Fri, Jan. 6th, 2006, 07:03 pm || 2005 book round up

add to memories

I read less than last year by a bit, probably by a lot volume-wise, because so much of this year was manga, which I read much faster. I am too lazy to separate out my manga read, and so I just count a volume as a book. I also still haven't figured out how to do LJ entries on manga -- sometimes I do entries on a chunk of volumes, sometimes I do overviews after I finish a series, sometimes I just hold off on writing anything until I've completed the whole thing. I dunno. I'll figure something out, I guess.

I didn't get quite as excited over what I read this year as well, which makes doing this difficult. I don't know if it's because I was concentrating on other things, like re-picking up knitting or having a better social life, or if it's just what I read. Last year it was tough just picking ten books out of all the good stuff I had read; this year, I'm sort of struggling to fill it. It's not that what I read wasn't good, it's that not as much hit quite as hard.

Anyhow, here are my ten favorite books of the year, alphabetically by author. I don't pick books written this year, but books read this year. And my definition of favorite is very fuzzy. Basically, it's anything that left a lasting impression on me, or anything that I smile at when I go over the list of books read. While I generally don't include rereads on the list, I also reserve the right to cheat horribly.

I've blogged all of these except some of the manga, for reasons explained above. You can find everything in my books memories. I am too lazy to link all 149 books.

  1. Loretta Chase, Lord of the Scoundrels

    This is a sort of placeholder for all the Loretta Chase books I read this year (Miss Wonderful, Mr. Impossible, and The Last Hellion). I loved all of them, though Lord of the Scoundrels is hands down my favorite. Loretta Chase is very good at taking some fairly boring and standard romance tropes, most of which I dislike, and inserting a proactive heroine, a hero who is completely ok with falling in love, and a plot that generally ends up enabling the heroine. LotS also subverts one of the romance tropes that I most dislike, that of the alpha bastard hero who treats everyone, particularly women, abominably because he had a rotten childhood. Chase writes about people who like each other while they're falling in love, which is all too rare in romance.

  2. Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

    This is a small, unambitious book that nonetheless made me happier than Gaiman's latest books. While the comedy relies on the awkwardness of the protagonist, there's a sense that Gaiman loves and identifies with Fat Nancy; the awkwardness isn't embarrassing, but rather, endearing. And in the end, it is, like Sandman, a story about the stories we tell ourselves and how stories shape our lives.

  3. Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

    Hornbacher's memoir is a stark, no-holds-barred look at the damage that eating disorders can wreak on a life; her descriptions of her ordeal are visceral and stunning. It's a painful read of someone who has dedicated her formidable intellect and willpower to destroying her own body.

  4. Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle

    Technically, this is a reread, but I remember vaguely not getting the book the first time I read it. This time, I loved it to pieces, from the decidedly imperfect characters to the wry narrative voice. The best part is that despite the moving castle and attempts to foil the Witch of the Waste's plans, the book is about the characters growing up and growing into themselves, while remaining crotchety and flawed. Jones never tries to make anyone in the book a straight-up hero, and that's why it works so well for me.

  5. Rosemary Kirstein, Steerswoman series

    Kirstein's Steerswoman series made me realize how much I missed traditional science fiction; her books are about knowledge and the scientific method, discovery and logic. She also does this without making the characters mere talking heads; rather, the process and not the results of uncovering knowledge and analyzing drives the main character. There's also a wonderfully rendered friendship between two women who are very different and yet respect each other.

    The series is yet unfinished and consists of The Steerswoman, The Outskirter's Secret, The Lost Steersman, and The Language of Power.

  6. Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

    Knapp's book is also somewhat biographical, like Marya Hornbacher's, but rather than describing the experience of eating disorders, Knapp attempts to analyze the whys and hows of them. She talks of deprivation of both the body and the mind, of the complex factors that feed into eating disorders and problems with body image. Sympathetic and compassionate, Knapp never loses sight of the human in search of the universal.

  7. Peter D. Kramer, Against Depression

    A deeply compassionate and very compelling argument on the destructiveness of depression. Kramer looks at how depression affects the people who suffer from it and the people in their lives; he gathers data on how much depression costs in terms of physical health and lost productivity. I would give this book to anyone who argued that depression wasn't a serious disease or wasn't a disease at all, as well as to anyone who argues that getting rid of depression would somehow tampers with the human condition.

