It’s the end of 2010. And you know what’s new and different this year? Besides the fact that The Griffin Mage trilogy is on bookstore shelves everywhere, which is very nice, of course?
This is the first year I have ever kept track of the books I’ve read.
Here’s some interesting trivia to start with: On March 1st, when I finished Book 3 of the trilogy and sent it off to Devi Pillai at Orbit (exactly on the deadline), I had 76 books on my “To Be Read” pile.
And now, having read 87 books this year (not counting anything I re-read) . . . NOW I have . . . sigh . . . 89 books on my “To Be Read” pile.
This is what is sometimes known as “backwards progress”, I guess.
Here’s what I read in 2010:
6 Nonfiction [I’m pretty sure I’m not remembering everything]
Europe’s Steppe Frontier (William McNeal)
Sea of Faith (Stephen O’Shea)
The Ottoman Centuries (Lord Kinross)
[You can probably guess I’ve been doing research on the Ottoman Empire]
Reading Like a Writer (Francine Prose)
From Where You Dream (Robern Butler)
The Writing Life (Annie Dillard)
[I really recommend the one by Prose, btw)
Born in Fire (Nora Roberts)
Born in Ice
Born in Shame
Dance Upon the Air
Heaven and Earth
Face the Fire
[They were okay, but honestly, does every leading man HAVE to be a brilliant, handsome multimillionaire?]
North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell)
[Never read such a badly copy-edited book in my life]
The Marquise of O- (Heinrich von Kleist)
The Cater Street Hangman (Anne Perry)
Ninth Daughter (Barbara “Hamilton”, aka Barbara Hambly)
Still Life (Louise Penny)
The Pericles Commission (Gary Corby)
My Name is Red (Orhan Pamuk)
The Janissary Tree (Jason Goodwin)
1 Mainstream Literary novel
The Lacuna (Barbara Kingsolver)
1 Difficult to Classify
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Annie Dillard)
9 Science Fiction
Ender in Exile (Orson Scott Card)
A War of Gifts
Fledgling (Sharon Lee and Steve Miller)
The Breach (Patrick Lee)
Touched By An Alien (Gini Koch)
Cryoburn (Lois McMaster Bujold)
The Unit (Terry Dehart)
5 YA Science Fiction
Life As We Knew It (Susan Pfeffer)
Dead and Gone
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
Black Jewels trilogy (Anne Bishop)
Dreams Made Flesh
Tongues of Serpents (Naomi Novik)
Masque (Patricia Briggs)
In Great Waters (Kit Whitfield)
Oath of Fealty (Elizabeth Moon)
Blood of Ambrose (James Enge)
Magic Street (Orson Scott Card)
Mystic and Rider (Sharon Shinn)
The Thirteenth House
Dark Moon Defender
Reader and Raelyx
Fortune and Fate
The City and The City (China Mieville)
Under Heaven (Guy Gavriel Kay)
Celestial Matters (Richard Garfinkle)
Betsy the Vampire Queen (MaryJanice Davidson)
Silver Borne (Patricia Briggs)
Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Jennifer Rardin)
Tempest Rising (Nichole Peeler)
Devlin’s Luck (Patricia Bray)
Melusine (Sarah Monette)
23 YA Fantasy
The Thief (Megan Whalen Turner)
The Queen of Attolia
The King of Attolia
A Conspiracy of Kings
Plain Kate (Erin Bow)
Beka Cooper: Terrier (Tamora Pierce)
Beka Cooper: Bloodhound
A Certain Slant of Light (Laura Whitcomb)
Alchemy (Margaret Mahy)
The Winter Prince (Elizabeth Wein)
A Coalition of Lions
The Lion Hunter
The Empty Kingdom
Pegasus (Robin McKinley)
Blood and Chocolate (Annette Curtis Klause)
A Crack in the Line (Michael Lawrence)
The Sherwood Ring (Elizabeth Pope)
Midnight is a Place (Joan Aiken)
The Magic Thief (Sarah Prineas)
The Deathday Letter (Shaun Hutchinson)
I Am Not A Serial Killer (Dan Wells)
So I thought, given all those, it would be fun to pick a Top Five! What in this list is an Absolute MUST Read? Now, most of the time, I favor fantasy over SF and I prefer YA and Adult to Middle Grade, so those preferences color this list.
In no particular order:
A Certain Slant of Light (Whitcomb). This YA is beautifully written, with wonderful characterization, an unpredictable plot, a lovely ending . . . this book is practically perfect. I immediately ordered The Fetch, by the same author, and added it to my TBR shelves. It’ll be perfect to curl up with one day. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the anticipation.
The Queen’s Thief (Attolia) series (Turner). The Series That Has It All. If it’s not flawless, it comes close. You’ll want to read the series in order, though, or else you’ll encounter serious spoiliers.
The Sunbird series (Wein). WONDERFUL stories, if you can handle some fairly brutal plot twists.
The Hunger Games trilogy (Collins). Amazing dystopian trilogy that isn’t a total downer but certainly isn’t a perky, lighthearted romp either.
Under Heaven (Kay). Amazing worldbuilding, lovely writing. Truncated ending, really needed to be a duology, but don’t let that stop you.
It also occurs to me that a lot of these books would also serve as a writing course for aspiring writers, so if you’re interested, here’s what they offer:
For studying points-of-view and 1st vs 3rd person, Turner’s Attolia series and Kay’s Under Heaven.
For amazing work with “voice” and a truly extraordinary protagonist, Wells’ I Am Not A serial Killer. Compare to Tal Diamond in City of Diamond (Jane Emerson).
For YA for boys (people are always complaining that YA is almost always meant for girls, and they’re right) — I Am Not A Serial Killer, Hutchinson’s The Deathday Letter, Alchemy by Mahy, the Sunbird series by Wein (start with The Sunbird). And, actually, maybe Magic Street by Card, though I wouldn’t actually say that’s YA.
For amazing worldbuilding, The Sunbird series and Pegasus by McKinley and Under Heaven by Kay and the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce.
For historical fantasy, Under Heaven by Kay and In Deep Waters by Whitfield and The Sunbird series by Wein. And, actually, Midnight Is A Place by Aiken, but that’s for younger readers.
For really remarkable settings, The City and The City by Mieville and Celestial Matters by Garfinkle.
For pushing the envelope in YA, The Hunger Games trilogy by Collins and The Sunbird series by Wein.
Now, the next project is to fit all those books I’ve been reading onto the already-full shelves in my library. Sorting out what to keep, what to discard, and what to store out of sight may take about as long as reading them in the first place . . .