Sun, Jan. 9th, 2005, 02:11 pm || 2004 book round up

add to memories

Heh, the ability to do this post was the reason behind why I started book blogging last year, and of course, now it's about a week late and I don't have much energy to write it. But write it I will.

I am shamelessly copying coffeeandink's format (I hope you don't mind, Mely), whose posts are the main reason why I started book blogging at all.

This being the inaugural year, I have no idea how this matches up to my reading habits of previous year. Just off the top of my head, I would say that I feel like I've read a great deal of books this year, and most of them good. A big reason for that is because of LJ, because of all the recs that have come in, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I read many things I wouldn't have touched previously because of that. And now, my ten favorite books of the year, out of all the books I have read this year (excluding rereads), not out of all the books published this year. They may not be the best books I've read this year, or the most technically proficient, or the like, but they are books that grabbed me somehow and will most likely end up being reread very often. I'm cheating quite a bit on this list and including multiple books by authors and such, but hey, it's my list ;).

Listed alphabetically by author. I've blogged each book before, which you can find in my book memories section, if you want to read me blather on even more.

  1. Megan Chance, Fall From Grace

    Both romances on this list are ones that push the boundaries of the genre. I love Megan Chance's romances because she doesn't bother to whitewash history; her characters are rarely the rareified nobility that populate most romances. In this book, they are outlaws, and there is no romance at all in the way Chance portrays their lives. She also inverts the trope and makes the hard-living, hard-hearted character the heroine, with a hero painfully in love with her. This is not a fuzzy romance; it's on the smothering of dreams and hopes, on the choices that life gradually takes away.

  2. Michael Dirda, Readings

    Dirda is a kindred spirit in the book world, although I can only sit back and wish that I have read as broadly and as deeply as he has, as well as wish that I could write about the experience of reading and of books so beautifully as he does. But I can't, so I am incredibly glad that he exists in the world and writes the reviews he does. His book reviews are like recommendations from a close friend.

  3. Dorothy Dunnett, The Lymond Chronicles

    If I had to pick just one book of them, it would be Pawn in Frankincense, where all the build-up of the previous three books comes to head in a tense climax that left me breathless. Dunnett is very often manipulative, I still don't like Lymond as a person, and Checkmate is pretty flawed, especially when you look at how Dunnett throws in every single romance cliche in the book, but the series as a whole is so large and epic and grand that they occupied a very sizeable chunk of my head and heart for a very long period of time. And despite the criticism, nothing I've read this year has swallowed me whole the same way this series did -- I read the first book over a few months, the second in a week, and by the time I had gotten to Checkmate, I had spent an entire week reading till 5 in the morning, and was so sleep-deprived that I went home sick from work and finished the last book at home in a frenzied rush.

    Also, it's hard to beat Dunnett for sheer amount of influence on other authors.

    The Lymond books consist of The Game of Kings, Queen's Play, The Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, and Checkmate

  4. Kij Johnson, Fudoki

    This book is set in the same universe as Johnson's first book, The Fox Woman, and it has the same delicate touch in bringing Heian Japan to life in a way that feels very authentic to me. Finally, a fantasy set in Asia that doesn't grate on my nerves. The setting, while wonderfully done, is just one of the many beautiful parts of this book. The narrative centered on the dying princess Harueme is elegaic and full of regrets; the one on the cat-turned-warrior-woman is properly sharp around the edges, with charming touches like dreams of rice balls. A very good book that leaves a lingering sense of mono no aware.

  5. Laura Kinsale, Shadowheart

    After I read this, I was nearly incoherent with glee over how it smashes romance genre tropes left and right, with the added bonus of sex scenes that don't just develop the characters, but are also so intrinsic to the plot and the meat of the book that it is unimaginable without them. While the plot in and of itself doesn't make too much sense (though it is much more coherent than many Kinsale plots), the heart of the book is in the character dynamics and the exploration of gender roles and issues of power and control. Also, Kinsale manages to do all this while writing a scorching romance.

  6. Maureen F. McHugh, China Mountain Zhang

    Science fiction set in a world where China has become the one superpower and America has turned socialist. Instead of using the set up to explore overtly political issues in a larger setting, McHugh chooses narrate from the POV of the titular character and a few of the other people in the world whose lives he affects, no matter how obliquely. Because of this, the book has a much more intimate tone, even while it explores the larger issues of race, ethnicity, and cultural authenticity without ever losing sight of its characters, who are always human first.

