- Exhalation, Ted Chiang: Great collection of stories, in particular I liked “The Lifecycle of Software Objects.”
- The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai: A story set in two different times, which was intersting. But I really wanted the whole thing to be about the timeframe I was enjoying more.
- The Searcher, Tana French: Really absorbing and great writing, as usual.
- The Broken Earth Series (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky), N.K. Jemisin: This trilogy is absolutely worth a read – and a re-read, which is what this was. This time, I re-read them all back to back, which was a great experience. I was more able to keep track of characters and more easily able to keep a grip on the plot, which was really great.
- Sourdough, Robin Sloan: Sentient starter in the Bay Area tech-meets-artisanal food scene. What else do you need to know?
If you only read one, make it The Searcher. If you only read one, but need it to be lighthearted, pick up Sourdough.
- Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston: Please tell me someone has optioned the film rights to this. Delightful! (Defintiely rated R though.)
- Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo: A really wonderful book of interlocking short stories.
- Lightspeed Magazine Special Issue: Women Destroy Science Fiction!: I skipped some of the interviews and non-story stuff, but this was fun to work my way through.
- The Grammarians, Cathleen Schine:
- Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Jane Eyre and 50s glam in Mexico, what’s not to like? This was fantastic.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin: I went into this expecting to love it, and did not. Even once I got into it there was a little more politicking than I care for in my fiction.
- Disappearing Earth, Julia Phillips: I think if you go into this ready to read some interlocking short stories, you’ll enjoy it more than I did.
If you only read one, make it Mexican Gothic.
- Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir: Wizards in space, but make it spooky.
- The Lager Queen of Minnesota, Ryan J. Stradal: Women brewing beer, what’s not to like?
- Big Machine, Victor LaValle: The concept was really interesting, but the main action of the novel wasn’t clear enough until way to far into things.
- Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem: Teenage rejects working for a small-time mob boss.
- Big Friendship, Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman: A memoir about a deep friendship, but also so much more.
- Beneath the Rising, Premee Mohamed: This was a weird book for me. Apparently I enjoyed it, but I kept forgetting what it was about every night when I picked it up, and I have no idea now.
- The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett: Really compelling story about twins who take two very different paths in life, and their daughters.
- Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor: Teenagers discovering their magic powers in Nigeria.
If you only read two, pick up The Vanishing Half and Big Friendship.
- The Confessions of Frannie Langton, Sara Collins: Well-paced, and the elements of the plot slowly builds up to the ending.
- Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev: This is being billed as a rom-com but for me, it wasn’t as funny as I expected. Still good, but set your expectations appropriately.
- Small Days and Nights, Tishani Doshi: Quiet and introspective. The writing definitely puts you in the mood for the story.
- Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappra: A sad story lightened only by being told through the eyes of a child.
- Waste Tide, Chen Qiufan (translated by Ken Liu): The concept and main plot points were really interesting, but overpowered by the level of technical detail the writing went into at points. This was a struggle to get through and I almost didn’t finish it.
- The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel: I will absolutely be re-reading this at some point. Her writing is so absorbing and the story weaves around itself in a satisfying way. If you never picked up her last novel, Station Eleven, definitely give this one a try. (Now is maybe not a great time to read Station Eleven for the first time.)
If you only read one: Hands down, The Glass Hotel. Worth buying if your library’s holds list is too long.
- Circe, Madeline Miller: I absolutely loved this. I didn’t know much about Circe but by the time this was wrapping up, I didn’t want it to end.
- Network Effect, Martha Wells: Murderbot makes a friend! And rescues other friends!
- The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin: So good. Is the hold list intolerable? Just buy a copy, you will not regret it. Plus you’ll want to reread it at some point, it’s the first in a series.
- Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson: I didn’t like this as much as some of her other stuff, but still a good read.
- The Unfinished World and Other Stories, Amber Sparks: Collections are always hard to blurb here, but I did enjoy this.
- MEM, Bethany C. Morrow: Very cool concept.
- How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu: I didn’t like this as much as I would have thought.
- City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert: Do you like broadway, and also historical fiction? Read this. So fun.
- Little Weirds, Jenny Slate: I’m still not sure what I thought of this.
- An American Marriage, Tayari Jones: So, so many “what ifs” in this one. Would be a good book club pick I think.
- With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo: Fun YA cooking-themed coming of age story.
- The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck: Took a bit to settle in, but once I was used to the voice it pulled me right along.
If you only read one (uh, for each month) make it City of Girls and The City We Became. Plus Circe. And if you’ve slept on Murderbot, go back and start with the first one, this is a series and it’s great.
I don’t feel like doing a big breakdown of 2019 books – but according to Goodreads I read 92 books and 31,000 pages.
December had a lot of time for reading:
Didn’t finish much this month thanks to a cold and some late nights.
- A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, C.A. Fletcher: A post-apocalypse book that doesn’t really look much at all at the catastrophe. I really enjoyed the POV of this one.
- The Testaments, Margaret Atwood: A glimpse into the inner workings of Gilead.
- The Luminous Dead, Caitlin Starling: A sci-fi novel where the sci-fi part just is. Ultimately this is a psychological thriller about caving and extreme solitude.
If you only read one, it’s a tossup between A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World and The Luminous Dead.