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Here are my favorite adult reads in 2016.  Only 6 months late 🙂  Hope you find something you like.

Non-fiction

20696006Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

A doctor writes about both his professional and personal experience with people facing terminal illness, and discusses different approaches to dying. As a doctor he’s trained to fix problems, but when the problem is not fixable, what then? Should patients spend small fortunes on treatments that may or may not extend their lives, suffering terrible side effects and giving them false hope? Should they do nothing at all? And what about those who are not technically dying, but too ill to care for themselves? What does research and experience tell us about how to spend our final days?

This is a book for everyone. We are all mortal, all dying one minute at a time. And so are our friends, our family, and everyone we love(dark, I know). This is a book about how to deal with the practical and medical problems of facing the inevitable.

 

26072609The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

A conversation between Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. It’s fascinating to hear Gloria Vanderbilt, 91 at the time, talk about her privileged but lonely childhood, and her tumultuous youth. She reflects on the life she was born into, and how it influenced her decisions, while Anderson Cooper reflects on how her life in turn affected his own. The point of the conversation was to deepen their relationship and understanding of each other as parent and child, and inspire others to do the same. I think they succeeded.

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David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell on advantages, disadvantages, and how sometimes they are not what they seem. Fascinating, as always.

 

 

 

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You’re Never Weird on the Internet(Almost) by Felicia Day

Fantastic biography, especially if you get the audio because it’s read by Felicia herself! I loved hearing about her weird childhood, her anxiety and insecurities, and how she began working on The Guild. She’s infinitely relatable in her enthusiasm for all things geeky, her frequent moments of mortification, her hopes and her fears. It’s all in there, including her struggles with gaming addiction, depression, and Gamergate. When I finished, I just wanted to hug her and thank her for sharing such personal memories. I have a great empathy and respect for anyone who can acknowledge that they are struggling with mental illness, get help and recover, and then share their story despite all the social stigma. Felicia, I adore you more now than ever.

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

This was probably the best book I read all year.  If you or anyone you care about has suffered from mental illness of any kind, you should read this book. And if you don’t know anyone who has suffered from mental illness, then either you don’t know that many people, or more likely, they’re just afraid to tell you. Basically, I’m saying you should read this book. Jenny tells funny personal stories about her strange life and her experiences with depression, anxiety, and other disorders. But she also talks about how mental illness lies to you, tries to hurt you, and promotes a wonderful idea: if depression can make you sink low enough to want to die, then maybe you also have the capacity to rise to the height of being crazy with joy too. She wants to spite her depression by being furiously happy. I love this idea(and this book), and I’ve tried to incorporate furiously happy into my own life.  I’ve had ballgown themed birthday parties, kissed people just because I wanted to, wore a dinosaur hat at work, and just generally tried to be unrestrained with things that make me happy.  It doesn’t solve anything, but I’ve found it to be a useful tool in coping with depression.  Thank you, Jenny Lawson.

 

Fiction

25735012Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

This is book 3 in a series, and I love it, so I’m gonna list it even though it’s not the first one.  Get used to this.  Cormoran Strike and Robin are up against their first serial killer while Robin and Matthew’s wedding date looms… Once again, I wasn’t sure about the killer until Strike revealed his hand, but oh, the ending!  Gah!  I want the next one already.

 

 

 

16071701Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaason

A fisherman off the coast of Florida reels in a human arm flipping the bird.  A disgraced police detective demoted to restaurant inspector starts investigating, hoping to earn his badge back. A Bohemian fisherman and his spiteful pet monkey try to put a voodoo curse on a the white man who’s bought his family home out from under him. There’s also a sexy morgue doctor, a fugitive sex offender, a drunken voodoo hag, and a few unscrupulous land developers. Wackiness ensues. I love the crazy character back stories, including the monkey’s back story, and the way all the characters find that their paths cross in a satisfying ending.  A very fun read if you don’t mind a little crude humor.

 

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Timeline by Michael Crichton

Classic Michael Crichton, and definitely one of his better stories. A big tech corporation funds a historical dig of a medieval castle while doing research on time travel. Then a history professor steps into the past and his graduate students must go back in time to get him. But of course, everything goes wrong, and they are caught between warring medieval factions with no way home…

 

 

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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie Nancy is easily embarrassed, gullible, and kind-hearted. He is also, unbeknownst to him, the son of Anansi, the spider trickster god. Then he gets word that his father has died, and learns of a brother he doesn’t remember, and everything starts to get weird.