  7. Patricia A. McKillip, multiple novels

    I discovered Patricia McKillip this year, after many years of never understanding her books, and it has been a joy going through her backlist. It's probably unnecessary praising McKillip to most people who read this LJ, but for anyone who hasn't read her books, the beauty of the prose and the images, the clarity of the visual metaphors and, above all, the underlying humanity in all her characters have completely won me over. My favorite of her books, Winter Rose, is actually a reread, although I don't actually remember my first read of it at all.

    I read her The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, Alphabet of Thorn, The Book of Atrix Wolfe, The Changeling Sea, In the Forests of Serre, Ombria in Shadow, Song for the Basilisk, The Tower at Stony Wood, and Winter Rose this year.

  8. Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

    While I wanted a non-Nafisi POV at times for balance, Nafisi's memoir is still an effective look at not only a woman's life in Iran, but also the importance of reading and imagination. For me, it works better as an investigation into why we read than a chronicle of post-revolution Iran, but that is largely because of the constraints of the memoir format. This book hit some very deep spots in me regarding questions of morality and art and why the great books are always revolutionary in some way. A perfect demonstration of how books at their best can push boundaries and shape the mind.

  9. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

    Like Nafisi's book, Satrapi's Persepolis is a memoir of the Islamic revolution in Iran; however, Persepolis is also a wonderful graphic novel with stark black-and-white art and an often bizarre sense of humor. Satrapi's memoir is much less overtly political than Nafisi's, and it is more effective for me because of that. Satrapi focuses on the commonplace, on the seemingly trifling changes that the revolutions causes, and because of this, the truly horrific things that happen in her country are made that much worse in context of the everyday. Smart, funny, and engaging.

  10. Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

    An epistolary fantasy Regency novel! This is the book that I've been pushing on all of my friends, to the point of buying a copy and bringing it all the way over to Taiwan just so I could make yet another person read it. There's something incredibly joyful about this book -- one can sense how much fun the authors had writing it, and it makes for a delightful reading experience.

Also recommended: Lloyd Alexander, the Westmark trilogy; Connie Brockway, The Bridal Season; Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa; Jennifer Crusie, Bet Me; Judy Cuevas, Bliss and Dance; Karen Cushman, Catherine, Called Birdy; Pamela Dean, the Secret Country trilogy; Patricia MacLachlan, The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt; Margaret Mahy, The Tricksters; Ellen Raskin, The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues; Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America; Elizabeth A. Wein, The Winter Prince

ETA: Added more books to the also recced list, because I am hare-brained and forgot a few.

Total read: 167 (8 rereads)

