Final count, including the three books I’m reading right now: 68.
Here’s the final tally — I’ve bolded the new books I liked the most. Books with asterisks beside them are books I’d read before.
Turns out half the books I read this year were re-reads: one of the things I wanted to do while I wasn’t writing much was to re-read all the books I really love, and think about what I love and why I love it. Trying to pick out the common themes in your influences is a really interesting task — and really helpful. Moral grey areas, lanky men, foreign-feeling worlds with solid internal logic… those things weren’t surprises. But it also turns out I like anything exploring what it means to be human (or not human). I like the human cost of war. I like funny ladies and sharp dialogue and horrifically, tragically doomed love stories. I like crows and bones and books with weather.
I also like lots of people to die or be horribly maimed. Just sayin’.
- Insurgent (Veronica Roth)
- Plain Kate (Erin Bow)
- 11/22/63 (Stephen King) – I have to stop listening to Stephen King books on audio. I love them, don’t get me wrong — he has the perfect writing style for audiobooks — but it takes me all year at the gym to get through one.
- The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern) – Gorgeous. Haunting. Lovely.
- Anathem (Neal Stephenson) – The only novel about quantum mechanics I’ve ever enjoyed. Let’s face it, the only novel about quantum mechanics I’ve ever read.
- Pyramids (Terry Pratchett)
- The Road (Cormac McCarthy) – Short. Horrible. Kind of lovely, for all of that.
- The Magicians (Lev Grossman) – WEIRD. It’s grown-up Harry Potter in Narnia. Like, actually, they GO TO NARNIA.
- Zoo City (Lauren Beukes) – After meeting her at Webstock, I had to. She’s great.
- The Alloy of Law (Brandon Sanderson) – I’m still getting over Mistborn.
- The Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson) – This book took me months to finish. I chewed through the Mistborn series in about 10 minutes flat, but I picked this up and put it down for weeks. Once I got into it, I loved it. But it took some work.
A Song of Ice and Fire (George R.R. Martin)
- A Game of Thrones
- A Clash of Kings
- A Storm of Swords
- A Feast for Crows
- A Dance with Dragons
Rain Wild Chronicles (Robin Hobb):
- *Dragon Keeper
- *Dragon Haven
- City of Dragons
*Liveship Traders (Robin Hobb):
- Ship of Magic
- The Mad Ship
- Ship of Destiny
*Tawny Man (Robin Hobb)
- Fool’s Errand
- Fool’s Fate
- Golden Fool
*Assassin’s Quest (Robin Hobb)
I LOVE Robin Hobb. Have you read Robin Hobb? GO READ ROBIN HOBB! She writes the best characters inhabiting the best worlds. She is the MASTER of the grey area. I dream about writing characters as nuanced as hers. I think about The Fool and Kennit for months afterward every time I read these. (Yeah, I read them a lot. They’re worth it.)
- The Monstrumologist (Rick Yancey) — Gross. Heavy. Really interesting.
- Divergent (Veronica Roth)
- Pure (Julianna Baggott) — LOVE the world in this.
- Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
- *The Hunger Games
- Catching Fire
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)
- *Daughter of Smoke and Bone
- Days of Blood and Starlight
Laini Taylor is just amazing. My favourite book of 2010 was Lips Touch: Three Times, and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is also phenomenal: gorgeous, gorgeous prose, an incredible, rich world, a complex, delicate story. I’d steal her phrasing if I could — and then I’d steal her ability to put the most disparate groups of awesome things together and turn them into a cohesive whole that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. Marakech, human teeth, fallen angels, men with the heads of wolves… it’s amazing. I am consumed with jealousy. CONSUMED.
- In the Hand of the Goddess
- The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
- Lioness Rampant
*Immortals (Tamora Pierce)
- Wild Magic
- Wolf Speaker
- Emperor Mage
- The Realms of the Gods
*Trickster’s Choice (Tamora Pierce)
* Trickster’s Queen (Tamora Pierce)
Tamora Pierce has been one of my favourite authors since I discovered the Alanna books when I was about 11 or 12. I’ve read them religiously every couple of years since — she writes kick-ass girls with agency, and I love everything set in the world of Tortall so much that I haven’t actually read all her other books, because it upsets me too much that Numair and Aly and co won’t be there.
*Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (Louise Rennison):
- Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging
- On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God
- Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants
- Away Laughing on a Fast Camel
- …Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers
- Startled by His Furry Shorts
- Love is a Many-Trousered Thing
- Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?
FUNNIEST. BOOKS. IN. THE. WORLD. I don’t even care what you think: go and read them. Do it. They’re hilarious.
- *Bridget Jones’ Diary (Helen Fielding)
- *Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Helen Fielding)
Probably read these every year. Still best books ever written about being single woman with tendency to fall over after excess of wine. Always obv. when have just read as write in manner of Bridget for solid month. V.G.
- Freedom (Jonathan Franzen) – Liked it. But, like most contemporary fiction (for me at least), the gravitas and the hype didn’t add up to a world I wanted to spend time in. I still read to be entertained — I still write to entertain.
- The Affair (Lee Child) – I tend to chew through these when at my parents’ for more than five minutes. They’re about the only books in their house, and to be fair, they move like stink.
- Explosive Eighteen (Janet Evanovich) – I love Stephanie Plum. If I could write dialogue like Lula’s, I could die happy.
Walsh Family (Marian Keyes)
- The Mystery of Mercy Close
- *Rachel’s Holiday
Calling these “chick-lit” is the root of all the problems I have with gender in literature. Marian Keyes was the top-selling author for all five years I worked at Whitcoulls, and her books are fantastic. She writes hilarious stories about sad things and real things, and she does it so freaking well. Jonathan Franzen could dream of this, that’s all I’m saying.
- How to Be a Woman (Caitlin Moran)
- You’re Not Doing It Right (Michael Ian Black)
- Committed (Elizabeth Gilbert)
- The Bedwetter (Sarah Silverman)
- Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (Chelsea Handler)
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mindy Kaling)
HOLY BALLS THAT WAS LONG. Does it make up for all the times I didn’t blog this year?