  8. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki (spoilers in second half)

    Minekura's gorgeous art, sharp and sinewy, and the snarky, angsty, fallible characters are hard to resist. Sanzo, Goku, Hakkai and Gojyo are all wonderful, well-rounded characters in their own right; but I love them best as a group. They're all broken people who have found each other; they're all trying to recover from their pasts, and I love how they help each other even while they snark and bitch and moan and look incredibly sexy.

  9. Simon Singh, The Code Book

    One of the fun pieces of non-fiction I read this year. The book is deceptively simple until you realize how difficult some of the concepts that Singh is explaining. The invisible prose and effortless explanation make it an educational experience, but it isn't just a book on hows and whys. Singh never fails to show the reader how exciting he finds cryptography and code-breaking.

  10. Scott Westerfeld, Peeps

  11. This book made me go on a giant Scott Westerfeld binge that has yet to stop. Like the Steerswoman series, Peeps reminds me of why I love science fiction. Much of it lies in how enthusiastic Westerfeld is about parasites and the way they work, so much so that I didn't mind reading about gory deaths and biological details at all. Peeps takes the vampire novel, which I was getting bored of, and turns it into something else all together.

Also recommended: Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses; Rachel Manija Brown, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost; Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls; Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever; Teresa Edgerton, Goblin Moon; Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Laura Kinsale, Seize the Fire; J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; and Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano.

Hrm, looks like there was a lot of non-fiction this year, particularly in the realm of eating disorders and depression. Why is this not a surprise to me? ;)

2004 book round up

Total read: 149 (6 rereads)

