Saturday, December 28, 2013

Favorite Books of 2013

As I've been doing for the past two years, here is my list of the top 5 books I read this year. This are books I *read* this year, not ones that were published this year.

Statistics-wise, the number of books I've been reading has dropped: 2011- 32, 2012- 25, 2013- 19. This means picking 5 means picking the best book in nearly every 4 that I read! Not surprisingly, it was very difficult to pick and sort these.
In terms of page count (by Goodreads' standards since I read electronically), that's 10030 pages read (comparable to last year, which reflects the length of the books). While I'm still reading a lot, I didn't do as well this year. I attribute this to several reasons including a heavier work load as my science has really picked up, dealing with other hobbies, and to my broken kindle which left me to use the more uncomfortable iPad.

Here then are my top 5 books, roughly sorted.

5. The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi paints a terrifying view of humanity's future. Unfortunately, he makes it look so believable that you can't help but feel scared as to what tomorrow will bring. This book is simple and fast paced (it's a young adult novel), but what really catches my attention is the description of the world the characters inhabit and its deliberate and eerie familiarity to our own.

4. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

It's always interesting to read (or watch movies) of clever heists or perfectly executed confidence games. You never want to be in the receiving end, but it's amazing to see a band of thieves pull it off. This is part of what makes The Lies of Locke Lamora so enjoyable. The character of Locke Lamora is fascinating and we cheer him on as he encounters and triumphs against ever increasing odds. As a bonus, it's set in a Venice-like city with plenty of magic around so you also get to explore a fantastic setting.

3. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

It's rare to see a fully developed and engaging epic fantasy in a single volume. However, Guy Gavriel Kay manages that perfectly with Tigana. The plot and setting are great, but it's the characters that really make the story shine. They are intricate and feel utterly real. The characters are confused and hurt at times and you feel exactly the same thing. Kay is certainly a master at creating beautiful stories with fascinating characters.

2. Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson

This is the 7th book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I am thoroughly enjoying the series and wish I could devote more time to reading them in sequence or with less time spans between. This particular volume had lots of emotion in its characters, from sad deaths to epic victories. Probably my favorite moment was how Karsa Orlong faced the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths. Hearing the conviction and arrogance of his statements was amazing, particularly when he carried them through. The one drawback to this series is how involved and convoluted it is. Nevertheless, I look forward to completing it so I can compare against one of the other great epic fantasy series of our times:

1. A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

This is the 14th and final book in The Wheel of Time series and Brandon Sanderson has finally managed to complete Robert Jordan's legacy. Whether you love it or hate it, the Wheel of Time has become one of the largest and most influential epic fantasies of recent times. This book feels huge and rightfully so as we see everything converging towards Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle. It is a fitting end to a great series. While the series had it's ups and downs in terms of which books were enjoyable, we'll nonetheless miss the excellent cast of characters and the intricate world and cultures of The Wheel of Time.

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