The New Yorker

The Books We Loved in 2015


This was a year of voyages—and the tempestuous one of reading Elena Ferrante. I bought “My Brilliant Friend” in a New Delhi bookshop and finished it on a barge in Kerala. I read “The Story of a New Name”in a haveli overlooking the Ganges in Varanasi. In Havana, I stayed on the top floor of a spartan convent. I felt I should have been reading “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay” under the covers, but it was too hot. It was even hotter in July, in Naples. I bought her first novel, “Troubling Love,” in Italian (“L’Amore Molesto”), in a bookshop on the Via Port’Alba. The protagonist’s mother lived on the corner. “The Days of Abandonment” is a slim volume, so I packed it for a week of sailing on a friend’s boat. It is a novel that you survive, rather than finish. One of my fellow passengers then lent me “The Lost Daughter.” When I came home, I found a copy of “The Story of The Lost Child” in the mountain of mail. Now I am off again, this time to Asia, but, alas, without a Ferrante. I wish I could take “Fragments,” a collection of essays and correspondence, with me, but it hasn’t been published yet. I plan to reread her next year. 

—Judith Thurman