Happy New Year! I love the end-of-the-year book posts, which always add to my reading lists. Last night I was switching back and forth between blogs and my library's site. I was also looking back over my book log, to choose my own favorite books. Here is my list for 2018:
, by Jennifer Crusie. After my accident, I turned to e-books, convenient to borrow from the library when I couldn't easily get there. Remembering Jennifer Crusie's name from Claire at The Captive Reader
, I was happy to find a long list of her books available, and I tore through most of them. Fast Women
is one I added to my shelves. It's the story of three friends, starting with Nell Dysart, beginning a new job at McKenna Investigations after losing her husband and her business in a divorce. I'd love more stories both about the women and the work at the detective agency.
The Magpie Lord
, by KJ Charles. Jenny at Reading the End
introduced me to KJ Charles. I started with her series about magical practitioners in Victorian London, and then went on to read pretty much everything else she has written, except her contemporary mysteries (the first of which is on my Nook). I'm following Ms. Charles on Twitter now not just for news of upcoming books but for her book recommendations.
Witchmark, by C.L. Polk
I see this book turning up on other "favorite" lists.
Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister
, by Sheila Johnson Kindred. The book reviews in the newsletter from the Jane Austen Society of North America tempt me every time. That's where I found this biography of Jane Austen's sister-in-law, Frances Palmer Austen, married to Jane's younger brother Charles. It is a fascinating exploration of life in the Royal Navy, for a woman who (Prof. Kindred argues) might have served as a model for Mrs. Croft in Persuasion
Sparrow Hill Road and The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, by Seanan McGuire
. I am now reading her October Daye series, set in a Fairie world that co-exists in contemporary San Francisco.
The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells
. I read more fantasy and science fiction this year than I have in a long time. Martha Wells writes both, this being the first in a fantasy series about a community of shape-shifters facing the loss of their home. I still have her "Murderbot" books on the TBR stacks.
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
. I had a list of people to give this book to for Christmas. I wish I could have shared it with my aunt, who died in July. She loved visiting the Johnson Space Center here in Houston, and she would have enjoyed this alternative history of the space program. I have the sequel, The Fated Sky
, still on the TBR stacks as well.
A Gentleman in Moscow
, by Amor Towles. I see this on a lot of "best-of" lists as well. A colleague at work lent it to me, over my polite attempts at resistance. When I finally did sit down with it, months later, I was expecting to read a few pages and then return it with apologies for keeping it so long. Instead, I was immediately caught up in the story. I had to buy my own copy before giving his back (which he admitted having forgotten about).
Blood on the Tracks, by Martin Edwards
. I cannot resist these British Library crime compilations, and this is probably my favorite (at least so far).
An Extraordinary Union
, by Alyssa Cole. I don't read much fiction set in the American Civil War, probably because I read so much of its history. But this is an extraordinary story, about a former slave working for the Union cause in the Loyal League. Her current assignment: posing as a slave, to gather intelligence in the heart of Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital. There is a second book in the series, A Hope Divided
, as well as a third coming out in the spring.
Eve in Egypt, by Stella Tennyson Jesse
. I enjoyed this fictional travelogue so much, and I was sorry to learn it was her only book published. I do have two of her sister F. Tennyson Jesse's books on the TBR stacks.
There are several references in that list to books already on my TBR stacks. I failed miserably at last year's resolution, to add only 12 books to the TBR stacks. Nevertheless, I am going to try that again, with the idea of acquiring books more mindfully - at least unread books. I also have to face the fact that I have run out of shelf space again. Rather than buying another book case, I think it is time to prune the shelves, both of TBRs that I probably won't read, and books already read that I can pass along.
It is clear from my reading over the past year that this was the year I finally became an ebook reader. I resisted for a long time, because I found it harder to concentrate on ebooks. I'm really frustrated by the inability to flip easily back and forth in an ebook, which I do all the time reading physical books. It didn't help that the early Nook I bought made the pages look grey, fuzzy, and generally unappealing. It was Lois McMaster Bujold who first lured me to ebooks, because she is publishing now only in that format (most recently in the Five Gods world, but a novella in the Sharing Knife world
is coming this spring). KJ Charles was another, since her books are not available in print in the U.S. But it was mainly convenience, in the wake of the accident. My library has a wealth of ebooks available through Overdrive. I started buying through the Nook app as well, and the books look so much better on my phone or tablet. But it was when I found a previously-unavailable book through Kindle Unlimited that I really disappeared down the rabbit hole. I read so many books through their subscription service, so many that I stopped counting. Many of them were what I think of as "potato chip" books, quick but ultimately unsatisfying reads. I don't keep potato chips in the house, because I can't stop after a single serving, and I couldn't with these books either. This year, I want to step back, not completely from ebooks, but from that kind of binge reading. I want to focus on my TBR stacks, I want to read more non-fiction this year, and I want to continue to seek out diverse voices. I also want to read the books that I check out from the library. Far too many went back unread this year.
On the other hand, I know I'll be tempted by fellow bloggers, book reviews, the JASNA newsletter, and visits "just to browse" in my favorite bookstores. I stopped by Barnes & Noble on Sunday, to buy a half-price calendar, and came home with three books as well. I can't wait to see what books the new year brings.