Friday, December 28, 2012

Things I Read and Loved, 2012

The first thing you need to know, is this isn’t a “Best Of” List. That would require me to give reasons, make rigorous justifications, and – in the spirit of fairness and full disclosure – leave off books by people I know and love. What this really is, is a list of things I read and loved in 2012. I’m going to try hard to limit it to things that were also published in 2012, but there are a couple places where I’m going to deviate. The items on this list aren’t ranked. There are things on this list that are by friends of mine. It’s my opinion that I have a lot of talented friends.

Here’s some other things you need to know: I had reading goals for 2012. I was going to read a lot of nonfiction, because I like learning things, and because reading nonfiction helps me to come up with ideas for writing fiction. I was also going to read a lot of YA books, again for reasons related to my own writing. I succeeded in both of these things, though I’m not really going to talk about the nonfiction here, because the vast majority of what I read in that area wound up being for my novel-in-progress. But what I really found interesting is that a lot of the books that I genuinely, passionately loved, were either YA or mimetic fiction, or both. There really weren’t a lot of adult SFF books that stuck with me this year. I’m not making any claim that that means anything, beyond where my own reading tastes were, but I found it interesting.

So here’s what I loved:

Craig Arnold’s Made Flesh . Published in 2008, but on the list because it’s his final collection – he died in 2009. And it’s mythology-inflected, and wonderful.

Anne Carson and Bianca Stone’s Antigonick .

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ new series, Saga is terrific. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are currently working on the final issues of Locke & Key , a gorgeous, smart series that started out brilliant and then got even better. Chris Ware’s Building Stories is genius.

This one’s a bit of a cheat, because I’m reading it now, but David Byrne’s How Music Works is fabulous so far. And while I really loved Cheryl Strayed memoir, Wild (it made me cry on a plane), I loved her Tiny Beautiful Things even more.

Short Fiction:
Shadow Show , the tribute to Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle is full of great stories, including brilliant ones by Joe Hill, Kelly Link, and Neil Gaiman. Also, “Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed), “The Night We Drank Cold Wine” by Megan Kurashige (Electric Velocipede) and “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu (Lightspeed) will all likely be on my awards ballots this year.

(I’m not separating YA and adult, and there are a couple of middle grade books here as well, nor am I separating mimetic and speculative. A good book is a good book. Also, these are in the order that I see the book on my shelves, no other.)

Elizabeth Hand had three books out this year, and all are wonderful (I also reread her entire back catalogue this year – it’s hard to go wrong with her work.) But I’d particularly like to call attention to Radiant Days .

G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen
Gwenda Bond’s Blackwood
Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity
China Miéville’s Railsea
Molly Ringwald’s When It Happens to You
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
Libba Bray’s The Diviners
Megan Abbott’s Dare Me
William Alexander’s Goblin Secrets
Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child
Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow
Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy
Lauren Groff – Arcadia came out this year, and was gorgeous, but the one I really loved (that I read for the first time this year, so on the list it goes) was The Monsters of Templeton
Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye series continues to be my favorite urban fantasy series – Ashes of Honor may be the best one yet.