I cannot resist joining in the list making. I kept a list of books I read in 2017. I read 101 books. Here’s the best of the bunch! But not in any order.
*Today will be Different by Maria Semple. I just loved this book. I liked the surprise that while there were memory scenes it basically took place in the course of a day. I liked that the narrator deliberately starts off being obnoxious, so you know if you don’t like me and don’t want to read me, fine don’t then. Who hasn’t done exactly that? I loved the surprise twist at the end. It isn’t just another spoiled rich white woman story with crumples in her rose petal life — or maybe it is — but for me was so much more. And it was so full of laughter and hope. Today was different!
*The Painted Drum by Louise Erditch. This is beautiful writing, rich in details and atmosphere and nuance and absolutely luminous. These people truly seem completely real. And the story was engrossing.
*The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch. This is top-notch urban fantasy — this is not the first book in the series so start with the first book, but the series is getting stronger I think. Peter is our smart, funny, plucky hero, his boss is the dapper and mysterious Nightingale and they are the chaps who have to solve London’s supernatural problems. It’s excellently written, the world-building is perfect, the characters are great (special shout-out to Peter’s mum). And it is a fantasy with a POC front and center.
*Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger. Again beautifully written. Another boy-coming-of-age novel on the surface but the mystery, the delicious writing, the evocation of a summer in 1962, Frank the boy — everything comes together to make it a lovely beautiful read. And an appreciation of the daily joys of living is always welcome, lest we forget.
*Company Town by Madeline Ashby. A good solid science fiction book, with a well-built world, great characters, interesting plot. I truly enjoyed it.
*The Last Policeman, all three books, by Ben Winters. Just the best to discover a trilogy after all the parts are published so you can read it in one big gulp. Well-written, with an untrustworthy narrator who I truly liked. I wanted to find him and bake him cookies and take care of the poor clueless guy. Here’s the plot: what would happen if the astronomers suddenly realized that the killer asteroid was coming for us, the Earth was going to be destroyed beyond the dinosaurs. There is not a shred of hope. Do you keep doing what you are doing? Do you start on your bucket list? Do you stock up on water and guns? Do you reach out as a community and embrace the end in joy with your best angel self ascendant? The last policeman just wants to solve the last murder, just wants to do his job. From simple things much trouble and unforgettable characters evolve.
*The Trespasser by Tana French. I love the Dublin murder squad! I love French’s wonderful writing and somehow with her books I just fall into them, I just forget the real world, like being inside a movie. This is one of her best.
*Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller. This is a memoir — surprise! This was absolutely heartbreaking and very funny and filled with love and anguish. Miller’s parents are/were hoarders and her childhood was hell. Yet her love, anger, compassion for her parents just shines and inspires. And my house is definitely cleaner.
*The Tree of Myth by Michael Sullivan — I love all his books, every single one. He has humor, adventure, love, magic, swords — do I need to keep going? Just start reading. Well-written, well-crafted, wonderful plots and twists. Fantasy done right. Fantasy done with so much thought that at times I wondered if it was really science fiction….
I read a lot of mysteries this past year, for example the Sigrid Harald police series by Margaret Maron which was especially historically interesting, especially in light of #metoo — the world has come a long long good way from the 1960s. Thank God. Some Travis McGee, always fun in a don’t look at the gross stuff too late sort of way. MacDonald was far ahead of his time in terms of environmental concerns and the trap of consumerism. A lot of mysteries many of which were just terrible but justice is always served. A lot of old favorites too, from the Liaden books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller to Anne of Green Gables.