Category Archives: Lists

My Favorite Reads for 2014

Another year is nearly over, and what a year it’s been! I self-published my YA dystopian novel, Among the Joyful, fulfilling a lifelong dream; moved from Chennai, India to Yangon, Myanmar (a.k.a. Rangoon, Burma); and, of course, read lots and lots of books. Here’s my idiosyncratic list of the best books I read in 2014:

Best Book I Should Have Read As A Kid

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. This award winning kid’s book came out in 1978, so why didn’t I read it until it showed up on my 5th grader’s winter break book list? Who knows? It’s a smart, fun, and twisty puzzle with great characters.

Best Extra-Sciency Science Fiction Novel

The Martian by Andy Weir. This suspenseful thriller is making lots of “best of” lists this year, and with good reason. Imagine a lone astronaut, left for dead on Mars, trying to survive against the odds. Now imagine he’s a wise-cracking smart ass with astonishing science knowledge and relentless optimism. This book is hard to put down, even when it’s making water out of oxygen and rocket fuel.

Best Fantasy Book

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. I don’t read a lot of fantasy but this slender, lovely book blew my mind. It was first published in 1968 but the story is fairy tale timeless.

Best Collection of Short Stories

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood. One of my all time favorite authors, telling stories that stay with the reader long after the book is back on the shelf.

Best Book Featuring Zombies

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. I first looked at this book because Joss Whedon blurbed it, then I read a free chapter online before the book’s release and was hooked. This is a haunting, relentless book with a breathtakingly perfect ending. Loved it.

Best Mystery/Crime Novel

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly. I hope Michael Connelly keeps writing Harry Bosch books forever, because I can’t get enough of this series. Connelly is in top form with this latest entry and I didn’t want it to end–because who knows how many more there will be?

Best Book About Burma

From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe. I’ve read several books about or set in Burma since moving here in August, but this moving and poetic memoir resonates like no other.

Best YA Book

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I love the characters in the moody, magical, atmospheric Raven Boys series, especially Ronan and Blue. I’m already craving book four!

Best Big Fat Book About Magicians

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. This tale of competing magicians in an alt-history Britain where magic is real was a complete and fascinating world in itself. I think it sat unread on my shelf for so long because it was so big and daunting, but it was worth its weight in literary gold.

Best Overall

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I love how David Mitchell tosses all conception of genre into the shredder and writes exactly what he wants, stories of epic scope and wild inventiveness, intricately structured and brilliantly written. Also, extra points for a gorgeous cover.

So that’s my list. Here’s looking forward to another year of happy reading in 2015!

My Favorite Books of 2013

Somehow, 2013 is almost over and everywhere I look best-of lists abound. I can’t resist offering one of my own.

And here’s another list, this one of the books published in 2013 that I wanted to read but didn’t. I have to be in precisely the right mood for a particular book, and sometimes I end up waiting years to read a book that I ultimately love. Here’s to the books I fully expect to love–when I finally get around to reading them:

 

And now that I’ve finished making my lists, I need to go read some books! I think I can still squeeze in Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt before New Year’s Eve…