lincoln and the Jews: A History

Patrick McGilligan, Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane

Joseph Telushkin, Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History

Les Standiford, Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles

Patrick Bishop, The Reckoning: Death and Intrigue in the Promised Land

Peter Longerich, Goebbels: A Biography

Guy Lawson, Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History

Norman J. W. Goda, Barbara McDonald Stewart, Severin Hochberg and Richard Breitman, eds., To the Gates of Jerusalem: The Diaries of James G. McDonald, 1945-1947

Anne C. Heller, Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times

Heidi B. Neumark, Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory, and Faith


Robert Lane, The Cardinal’s Sin

Kay Taylor Burnett, Ginger Quill

Mike Hirsh, Fly Unzipped

Barbara Marangon, Detour on an Elephant: A Year Dancing with the Greatest Show on


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