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The Staff’s Favorite Books of 2015

It’s hard to imagine a MacLaurinCSF staff member who didn’t read constantly and widely. And we’re always happy to recommend the best of what we’ve read! So here, as 2015 draws to a close, are our favorite books of the year.

Caveat lector: I happen to disagree with, for example, many of the ideas Marilynne Robinson argues for in her book of essays, but I nevertheless recommend that book below. I’m sure each of the staff members would say the same thing about one or more of their recommendations. Which is to say that, although these are our favorite books from the year, these books aren’t in any sense recommended or endorsed by MacLaurinCSF as an organization, or even by any other members of the staff. They’re simply each staff member’s favorite books from the year.

What were your favorite books of the year? We’d love to know what we missed—leave a comment below.







  • Joshua Cohen, The Book of Numbers—This novel, about an obscure writer named Joshua Cohen who meets a bizarre tech tycoon (also named Joshua Cohen) and winds up ghostwriting his autobiography, is a brilliant exploration of both the ethos of Silicon Valley and our obsession with “entrepreneurship.”
  • Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver—Historical fiction about the dawn of the Enlightenment, the birth of calculus and democracy, and much more. The first volume in a mind-bending trilogy by Stephenson.
  • John Lanchester, How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say—And What It Really Means—A brilliant journalist and novelist examines the ways in which language and the economy interact with each other. Lanchester makes a strong case for communication as the fundamental tool of our understanding, and shows how debasing and devaluing our language can have profound, global economic consequences.
  • Scott Cairns, Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems—Beautiful poems by one of our great contemporary poets. Cairns’s poems are simultaneously richly theological and wholly embodied, both fleshy and philosophical.
  • Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows—I had never read this until my daughter received an abridged version. I’ve delighted in it nearly as much as she has, and Toad, Ratty, Mole, and Badger now make frequent appearances in our daily conversations.
  • Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings—Another historical novel, this one about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley and the complex and brutal historical circumstances that lead to the attempt on “the Singer’s” life. James teaches at Macalester and won this year’s Man Booker Prize
  • Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things—The coach of the great soccer player Pelé once said “If you ask me who the best fullback in Brazil is, I’d say Pelé. If you ask me who the best half-back or winger is, I would say Pelé. He is probably even our best goalkeeper.” (Pelé never played goalie.) Similarly, Marilynne Robinson is our best novelist; she’s our best essayist, as these essays underscore; she’s probably even our best poet (even though she has never published any poetry).

What were your favorite books of the year? We’d love to know what we missed—leave a comment below.

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