Buddhist Literary Critic: My Favorite Books of 2015

5 Best Books of 2015, Buddhist Critic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, The Road Home, Ethan Nichtern, Miranda July, Nellie Hermann, Mark Epstein, Ruth Ozeki, Patti SmithWhat an amazing year it has been, for myself as both a writer and reader. I never expected that The Road Home would make best-of-the-year book lists, but it made two of them. Crazy.

I wanted to return the favor and share five of my favorite books of the year, including an honorable mention to a  few books I read this year that were actually published in 2014 or 2013 (because I’m slow, sometimes).

 Favorite Books of 2015:

1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – even if this book were not about an incredibly crucial subject in the era of the #BlackLivesMatters movement, the writing alone would be enough to propel it into a favorites list. Talk about craft and poetry. It is also the perfect length for a nonfiction book (short), and reads like one of the great essays of all time. It won the National Book Award, so please forgive my bandwagoning, but this is a bandwagon we all should be on.

2. M Train by Patti Smith – Patti Smith is an amazing writer, and this work of grief, loss and poetry was awesome to behold.

3. The Season of Migration by Nellie Hermann – (disclosure) Nellie is an old college friend and we share the same publisher, but that has little to do with my love for this historical novel about nine missing months in the life of Van Gogh, even if it has something to do with the reason I bought and read this book. I loved the attunement to the mind of an artist, as well as the backdrop of pursuing art and spirituality while witnessing the crushing weight of capitalistic greed, this time in a mining village in 19th-century europe, instead of 21st-century-everywhere, which is where capitalistic greed lives now.

4. The First Bad Man by Miranda July – I love Miranda July’s movie (You and Me and Everyone We Know), I love her Short Stories, and I love her novel that was released this year. She is weird and hilarious and super attentive to the curveballs of life. I need that sometimes. She might be an acquired taste, but then again, so is everything.

5. The Way of Tenderness by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel – with all of the work going on regarding anti-racism, I think Buddhism has much to offer to any conversation on prejudice, and I absolutely loved the structure and voice given to the conversation regarding embodiment, difference, and interdependence that Zenju Earthlyn Manuel offers in this short yet potent book.

Honorable Mention (Including books from before this year)

The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein – This is Buddhist psychotherapist Mark Epstein’s most accessible book. I love how he humanizes the trauma of Siddhartha Gautama’s early life as well as melds his own psychodynamic expertise with an understanding of contemporary dharma here.

A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – One of my five favorite novels of all time, a few years late to the party. Ruth is an awesome lady, also a Zen Priest, and I got to interview her for the IDP podcast early this year.

10% Happier by Dan Harris – Dan wrote the quintessential book for the meditation skeptic, released in 2014. He is the Gary Shteyngart of Buddhism, when he’s not the Dan Harris of ABC News. I also got to interview him for the IDP podcast this year.

Start Here Now by Susan Piver – (Disclosure) Susan is another friend, but a great dharma teacher, and she wrote a potent little meditation manual this year in this book. This is a quintessential book for someone actually interested in meditation




2 thoughts on “Buddhist Literary Critic: My Favorite Books of 2015

  1. Aww Nellie needs to get her book on Kindle.
    …also how good a read is “The Way of Tenderness by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel “? because it’s almost £30 on the Kindle, which is a little out of my book budget.

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