Saturday, January 16, 2016

Favorites, series, and disappointments of 2015

2015 was generally a really fantastic reading year. I feel as if I've come into my own as a reader of several very different genres. SF/F and British domestic fiction aren't normal bedfellows, but they are both my great loves, and alternating between them has kept my free-reading time feeling fresh. It's been fun to go through my lists for 2015 and note some highlights for the year:

Series read this year (hmm, mostly SFF! Perhaps because domestic fiction doesn't as often come in series?):
  1. Moomins, Tove Jansson (except for Great Flood, the rarer first book which I still have yet to acquire)
  2. The Hero’s Guide, Christopher Healy
  3. Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson
  4. Inheritance, N. K. Jemisin
  5. Memoirs of Lady Trent #1-3 (all that’s been published so far), Marie Brennan
  6. Xenogenesis, Octavia E. Butler

 Series I was really expecting to love but ended up abandoning after the first one:
  1. The Magicians, Lev Grossman
  2. Finishing School, Gail Carriger
  3. The Queen’s Thief, Megan Whalen Turner
  4. The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare

Most disappointing DNFs:
  1. Black Dove, White Raven, Elizabeth Wein (I expected to love this; perhaps it couldn't grab me the way her WWII novels did because I didn't know anything about the political situation in Ethiopia)
  2. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (loved the female-gendered pronouns! But I couldn't get into it)
  3. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (680 pages in and I'm setting it aside. This book is just too long and drawn out, with a far more interesting beginning than middle.)

Favorite Re-Reads:
  1. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  2. Guard Your Daughters, Diana Tutton

And now, the most important and most fun list: favorite new reads! I loved each of these books for very different reasons. Some are among the best in their genre; others were simply what I needed at the time. Some were beautifully written; others were not so well-written but stuck with me for one reason or another. I found it impossible to narrow this list down to ten. What do I leave in? The books that I still think about, or the books I couldn't put down? The books I've had the most conversations about? The books that moved me deeply at the time, or the books that still make me smile when I think of them? This list of fourteen encompasses a lot of SFF, but even a lot of those are genre-crossing in other ways (such as Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw, a Victorian manners novel starring dragons). There's even a ballet novel.

Favorites New Reads:
  1. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  3. The Greengage Summer, Rumer Godden
  4. Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton
  5. The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2), Rae Carson
  6. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritence #1 and #2), N. K. Jemisin
  7. Among Others, Jo Walton
  8. Greenglass House, Kate Milford
  9. The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
  10. Wake, Anna Hope
  11. The Cranes Dance, Meg Howrey
  12. Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis #2), Octave E. Butler
  13. The Martian, Andy Weir
  14. Fortunately, the Milk, Neil Gaiman


  1. I loved the Jo Walton I read a few years ago and Matthew my husband loved The Martian. Nice list!

    1. Which Walton did you read? I've only read a few of hers so far - they're all so different!

      You might like The Martian too; it's pretty un-put-down-able, and all the science is really interesting and accessible.

    2. Just had to check - it was "Among Others". I'm not a big sci fi reader but it really appealed to me, I loved it. My best friend gave it to me after her teenaged daughters really enjoyed it. I like Connie Willis, too. Unfortunately, I know the ending of The Martian as my husband told me all about it when he was reading it!!

    3. Oh, but there's never really any doubt that he'd survive, and the fun comes in the ingenuity and engineering as he takes on the challenges of the planet, the equipment, and his own mistakes. So I'd still recommend giving it a shot (even given the spoilers)