Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten “Indiana Books” Read in 2015



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Last week marked the 199th birthday of my home state, Indiana. With 2016 being the year of our bicentennial, I have been reading more and more Indiana-related material. Either books about Indiana or by Indiana authors or often both, so my twist on this week’s Top Ten Best _____ Books I Read in 2015 is to list my favorite reads of the year of that nature.  (I think I read a total of 14 books that would qualify and, since I liked all of the ten that made my list, I’m listing them in the order that I read them rather than “counting them down” to my favorite as I usually do.)

So here goes nothing…

1.Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas (read in February) I learned of – or at least was reminded of – this wildly popular novel from the early 20th century when reading Indiana author Dan Wakefield’s introduction to the “Indy Writes Books” anthology. (A volume that would certainly qualify for this list if I’d waited a few months to read it) I blogged in more depth about Magnificent Obsession earlier in the year.

2. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (February) Though not born in Indiana, Gay is now a professor at Purdue University in Lafayette. I read this one because a reading friend from one of my book clubs – who also works at a library – was starting a reading group at that library. I didn’t end up ’crashing’ that book club meeting after all, but I did read & like the book, which wasn’t the first thing I’ve read by the author. I never blogged about this one, but I’ve posted about a couple of her other stories here and here.

untamed state

3. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace (March) A HUGE best seller from the 19th century (it outsold pretty much everything all the way up until the time Gone With the Wind came along), this was a book I’d always wanted to read having – of course! – seen the movie many times. I recommended it for one of my book clubs and was rewarded with the lowest attendance of the year, with only three people showing, one of whom hadn’t finished. Though it was sometimes a tough slog, I did enjoy it and am glad I’ve added it to my list since Lew Wallace and I have a “connection“.

4.Long Knife by James Alexander Thom (April) I suggested this to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s book club, which is trying to branch out and read more “non-Vonnegut” books, yet ones that still have a connection to that author. Thom was a friend of Vonnegut’s and a supporter of the library. He even came to our meeting about this book, which I led (talk about intimidating!). The book is the story of George Rogers Clark, an early American frontier hero. One member of this book club still thanks me profusely (for recommending the book) every time I see him. He liked it so much, he’s pretty much bought up and read all the other works by this author. Yes, that makes me happy.  🙂

5. Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb by Ian Woollen (April) I met this author when he came to the aforementioned book club. He is a friend of Mr. Thom and an accomplished author in his own right, which I found out when I read this sprawling family epic centered around the Cold War and its intrigue. I always meant to write a blog post about it but sadly haven’t followed through yet. Mr. Woollen visited the book club at Bookmama’s bookstore in my old Indianapolis neighborhood when they read this book in April. I was there too and quite a pleasant time was had by all.

uncle anton

6. Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana by James H. Madison (May) I heard about and attended a “book launch event” for this and another book at The Indiana Historical Bureau located in downtown Indianapolis at the Indiana State Library. I feared that it might be a little dry like some non-fiction but what I found was a very readable and enjoyable book. I learned a lot too.

7. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (May)   The well-received debut novel of a young local writer. Zappia went to high school with my nephew (though he didn’t really know her), and it was through him that I first heard about this book. Kind of a “YA meets A Beautiful Mind” feel made this a refreshingly different read. And the author really “got me” with one of those plot twists at one point too, reminiscent of the horror movie where you think it’s over but… no, it’s not over.

made you up

8. Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut (June)This was a re-read for the June meeting of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s June meeting. As with many re-readings, I got so much more out of it the second time around. Though this book has one of Vonnegut’s more convoluted plots (and that’s really saying something considering his other books), my pleasure in reading it was not diminished.

9. The Mirrors by Nicole Cushing (November) What a pleasant surprise this book was! I picked it up at the author’s appearance at Indy Reads Books bookstore downtown last month. I still intend to post about it in detail at some point, but for now I’ll just say it was a powerful collection of dark short stories.


10. Winesburg, Indiana by Michael Martone and others (November) I can’t remember where I first heard about this wonderful collection of vignettes set in the fictional Indiana town of Winesburg (a nod to Sherwood Anderson’ famous Ohio town of the same name). Almost all the stories are told in the first person by the many and varied residents of the town. Reading this has made me seek out other works that Martone has had a hand in, one of which I’ll be using for next year’s edition of the Deal Me IN challenge.


That’s my list. Seems like I read a lot of “Indiana Books” in 2015, but that was “on purpose.”  Do you try to “read local” when you select what to read next? What were your criteria for today’s top ten list?