Tag Archives: authors

A Year in Books

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I tend to celebrate my ‘new year feelings’ on July 4th anyway, which is when I get all introspective and moody on the previous year, and give myself either a thumbs up or down.

But, to celebrate the ‘official’ New Years, I’m making a not-really-resolution to read (and write) more good books.  (Hey, I was totally going to do that anyway!)  By my best count, I’ve read 110 books this year, and when I go through the list, I can single out 11 of those as being truly good books.  The sort of books that, months later, when I see their titles written down, they give me that tingle of happy memory.  Here they are (in no particular order of goodness):

Black Juice, by Margo Lanagan.  This is a collection of short stories, and while I don’t remember most of the stories in it, one does stand out as being one of the top five short stories I’ve read in my entire life: Singing My Sister Down.  I still get chills, thinking of it!

Tesla: Man out of Time, by Margaret Cheney. This non-fiction book about America’s true genius will completely change your view of history.

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater. Wonderful and haunting.

Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks. The first of a fantasy trilogy, and the others are equally good.  Deep, shocking, and twisty!

Mimus, by Jeffrey Masson. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, this is character-driven fantasy at its very best.

Bess of Hardwick, by Mary Lovell. Non-fiction about an incredible Elizabethan woman.  And my ancestor!

In the Woods, by Tara French. Beautifully written study of character, masquerading as a mystery.

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson. If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you already know the strong adoration I have for Sanderson’s writing.  He’s brilliant.

Common Sense, by Glenn Beck. Non-fiction about the trouble we’ve sunk America into and how to save ourselves.  This should be required reading for every American.

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. One of the absolute best accounts by an unreliable narrator I’ve ever seen.  Twisty, chilling, and mesmerizing.

Project X, by Jim Shepard. I can’t stop reading this book.  I’ve read it cover to cover three times, and every now and then I dip at random into it, just for the pleasure it gives me.  So true, and so perfect, this one has a forever place in my Top Five Books.

And that’s the 2009 Eleven Books I Loved.  When I was writing out this list, however, I was disappointed that several books I could have sworn I read in 2009 just missed making this list, having been read in late-ish 2008.  Since I can’t bear to leave their titles unspoken, I made a second list, of the Thirteen Books I Loved in 2008.  Again, in no particular order, I give you:

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. Grown-ups who don’t read “children’s books” are missing out.  This one is more eerie than Stephen King and more delightful.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. So. Bloody. Good.

Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. The man’s a master of words, and this is a true treasure.

Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson. This is the last book in a trilogy, and while I read all three with massive amounts of enjoyment, I chose the final book for my list, because this is where everything you think you know about his world and characters flips upside down, and you are left with your mouth hanging open in shock and your heart racing.

Time Traveler’s Wife, byAudrey Niffenegger. Brilliant story, brilliantly told.

Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan. Bears and girls and twisted fairy tales, oh my.

Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt. If you drive a car, ride in a car, or walk near a car, you should read this non-fiction book.  It could very well save your life.  And it’s fascinating!

Passage, by Connie Willis. It sucks you in and won’t let you go.  Brain science and the Titanic, flawlessly mingled into a totally original work of fiction.

The Ghost Writer, by John Harwood. Okay, I will admit that the ending was flawed.  But the rest of the story more than made up for it.  Chilling and twisty.

Shadow Man, by Cody McFadyen.  Gory, riveting thriller.  Unlike some of those other guys (coughpattersoncough) McFadyen can write.  Lyrical and lovely even at its most disturbing, it doesn’t skimp on the thrills or plot.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. Massive tome, massive but quiet story that lulls you with its delightful language and whimsy, only to creep up on you and half throttle you with nail-biting suspense in the last half.  Not to be missed.  There really is absolutely NOTHING else remotely like it in the literary world.

The Unthinkable – Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why, by Amanda Ripley. Here’s another book that could be life-saving, and it makes for fascinating reading as well.

Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon. This is a undescribable and brilliant work of fiction.  Part coming of age, part fantasy, part mystery, part thriller, it brings me to tears every time I read it.  It’s one of those perfect works of fiction that touches you no matter how many times you’ve read it before.  I make a practice of reading it every few years.  Another Top Five Forever.

And there you have it, Alisa’s Year(s) in Books.  If you want to see the other books that didn’t make my lists, you can check me and my book reviews out on goodreads.com.

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Brandon Sanderson

Interview with Brandon Sanderson about his latest novel: Warbreaker.  If you’re a fantasy fan and you haven’t read any of his books, what the heck are you waiting for?

In the interview, he calls his forthcoming book The Way of Kings “the project of his heart”, and judging by the way he lights up as he speaks about it, this one is going to be something spectacular!  I’m getting chills just thinking about it!

The Tweet of Disappearing Authors

I was doing my daily check of author Neil Gaiman’s blog (for those of you who don’t know, he’s funny, witty, very down-to-earth, and his blog is frequently charming in a number of different ways), and discovered he’d answered an interesting letter from a fan.

The fan wanted to know if Neil thought that author George RR Martin was breaking faith with his fans by not publishing (as of yet) the next book in Martin’s epic series.  The fan wanted to know whether – in this age of Twitter, blogs, and Facebook – George RR Martin has a responsibility to keep his fans informed on his writing progress.

Neil’s answer (short version):  George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

Which made me laugh, because while I too am awaiting the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m also a writer.  And I understand how these things go, how you can’t always put a noose around your muse’s neck and drag her to your laptop.  And I can only imagine how annoying all those rabid fan emails must be, baying for the blood of your next-born novel.

But still.  If an author has made the effort to reach out to his fans via a blog or tweets, and if he knows he’s waaaay past his publishing deadline, wouldn’t it be at least common courtesy to let the fans know what’s happening?  I haven’t been following George RR Martin’s blog all that much, so I really don’t know what he’s done to notify the fans, but I’m thinking of another author here: Scott Lynch (whose book I am honestly more excited about than Martin’s).  Scott built up a relationship with his fans, answered letters, replied to comments on his livejournal, and then missed two book deadlines and…dropped off the face of the earth.  Completely gone.  As in nothing left to Google.

I really, really, don’t think I’m asking him to be my bitch because I’d like to know whether he’s still alive.  If he’s got personal stuff going on, fine.  He doesn’t have to go into detail – or any sort of detail at all.  But a brief note saying he’s alive would be nice.  Which, yes, he finally did – two years after his infamous hungover livejournal post (which led to all sorts of speculation that he had dropped of alcohol poisoning, that he had fallen to WarCrack, and all sorts of even more outlandish fates).

So please, to you authors out there with personal traumas, stubborn muses, or general visibility issues….just a little tweet next time before you disappear?