A few awesome people are doing year-end reading roundups, and I thought I’d join in the fun! (The main inspiration this time ’round is Amy Sundberg’s post here.)
I’ve read 49 books so far this year, for a slightly loose definition of book that includes comic book trades, graphic novels, and individual issues of short story magazines. That’s a lot of books! (At least, for me.) So, to keep it manageable, I’m going to break the books I read into groups of ten. The whole series should be wrapped up by the end of the year. Books are listed in chronological order of when I read them.
An * indicates an audiobook, just for posterity’s sake.
Now, without further ado…
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This book was cute and sweet, and a great way to start the year. I have a feeling I was reading it before the New Year, but since I finished it after the year started it still counts. Does a very good job of feeling like real life, with character drama that makes sense and doesn’t descend too far into the overly melodramatic. Totally recommend, especially if you want a light fluffy gay YA read.
Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1) by Kerry Greenwood
I fully admit I got into this because of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The books are fantastic. Cocaine Blues was a light, fun read that went by quickly, but not in a bad way. The characterizations are very different than those on the show, with some characters being more or less in focus. But Phryne’s definitely still Phryne, and amazingly fun to watch do her thing.
Y: The Last Man – The Deluxe Edition Book One by Brian K. Vaughan
I’ve never been so disappointed in a series. I’ve had this comic hyped to me for years, as a really interesting science fiction comic that focused on awesome/strong/etc women. So it was a bit of a disappointment to find a book that didn’t give a lot of depth to any of its characters and spent a huge portion of its runtime revolving around the POV, both narrative and moral, of a boring cis straight white guy. Some of the worldbuilding touches were nice, and the main villain of this first volume is a well-written manipulative charismatic leader. But beyond that, I just didn’t find a lot to love. Not horrible, either, but merely mediocre. I’m probably not going to keep reading. I can imagine this felt a lot more revolutionary when it first came out than it does now, but even keeping that in mind…eh.
Need by Jolie Charbonneau
Need was both a very pleasant surprise and also not the smartest book on the pile. It presents a world where a social media app is used to drive teens into doing terrible things by offering them gifts in exchange. It’s interesting in that a lot of the tasks are small things that are combined into huge consequences later on. But at the end there’s still a single villain to defeat and all that jazz. That said, totally fun, more suspenseful than I’m proud to admit, and well worth the sale price I paid for it.
Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan
So, my friend Diana recommended this to me in, like, junior high or high school, and I never got around to reading it until now. Runaways is super fun, does a great job of having a (semi-)diverse cast, and has an awesome pet dinosaur. So there’s pretty much nothing to complain about. Having the teens rebelling against their super-villain parents also makes for interesting character dynamics within the story, and stops it from becoming as clear cut as good versus evil on either side of the parent-kid divide.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
Felicia Day is a national treasure. Reading this memoir (with a side of self-help/inspirational text) about how she made it big through the powers of the internet was fantastic. She deals with a lot of anxiety along the way, which is nice to see for someone like me who also has a lot of anxiety and is also prone to saying “yes” whenever anyone asks me to do work for them. The book is also very, very funny. A+ all around.
Red Sonja, Vol. 2: The Art of Blood and Fire by Gail Simone
I will never pass up a chance to read Gail Simone’s version of Red Sonja. This book is much more episodic than the first one, and has less personal stakes for Sonja, but it hardly matters. She’s still the hard-drinking, ass-kicking, bisexual (I think) badass I know and love. As a fan of the old Conan stories, these feel like Conan for the modern age, which I am always in favor of.
Black Iris by Leah Raeder*
This book, by Elliot Wake (written under the name Leah Raeder) is a fuck right to the emotions. The language is gorgeous. The characters are complicated and messy, and as far as I remember none of them are actually good people. That doesn’t stop them from being compelling as hell in this dark tale of revenge and twisted, twisted love. This book was so intense I had to give myself breaks from it on and off, but it was 100% worth it. The audiobook version I listened to was very well done, as well. I really look forward to reading the rest of Wake’s oeuvre when I get a chance.
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss
This book took forever to read, because it is very, very long. That said, it’s full of interesting information and a lot of food for thought when it comes to how we eat and exercise, and how to approach both of those activities for maximum results. I feel like Ferriss might have drank a little too much of his own kool-aid from time to time, and possibly assumes his audience has more disposable income than a lot of us do. However, it’s still a good read and I appreciate that he put as much scientific rigor into it as he could. I do recommend reading it as he recommends, skipping to the chapters you are currently interested in, rather than reading it front to back, though.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I read this book for school, as part of a “choose what book you want to read off this list” sort of thing, but I’d been wanting to read it for a while. Cain takes a very interesting look into the science of how introverts think, and it manages to stay away from the “here’s my buzzfeed article about what you need to understand about introverts”/101 tone that a lot of coverage on the topic has. I think it does a good job of talking about how to apply one’s introversion to real life situations, and how to help introverts in your life. Science + application is one of my favorite things. The book also does a good job of not making sweeping generalizations, which I always appreciate.
And that’s it for part 1, folks! Hope to see you back here soon for part 2!