Let’s talk about book! I read over 70 books this year and I read some really good ones. Stories that engaged me, stories that evoked emotions, stories I could not put down until I finished. I went through all the books I read and I picked out 12 I knew I had to feature. All of these books were amazing and I would recommend them to you without hesitation!
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
I do not buy books upon release often and I only tend to do when I am very excited about the book. Labyrinth Lost was one of those books and I picked it up from my friendly local bookstore shortly after the release. This is a fantastic book about brujas, teen rebellion, and wonderful magic. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and I cannot wait for the sequel! Check out my review of Labyrinth Lost for a more detailed description!
Shadowshapers by Daniel José Older
I heard about this book briefly through Twitter and I saw it one day in my local library so I checked it out. And I was blown away. Shadowshaper is urban low-fantasy, following Sierra Santiago as she starts discovering her family’s history. I call this low-fantasy because there is definitely magical and fantastical aspects to the book but it is heavily rooted in the reality we know. The magical system is really where this book shines, mixing art with fantasy. I cannot wait to read book #2 and I hope to review this one soon.
#10 – Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
I joined the #DSFFBookClub and this was the first book I was able to read and discuss with the community. Ballad of Black Tom is a retelling of HP Lovecraft‘s Horror at Red Hook. Now I read Horror at Red Hook and it was the most repulsive thing I read this year. Horribly racist and bland. Anyways, LaValle wrote this to subvert the original work by Lovecraft and I think LaValle did an excellent job. The story was gripping and was filled with situations mirroring the racism that exists in the US today, from the perspective of a POC. I wrote a review which talks more about race in the story.
#9 – What Sunny Saw in the Flames by Nnedi Okorafor
Also known as Akata Witch, this book follow Sunny, a Nigerian teen, as she enters the world of the Leopard People with her friends Orly and Chichi. The Leopard People’s world is full of Juju and wonder. Together, they form the youngest coven in history to go after the evil Black Hat Otokoto. There is a lot to like in this book – the currency system, the education structure, and commentary on structures of oppression which are also pervasive in the Leopard community. If you have not already read this, read it soon because the next book Akata Warrior hopefully will release soon! I reviewed the book more in depth here.
#8 – Yellow by Frank Wu
I read a couple of academic books every year mostly focusing on identity, social justice, and/or higher education. This year, I read Yellow, a book all about race in America outside of the Black-White paradigm. Mainly, Frank Wu explores where Asian Pacific Islander folks fit in the race conversation. A very dense read, but one I would recommend for anyone who wants to explore constructs of racism in the United States. I did not fully review this book but I wrote down some of my thoughts here.
#7 – City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault
One of the best high fantasy novels I read this year. Claudie Arseneault constructs a vast world with many characters in an intricate political fantasy thriller. The different plot lines were compelling and started to intersect as the book ended. Thankfully, this is a series and I expect this sweeping, grand fantasy political epic to continue in the same fashion as this book. And the book featured an extremely diverse cast of main characters and supporting characters. I would highly recommend you check out this book and for more details, you can read my review!
#6 – When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Anna-Marie McLemore writes some of the most beautiful sentences and paragraphs I have read this year. This is a beautiful love story between Sam and Miel mixed with magical realism. The language and words the author chooses really adds to the magical-ness of the overall story. This story is full of power, authenticity, heartbreak, challenge, and ultimately, a wonderful love between two people. You will not be disappointed with this book!
#5 – Christine by Stephen King
I really like Stephen King. He has a way of telling a story unlike any other author I have read. The build up over hundreds of pages until the climax of the last 20 pages. And with virtually no compassion for his characters. Brilliant. Christine is not one of his well known novels and I picked it up not really liking the premise of the story. A killer car? Really Stephen King?! BUT for me, this is one of his best stories and I am so glad I stuck through the wild ride. Pun intended 😉
#4 – The Story of Maha by Sumayya Lee
This coming of age story about growing up in apartheid South Africa as a Indo-Muslim girl, is a story we all need to read. Full of wit, Maha goes through life like any teenager, facing situations such as going to school, dating, first kisses, smoking, having fun, dealing with guardians – but from an Indo-Muslim context. I think Sumayya Lee has written a phenomenal #OwnVoices gem and you can read more of my thoughts in my review. I recently found out there is a sequel and I am pretty excited to read that as well!
#3 – Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time edited by Hope Nicholson
I read a lot of fantastic anthologies and short story collections this year, but Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time was hands down the best. This small collection features science fiction stories from Indigenous Peoples, most who identify within the LGBTQ+ community. Every story was very well written and told stories that need to be published. Check out my review for more in depth about the anthology and specific stories.
#2 – Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary authors who takes an angsty main character, magical realism, and cats and creates a masterfully written story. After reading Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I jumped into Kafka of the Shore in early 2016. I loved the story, I loved the library. I cannot wait to tackle the next Murakami book in 2017.
#1 – Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
And my number one book I read this year was Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. This book swept me off my feet. The sparse prose mixed with a deep and emotional story really impacted me in a way I did not expect. As soon as I finished, I added it to my “read again” list and added other Herrera books to my TBR. I also want to give credit to Lisa Dillman who did a fantastic translation. You need to read this book! Check out my review for more information.
What are your favorite books you read this year?