Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!
It’s still January, right? Which means there’s still time to sneak in one last Top Ten Favorites List before tackling all the books on The Millions Great 2018 Book Preview or trying to catch up with everything on the 2018 Tournament of Books shortlist. So if you’re looking for some great fiction to read this year, here are my suggestions!
TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING: BOOK ONE OF TERRA IGNOTA by Ada Palmer
It does feel just a bit risky to put book one of a trilogy on a top ten list when I haven’t read books two and three yet. I’ve been burned before by trilogies that started out amazing and went rapidly downhill. But Palmer’s vision of the 25th century — written in the style of an 18th century novel — was too wonderful to leave off the list. I can’t wait to read her follow-ups: Seven Surrenders and The Will to Battle.
THE IMPERIAL RADCH series by Ann Leckie
One science fiction series that I did read in its entirety in 2017 was Leckie’s space opera trilogy: Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy. We follow our protagonist to a satisfying conclusion at the end of the series, but Leckie’s galactic empire is big enough to hold many other tales, and I’m looking forward to reading Provenance, a new novel set in the world of the Imperial Radch.
THE SMALL CHANGE trilogy by Jo Walton
Walton goes back in time to rewrite history in her Small Change series, which imagines a near-fascist England after Germany is victorious in World War II. Farthing, Ha’Penny, and Half a Crown are alternate histories that read like thrillers, and (unfortunately) they felt particularly relevant in 2017.
THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS by Edgar Cantero
I love haunted house stories. I love epistolary novels. Cantero thoughtfully puts these two genres together for me in The Supernatural Enhancements, so of course I because an instant fan (and early reader of his Cthulhu vs. Scooby Doo follow-up, Meddling Kids.)
WHITE IS FOR WITCHING by Helen Oyeyemi
Another haunted house story — plus this one has creepy twins, so you know it’s going to be awesome. It was hard to pick just one Oyeyemi to put on the list, given that I spent 2017 binging through her backlist, but this was the first novel I read by her and it’s unforgettable, along with being super-creepy in the best way.
RADIANCE by Catherynne M. Valente
Space whales, lunar movie studios, and a private investigator on the trail of a missing filmmaker: this novel is almost impossible to describe as it jumps from film noir to silver-screen gossip columns to serious Oyeyemi-level creepiness. Try to hold on to something sturdy when you’re reading it.
THE INTUITIONIST by Colson Whitehead
Before the zombies of Zone One and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad, Whitehead wrote this strange and moving story of the first black female elevator inspector and her involvement in the great schism between the Empiricists and the Intuitionists. I would not have guessed that anyone could make the philosophy of elevator inspection fascinating enough to carry me through an entire novel, but I should know better than to underestimate Whitehead.
ALVA AND IRVA: THE TWINS WHO SAVED A CITY by Edward Carey
I’ve noticed that “weird” seems to have been a theme for my 2017 reading, but even among the other odd and bizarre entries on this list, Carey’s novel stands out. Alva and Irva are twin sisters obsessed with the scale model they’ve created of the city they live in, Entralia. Carey is best known for his Iremonger trilogy (for younger readers), but his earlier adult novels are also great (and very strange) reads.
Sherlock, Watson, and Jack the Ripper: this is the best post-Conan-Doyle Holmes novel I’ve ever read. In other great news, Faye’s new collection, The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, means that I can spend even more time adventuring with my favorite Victorian sleuth.
ORLANDO by Virginia Woolf
I’ve always heard that this time-traveling gender-swapping novel of romance and adventure was charming and utterly delightful. Turns out that it is even more charming and utterly delightful than I expected.