  1. James A. Hetley - The Summer Country 1/04
  2. Jennifer Crusie - Anyone But You 1/07
  3. Patricia Gaffney - Wild at Heart 1/07
  4. R. A. MacAvoy - Tea With the Black Dragon 1/10
  5. Sherryl Jordan - The Hunting of the Last Dragon 1/12
  6. Maureen F. McHugh - China Mountain Zhang 1/12
  7. Connie Willis - Passage 1/26
  8. Kij Johnson - Fudoki 2/04
  9. Connie Brockway - Bridal Favors 2/09
  10. Connie Brockway - The Bridal Season 2/09
  11. Robin Hobb - Fool's Fate 2/12
  12. Patricia Gaffney - Forever and Ever 2/16
  13. Lois McMaster Bujold - The Curse of Chalion 2/18
  14. Tracy Grant - Daughter of the Game 2/25
  15. Pam Rosenthal - Almost a Gentleman 2/26
  16. Nonnie St. George - The Ideal Bride 2/26
  17. Vicki Lewis Thompson - Nerd in Shining Armor 2/28
  18. Jennifer Crusie - Bet Me 3/04
  19. Francis Spufford - The Child That Books Built 3/04
  20. Jennifer Crusie - Getting Rid of Bradley 3/05
  21. Connie Brockway and Christina - Once Upon a Pillow 3/10
  22. Jennifer Crusie - Manhunting 3/10
  23. Jennifer Crusie - What the Lady Wants 3/10
  24. Lord Dunsany - The King of Elfland's Daughter 3/10
  25. Maureen F. McHugh - Nekropolis 3/10
  26. Azar Nafisi - Reading Lolita in Tehran 3/10
  27. Jasper Fforde - The Eyre Affair 3/11
  28. Jane Routley - Mage Heart
  29. Paco Underhill - Why We Buy
  30. Janet Evanovich - One for the Money 3/16
  31. Janet Evanovich - Two for the Dough 3/16
  32. Janet Evanovich - Three to Get Deadly 3/17
  33. Janet Evanovich - Four to Score 3/17
  34. Janet Evanovich - High Five 3/17
  35. Janet Evanovich - Hot Six
  36. Janet Evanovich - Seven Up
  37. Carla Kelly - The Wedding Journey 3/21
  38. Loretta Chase - Knave's Wager 3/22
  39. Megan Chance - A Candle in the Dark 3/29
  40. Megan Chance - Fall From Grace 3/29
  41. Megan Chance - The Gentleman Caller 3/29
  42. Megan Chance - The Way Home 3/29
  43. Megan Chance - After the Frost 3/31
  44. Megan Chance - A Season in Eden 3/31
  45. Loretta Chase - The Devil's Delilah 4/03
  46. Emma Bull - Falcon 4/09
  47. Nancy Farmer - The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm 4/09
  48. Megan Chance - The Portrait 4/11
  49. Laura Kinsale - Shadowheart 4/13
  50. Connie Willis - Bellwether 4/17
  51. Michael Dirda - Readings 4/19
  52. Jean Ross Ewing - Flowers Under Ice 4/19
  53. Jean Ross Ewing - Illusion 4/19
  54. Julia Ross - The Seduction 4/19
  55. Jane Yolen - The Devil's Arithmetic 4/19
  56. Jane Yolen - Sister Emily's Lightship 4/19
  57. Patricia A. McKilliip - Winter Rose 4/21 (reread)
  58. Steven Brust - To Reign in Hell 4/24
  59. Connie Brockway - My Seduction 4/25
  60. Judith Tarr - Alamut 4/27
  61. Caroline Stevermer - A College of Magics 4/30
  62. Caroline Stevermer - When the King Comes Home 4/30
  63. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Neon Genesis Evangelion vol. 1 5/03
  64. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Neon Genesis Evangelion vol. 2 5/03
  65. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Neon Genesis Evangelion vol. 3 5/03
  66. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Neon Genesis Evangelion vol. 4 5/03
  67. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Neon Genesis Evangelion vol. 5 5/03
  68. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Neon Genesis Evangelionvol. 6 5/03
  69. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Neon Genesis Evangelion vol. 7 5/03
  70. Patricia A. McKilliip - The Riddlemaster of Hed 5/04
  71. Patricia A. McKilliip - Heir of Sea and Fire 5/04
  72. Patricia A. McKilliip - Harper in the Wind 5/04
  73. Mike Mignola - Hellboy: Conqueror Worm 5/06
  74. Mike Mignola - Hellboy: Seed of Destruction 5/06
  75. Mike Mignola - Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others 5/06
  76. Mike Mignola - Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom 5/06
  77. Mike Mignola - Hellboy: Wake the Devil 5/06
  78. Amy Tan - The Opposite of Fate 5/10
  79. Jane Austen - Persuasion 5/16
  80. Emma Bull - War for the Oaks 5/16 (reread)
  81. Patricia A. McKilliip - The Changeling Sea 5/18
  82. Sharon Shinn - Angel-Seeker 5/19
  83. Witchblade, Deluxe Collector's Edition 5/23
  84. Bill Willingham - Fables: Legends in Exile 5/24
  85. Bill Willingham - Fables: Animal Farm 5/24
  86. Sean Stewart - Nobody's Son 5/26
  87. Ursula K. LeGuin - Dancing at the Edge of the World 5/27
  88. Debra Ginsberg - Waiting 6/02
  89. Patricia A. McKilliip - Ombria in Shadow 6/02
  90. Barbara Samuel - The Black Angel 6/06
