Category Archives: Books

Top 16 Books of 2016

Man, this was a sucky year. One saving grace is that there were still books in it. Oh, looks like Goodreads has already done the work for me. If you don’t have access to the link, here’s a shorter, simpler annual best-of list. Note: these are not necessarily in order and not necessarily published this year, just read this year. By me. And possibly you. This is always a difficult task but my usual means of deciding which ones make the cut is asking myself “would I actually purchase a second copy and/or re-read this book and/or foist this book on others?” The winners are:

  1. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda (bonus for the accompanying earworm, mindworm, soulworm)
  2. The Devil You Know (Felix Castor, #1) by Mike Carey (first in an enjoyable series) but also Fellside by the same author
  3. Wake of Vultures (The Shadow, #1) by Lila Bowen (first in an enjoyable series)
  4. Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg (side-splittingly funny)
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  6. Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
  7. Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold
  8. The Bolds by Julian Clary (kids book but delightful for adults too)
  9. The City of Mirrors (The Passage, #3) by Justin Cronin (satisfying conclusion)
  10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (despite the fear and trembling I experienced whilst reading this potentially prescient tale)
  11. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
  12. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (xkcd)
  13. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  14. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
  15. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  16. You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day

Top 15 Books 2015

Until I have the time and energy to devote to reshaping my Top 100 list, I’ll take baby steps with the books I’ve read this year. Note: these are not necessarily in order and not necessarily published this year, just read this year. By me. And possibly you. This is always a difficult task but my usual means of deciding which ones make the cut is asking myself “would I actually purchase a second copy and/or re-read this book and/or foist this book on others?” The winners are:

  1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir
  3. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  4. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  6. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, #1) by Ryan North
  7. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
  8. Fool’s Quest (The Fitz and The Fool, #2) by Robin Hobb
  9. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  10. The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam by G. Willow Wilson
  11. Changes (The Dresden Files, #12) by Jim Butcher
  12. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  13. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  14. Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming
  15. Back Story (Paperback) by David Mitchell

Top Ten Books 2014

Until I have the time and energy to devote to reshaping my Top 100 list, I’ll take baby steps with the books I’ve read this year. Note: these are not necessarily in order and not necessarily published this year, just read this year. By me. And possibly you. This is always a difficult task but my usual means of deciding which ones make the cut is asking myself “would I actually purchase a second copy and/or re-read this book and/or foist this book on others?” The winners are:

Be advised: the only reason David Mitchell’s Back Story didn’t make it on this year’s list is because I haven’t finished it yet. I’m savoring it. I love it. Note to self: make this #1 on next year’s list.

Superb Blurb: Death Masks (The Dresden Files #5)

Death Masks (The Dresden Files #5) by Jim Butcher

Noir meets slapstick meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Still enjoying Harry’s deadpan humor, charming self-deprecation, and non-stop adventures, but most of all I love how he actually or nearly throws up in every book. I also enjoy reading his recipes for his potions: straight outta America’s Test Kitchen complete with a “we wanted to” style intro:

In this case, I wanted something that would offset the venomous saliva of the Red Court vampires, a narcotic that rendered those exposed to it passively euphoric. I needed a potion that would ruin the pleasurable sensations of the poison. I used stale coffee as my base ingredient. To that I added hairs from a skunk, for scent. A small square of sandpaper for touch. I tossed in a small photo of Meat Loaf, cut from a magazine, for sight. A rooster’s crow I’d stored in a small quartz crystal went in for hearing, and a powdered aspirin for taste. I cut the surgeon general’s warning label from a pack of cigarettes and chopped it fine to add in for the mind, and then lit a stick of the incense I sometimes used while meditating and wafted some of the smoke into the two bottles for the spirit. Once the potions were bubbling over a burner, I drew in my wearied will and released power into the mixes, suffusing them with energy. They fizzed and frothed with gratifying enthusiasm. I let them simmer for a while, then took them from the fire and emptied them into a pair of small sports- drink bottles. After that, I slumped on a stool and waited for Bob to come home.

Superb Blurb: Longbourn

The “Downstairs” side of “Pride and Prejudice”. Beneath the lye, chilblains, and hogshit (and other kinds), lies a sweet and genteel little story. In addition to the delightful blurb “it was unnatural, the way he went at his work; this was not the begrudging half-arsery they were used to from the local labourers,” I liked this:

When she was a girl, and still growing, ravenous, whenever there had been a cake – a spongy cake, dusted with sugar, which Mrs. Hall had conjured up out of eggs and flour and creamy butter – Sarah would never even let herself look at it, because she knew that it was not for her. Instead, she would carry it upstairs to be rendered into crumbs, and the crumbs lifted from the plate by a moistened Bennet finger, and the empty smeared plate carried back again. So Sarah would stare instead at the carpet underneath her feet, or at the painting of a horse with a strangely small head that hung at the end of the hall, or the rippled yellow  curtains in the parlour, and would do her best not to breath, not to inhale the scent of vanilla or lemon or almonds; even to glance at the cake was an impossible agony. And for months, she realized, James had hardly looked at her at all.

Top Ten Books That Make Me Hungry

  1. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  3. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
  4. Relish by Lucy Knisley
  5. 97 Orchard : An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman
  6. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  7. Bake Sale by Sara Varon
  8. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin crazy, right? but the man does know how to describe food.
  9. Mr. Greedy by Roger Hargreaves
  10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Top Ten Books I Can Read More Than Once … And Have

Good go-to books to travel with:

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  3. The Stand by Stephen King
  4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  5. The Princess Bride by William Goldman [also Marathon Man but if I had to pick one per author, this is it]
  6. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  7. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  8. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
  9. Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas
  10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen