John Wiswell, one of my VP classmates, has brought my attention to a “Best Reads of the Year” blog hop, and I thought it might be fun to take part. So without further ado, here, in no particular order, are the books that I read (not that were necessarily published) and loved in 2013:
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
This book surprised me. Really, it did. I expected to like it, maybe even to love it. But to like it better than the first book? Never! But so it is. This book made the first, to me, seem only so-so, by virtue of its being so exceptional.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Again, I was surprised. I knew everyone was talking about this book, but really, the idea of it just didn’t appeal to me. However, after a somewhat shaky start (I was still expecting it to be something else), this book was just the thing I needed to read, and at just the right time. Wonderful, different, surprising and just plain good reading.
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
I love language, and how it influences culture (and vice versa). I adore magic (duh!) and how it could exist in our world, just unseen to most. I also love technology and the convenience it makes in our daily lives. Throw all these into one book, along with a cast of characters you can’t help but identify with, and a magic, mysterious tome that everyone wants, and a hard-eyed yet sympathetic look at a culture other than Western–and wow. From my Goodreads rating: My mind was completely blown two times in separate areas of this book. Realize that I generally don’t give five stars. Just read it, okay?
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
I don’t think I’ll be giving much away if I say the main character in this book is not your average “likable guy.” In fact, the book comes down to the fact that he’s unlikeable, and he knows it, making him the perfect hero for the story. I listened to this as an audio book, and Wil Wheaton’s narration was added gilding on an already splendid lily.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin
NK Jemisin did something here that I’ve often intuitively felt, but that I had been so often been bashed and battered by others in writing groups for: she made magic magical. And she did it without resorting to silliness, making it unrealistic, or skewing the story into Mary Sue or Marty Stu-ism. Her world building was stunning, her characters so realistic I thought I might run into them, and her storytelling so lyrical I was thoroughly absorbed and entranced enough to read this book nearly straight through!