What critics agree are the best books of 2015

A woman reads a book at her open air book store in Skopje April 24, 2014. Macedonians will cast their ballots on Sunday April 27 in the second round of the presidential vote, overshadowed by the general elections. Macedonian voters look likely to hand conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski a third term in a snap parliamentary election on Sunday, opting for relative economic stability and shrugging off opposition claims of creeping authoritarianism. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski


2015 has been an unusual—and exciting—year for books. We saw new works from literary legends, like Dr. Seuss and Harper Lee, books from rising contemporary figures such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, and tomes from established writers such as Salman Rushdie and Jonathan Franzen.

A large number of “Best Books of 2015” lists have now been published—with some comprehensive selections for works in the English language from the New York Times, the Guardian, the Seattle Times, the Boston Globe and more. Quartz sorted through them to find the most acclaimed of the best—the books that had appeared most frequently on critics’ lists.

Here’s how they ranked by the number of lists that they were included on:

Book Votes
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 5
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante 4
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald 4
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie 3
Purity by Jonathan Franzen 3
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg 3
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen 2
The Sellout by Paul Beatty 2
On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks 2
A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin 2

Overall, there wasn’t much overlap between most lists we analyzed. It wasn’t surprising to see Ta-Nehisi Coates’ second book at the top of this meta-review. Between the World and Me garnered widespread praise since it came out, and capped off 2015 with the National Book Award. Coates’ book was written as a letter to his son, and takes a look at the history of African-Americans in the United States. (Coates is a national correspondent at Quartz’s sister publication The Atlantic.)

Franzen’s new book, Purity, made the list as well. Overall, the book got mixed reviews, but critics were fans. Franzen’s fifth novel focuses on a college student who gets tangled up with a Julian Assange-esque character.

Another notable inclusion was The Story of the Lost Child, written by pseudonymous Elena Ferrante. It’s the final book of a series that started in 2011. The saga explores the lives of two intelligent girls, Elena and Raffaella, from childhood to adulthood as they deal with a violent family life. The novel has also been recognized for having one of the cheesiest book covers of 2015.