2015 was a pretty rough year here at Blankbaby Manor which impacted my reading. I try to read at least 52 books a year, and I did’t quite make it but I got close!
In 2015 I read 51 books (though if you follow me on Goodreads it appears as though I read 49 books. I read an omnibus edition of 3 novels in one, so I counted that as 3. Goodreads counts it as 1).
For some historical perspective, here’s my book numbers since 2011:
Not my worst year, but very far from my best (I have no idea why I was able to read so much in 2013!).
I did read a number of very good books, and here are the ones I would recommend you read (note, these are Amazon affiliate links. You can probably find most of these books in your local library too, but then I don’t get any money):
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Ken Liu is a very talented short story writer (and translator), but I wasn’t sure if that would translate into being a great novelist. Well, “The Grace of Kings” didn’t disappoint me. I will admit that I’m fascinated by fantasty/scifi books which are roots in non-western traditions so if that isn’t your thing this book isn’t for you.
Having this book grounded in traditions that aren’t familiar to me gave it an added level of otherworldliness (which mostly speaks to my lack of knowledge about eastern traditions).
This book features two men who overthrow an empire and then struggle with what to do with the results. There are mechanical sea monsters, airships and more. Plus it is all written with Ken Liu’s lyrical prose.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
When I’m not reading science fiction or fantasy I’m usually reading a mystery and “Girl Waits with Gun” is a great one. I mean, it is kind of a mystery but mostly it is a retelling of a crazy true story.
The main characters are the Kopp sisters are unique believable characters who border on ridiculous but never stray past the line.
The novel starts with a carriage being sideswiped by a car and goes from there. Lots of fun, and an interesting snapshot of a particular time in American history when technology and society were at a tipping point.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I love the idea of parallel universes with select people being able to move between them, and that’s at the center of this novel. There are several versions of London and the main character is one of a few how can travel back and forth.
People aren’t supposed to bring things back and forth with them, but it happens with unforeseen circumstances. A great read, and quick too!
If superheroes are more your cup of tea check out Vicious by the same author. I liked it very much (though not as much as this one).
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
This was probably my favorite fantasy book that I read in 2015. Now, it isn’t for everyone because it is pretty brutal. The ending isn’t satisfying if you’re hoping for a good ending, but Baru is a great character and I thought the world building was very well done.
It reminded me very much of K.J. Parker, and that’s a big compliment!
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Aurora is fantastic, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be nominated for the Hugo. A clever tale of a generation ship falling apart with an interesting conceit. You should read it. Plus, this time around the main character isn’t totally awful (until 2312, which I liked but can see how others might not).
Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
I imagine somewhere the pitch for this book (which is soon to be a TV series) was something like, “Imagine the Game of Thrones only on the Mooooon!”
That gives you the flavor of the book, kind of, but undersells it. McDonald has been writing YA novels for a few years and I’ve read them. But I’m glad to have him back writing “adult fiction.” This book is the start of a series and I look forward to reading the rest with great gusto.
Also, the opening scene of this book is just perfect.
The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Generally, I don’t re-read things but I suggested we discuss The Foundation Trilogy on The Incomparable and other folks agreed (listen to the podcast).
I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like the Foundation Trilogy anymore. I read it when I was in high school and it is pretty much responsible for my love of science fiction. Good news! I still love these three books, and if you haven’t read them you should. Now. Go. Read them! Every library in the world probably has copies (not to mention used bookstores).