This was touching, hilarious, mysterious, and filled with wonder, all of the things I love about Neil Gaiman.

 

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Saga volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples

One again, a book that is pretty far into a series, but there’s nothing stopping you from going out and getting volume 1(and you should).  This volume made up for the sucker punch at the end of volume 5. Reunited with many of my favorite characters, and Hazel is finally old enough to begin speaking her mind.  Loved it.

 

Happy reading.

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I am not a book critic.  I am a young adult librarian, a geek, and a writer of speculative fiction.  This  results in a favorite book list that is mostly speculative fiction and young adult.  Don’t like those things?  Then maybe you should find a more boring book list.  This book list is full of horror and comedy, and love and murder, and magic and space ships and teenagers.  With that in mind, here are my favorite reads of 2014:

Adult Fiction

16148398 Saga by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples(graphic novel)  This one really puts the graphic in graphic novel. It’s full of weirdness and sex and violence and everything else you can think of.  But like the rest of Vaughan’s work, it’s mesmerizing and compelling, with low key commentary on what war and prejudice can do to people, as well as love.

Imagine Romeo and Juliet hadn’t killed themselves. Imagine instead that they ran off and had a baby. Okay, now imagine that they’re both alien species whose respective planets have been at war for generations. Still with me? Marko is a soldier from the moon Wreath, and Alana is a soldier from Wreath’s planet, Landfall. They’ve been at war for so long that war now stretches across the galaxy, making many other planets its battleground. But this doesn’t keep Alana and Marko from getting married and going into hiding to have their baby. Now, both of their respective planets want them dead, and maybe the half breed baby too while they’re at it.

18214414The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Book 2 of the Cormoran Strike murder mysteries.  Strike and Robin take on the case of the missing writer, who everyone seems to hate. The real question seems to be who didn’t want Owen Quine dead?  And on top of trying to solve the crime, drama bubbles with Robin and Matthew setting a wedding date, and Strike’s ex-fiance too.

So far, I love this series.  Strike is an interesting character, and Robin is adorable.  also I keep looking for hints of the real author, J.K. Rowling, and wondering.  How interesting that this murder takes place in the writing world, something Rowling is intimately familiar with.  How much is made up, and how much is based on Rowling’s own personal experience?  The detective in me wants to know it all!

Injustice: Gods Among Us by Tom Taylor(graphic novel)17671993

What if Superman lost his infallible moral compass, and began doing evil things in the name of good.  Is he still a hero?  A tragedy causes Superman to change the rules of the superhero game, and the Justice League is along for the ride. Based on the back story of a video game, this stuff is dark and twisted.  It really stretches your moral muscles as a reader, as you try to decide who is right and who is wrong, and where exactly does the line between good and evil lie?

18005582Rachel Rising by Terry Moore(graphic novel)

I think this was on my list last year, but it remains a good series.  The story begins to take shape even as events spin out of control. Rachel and Jet start to uncover some of Zoey’s past, and the witches move forward with their plan. The last page. . . gah!  I can’t say, but prepare yourself!  As dark and twisted as Injustice: Gods Among Us is, it doesn’t stab you in the back and leave you crawling a bloody trail across the floor so you can read the next issue like Rachel Rising does. 

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Timeless by Gail Carriger

A satisfying ending to one of my favorite series 🙂 Lord and Lady Maccon travel to Egypt with their young daughter, the skin-changer Prudence. Prudence causes all kinds of trouble, Alexia is particular about tea, Ivy wears more terrible hats, Tunstall writes a weird play, vampires cause trouble, and most importantly, we learn more about the past of Alessandro Tarabotti and his faithful servant, Floote.  More and more of all the things I love!  This series maintained it’s fantastically ridiculous, rollicking adventure feel from start to finish!

Non-fiction

8452971The History of Science Fiction by Ron Miller

I read this in preparation for a talk I was giving on the history of the science fiction short story.  This was a really excellent history of science fiction up until the year it was published, and gave me gobs of information for my presentation. My only complaint is the author’s lack of extra information about female authors like Mary Shelley. He talks about them, but neglects to give dates and additional information. Otherwise, it’s pretty comprehensive, even talking about conventions and fandom!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach32145

All you ever wanted to know, and probably a bunch of stuff you didn’t(unless you’re like me and want to know all of the things), about what happens to dead human bodies. What happens if you donate your body to science? What is the history of human dissection? How are funeral traditions and human body disposal changing? Also, some sordid tales of weird cadaver research and unusual uses for dead bodies. If you’re twisted and/or fascinated with death, this is a fun read! But if you’re squeamish at all. . . don’t do it!

