It’s getting on to the end of that time of year when people make lists of top ten books for the year. Last year I posted one, but because I’d only read ten books that year those ten were what it contained. I read a lot more books in 2011: twenty-eight plus six of my own books in the Great Reread of 2011, so I am spoilt for choice. It was hard to whittle the list down to just ten books. Here they are, not in any particular order:
Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott
A creepy horror novel of love, betrayal and possession. I know Kirstyn and enjoy her short fiction, and it was… well, it seems weird to say I found her nasty little tale a delight to read, but it was.
Souless by Gail Carriger
And Changeless, Blameless, Heartless. Funny, action-packed, sometimes raunchy, unashamedly fashion-conscious steampunk adventures. Gail effortlessly writes in the style and language of the era without slowing the pace. There are werewolves, vampires and other supernatural manifestations along with the mechanical marvels, but it’s a fresh take and nobody sparkles.
Eona by Alison Goodman (Also known as Necklace of the Gods.)
Following Eon (also known as The Two Pearls of Wisdom), Eona is a satisfying conclusion to this wonderful story set in a world based on Chinese mythology, with an ending I didn’t see coming.
Debris by Jo Anderton
An amazing debut novel. The exact genre it fits into is hard to define. I’d have called it fantasy, but I’ve seen it referred to as science fiction. It would appeal to readers of both. It’s like a cross between Bladerunner and Dark City. The idea behind the technology/magic is unique and brilliantly thought out, the characters are complex, and the plot is full of mystery and tension. My prediction for Best Fantasy Novel in this year’s Aurealis Awards.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
I decided to investigate steampunk this year and picked up this book because of good recommendations and, well, I’m a sucker for a book with fabulous illustrations. A romping tale follows, set in a complex and strange alternate earth where technology is biologically based in one land and in another it’s all about enormous, steam-powered machines. Great fun and I’m looking forward to the next books. I’m seriously considering buying this again in hardcover because the illustrations are wonderful, but don’t look so great on cheap paperback paper.
The Kingdom of Gods and The Killing Moon by N K Jemesin
The Inheritance Trilogy has all the elements I love in fantasy: worlds that are fresh and not overly derivative of fantasy that’s gone before, complex characters with both strengths and flaws, powerful magic that isn’t just a substitute for technology but affects everything from the obvious like power structures to the subtle, like everyday attitudes and habits. Oh, and a compelling, gripping plot. And I cheated and slipped The Killing Moon in here, the first of a new series set in an entirely different world, but written as beautifully.
Power Unbound by Nicole Murphy
The second book in the The Dream of Asarlai series. If you like spicy paranormal romance, but are a bit sick of vampires and werewolves (or even if you’re not but want a pacy fantasy romance) give this series a try.
You Suck by Christopher Moore
The sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends, which I remember calling ‘What Vampire novels would be if 14 year old boys wrote them – but in a good way”. Hilarious. I have Bite Me, the next one, near the top of my To Read pile.
Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction
A very small book that summed up the subject beautifully. Since reading it I’ve been heard to say, “Context! It’s all about context!” more than a few times when the question “Is it art?” came up.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
After having enjoyed Outliers and Blink, I set out to read Malcolm Gladwell’s earlier books. Though his ideas weren’t quite as developed (obviously) the book was just as fascinating, and it was interesting to see he tackled a phenomenon also discussed in Freakonomics, another book I read last year, and came up with a very different answer.