In a break from my regularly scheduled programming of short stories and poems of my own concoction, I wanted to do something a little different today. It should come as no surprise to those of you who read this blog (all five of you) that in addition to writing I also love to read. A lot. So much, in fact, that last year I decided to keep a list of every book I read to keep them all straight in my brain.
I read 31 books in 2016. That’s a lot of books to keep track of.
And here they are, in the order I read them!
- Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
- Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Fool by Christopher Moore
- The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
- Clariel by Garth Nix
- To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix
- The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
- The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling
- The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
- Saga: Volume Six by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan
- The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane
- Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
- My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
- The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (yes, I read the British edition)
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
- Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
- The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs
Like I said, that’s a lot of books, and the bolded titles are some of my favorites. While I’m happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed just about every book on this list, the bolded names are ones that stuck with me long after I finished them. Some honorable mentions go to the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas for being exciting, fast-paced reads (I did read the first five books over the span of about three months, after all) and Ready Player One, for all the geeky fandom references.
In my favorites list there’s a bit of theme of post-apocalyptic/near-apocalyptic scenarios with the inclusion of Station Eleven, The Girl With All The Gifts, and The City of Mirrors. All are excellent reads, if more than a little bleak at times (The City of Mirrors had me weeping as I read it on the bus one day). But they all have an undercurrent of hope against impossible odds, and I think that is more important than ever, given current socio-political circumstances around the world. I would highly recommend all of these (though if interested in The City of Mirrors, just know it’s the final book in a trilogy so, you know, don’t start with that one.)
The Martian is on my favorites list because, apart from being a thrilling, well-written story, it also gets the distinction of being the funniest book I’ve read in a very long time. Possibly the funniest book I have ever read. If you aren’t sure what you want to read next, pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed.
Bitterblue is one of those novels that snuck up on me. I decided to read it largely because I liked the first two books in the series when I read them years ago and wanted to finish up the trilogy. I was not expecting how dark the subject matter was going to be, nor the maturity with which it tackles a community (a kingdom, actually) struggling to rebuild in the wake of immense trauma and abuse. Probably because the cover* looks like this:
(In all honesty, my only critique of Bitterblue is its cover. It is far too pretty for all the fucked up shit that happens and is referenced in the book.)
The inclusion of Mistborn on my list of favorites is to include the whole trilogy, rounding out with The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages. (Yes, I snuck in a few more favorites onto the list.) Hot damn, does Brandon Sanderson know how to plot a series. And world-build. And just generally write an exciting, unique high-fantasy series. I can’t wait to dive into more of his novels. And there are plenty of them. The man is kind of prolific in how quickly he churns out new work.
Lastly is Between the World and Me. I actually listened to this as an audiobook and I’m so glad I did, since it is part memoir, part letter to the author’s son, and the author, Ta-Nehisi Coates, narrates the entire thing himself. It is a deeply personal, unflinching examination of his experience as a black man in America, and it is most definitely worth your while.
*Jacket art for Bitterblue by Natalie C. Sousa; jacket design by Kelly Eismann