Children’s non-fiction:

1090379The Christmas Menorahs by Janice Cohn, Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Based on the true story of a small town in Montana that banded together to show love and support in the face of hate in 1993. All the more touching because it is based on truth, and surprising to hear that such senseless bigotry occurred in my lifetime. This is a good holiday story for older children of Jewish and Christian faiths since it features both, and promotes the real spirit of the season: hope and love.

 

Teen Fiction

13206760Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles carries on with the fairy tale theme: Little Red Riding Hood is Scarlet. Scarlet’s grandmother has been kidnapped, and if you were paying attention in Cinder, you might recognize her name. And just as in the fairy tale, Scarlet finds herself trusting a wolf. But don’t worry, Cinder isn’t forgotten, and we follow her escape from the New Beijing prison with a new friend of dubious integrity.  Keep looking for the fairy tale references, because they’re positively rampant!

13206828Cress by Marissa Meyer

Am I obsessed with the Lunar Chronicles?  Maybe.  Remember Cress from the Lunar communication chip in the first book?  Well, she has been trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth for years, isolated from both Earth, and her home planet of Luna. So when Cinder and Carswell Thorne contact her, she’s overjoyed. She’s especially excited to meet the charming and daring Captain Thorne. But as it will, things ago awry and there are attacks and escapes, shoot outs and mind battles, and unwise romance. I wasn’t a huge fan of Cress herself, but Thorne is fun, and there are some great fan service moments for Cinder and Iko 🙂 So I’m happy.

17675462The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue comes from a family of psychics, and it’s an accepted fact that if Blue ever kisses her true love, he will die. But Blue herself is not psychic. She only helps focus psychic energy. So when she sees the ghost of a boy who will soon die on St. Mark’s day, she is surprised. The ghost belongs to a raven boy, one of the students at the exclusive all boys school in her small Virginia town. Blue hates raven boys, but feels compelled to try to fight fate and save this one. Could he be the true love she’s destined to kill?

This story has so many layers, and each character is real and complex. Plus, it has ghosts, psychics, and other paranormal stuff that was so creepy it gave me goosebumps.

8884616Black Heart by Holly Black(Curse Workers #3)

I will admit, I put off reading this book because I was afraid to find out how it ended.  Things never looked bleaker for Cassel and Lila than they did at the end of Red Glove, but they got worse in this book.  Cassel sold his soul to the Feds, and now there’s hell to pay, with his addiction to conning and lying, and being in love with a mobster’s heir apparent.  So many times I was afraid, certain that Cassel couldn’t survive this one, and then he’d find a way out so he could get into even more trouble.  Cassel and Lila have such a weird, unhealthy relationship, but knowing that they are both doing the best that they know how to makes me want to root for them.  Want MOAR!

15790833Game by Barry Lyga(I Hunt Killers #2)

Book 2 in a graphic horror series. Jasper Dent is the son of a notorious serial killer who has escaped prison. The police want his help in a serial killer case in New York, and then things get really interesting. As in horrifying. Especially the end. Totally hooked. Need book 3!

6567017Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Two high school boys named Will Grayson, one straight, one gay. Gay Will is in the closet, with a secret online boyfriend, while straight Will does his best to avoid relationships. Straight Will’s best friend, Tiny Cooper, has enough relationships for the both of them, and then some! And when both Will Graysons meet in Chicago, worlds collide.

A hilarious, touching story about love in all it’s many beautiful forms. With singing.  Highly recommend the audio book.

Children’s Fiction

Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires(graphic novel)

A graphic novel about Binky and his quest to be a real space cat.  Above all costs, he must protect his humans from alien attack.  Very6348133 cute.

 
19565411Gaston by Kelly Dipucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson

The story of a French bulldog in a family of French poodles, and a French poodle in a family of French bulldogs. While this story sort of reinforces stereotypes about bulldogs and poodles, it’s only sort of, and it’s really fun to read out loud and perfect for story time. I mean, the poodle family is Fifi, Foofoo, Oh-La-La and Gaston.  Tell me you aren’t dying to read that sentence aloud.

 

If you want a list of books that’s probably more educated than mine, I recommend this one from io9.com.  Happy reading!