I was going to do a whole “year in reading” post, but I got sucked into other things and now I find the year has already turned over. Happy new year!
Here are my favorite reads of last year. Many are relatively new, some are classics, all are worth your time.
The Sundial by Shirley Jackson: After receiving a vision from their deceased father, the Halloran family and their various hangers-on prepare for the end of the world (gothic horror classic). I got this wonderful Penguin edition with introduction by Victor Lavalle.
The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns begins with a maternity nurse discovering that one of the newborns in her care has disappeared and has been replaced by a six-foot corn snake, and it just gets wilder from there (mystery).
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers: Mystery writer Harriet Vane returns to her college at Oxford and is drawn into an investigation of a spate of poison pen letters, vandalism, and other pranks; she must call on Lord Peter Wimsey to help her solve the mystery (mystery classic).
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler: Private eye Philip Marlowe is hired by a millionaire to track down a blackmailer and gets entangled with his spoiled daughters and a bunch of seedy characters (mystery classic).
China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh: In the 22nd century, when China is the dominant superpower and the US has had a socialist revolution, Zhang is trying to figure out what to do with his life (science fiction).
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: At one time, the artificial intelligence Justice of Toren was the brain of a massive starship as well as the crew members on-board and the security forces keeping peace on a conquered planet, inhabiting the bodies of human prisoners-of-war, called ancillaries, whose brains have been wiped clean and repurposed. But now the AI, called Breq, is confined to just one of her ancillary bodies, as she doggedly pursues revenge against the one who betrayed her while becoming embroiled in a complicated struggle for power over the galactic empire (science fiction).
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell: Mitchell’s latest novel is a genre-bending epic spanning 60 years about the people whose fates are altered by an ongoing war between immortals (literary fiction).
In the Woods by Tana French: Investigating a child murder, Detective Ryan returns for the first time to his childhood home, where his two best friends disappeared in a still-unsolved crime (mystery).
Rivers by Michael Farris Smith: In the near future, climate change and perpetual storms have forced the US government to abandon the Gulf Coast, and those who remain live without laws or services (apocalyptic fiction).
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: Tells the truth on every page. And there are dogs. They aren’t cute dogs but you can’t have everything (humor).
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons: Flora Poste moves in with distant relatives on Cold Comfort Farm and decides to fix everybody (humor classics).
Revival by Stephen King: Throughout his life, Jamie Morton has repeatedly encountered the Reverend Charles Jacobs and been drawn into his mysterious experiments with electricity, but toward the end of Jacobs’ life he coerces Jamie into participating into the ultimate–and most dangerous–of experiments (horror).
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: After learning that her colleague has died of a “fever” in the Amazon jungle, Dr. Marina Singh follows in his footsteps to learn more about the cause of his death and locate the reclusive Doctor Annick Swenson, who is developing a miracle fertility drug (literary fiction).
Top kids’ books: James and the Giant Peach, The 13 Clocks and Charlotte’s Web — all rereads.