Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun, weekly meme hosted by the good folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a great way to discover new book blog’s and even find common literary ground in the blogosphere. See here for other bloggers posts on this particular topic.

I only average about a book a week, so a top ten at this point of the year actually represents about 40% of my reading. Fortunately, I’ve read a lot of good books this year and didn’t have trouble coming up with ten favorites. I had a LOT of trouble however in ranking them, but I attempted to anyway. 🙂

I’m also happy to do this particular top ten list, since I can mention some of the books I’ve read but haven’t blogged about. Seems all I actually post about anymore are short stories! I keep meaning to write about BOOKS more often, but have failed thus far. Maybe that’s a worthy goal for the second half of the year? Hmm… Anyway, on to this week’s list, ranked in order with #1 being my “favorite” (if there can truly be such a thing)

10 Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Just read this one last month for my Book club that meets at Indy Reads Books bookstore. A really eye-opening non fiction work about the plight of the people in North Korea. Oppression, Economic collapse, starvation – it’s got it all.

9 Long Knife – by James Alexander Thom

The historical fiction biography of George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero who won most of his laurels in and around Indiana. I’d read this author’s (historical fiction) Tecumseh biography a few years ago and had no qualms about recommending this book as a ‘wild card’ pick for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. I was so gratified that it was a big hit with them, and that the author himself (who lives near Bloomington) visited our book club meeting with some friends.

8 Prisoner of Trebekistan by Bob Harris

I read a few books related to the TV game show “Jeoaprdy!” earlier this year in preparation for an in-person audition I had in Chicago (I was invited after passing the online test). This book was the best of the lot, both honest and funny AND useful for my “inevitable” (ha ha) future appearance on the show. Above: Jeopardy! champ Bob Harris – do you remember him?

7 Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

Yet another book club I’m in read this one back in April. The stories within this book are somewhat tough going at times, but some were also indisputably brilliant and have stuck with me even two months later. I’m sure that this is a book I’ll be revisiting over the years.

6 Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb by Ian Woollen

I learned of this book in a roundabout way, as the author was one of the friends that author James Alexander Thom brought with him to our book club meeting for #9 above. I then heard the author would be the guest of a reading group at Bookmama’s Bookstore (link on sidebar under “local interest”) so read it “at warp speed” in order to be finished in time to participate. A sweeping “family epic” spanning the Cold War, I still hope to write a more formal “review” of this one at some point. Who’s “Uncle Anton?” Why, Chekhov, of course!

5 Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

The only YA book on this list (and I think the only one I’ve read this year), it’s the debut novel of a young local author. Kind of a “A Beautiful Mind meets YA lit” book, with a great “unreliable narrator” who leaves you constantly wondering what’s real and what’s not.

4 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this one now, but I went through it again for a book club meeting, which featured one of the best discussions I’ve ever participated in. Shelley does not disappoint.

3 Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana by James Madison


I heard of a book signing at the local “Indiana Historical Bureau” (which I previously didn’t even know existed) and I popped downtown after work to check it out, finding a very nice event held at the Indiana State Library. I feared the book would be dry – as non-fiction sometimes can be – but it was really quite good, and I learned a lot about Indiana that I hadn’t known before, even though I’ve spent virtually my whole life here. Note: this book is not about basketball. 🙂

2 Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

The fourth (yea, Me!) non-fiction book on this list. I heard about this one via NPR, which was launching a kind of online book club with this work as the selection. It’s the story about the 33 trapped Chilean miners that was all over the news a few years ago. I actually DID blog about this one too. See here for details.

1 Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglass

Part of my “program” to read local, I learned from Dan Wakefield’s introduction to the Indy Writes Books anthology that this book was written by an Indiana author, so it went on my list. I also knew it was made into a very popular Rock Hudson film back in the day, but I still haven’t watched it. The book can be a little cheesy or naively sweet and optimistic at times, but I liked it anyway and make no apologies. 🙂 See my post about it here for details.

Well, those are my favorites (so far) for 2015. What are yours? Did YOU do a list for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday?


  1. Mary Jane said,

    June 30, 2015 at 9:32 am

    The only book I know from the book list you presented was Made You Up. But I love the uniqueness of your choice. And that’s true, it’s hard to rank the book (which was probably why I didn’t tried to do it)

    a href=””>My TTT

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      June 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Mary Jane.

      If you’ve heard of Made You Up, but not read it yet, I hope you do and enjoy it. 🙂


  2. June 30, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Made You Up sounds promising. Always glad to see Frankenstein get some love!

    Check out my TTT.


    • Jay said,

      July 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      I love Frankenstein and continue to be in awe that Shelley was so young when she wrote it. Our book club discussion of it was a lot of fun, and Dr. Frankenstein really got raked over the coals by us for ‘not taking responsibility’ for his creation.

      Made You Up was good. I hope you read it at some point. It’s gotten a lot of buzz in the early going, and I’m excited for a local author to get attention. 🙂


  3. June 30, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Great list! I really want to check out Made You Up because it sounds so amazing.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian


    • Jay said,

      July 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks for visiting Krystianna! I hope you give it a try. I was pretty impressed with it even if it’s not my normal genre to read. 🙂


  4. JaneGS said,

    July 1, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    I really applaud your effort to read local–I’m doing the same, trying to increase my reading of Colorado authors. I liked your comment that Hoosiers is not about basketball because my mind immediately went to the movie (which I love, btw) as soon as I read the title.

    Prisoner of Trebekistan sounds marvelous–I really enjoy books like this and still fantasize about appearing on Jeopardy myself. V cool that you got an audition!

    Interesting that you are a repeat reader of Frankenstein. I read it and enjoyed it a year or so ago, but I’m not sure I would put it on the reread list. That said, it was a groundbreaking novel and a milestone in the history of literature.


    • Jay said,

      July 1, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks, Jane. Since the book was titled “Hoosiers” (I love the movie also, btw) I thought I’d better make that clarification. 🙂

      Prisoner of Trebekistan was a pretty quick read too. Once I started reading, I did remember more about seeing the author on the show back in the day. I’m in the show’s contestant pool now until September 2016. I suspect they have up to ten times as many people in the pool than they need, though. I’d love to get a chance to play that game ‘for money’ 🙂

      Part of the reason I’m “reading local” is that 2016 is Indiana’s Bicentennial, and I’ve kind of gotten caught up in all that excitement. Earlier this year I even finally read Ben-Hur (by Indiana author Lew Wallace) for the first time. Indiana has a richer literary heritage than I would have guessed. Good luck with your Colorado reading!


  5. rudejasper said,

    July 1, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Way to go actually ranking them – very brave! I heard the story about Deep Down Dark on NPR as well and it sounded fascinating. Glad to see it lived up to its NPR cred and will definitely pick it up at some point. I hadn’t heard about but am intrigued by the North Korean non-fiction as well. In fact most of the non-fiction on here sounds pretty great.


    • Jay said,

      July 2, 2015 at 7:33 am

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, rj. I always feel like I don’t read enough non-fiction and maybe this year I’m doing well enough on that front to not feel that way for once, I liked Deep Down Dark because, even though I knew the story and what the outcome for the trapped miners was, the author still somehow kept me in suspense. 🙂


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