Be sure to stop by tomorrow and the next day for my top ten backlist and top ten weirdest books read this year!
- Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. A team of unnamed women go into a strange place called Area X. Everything's really fucking weird and it gets weirder. There is actually no book more perfect for me than the ones in the Southern Reach Trilogy. It filled the hole LOST left in my heart.
- Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer. The third book in the Southern Reach Trilogy. It doesn't disappoint. The second book, Authority, was a little bit of a slow let down, but Acceptance brought back everything I loved about Annihilation and more. The ending gave us just enough explanation and lack thereof. And can we talk about these covers? Damn.
- An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. An absolutely beautiful first novel exploring the trauma a kidnapped Haitian-American woman goes through. Every cruel, tragic thing that the main character could experience happens. Brutal, devastating, and absolutely necessary.
- Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle. A strange first novel by the lead singer of The Mountain Goats. Darnielle crafts a sort of YA novel backwards through time. The main character, Sean, has created a mail-in sci-fi RPG game that two young teenagers get wrapped up in. The game becomes too real, tragedy strikes, and Sean is held accountable. We're very much in his mind, exploring what happened to the kids and to him slowly and painfully. Subtle and much more beautiful than I expected. Extra points for the experimental format.
- Karate Chop: Stories by Dorthe Nors. These short stories are compact, sparse, and beautiful. The slim volume packs a huge punch. Translated from Danish, these stories are about small moments (that are often bigger than they seem) in every day life and the meanings they have between the people who share them. Stunning.
- Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball. Weird weird weird. Murders take place in Japan and a man confesses to them. He then refuses to speak. It looks like he probably didn't actually murder anybody, but he doesn't say anything. The novel is composed in a series of interviews with different people involved in the case. The tangential stories are strange and fascinating, the format is unique, and the story was haunting. I still find myself thinking about it.
- Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. I have to say, I expected Lena Dunham's book to be a bit funnier, because I thought season 1 of Girls was extraordinary, but I still loved her book. It's touching and insightful in ways I didn't expect it to be. I know she's a controversial character, but she's still smart as a whip and really fucking funny.
- The Martian by Andy Weir. An amazingly fun kind of sci-fi book about a man who gets stranded on Mars and has to do whatever he can to survive. Like Gravity, but less melodramatic and slightly more scientific, but still funnier. And on Mars.
- The Bone Clock by David Mitchell. I went in ready to hate this. I didn't really like Cloud Atlas and I didn't need to like this. But I really really did. Up until there were like ~200 pages left, at least. I can't discount the bulk of the novel. It follows a woman, Holly Sykes, from when she's a teenager, through sections focusing on different characters that touch her life throughout time. They're all wonderful and interesting. There's also warring immortal demigods sort of. It's not really worth talking about.
- Bird Box by Josh Malerman. An excellent horror novel. A woman has been in her house with her two children for four years. They don't look outside. Something out there makes people violent when they see it. One day she blindfolds herself and her children and sets out to canoe down a river to find a safer place to live. GREAT IDEA. I've never been more horrified by noises and touches in a novel. Walking around my apartment was hard as I read this. So was closing my eyes.
What were your favorite books this year? Have you read any of these?