The five best books I’ve read this year? That’s not quite as bad as asking me what my five favorite meals for the last year were, but it’s close. Why? Because when I’m not writing, I’m reading. And I am addicted to both.
11) At the very top of my list for the year is SNOWBLIND, by Christopher Golden. Chris is a friend and a co-author. We’ve known each other for years. That said, we’re also friend enough that we’re honest with each other about these things and I can say with complete sincerity that SNOWBLIND is one of the very best he’s ever written. SNOWBLIND comes out in January and gets my highest possible recommendation. Seriously. Just a damned fine book and wins the number one slot for me this year.
22) Coming in a close second is Stephen King’s JOYLAND. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a fan of Stephen King. He’s been a major influence on me as a writer and he’s been a long time favorite for me. King is one of a very small handful of writers whose works I’ve read and then reread. I don’t have time enough to reread ANYTHING but for him I’ll make an exception. JOYLAND is everything that King does right when he’s at the top of his form. I won’t say a thing about what the book is about, except that it’s about perfect. The right pace, the right length, and beautiful, quotable prose throughout the book. In fact it’s already BACK on my to-be-read list and on the short stack, you know the one I’ll probably managed to read before I die.
33) Robert Shearman’s REMEMBER WHY YOU FEAR ME is definitely number three on the list this time around. A powerful, funny, poignant and horrifying collection of short stories that is well worth reading and then sharing with a dozen friends. That said, I’m not sharing my copy because someone might forget to give it back and then there might be bloodshed. Amazing work.
44) Joe Abercrombie’s RED COUNTRY. I’ve said before and I doubtless will again that Abercrombie is amazing. I mean it, too. He is a solid writer with a refreshingly solid take on sword & sorcery writing. His books are a wonderful blend of military thriller, Machiavellian politics, mystery, carnage and humor with a side of barbaric atrocities worthy of the Inquisition at its best. And I mean that as a compliment. Great stuff and RED COUNTRY is merely the latest in a line of amazing books. I eagerly await his next work.
55) Helen Marshall’s HAIR SIDE, FLESH SIDE is another collection of short stories that I just can’t recommend enough. It’s also, unless I’m horribly mistaken, Marshall’s FIRST collection of fiction. Damn. No one should be that good on the first run.
66) Bonus title number one, because I can’t stop at five. Saran Pinborough’s THE LANGUAGE OF DYING is a novella. It wins mention here because it’s powerful, potent and beautiful. It’s not happy, but it’s memorable. I can’t really recommend it enough.
77) One more for fun (and because I like the number seven) Graham Joyce’s SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE is decidedly not what I expected. Then again, none of Joyce’s books have ever been quite what I expected. That’s one of the things that makes him a constant delight to read. SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE is his latest work and merely one more example of what happens when you run across a truly gifted storyteller who also knows how to put words together in beautiful sentences. Annoyingly, he makes it look damned easy.
So that’s my list. I could add another fifty books with ease, but I won’t. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. You know the drill. The good news for me was that the list was narrowed down to books I’ve read in 2013. If I had to go over the books I’ve read in my lifetime it would be a very different list and if I had to whittle THAT list down to five (or seven) my head would explode.
Honorable Mention in the Graphic Novel Category: CEMETERY GIRL BOOK ONE: THE PRETENDERS by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden. I had the chance to read the entire thing as loose pages and burned through it. Great story, brilliant artwork and refreshingly fresh. A few comic book companies could learn a thing or twelve. Just saying.