According to Goodreads I’ve read over 200 books in the past 5 years. Without a doubt, that’s more books than I read in my previous 30 years even including books for school. Hell, it’s probably more than double.
As I’ve read more, I’ve been better at figuring out what I take pleasure in reading versus the books I’ve simply enjoyed (or not enjoyed at all). When I started reading, I’d pick up anything that Goodreads predicted I’d like based on my love of Douglas Adams. But that first year I couldn’t help notice how almost every novel suggested to me was written by a straight cis white dude. So I made an effort to find writers with different identities.
I’ve definitely found my tastes have strayed away from most straight cis white authors, but I wonder if my favourites–the books I loved so much in 2015 or 2016–would still hold up now that I’ve read so much more? So I thought this year instead of reading all new-to-me books, I’d put half my reading goal into revisiting the top 26 books I loved most.
To make it possible to have a single list, I’ve limited the list to stand-alone fiction novels. So no books from a series; I could do another list of 25+ if I included those (Wayward Children? Ring? THE BROKEN EARTH?!?). They’re listed roughly in order, starting with what I think was my most favourite.
My favourite stand-alone fiction novels:
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955, science fiction)
Island of Doctor Moreau by HG Wells (1896, science fiction)
The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost (2016, horror/mystery)
Bow Grip by Ivan Coyote (2006, fiction)
Version Control by Dexter Palmer (2016, science fiction)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011, fantasy/romance)
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice (2018, thriller/dystopian fiction)
The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai (2018, science fiction/thriller/dystopian fiction)
Edge by Kōji Suzuki (2011, science fiction/horror)
Spanish Fly by William Ferguson (2007, historical fiction)
The Drowning Girl by Caitlín Kiernan (2012, science fiction/horror)
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (2018, fiction)
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (2019, science fiction)
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D Jackson (2018, mystery/thriller)
Viscera by Gabrielle Squailia (2016, fantasy)
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (2005, fantasy)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014, science fiction/dystopian fiction)
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (2017, science fiction)
Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang (2016, fiction)
After Dark by Haruki Murakami (2007, fiction)
Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau (2016, science fiction/romance)
Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai (2002, science fiction)
The Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzie (2012, fiction)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001, fantasy/horror)
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970, fiction)
Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson (2018, fiction)
As I’ve done in for the last 4 years, here’s a recap of books I read this year, ranked.
This year I kept up my quest to read fewer books by white cis hetero people. I cant see myself moving away from this anytime soon. Contemporary stories written by cis white dudes pale in comparison to stories written by Black, Indigenous, queer writers. Give me more trans writers! More Black writers! More Indigenous writers! More queer writers! Fewer mediocre white cis writers!
Number of books read:
Number of pages read:
A few discoveries about my tastes:
This year was my first introduction to John Wyndham and I’m sad I didn’t discover his novels sooner. Not just because they are great, but also because they’ve clearly influenced a lot of other media I enjoy (see, for example, Seanan McGuire’s MIDDLEGAME, which is on my list below). THE CHRYSALIDS was certainly a great introduction to his work, and I am now working through his other works.
The top 3 books of this year share (at least) a common theme that certainly reflects my emotional and psychological state this year: the main characters all have to hide what’s special about them out of fear of persecution if others found out. They struggle to hide their true selves for their own safety. I’ll just leave it at that.
I like stories (books, film, tv) that are social allegories. Which is probably why I like science fiction and horror genres the most.
This year, my goal was to read a book a week. I’d read for 30 – 60 minutes each night before going to sleep, and for part of the year, I used my lunch break to read (mostly because I was so far behind on my reading goal). I made my reading goal with one day to spare!
Number of books read:
Number of pages read:
As I’ve done before, I’ve broken down the list into different categories based on how I enjoyed the stories:
Numbers 1 – 11 are joining my list of favourites
Numbers 12 – 19 were very good, and I would happily read them again
Numbers 20 – 32 were good. I probably won’t re-read them, but I may recommend them to someone else
Numbers 33 – 43 were not for me, though I might recommend them to others in very specific circumstances
Numbers 44 – 52 were definitely not for me, and I’d probably not recommend them to anyone
For 2019, my reading goal is to again read 52 books. But this time around, I’ll be more picky about what I read/finish. There were so many books I read this year that I struggled to get through, which is part of what made my progress slow. No more of that this year. If I’m not enjoying a book within the first 100 or so pages, I will put it down.
I realized that more than half of the books I read in 2016 were written by white men, and thus all the recommendations I got from Goodreads were for books also written by white men. My goal for this year was to read at least 26 books written by People of Colour or trans/non-binary people, and I believe I have exceeded that goal (though there are still a few books on the list below written by cis white people).
As with last year’s post, I’ve broken down the list into different categories based on how I enjoyed the stories:
Numbers 1 – 10 are joining my list of favourites
Numbers 11 – 18 were very good, and I would happily read them again
Numbers 19 – 31 were good, but not my taste. I would not choose to read them again, though I may recommend them to someone else.
Numbers 32 – 38 were not so good, would avoid re-reading and would only recommend to others in very specific circumstances
Numbers 39 – 40 were terrible and I would not recommend to anyone
I was never really one to read for enjoyment. I hated reading comprehension and library classes in elementary school, and continued to hate English class in high school. I avoided the subject all together in university by taking a science degree. Read More »