The New York Times

The Top Books of 2015

In his posthumous book of essays, “And Yet …,” published this year, Christopher Hitchens criticized “the rebarbative notion that people should be more likely to buy and enjoy books at Christmas.” Real readers, after all, consume them all year long. Mr. Hitchens has a valid point, yet the year’s end is a time for summing up, in books as in other things. Hence the lists that follow.

The New York Times has three daily book critics. Because they review different titles, there can be no getting them into a room to vote on a single, unanimous 2015 Top 10 list. But for each there were favorites, and books that stood out from the crowd. In the lists below, we are happy to share them.

Michiko Kakutani and Janet Maslin present their books roughly in order of preference. Dwight Garner’s list is in alphabetical order, by author.

Janet Maslin stepped down from full-time reviewing this year, but she remains a contributor of reviews to The Times. Look for selections from her recently hired replacement, Jennifer Senior, next year in this space.

Michiko Kakutani

“The Story of the Lost Child” By Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions). This concluding volume to the author’s dazzling Neapolitan quartet spans six decades in the lives of its two unforgettable heroines: Elena, the conscientious good girl, and her best friend, the tempestuous Lila. Their intertwining stories give an indelible portrait of Naples, and an intimate understanding of the women’s daily lives and their efforts to juggle the competing claims of men, children, housework and their own artistic aspirations. We see how time changes (and fails to change) old patterns of love and rivalry, and how their lives are imprinted by success and disappointment and almost unbearable loss. (Read the review.)