I can’t believe it: another year finished. And what a year it was! For me, it consisted of a lot of new places, a lot of exhaustion, and a surprising amount of great book discoveries. I read some real beauties this year.
Though it’s hard to do so, I’ve decided to narrow down my favorite books of the year to only five. That way they are the best of the best (with some honorable mentions, of course). If you want to see everything I read over the year, I have a Reading-in-2015 shelf on Goodreads you can check out the link (Reading-in-2015). I keep careful track of every book I finish on there. I don’t do In Progress reports because then it makes reading feel like a public chore instead of a private delight for me.
Without furhter ado, the books!
#5: Coraline by Neil Gaiman.
Coraline is the story of a little girl who, while exploring their house, finds a small door that leads to an alternate version of the world populated with people with button eyes.
It’s a short book, easily read in a day. We listened to this in audio-book format (read by Neil Gaiman, himself) on a road trip to keep us from falling asleep. Once we put it on, there was no danger of falling asleep. This story is cute and intensely creepy, told in a style so fun, quaint, and alluring that I found myself writing like him afterwards.
#4: Jhereg by Steven Brust
I’ve written about this book before, but it needed to be officially on the list. It’s a high fantasy story about the assassin, Vlad, who gets hired for a super sketchy mission that ends up being much bigger and more complicated than he ever expected.
There are so many twists in this story and all of them are well-placed. I enjoyed this book so much and I am glad that there are 14 more books. I’m not done with Vlad yet. I’ll never be done with Vlad.
#3: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is a graphic novel set in mideaval times about a mad scientist named Ballistar Blackheart and a shapeshifter named Nimona who team up to get revenge on the kingdom’s darling, Ambrosius Goldenloin. Yes. You read all of that correctly.
I had followed the Nimona webcomic online for a while but never ended up finish it. I had forgotten a lot of it so when I bought the hard copy at Barnes and Noble and started it anew, I was amazed. I remembered it had been good, but I had forgotten just how good. It’s dragons and science and moral ambiguity, all told in Noelle’s adorable and hilarious style.
#2: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Song of Achilles is a retelling of the Greek myth about Achilles and Patroclus, told through Patroclus’ perspective. I had never heard anything about Achilles except Achilles’ heel, so this was all new for me. I couldn’t exactly say, “Hey, spoilers!” I mean, come on, it’s an ancient story. But hey, I tried.
What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? This book stole my heart. Its slow, steady pace, the way the mythology is woven seamlessly into the world so well that you can imagine living there, yourself, how you grow as Patroclus grows, how you see Achilles and Patroclus change, the nostalgia you feel with them for their boyhood days. This is character-driven plot at its finest, with some fate and prophecies thrown in. (And it made me cry, okay? There I said it.)
Footsteps in the Dark by Georette Heyer
Quicksilver by R. J. Anderson
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly True Story of the First Computer) by Sydney Padua.
#1: The Screaming Staircase, Lockwood and Co. Book 1, by Jonathan Stroud.
Like Jhereg, I’ve already written about this book when I was about half-way through, but it was so good, it deserves another mention.
The Screaming Staircase is the first book of Jonathan Stroud’s new paranormal middle grade (I guess? Whatever Bartimaeus was.) series. Set in a ghost-riddled version of London where only kids can see ghosts but everyone can be killed by them, it is told through the perspective of paranormally sensitive Lucy, who finds a job working with Lockwood and Company, a ghost-hunting company with two kids as its only employees.
I love this book. I love this series. I love Jonathan Stroud. From beginning to end, this book is a roller coaster of memorable characters, tense situations, and hilarious wit, with the addition of more spooky stuff and a huge element of “what-the-heck-is-going-on?!” mystery. I was enthralled from page one and I stayed enthralled through page 384. This is a great, great read.
For 2016, my reading goal is the same: to read more books than I did the previous year. I came across someone else’s goal of reading 50 books this year. That is a tempting idea…but no. I’m sticking with “more than last year” officially. I read 23 books this year, so roughly two a month. The year before I read 20.
My other goal was to read a wider variety of genres, which I succeeded in, too. I read some trade books, some theology books, more LGBTQIA-topic literature, and more adult literature (the shiny lure of YA still holds me strong. I love those stories so much). And, what do you know, some of the “other genres” ended up being on my 5 favorite books list.
A/N: What was the best thing you read this year? Comics, graphic novels, webcomics, and manga included! Let me know and I’ll check them out.
I read a lot of webcomics and I want to read more manga. I might do some kind of Top 10 thing for favorite webcomics sometime.
Also, thanks to Sara Nutter for the awesome picture of Luis. My little bab is all grown up and burning things *sniff*