  91. Patricia A. McKilliip - The Tower at Stony Wood 6/08
  92. Megan Chance - A Heart Divided 6/12
  93. Ellen Raskin - The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) 6/15
  94. Naoki Yamamoto - Dance 'Till Tomorrow vol. 1 6/17
  95. Sean Stewart - Passion Play 6/23
  96. Noriko Ogiwara - Dragon Sword and Wind Child 6/25
  97. Judy Cuevas - Bliss 6/26
  98. Judy Cuevas - Dance 6/28
  99. Dorothy Dunnett - The Game of Kings 6/30
  100. Shana Abe - The Last Mermaid 7/01
  101. Patricia A. McKilliip - In the Forests of Serre 7/03
  102. Austin Murphy - How Tough Could It Be? 7/03
  103. Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer - Sorcery and Cecelia 7/06
  104. Bill Willingham - Fables: Storybook Love 7/07
  105. Marjane Satrapi - Persepolis 7/08
  106. Dorothy Dunnett - Queen's Play 7/12
  107. Dorothy Dunnett - The Disorderly Knights 7/15
  108. Dorothy Dunnett - Pawn in Frankincense 7/17
  109. Dorothy Dunnett - The Ringed Castle 7/18
  110. Dorothy Dunnett - Checkmate 7/19
  111. Ellen Raskin - Figgs & Phantoms 7/21 (reread)
  112. Jeff Smith and Charles Vess - Rose 7/22
  113. Elizabeth Marie Pope - The Perilous Gard 7/24 (reread)
  114. Pamela Dean - The Secret Country 7/29
  115. Pamela Dean - The Hidden Land 8/05
  116. Ellen Raskin - The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues 8/08
  117. Pamela Dean - The Whim of the Dragon 8/08
  118. Anne Fadiman - Ex Libris 8/12
  119. Diana Wynne Jones - The Tough Guide to Fantasyland 8/13
  120. Patricia A. McKilliip - The Book of Atrix Wolfe 8/25
  121. Patricia A. McKilliip - Alphabet of Thorn 8/28
  122. Megan Lindholm - Wizard of the Pigeons 8/30
  123. Richard Nelson Bolles - What Color Is Your Parachute? (2003 ed.) 9/01
  124. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra - Y: The Last Man -- Unmanned 9/02
  125. Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer - Sorcery and Cecelia 9/02 (reread)
  126. Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer - The Grand Tour 9/05
  127. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra - Y: The Last Man -- Cycles 9/06
  128. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra - Y: The Last Man -- One Small Step 9/06
  129. Patricia MacLachlan - The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt 9/19
  130. Juliet Marillier - Foxmask 9/19
  131. Peter David, David Lopez, and Fernando Blanco - Fallen Angel 9/19
  132. Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler's Wife 9/26
  133. Elizabeth E. Wein - The Winter Prince 9/28
  134. Terry Moore - The Collected Strangers in Paradise 9/28
  135. Terry Moore - Strangers in Paradise: I Dream of You 9/29
  136. Terry Moore - Strangers in Paradise: It's a Good Life 9/29
  137. Karen Joy Fowler - The Jane Austen Book Club 10/01
  138. Terry Moore - Strangers in Paradise: Love Me Tender 10/01
  139. Terry Moore - Strangers in Paradise: Immortal Enemies 10/01
  140. Terry Moore - Strangers in Paradise: High School! 10/01
  141. Terry Moore - Strangers in Paradise: Sanctuary 10/01
  142. Neil Gaiman - 1602 10/06
  143. Paula Volsky - Illusion 10/10
  144. Edith Pattou - East 10/12
  145. Caroll Smith-Rosenberg - Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America 10/13
  146. Margaret Mahy - The Tricksters 10/17
  147. Patricia A. McKilliip - Song for the Basilisk 10/21
  148. Lloyd Alexander - Westmark 10/25
  149. Lloyd Alexander - The Kestrel 10/31 (reread)
  150. Connie Brockway - My Pleasure 11/01
  151. Rebecca Tingle - The Edge on the Sword 11/05
  152. Lloyd Alexander - The Beggar Queen 11/06
  153. Bill Willingham - Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers 11/10
  154. Nonnie St. George - Courting Trouble 11/14
  155. Libba Bray - A Great and Terrible Beauty 11/18
  156. David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Relken - Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing up Among Worlds 11/19
  157. Sherwood Smith - Crown Duel 11/25
  158. Judith Ivory - Beast 11/28 (reread)
  159. Joan Jacobs Brumberg - Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa 12/05
  160. Jo Walton - Tooth and Claw 12/09
  161. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra - Y: The Last Man -- Safeword 12/11
  162. Dorothy L. Sayers - Strong Poison 12/14
  163. Karen Cushman - Catherine, Called Birdy 12/16
  164. Dorothy L. Sayers - Clouds of Witness 12/23
  165. Ursula K. LeGuin - Changing Planes 12/26
  166. Yann Martel - Life of Pi 12/27
  167. Jane Austen - Sense and Sensibility 12/31 (reread)