By request, something other than video games. (Reprinted from Facebook, where this is a yearly tradition.)
Books Read This Year (In No Particular Order)
1. Early P. G. Wodehouse. One of my goals this year was to read all of the free P. G.
Wodehouse books available. I had previously read all of the Jeeves
books and loved them. It turns out that early in his career (before the
Public Domain cutoff) that Wodehouse was a struggling writer who got by
publishing serials in boys' magazine, so all of his early novels are
set in British boarding schools around the turn of the century (the kind
of thing that Harry Potter is an homage to). All of the books revolve
around a collection of young gentlemen who play a sport--a different one
in each book, cook sausages in their rooms, and brawl with the
townspeople. But mostly it's the sports. I learned far more than I
ever wanted to know of 1910 British sports slang and the scoring for
wrestling, long distance running (called "sports"), football (which
seems to be rugby), soccer, and cricket. (Please bring your questions
on cricket to me. I can, begolly, answer them.) I don't recommend
anyone actually subject themselves to this reading regimen, but there
are a few stand-out titles. One is Love Among The Chickens, which stars
actual adults. This one is probably only good because it was rewritten
much later. In this book, a hapless upperclassman (these are common in
Wodehouse) somehow gets involved with an amoral school friend who wants
to start a chicken farm despite, of course, not knowing the first thing
about it. I can also recommend Mike which starts as the standard
Cricket tale but changes course mid-book and introduces Psmith, the
fast-talking Communist lad who always has a plan who went on to star in a
whole series of enjoyable books thereafter.
2. Reformed Vampires Support Group by Catherine Jinks. If you only read one
terrible YA vampire book this year, make it this one. The protagonist
was vamired as a teenager in the seventies and now lives with her aging
mom, working online and attending a support group to pass the time.
Life as a vampire is not great. They burn in sunlight, feel weak and
sick, and go on a crazed murdering spree if they smell blood, so they
have a lot to complain about at the support group. But the protagonist
wants more out of life than living indoors and grouching with the same
people weekly year after year. Will something exciting or at least
interesting ever happen?
3. We Could Be Villians by Missy Meyer.
I actually read chick lit this year! The protagonist is an artist
working in the software industry. She spends her time snarking about
the local superheros and casually flirting with the cute guy she met at a
firedrill. But...then the plot completely changes. I'll bet you can
guess how, but still it's a lot of fun to read.
4. Shiver by
Maggie Stiefvater. I put this here because it deserves to be more
widely-read, although it is not really my kind of book. The plot is
almost exactly Twilight, except the characters are interesting and
smart, and the entire book is really well-written. Plot: the
protagonist really loves her boyfriend. Unfortunately, he keeps turning
into a wolf...
5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I read
the above due to finding this book, which is amazing. It starts slowly,
but it ramps up and up. There are so many twists to the story and
extra dimensions to the characters to discover. The protagonist is a
small-town girl who is Not a psychic, odd in her family because all of
the assorted women who live in her house Are psychic and make their
living that way. She meets a group of boys from the wealthy-kids
boarding school who are on a quest to discover the burial site of an
ancient Welsh king. Read it. My favorite book of the year.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. This book seems to be a Western
about two brothers who are contract killers, but it also seems to be
some sort of psychological journey. I suspect it of committing
Symbolism, but don't hold that against it. (The author's previous novel
was a novel consisting of notes on possibly writing a novel...) The
brothers are unlucky guys with serious character flaws who bungle their
way across the old west discovering strange people...alchemists,
murderous children, violent whores, shamans, their mom...
Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. I love Bujold's science
fiction series, but I have been really reluctant to try her fantasy
after being burned by her romantic fantasy series (which is absolutely
terrible). I picked this one up for $1 in the Humble Bundle, though, so
I finally read it. It's great! This series is set in medieval fantasy
world, which has humans but no elves or whatnot, only the addition of
priestly magic. This is the start of a series of five books about five
loosely-related characters who become Saints, people through whom the
gods directly interact with the world. The religios devotion Feels very
realistic to me here, and the plots have their usual Bujold intracacy.
I recommend it.
8. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I
told you to read this last year. Why haven't you yet? I've already
read it twice now.
9. The Beetle by Richard Marsh. A
horribly-androgynous horror comes to London to Opress a group of
upper-class Victorians. We have a Lord with a Dread Secret, a Rational
Scientist who keeps getting put in the Friend Zone, a Modern Sensible
Lady, and a Reject From Charles Dickens, who all face the Horror that is
The Beetle. This book was written the same year as Dracula. It is
practically bursting with the tension between the Rational Victorian
Mind and the Victorian Fascination With the Gothic. Read this for
historical interest; don't expect to be scared.
10. The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel by L. Jagi Lamplighter. Lamplighter continues her
series set in a world in which someone has erased/is erasing the concept
of Monotheism from existance, although the plot has nothing to do with
that (presumably the plot of the books and the world plot will converge
in a latter book; currently, the protagonist and possibly the reader are
not meant to have noticed the changes). Regardless of whether the book
is any good or not, it has an amazing cover. I recommend you go look
at it, but read the first book in the series first. This one dives
right in to the epilogue of the last book and stays there without
developing a new plot for many pages.