lists

Behold my 2015 book list

Here in our nation’s capital the weather has taken a turn for early fall digits, with 70 degrees on Saturday (21C for those of you in the rest of the world). People were walking around in shorts. I was reading outside on the grass.

If you are wondering how widespread the year-end book ranking is, take a look at this aggregated list. Basically everyone, including the Obamas, is making best of 2015 lists. Some of those are odd. ‘Best AP calculus books’? Nothing says ‘happy holidays’ like ‘I hope you don’t fail a test’. Some are important and amazing, like ‘Overlooked books by women’.

Well, I am going to be boring and confine my choices to top few. Because guilt and free books propel my reading habits, most of what I’ve read this year was actually published this year.

Reading trends in 2015:

  • More graphic novels/comics, and definitely more comics in floppy/single issue form.
  • More YA than last year. It’s not a lot, but I didn’t read any YA in 2014 at all.
  • More mainstream fiction, with genre being confined mostly to graphic novel form.
  • More audiobooks, by which I mean ‘any at all’.
  • More poetry, which is once again ‘any at all’.

biggreententSo here we go, the most amazing books I’ve read this year are (in genre order):

  1. Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life. What a hard book. What an astonishing book. I will probably never read it again, but I am absolutely certain I’m a better human and a better reader after this book.
  2. Lidia Yuknavitch, The Small Backs of Children. This book was strangely overlooked by every award list in the world, for reasons that elude me.
  3. Lyudmila Ulitskaya, The Big Green Tent – cheating a bit here, since it was published in Russian in 2010. For all your sprawling modern Russian novel needs.
  4. Kevin Barry, Beatlebone – I talk about it here. 
  5. Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown

SorcererI feel like I went full literary prize committee here, with 3 out of 5 being ‘serious’, emotionally intense books.

Poetry:

  1. Kate Tempest, Hold Your Own

Non-fiction:

  1. Joni Tevis, The World is on Fire
  2. Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
  3. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
  4. Sarah Ruhl, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write

Fascinating, they are all essays. Not sure what that says about my non-fiction reading.

Graphic novels/comix:

  1. Warren Ellis, Trees (trade exists)
  2. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium (I thought the first volume was pretty amazing, this one is even better)
  3. Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Bitch Planet (yassss! out in trade)
  4. Noelle Stevenson, Nimona (if you like your comics standalone)

Tbitchplanethere is some really good stuff out in single issues as well: 8house: Arclight by Brandon Graham and a bunch of other people; The Spire by Simon Spurrier, Carlos Magno, and Jeff Stokely, Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chang, and Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.

And finally, in the ‘Did I Read The Same Book?’ category we have Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. So many people loved it, so many award committees thought it was amazing. I had to give up after 70 pages.

If you want to see the complete list of books I’ve read this year, here’s the page.

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Lists of books!

For those of you who like Lists of Things, I did some blog maintenance thing yesterday and updated my ‘Read in 2014‘ list and created ‘Read in 2015‘. Go see! They are sort of terrifying, aren’t they? How much free time do I really have?

If you want to know why I keep lists of things I read, it’s because I am one of those People Who Like Lists, because it’s fun, and because I tend to remember events in my life through books. A book can remind me where I was or what I was doing when I was reading it. I read Anthony Marra’s The Tsar Of Love and Techno while camping this summer. I read Benjamin Black’s Christine Falls while waiting for a plane to Toronto in January. I obviously went through some period this summer when I wanted to read only emotionally wrenching books, judging by this lineup:

  • Lidia Yuknavitch, The Small Backs Of Children
  • J. M. Ledgard, Submergence
  • Lyudmila Ulitskaya, The Big Green Tent
  • Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

All of these are very good, by the way. But not light.

Other reading trends:

1) There are some graphic novels I read and reread in a span of a few weeks. I am a dedicated comics rereader. A) they don’t take a long time and B) I like to binge on series in comics. I have my annual reread of Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan whenever I start feeling too good about people.

2) There is way more poetry in 2015. Me reading poetry is something relatively new. There was an entire period in my life when I was convinced I could only read poetry in my native language. Now it’s more or less a staple of my reading diet.

3) More plays in 2015, also a new phenomenon.

4) There is way less speculative fiction in 2015. I had what I call ‘genre-fatigue’ for a few months (one of the reasons I stopped writing here). I could only take my sci-fi/fantasy in comics form.

5) Apparently I read Alex + Ada volume two, but not one? Doesn’t seem right.

6) I don’t list single-issue comics. It’s a personal preference.

7) I’ve read 192 books in 2014. Didn’t quite make it to 200. TOTAL FAILURE. Kidding.

So there you go. Lists. Now onwards to read 200 books this year!

Hey look, the Hugo noms

This is probably post #350 or so on Hugo nominations that you will see in your feed this week.  I just want to focus on good stuff and bring your attention to the following categories for no reason other than there are a lot of amazing things in them.

BEST SEMIPROZINE (411 ballots)

  • Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Interzone edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
  • Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin

BEST FANZINE (478 ballots)

Best Fan Writer (521 ballots)

Other good things:

Saga, volume 2 was nominated in the best Graphic Story category, which makes me very happy. Fiona Staples was nominated for the Best Professional Artist, along with some other very cool people.

– Related works category seems to be full of great writing, including Speculative Fiction 2012 and We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative by Kameron Hurley

Complete list of all nominations can be seen, for example, here, with linkage to free fiction. And here’s a growing list of various discussion/opinion pieces on the Hugos (the list of best novel nominees leads me to believe there will be a lot of those).