I read more books than you’ll credit possible this year (more than 300). Like last year, I’ll share the ten fiction and ten non-fiction books I got the most out of.
The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden – Russian fairytale-esque fantasy. I felt right cold reading it, as is proper for a story taking place during a Russian winter.
A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan – A fantasy written in the form of a memoir? Funny, that’s what I’ve been aiming to do.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke – I loved every bit of this doorstopper, right down to the copious footnotes.
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas – ACTION! THRILLS! RAGE! JEALOUSY! BETRAYAL! ROMANCE! Definitely go with a recent translation, though; I hear the one in public domain is pretty bowlderised.
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel – Go piss up a rope, Thomas More. (I wish I could write half as well as Mantel, FYI.)
Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery – An old favourite, one that I hadn’t reread in years. Still wonderful, and surprisingly low on preachiness. (Looking at you, Little Women.)
True Grit, by Charles Portis – Short, effective, with perfect narration.
The Cosmere Series, by Brandon Sanderson – Cheating lot here, given how many novels and sub-series are a part of it. Great worldbuilding and progressively better books.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain – Basically, a ‘fuck you’ to novels glorifying the age of knights and kings and chivalry.
Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein – WWII story focusing on the friendship between two women, who happen to be a spy and a pilot, respectively.
The Creation of Anne Boleyn, by Susan Bordo – I’m going to tell you something really shocking: cultural portrayals of Anne Boleyn have been all over the map, even before her head was lopped off.
Grant, by Ron Chernow – Extremely thorough biography of an underappreciated character in American history. How thorough? So thorough that you can count the times he fell off the wagon during the Civil War.
The Field of Blood, by Joanne B Freeman – Aw, you wish for a time when politicians could be bipartisan and work together? When was that, exactly? When Southern senators threatened violence if their Northern colleagues dared bring up slavery?
No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin – Eleanor and Franklin were complicated.
The War That Ended Peace, by Margaret MacMillan – In which the author-historian posits that World War I wasn’t as inevitable as touted and lots of shit had to go wrong before shit really went down.
Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckracking, by Jessica Mitford – Best Mitford. A collection of some of her articles over the years, including the one that was later expanded into her exposé of the funeral industry, The American Way of Death.
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah – Daily Show host’s memoirs of his South African childhood. I kept walking an hour after my jog was finished just so I could finish this audiobook.
My Thoughts Be Bloody, by Nora Titone – Alternate title could be, Hey! You Thought Your Family Was Fucked Up? Poor Edwin Booth. Abusive childhood spent looking after your famous drunk actor dad, you overcome it by becoming an even bigger star than he ever was… Then your shitty little brother, who thought he should be a famous actor too without working for it because he was a Booth, ruins it all by shooting Lincoln.
Roughing It / A Tramp Abroad / Innocents Abroad / Life on the Mississippi, by Mark Twain – Cheating. But Twain is (mostly) a goddamned delight.
Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell – Is the author me? Because I thought I was the only person whose idea of a good time would be visiting sites associated with presidential assassinations.
And the book I hated the most? Gone With the Wind. Damn it to hell.