1. n/a, Tales of the Slayer 1 01/08
2. n/a, Tales of the Vampires 01/11
3. Karen Cushman, The Ballad of Lucy Whipple 01/14
4. Sarah Micklem, Firethorn 01/21
5. Jennifer Crusie, Charlie All Night 01/24
6. Elizabeth Bear, Hammered 01/29
7. Tracy Barrett, Anna of Byzantium 02/09
8. Anne Sheffield, How You Can Survive When They're Depressed: Living and Coping With Depression Fallout 02/16
9. Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby 02/16
10. Martha Brooks, True Confessions of a Heartless Girl 02/17
11. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 2 02/22
12. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 3 02/24
13. Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses 03/06
14. Kim Chernin, The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness 03/12
15. Rosalind Wiseman, Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence 03/12
16. Laura Epstein Rosen and Xavier Francisco Amador, When Someone You Love Is Depressed: How to Help Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself 03/13
17. Norman F. Cantor, In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made 03/14
18. Emma Bull, Bone Dance 03/24
19. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 2 03/24
20. Elizabeth Wein, A Coalition of Lions 04/01
21. Greg Crister, Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World 04/04
22. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 4 04/04
23. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 1 04/08
24. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 5 04/09
25. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 6 04/09
26. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 7 04/09
27. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 2 04/17
28. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 3 04/17
29. CLAMP, Clover 1 04/18
30. CLAMP, xxxHolic 1 04/18
31. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 8 04/18
32. Watase Yuu, Alice 19th 1 04/18
33. Won Kim Kang, I.N.V.U. 04/18
34. Kara and Lee Chi Hyong, Demon Diary 1 04/21
35. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 4 04/22
36. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 1 04/24
37. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 2 04/24
38. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 3 04/24
39. Megan Chance, An Inconvenient Wife 04/25
40. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 4 04/25
41. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 5 04/25
42. Ueda Miwa, Peach Girl 1 04/26
43. C.J. Cherryh, The Paladin 04/27
44. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 6 04/28
45. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 7 04/28
46. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 8 04/28
47. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 9 04/28
48. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds., Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold 04/29
49. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 10 05/02
50. Connie Brockway, My Surrender 05/05
51. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds., A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales 05/06
52. Liz Carlyle, The Devil to Pay 05/09
53. Loretta Chase, Mr. Impossible 05/11
54. Martha Brooks, Two Moons in August 05/12 (reread)
55. CLAMP, Shirahime-Syo 05/15
56. Laura Kinsale, For My Lady's Heart 05/15 (reread)
57. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary 11 05/18
58. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 1 05/22
59. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 2 05/22
60. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 9 05/23
61. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 10 05/23
62. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 11 05/24
63. Eva Ibbotson, A Company of Swans 05/29
64. Amanda Quick, The Paid Companion 05/30
65. Rosemary Kirstein, The Steerswoman 05/30
66. Loretta Chase, The Last Hellion 05/31
67. Rosemary Kirstein, The Outskirter's Secret 06/05
68. Rosemary Kirstein, The Lost Steersman 06/10
69. Rosemary Kirstein, The Language of Power 06/22
70. CLAMP, xxxHolic 2 06/24
71. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 5 06/25
72. Connie Brockway, McClairen's Isle: The Ravishing One 06/27 (reread)
73. Patricia A. McKillip, Od Magic 06/27
74. Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle 06/28 (reread)
75. CLAMP, xxxHolic 3 06/30
76. CLAMP, xxxHolic 4 06/30
77. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 3 07/05
78. Holly Black, Tithe 07/06
79. Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want 07/10
80. Ruth Reichl, Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table 07/14
81. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 5 07/17 (reread)
82. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 12 07/18
83. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 6 07/21
84. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 13 07/24
85. Laura Leone, Fallen from Grace 07/28
86. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween 07/31
87. Terri Farley, Seven Tears Into the Sea 07/31
88. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 4 08/01
89. Simon Singh, The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy From Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography 08/05
90. Terri Windling, ed., The Armless Maiden 08/07
91. Loretta Chase, Lord of Scoundrels 08/08
92. Holly Black, Valiant 08/12
93. Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever 08/13
94. Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents 08/16
95. Diane Ackerman, A Slender Thread: Rediscovering Hope at the Heart of Crisis 08/19
96. Elizabeth Bear, Scardown 09/03
97. Peter D. Kramer, Against Depression 09/05
98. Joan D. Vinge, The Snow Queen 09/06
99. Shannon Hale, The Goose Girl 09/11
100. Mark Salzman, Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia 09/14
101. Alice Hoffman, Local Girls 09/18
102. Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitting Without Tears 09/29
103. Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook: An Easy and Imaginative Guide for the Beginner 09/29
104. Loretta Chase, Knave's Wager 09/30 (reread)
105. Tamora Pierce, Circle of Magic: Sandry's Book 1 10/02
106. Tamora Pierce, Circle of Magic: Tris's Book 2 10/02
107. Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys 10/06
108. Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 10/08
109. Laura Kinsale, Seize the Fire 10/09
110. Tamora Pierce, Circle of Magic: Daja's Book 3 10/10
111. Tamora Pierce, Circle of Magic: Briar's Book 4 10/12
112. Tamora Pierce, The Circle Opens: Magic Steps 1 10/13
113. Tamora Pierce, The Circle Opens: Street Magic 2 10/14
114. Tamora Pierce, The Circle Opens: Cold Fire 3 10/18
115. Tamora Pierce, The Circle Opens: Shatterglass 4 10/19
116. Steve Krug, Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd ed. 10/20
117. Rachel Manija Brown, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: An American Misfit in India 10/23
118. Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls 10/24
119. Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia 10/30
120. Loretta Chase, Miss Wonderful 11/02
121. Kage Baker, In the Garden of Iden 11/04
122. Tamora Pierce, The Will of the Empress 11/05
123. Scott Westerfeld, Peeps 11/06
124. Alton Brown, I'm Just Here for More Food 11/10
125. Mary Roach, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife 11/11
126. Scott Westerfeld, Uglies 11/12
127. Scott Westerfeld, Midnighters: The Secret Hour 1 11/13
128. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 14 11/18
129. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 15 11/18
130. Teresa Edgerton, Goblin Moon 11/21
131. Scott Westerfeld, Pretties 11/26
132. Watase Yuu, Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden 1 11/28
133. Watase Yuu, Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden 2 11/29
134. Watase Yuu, Alice 19th 2 12/01
135. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 5 12/03
136. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 6 12/03
137. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 7 12/03
138. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 8 12/03
139. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki 9 12/03
140. Patricia Gaffney, Another Eden 12/07
141. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 16 12/17
142. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 17 12/17
143. Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances 18 12/17
144. Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking 12/18
145. Scott Westerfeld, So Yesterday 12/18
146. Laura Kinsale, The Hidden Heart 12/23
147. Aki Shimizu, Qwan 1 12/25
148. Walter C. Willett, Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating 12/27
149. Caroline Stevermer, River Rats 12/31