In June, I was alerted by my fellow The Lord of the Rings fans to NPR’s call to nominate books for their Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. Setting aside the problem of conflating the genres—I mean, I get it, but it does mean a lot of good books in both categories will fall by the wayside—I enjoyed looking through the comments for new recommendations and, of course, taking the opportunity to peddle Jacqueline Carey’s The Sundering like it’s my job. (If you read and liked The Lord of the Rings, you should read it. End of story.) The nominations were counted, the votes were tallied, and on Thursday, NPR unveiled the fruit of its labors—their top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books (circa Summer 2011). I’m not going to copy the list verbatim—you can find a printable version here if you so desire—but I am going to talk about some of the selections that made it, be they good or bad in my book.
What’s the largest, thickest, heaviest book you ever read? Was it because you had to? For pleasure? For school?
Oh, of course it was for pleasure—I’m a fantasy fan, thank you very much! A quick glance at Amazon tells me that technically, The Way of Kings is the heaviest book I’ve ever read, weighing in at 3 pounds. However, my copy of The Way of Kings is an ARC and therefore a paperback, making it lighter. The winner, then, is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, weighing in at 2.8 pounds (sorry, Harry Potter).
Today, I am moving back to college. Naturally, I’ve been concerned about packing my school things (do my folders match?) to packing my clothes (how exactly does one say military chic while despairing of the heat?), but I’ve also been concerned about my books. This year, I’m taking a course on Jane Austen, and I now own her entire canon, which feels odd, to say the least. I’m also taking a class on Shakespeare and race, which demands several volumes. And let’s not even talk about my textbook for my pre-1700s English literature course. It’s practically a weapon.
But my main concern is, which books should I take for personal reading?
What were your favorite books of the year? (Books that were new to you in 2009, if not necessarily published this year.)
This year, I started The Literary Omnivore. I’ve been a voracious reader for years, and I decided book blogging would be a wonderful creative outlet for me somewhere in October, after a presentation at my school about “e-portfolios”. The book blogging community has been more than welcoming- thank you, ladies! It’s been one of the best things about this year, up there with the inauguration, Dragon*Con, and my first semester of college.
In order to answer this question, I’ve put together a top ten list of the books I read this year. I try to read widely, but I must admit- I have a predisposition for fantasy and strong female characters, which shows in this list.
As you may have heard, Barnes & Noble rolled out their foray into the digital reader market on Tuesday– the Nook. It boasts the ability to lend purchased e-books to friends and family, a display meant to mimic a traditional book, and being able to purchase and download books in seconds. It’s meant to compete with the Amazon Kindle. Both are priced at $259, with most book titles running a consumer $9.99 a pop. Digital readers are causing massive waves in publishing at the moment.
I don’t like digital readers.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
by Susanna Clarke
This came highly recommended to me–I mean, Neil Gaiman adores Susanna Clarke and this novel. That’s really all I need.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a very physical experience. I like to tuck books into my bag, but you can’t do this with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. At least, you can’t with the hardback. It’s 782 pages long, and it’s like carrying a child, to be honest. It’s a sensation I haven’t had since reading the Harry Potter series, which is quite fun.
I have described the plot as “Napoleonic wizards!” to everyone who asked, but it’s much more than that. Although, if the phrase “Napoleonic wizards” doesn’t interest you, we may have to stop seeing each other.