Friend and fellow VP-17er John Wiswell invites folks to post their own versions of his BestReads2015, so here is my version of his posting.
Let me start by admitting that I didn’t read as much this year as I’d intended–far too many “life problems,” stresses, and such interfered with my best-laid plans (as they usually do). And yet, I had no end of good things to read. I managed to finish the 40 books I’d challenged myself to on Goodreads, but only by the skin of my teeth! (In previous years, a mere 40 books would’ve been simple.) I’ve purposefully winnowed my list down to my personal top five picks, but there is no way that I could put them in any sort of order.
So, here they are:
To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis
I found this book an utter delight! I’d listened to Willis’s The Doomsday Book, so I was familiar with her time-traveling scholars universe, but this book–well. It just wrapped me up in events mid-step and got both sillier and more endearing with each and every page. Her characters are so well-drawn and halfway through I felt that I’d known them all for ages, and could easily tell who was speaking without dialog tags. If you’re looking for a combination “light read” and “mental bop on the noggin,” then this is your book!
The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker
A lovely story with wonderful period details of late 1800’s New York City, this book was both heart-rending and uplifting. Each and every character had a moral dilemma, and never have I so longed for a happy ending for the title characters as I did for these two poor souls–although their lack of mortal souls was half the point of the story. Bittersweet and immersive, I found it hard to put this one down.
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
The third book in this series was the best yet! And that’s no mean feat, as I loved both Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. It was utterly impossible not to love the Presger Interpreter, by whatever name it chose to go by. The climax was a razor’s edge dance between the absurd and the utterly inevitable, and keep me laughing out loud–when I finished that chapter, I had to go read it aloud to my (poor, long-suffering) spouse simply because I loved it so much I just had to share that joy.
Cyberabad Days, by Ian McDonald
This is a compilation of short stories set in a future India. Each story thrust the reader headlong into the future culture, combining elements of the ancient past, the present-day, and extrapolations into the future without tagging them or weighing the narrative down. It was a glorious ride, and each tale was a small gem. But instead of gobbling this book down as I so easily could have, I read each story on its own and treasured it for a bit before I went back and opened the book for the next. Yes, it was just that good.
Slow River, by Nicola Griffith
A mystery, a romance, a tech-heavy near-future thriller, a slow portrayal of someone running from her past coming to terms with her present–and her future. All this and more was wrapped up in this slim volume. In one sentence, the utter beauty of language and place held sway. In the next, the total barbarity of the humans involved in the novel came through with shocking clarity. It was a gripping read that, for me, was over all too soon. And yet, it ended exactly where it needed to.
4 thoughts on “Best Reads of 2015”
Ancillary Mercy is on my TBR list. The Golem and the Jinni was pretty good. Cyberabad Days, by Ian McDonald sounds pretty good.
Huh, I thought I’d posted a comment here! Like you, I loved The Golem and the Jinni, and hotly anticipate Wecker’s next novel. Cyberabad Days sounds very appealing. I’m looking up a sample now.
I have that edition of To Say Nothing of the Dog on my TR Pile! I also just loved so much about Ancillary Justice that I don’t know why I didn’t keep up with the series (the ending did feel a bit off for me, so maybe that’s part of it?). Must get cracking and read more this year (my 2015 was a lean reading year to for Reasons). If Nora Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is on your radar, OMG, read it! (I had to skip past the opening section to actually get into the book, ymmv of course!)
Yes, the opening of The Fifth Season was very tough going. If it wasn’t for the “Jemisin” name on the title, I’d have chucked it aside. But I’m so very glad I kept on going! It was amazing. It didn’t make my “best read” list because of that opening, though.
Good luck on making 2016 a “fat” year of reading accomplishment!
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