It was a rough year for reading. Significant changes in the hospital workplace required additional training, clinical hours for my degree expanded and even more changes at work in September put a hiatus on vacation hours–all added up to a surfeit of professional reading and deficit of personal time. However, a broken finger before Thanksgiving gave unexpected respite, particularly when I discovered reading books with one hand is possible, albeit awkward at times.
Best is a tricky category this year. Without a doubt, several of ‘bests‘ were a culmination of story-telling that included the prior two or three books. Ace of Skulls (The Kitty Jay series) was the perfect capstone to the four book adventures of Captain Frey and his motley crew. World of Trouble (The Last Policeman series) kicked my ass, particularly because of the brilliant way Winters developed–or rather, devolved–the world and his characters. Claire North’s novella triptych that begins with The Serpent is a clever, quick, language-rich series that gestalts into something poignant. Kameron Hurley’s Bel Dame series (God’s War) was a stunner throughout for sheer creative world-building and a complicated, violent female lead. Annhilation, while not strictly a five-star read, deserves note for sheer weird thinkingness.
In Non-fiction, David Quammen’s science journalism continued to impress in Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, and if you really want to understand just how fast disease can spread and why you need a flu shot, this is the book. Then play the iphone/pad game Plague and pat yourself on the back with how quickly you can kill off the human race. But it isn’t that easy–fungi are tricky! Dry Storeroom #1 was a fascinating book on stories from one of the world’s most prominent museums and sent me down the internet rabbit hole for a virtual tour.
In the Childrens’ and Unexpected Visual Humor division, I loved the illustrations in (as well as the title of) Chickens to the Rescue and immediately bought it.
In Series I Love division, Max Gladstone remains reliably satisfying. Gladstone gave the next installment in the Craft Sequence, First Last Snow. More serious than the last, it was a powerful look at political unrest. Likewise Ilona Andrews turned in a very satisfying and forward-moving story in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Shifts, despite originally planning to end the series at the previous book. The second Master Li book by Barry Hughart, Master Li and the Story of the Stone was bawdy, nostalgic, funny and sorrowful.
Other Five-Star and Outstanding Reads: Daryl Gregory continues to satisfy with imaginative, character-driven stories. This year, I read Afterparty and Harrison Squared, both wildly different but excellent. This was the year I discovered Robert Jackson Bennett who seems to be developing atmospheric skills that rival GGK. City of Stairs stunned me with its characterization, plot, world-building and language. I re-read Kate Griffin’s Madness of Angels and concluded that it remains awesome, but lacked the time to give her new pseudonym, Claire North, the attention she deserves. At the top of the 2016 list!
Summing it all up. On the whole, I averaged around 3.5. I had a lot of four-star reads this year, due in part to wonderful friends and their reviews who helped me target books that would be more satisfying. There were a few one-star stinkers, and the less said, the better. Suffice it to say that We Are Not Amused by rape or homophobia in our “light” UF reads. I had a few DNFs, one because it was not my type of book, and the others I’m hoping to blame on circumstance. I firmly believe some books need their own moods as well as time in large chunks, and that was in short supply. I did find I’m more willing to hand out a 2-star rating, particularly for older works. I’m always a little hesitant to two-star a new author, but I find it makes my three and four-stars more meaningful. This is all strictly my opinion, right?
Social Media and Books: I remain ambivalent about Goodreads, and their recent non-consumer demanded updates emphasize the insecurity about relying on a product-pushing site. However, the wonderful friends and discussions have kept me very engaged there. WordPress, however has been more visually satisfying, and is generally easier to use for more visual posts and links. It’s wonderful that there’s people (this means you) who feel comfortable commenting and dialoguing. It’s also been pleasantly devoid of trolls. I’ve averaged a post every four days, although my general goal is to have a weekly post. Upcoming will be reading agenda for the year, and there’s nothing I like more than lists!
Here’s hoping to see you around, on one site or the other!
Happy and Healthy 2016!