Happy New Year everyone! Ok, so It’s been a minute since the new year happened and it’s been even longer since I’ve posted. I usually take a bit of a hiatus during the holidays because I work in retail and I tend to work more than do anything else. Some years I can garner the brainpower to write and some years I cannot. Unfortunately, this year was one of the off years! Then, shortly there afterward I caught COVID and it brought me down. Luckily I’m on the mend and I’m finally ready to get back to the keyboard! To honor this I wanted to release a post of my top five favorite books I read this past year, then next Thursday we’ll get back to the Blind Read series where we’ll cover the next chapter in “The Silmarillion,” Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië.
Here are the top five from this year!
Honorable Mention: Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk
What a strange and wacky rollercoaster this book was. If you’ve ever wanted to read anything that felt like a fever dream this would be it. The basic premise is much like “The Ring.” The narrator reads a strange book which then triggers the ever-increasing oddity that is the novel. I wanted to put it down so many times because I was disgusted and terrified and horrified, but I simply couldn’t. I had to find out what the meaning was. It’s a shortish book, but it sets out to do what it says it’s going to…I’m haunted by it.
5. Endgame: The Calling by James Frey
Yes, it’s that James Frey, of “Million Little Pieces” fame; the supposed fictionalized biography. The Calling was a surprising and extremely entertaining read, however. The characters are vivid. The prose is unique and refreshing. The setting is grounded in reality. This book tells the tale of ancestors of ancient tribes of Earth (of the Aztecs, Mu, etc.) who come together to do battle for the ascension of mankind. It falls very much into the dystopian category with other Teen books such as “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games,” but is far more intelligent and considerably better written. This is part of a trilogy and I’m happy to say that I recently purchased the next two, so I’ll be getting to them shortly. The beginning prose is a bit strange, but once you get used to it, you realize that it’s the perfect way to be written.
4. Nightbooks by J.A. White
There’s a theme in my top five for this year. I gave myself a pretty aggressive reading goal (for me 70 books in a year is hefty, especially with an extensive work schedule), so to supplement and make sure I made it, I made the “concession” that I’d read some YA books to speed my progress. This turned out to be the greatest thing I could have ever done. Some of these YA books are more meaningful and deeper than most “adult” books I’ve read. This book is no exception. The premise is that our protagonist is captured by a Witch and he needs to get find a way to escape. He becomes Sheherezade in the meantime to keep the witch from killing him. That description is the most dumbed-down way to describe this as I can muster because, in reality, it’s the most heartfelt, beautiful, Halloween-type book I’ve ever read. The atmosphere is incredible, the twist is meticulously delivered at the perfect time, and the characters have a depth to them that’s hard to match. This was a great reading year, because this gem and the next few books are probably in my top 25 books of all time. I really can’t recommend them enough!
3. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
My reading is eclectic, I get it, but dang was this a great little book. Science Fiction at its best. There are some wonderfully deep characters and an overall theme of the outcast overcoming was a perfect overlay to the sci/fi background. This is one of those stories which you can read on the surface level, or you can dig down deeper and take it to the next level of meaning. You’ll finish it before you know it and it will leave you wanting more. I’m glad there are more in the series.
2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
This book is probably in my top five books of all time, and that’s saying something at #2 on the list for 2021 alone. I’ve never read a book that reached out and spoke to me quite like this one. This is a romance without being melodramatic. It’s a fantasy without being ridiculous. It’s fiction at its best. The premise is a girl sells her soul to the devil which gives her eternal life…at a price. Schwab turned up her writing chops with this one as the prose gorgeously bleeds off the page and there is such care taken for the protagonists that they feel like people you’d meet on the street. I say again, I have NEVER read a character that speaks to my soul so proficiently as is done in this book. The only word that comes to mind when thinking about this book is “beautiful” because that’s what it is. It is just plain beautiful.
- The Button War by Avi
If Addie was beautiful, this book is its antithesis. If you can believe it, this book is a YA classic. It takes place in a Polish Village during WWI and is the most riveting book I’ve ever read. If you’ve read a book and ever said I can’t put it down, then you might know a tenth of what this book does to its reader. It’s at once, “The Lord of the Flies,” “Johnny Got His Gun,” and “Stand By Me” (Otherwise known as “The Body”) all rolled into one. Powerful just isn’t a strong enough word for this masterpiece. I finished it and immediately purchased 4 four more of Avi’s books, though I don’t see any book being as good as this one.
That’s all for the top five! I hope you’ve all had a great year and an even better beginning to 2022! See you next week in the Blind Read Series as we get our Tolkien Fix!