I took the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year and committed to reading 60 titles in 2014. I surpassed my goal by 6 books! Maybe a few more before December 31st! Looking back on all that I read, I’m realizing these books are a chronicle of my life this past year. ‘Scuse me while I reminisce.
2014 started off heavy! I was diggin’ on philosophy, evolution, atheism and HP Lovecraft. What else am I supposed to read during winter in Colorado? By far one of my favorite books this year was David Quammen’s Spillover – a hardcore and thoroughly researched work on zoonotic viruses. Recently Quammen’s section on Ebola was published as a separate special edition. Highly recommended. Reading Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion made me feel intrigued, irritated, and enlightened all at once. I agree with so much of what he says, but the dude can be a bit snide. I balanced out all this deep thinking (or my sad attempts at deep thinking) with a long term battle to finish Guy Gavriel Kay’s fantasy doorstopper Tigana. Good grief I wanted to love this book, but it took me forever – I listened to the audiobook while hiking in Colorado and Wyoming. That was perfect, since the novel is about a beloved homeland, and mine is the Rocky Mountains.
I moved to Wyoming for the summer and went on a thriller fiction rebound binge. I plowed through the entire Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The books got progressively less impressive, but I had a good time. And, okay, I couldn’t stay away from science and religion – I began my joyous discovery of Carl Sagan’s works, and will be reading more in 2015. Then I realized that I wanted to immerse myself in all the scifi and fantasy I’ve been too busy to read during the last few years. I jumped into The Expanse series and Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard books, and I listened to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion series on my regular hikes up Josie’s Ridge. I didn’t give up nonfiction though – I loved The Emerald Mile, Kevin Fedarko’s jawdropping account of the fastest-ever run down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon – in a wooden dory. I still get chills.
Thinking about rivers, I traveled from Jackson, Wyoming to Shelton, Washington in late summer, following the Columbia along the way and listening to A Canticle for Leibowitz. A true sci fi classic, I was riveted by this post-nuclear dystopian novel, even more powerful to experience while driving along the river south of the Hanford Site. I don’t recommend doing a solo road trip through California and listening to T. Jefferson Parker’s serial killer fiction The Blue Hour – but I definitely recommend the book – harrowing and suspenseful.
By far the last quarter has been the most fun reading I’ve done this year. I drove from Arizona to Texas listening to Marisha Pessl’s bizarrely riveting novel Night Film. I devoured Cherie Priest’s Maplecroft and the first book in Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, and I finally tackled Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, all of which did not disappoint – great examples of why I prefer speculative fiction to anything else: innovation, daring, otherworldliness. And I read Shards of Time, the last book of Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series. A bittersweet conclusion to a series that I love so much.
I also started reviewing books for this very blog, which led me to volunteer as a blogger for the women’s speculative fiction website Luna Station Quarterly. My first audiobook review, of Melissa Scott’s wonderful Five-Twelfths of Heaven, will be online in January!
Booooooooks. I love them so. Find me on Goodreads!
Thanks to Unsplash for the great library photo.