As I do every year, I'd like to summarize my top books I read this year. These are books I read this year and not necessarily ones that were published this year. Despite the fact I read a lot, I'm actually finding that I average only about 20 books or so in a year. This is due to a variety of reasons, including being busy with other things and the length of some of those books. As such, it becomes difficult to pick the best few among a short list. Nevertheless, here we go.
According to Goodreads, I've read 20 books this year. However, 3 of those were short stories or novellas. In terms of pages, I've read 8423 pages, down from prior years (though the numbers don't match what Goodreads had returned in 2013). Of those 20, 6 were books I read as part of the book club I attend (a 7th is one I recommended). I'm a bit surprised at that number given that we met for 11 months, though it could be that I didn't mark down the ones I skipped/didn't finish or the short story anthology we read (Dear Life Stories by Alice Munroe). Despite this, the book club has been a way to broaden my horizons and I've read several books I really liked despite my initial misgivings. I decided to include one of them among my top 5 this year.
Here are my top 5 this year, roughly sorted.
5. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
A book club pick I was against and thought would be terrible, yet ended up being among my favorites. This is an autobiography depicting the struggles of the author as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail after her life pretty much fell apart. A journey both physical as it is emotional, her travels parallel that of the "hero's journey" and lend a greater scope to her personal trip. Furthermore, it was told in such a manner as to get me excited about hiking, something I don't often do.
4. Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
Based on Chinese mythology, Barry Hughart's Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox begins with the tale of the Bridge of Birds, an adaptation of the tale of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. A blend of Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, and Chinese myths and legends, this book weaves an intriguing story with plenty of humor, action, and magic. The China it depicts may not be real, but it sure is awesome.
3. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
This is a highly praised novel that came out recently and it certainly deserves the recognition. It is a tale of revenge in a uniquely fleshed-out sci-fi universe. The main character is an ancillary of the ship Justice of Toren and seeing her life and the rest of her ancillaries was cool. Now that Ancillary Sword is out, I'll certainly be continuing this series.
2. The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu
Despite not being a novel, this short story was such an amazing read I felt it deserved mention here. You can read it in an hour or two, but you'll stay thinking about it for days. A modern take on the classic science fiction short stories that formed the backbone of the genre, this is a must-read for fans of sci-fi.
1. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson