So you know how I was going to do all these lovely categories of books that I loved this year? Well I’ve done two (plus my least favorite), and I can already feel myself wanting to double up on books in the other categories I haven’t written yet, so… I’m just going to skip ahead to my faves of the year. And what do you know, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is fave books of the year. I chose to include books I’ve read this year, not necessarily ones that were released this year.
- Morning Son – Pierce Brown. This one is really for the entire Red Rising series. I read it after I made my post about best series of the year, but it has easily made its way to the top of any and all lists I will make. This is a sci-fi (and there are two science fiction books on this list, which blows my mind – it’s arguably one of my least favorite genres), where society has spread across the planets and become stratified by Colors who play different roles in society. Generations of inequality and breeding and bio-engineering have made very real physical differences between the Colors, and some people are pissed about that. Enter 16-year-old Darrow, reeling from a recent personal tragedy, who is ready to take down the system (he is 23-ish by the end of the series, btw). You can’t trust many people in this series, and it’s quite violent, so keep that in mind. The first book has several occurrences of rape/sexual slavery, but since this is first person and Darrow is never involved, you never see it. There is also a kick-ass heroine (Mustang, my love), and I have my fingers crossed that hers will be one of the perspectives in Iron Gold (out in August). I might write a longer post about this series where I basically just fangirl and spew my feelings all over. We’ll see.
- I realized sometime this past week (probably in the middle of the night, as these things happen) that I didn’t include Girl at War by Sara Novic in my list of favorite literary fiction of the year, which is a complete travesty and I don’t know how it happened. I did mention it in a previous post (favorite books from the first half of 2016), but it made it to the finals. The finals being this list.
- Empire of Storms & Heir of Fire – Sarah J. Maas. I chose these two books because of the effects they had on each other. When I first read Heir of Fire I didn’t enjoy it so much. It was too much of a departure from the first two books in the series, and I didn’t give a crap about this Manon person, or understand why she was there. I continued with the series anyway, because I already owned the next book. Then, Empire of Storms came out and all of a sudden everything made sense and I viewed all of the books in the series completely differently, and the rest is history. I’m in the middle of my third read of Heir of Fire, and I’m getting so much more out of it now. Yes, this author can be Problematic, but also, I enjoy it? So I’m just going to leave this series here on my list, problems and all.
- The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutoski. I’ve already written about this series, but I love this ending because it gave me happy feels and what I wanted, rather than completely devastating me with unnecessary character death and sunken ships *coughBardugocough*. And it’s just a really well-written YA fantasy series, it really is.
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers. This is a fairly recent read, and it had me laughing out loud so much. Whereas some of the books on this list made me cry and sad and angsty, this book made me warm and toasty inside, like the book had managed to cuddle my soul. That sounds really weird! But I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s sci-fi, about a crew who are tasked with creating a faster way to get to a very coveted and pricey natural resource (near the small, angry planet, mentioned in the title), but the focus is really the characters and their histories and relationships with each other. Kizzy reminded me of Kalee from Firefly, only more outgoing, and she was freaking hilarious. I loved her so much.
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson. This is the only non-fiction on my list. Stevenson is a lawyer who works with poor, POC, children, and women who have been unfairly convicted and/or sentenced for crimes. I was alternatively crying for despair and crying for joy. It is so important, especially when I hear people (students, co-workers, etc.) saying things that imply an underlying assumption that all laws are always just, and that the criminal justice system runs smoothly and fairly.
- The Fate of the Tearling – Erika Johansen. I’ve already mentioned this series, but the end was so good. You know how you can read a book and you know that there is no way for it to end up with a happily-ever-after? But you wish for it anyway? I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, hoping my faves didn’t die, and that the ones who made it out alive had some sort of hope for contentedness, at the very least. Well… you could interpret the ending in various ways, but overall I think I’m happy for them? It was a great ending, either way.
- Arcadia – Iain Pears. If you like Tolkien or C.S. Lewis or books with magical doorways, this is for you. It contains elements of all those things, and was really genre-bending. There was a heavy fantasy element, combined with the prose of literary fiction, plus some future-y sci-fi stuff. But it also made me tear up at the end. Lovely.
- Monstress – Marjorie Liu. This graphic novel is soooo pretty, and it’s all badass women. What’s not to like?
- Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf. I’m kind-of cheating here because I have read this a few times before, but I reread it this past May in a sudden “oh shit I have that independent study to finish or I don’t get my M.A.” moment, and wrote a paper comparing Woolf to Colette. I barely remember the contents and it was in French, so I’m not going to share. But it was the last paper I wrote for my grad program, and has been burned in my mind as the most “don’t care but gotta do it” paper I’ve ever written. But anyway, this book has always been a fave.
Overall I’m happy with what I read this year. One of my resolutions for next year is to reread books more, and books like these are the reason why. In fact, I just started rereading Red Rising today (in audiobook form – and yeah, I just finished the series a couple of days ago, if you follow my Goodreads), and the fact that I would rather reread books at this point is a sign I’ve found some things that really resonate with me, for various reasons.