My mom says I’m eclectic. She has a point. I maintain several interests, many of them seeming to be sharp contrasts to others. For instance, I practice handlettering (I’m not yet good enough to call myself a “handletterer.”) but attend boxing and kickboxing classes and collect an occasional Funko POP! figure.
My reading habits follow the trend. I range from fantasy to memoir, from poetry to steampunk, and from essays to horror and science fiction. (True story: I enjoy books like Dracula and Richard Matheson’s short stories but can’t bear to watch horror-slasher films.) This year, my reading interests traveled widely. I’d thought I’d share some of them to help you start compiling a 2017 reading list.
- Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning. I actually recommend any Neil Gaiman book, but I read Trigger Warning this year. It contains a selection of short stories and, as always, a fun introduction. Seriously. Read Gaiman’s introductions. They’re as good as the stories and don’t usually give much away.
- Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd’s Crown. Pratchett’s Discworld claims a spot as one of my favorite fantasy worlds. Death is laugh-out-loud funny; Moist von Lipwig lives life permanently on parole by Lord Vetinari; Sam Vimes commands vampires, humans, trolls, dwarves, werewolves, and goblins; and Granny Weatherwax always knows precisely what to do while the Rincewind the wizard fumbles about with his Luggage. The Shepherd’s Crown features Tiffany Aching, Granny’s witch apprentice, and is Pratchett’s final book.
- Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore. I technically read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in 2016, but I prefer Kafka. Both employ beautiful imagery, a world where dreams and reality often intermingle, and cats.
- Henry Hemming, The Ingenious Mr. Pyke. Most of my book club disliked Pyke, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It gives insight into forces at play at the turn of the century and covers Pyke’s involvement in World War 1 and 2.
- Makoto Fujimura, Refractions. Fujimura writes beautiful words and paints beautiful images. His book contains a series of essays that delve into how art, faith, and culture influence one another.
- Perry Noble, Overwhelmed. I read Overwhelmed to learn how to address my stress and need for control biblically. Noble uses Daniel’s life to illustrate how believers should respond to challenges. He also writes from a southern perspective, which means all sorts of fun colloquialisms.
- David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks. I also read Cloud Atlas, but I suggest starting with Clocks. It uses a relatively normal plot structure whereas Atlas breaks it. (Check out the product alert on Amazon if you don’t believe me.) I find the form and style fascinating, but it’s a hazard of the job when you’re a writer and poet. Regardless, he, like Murakami, delivers beautiful lines and images.
- Brandon Sanderson, The Stormlight Archive. Okay, so the Archive is the name of the series. Prepare for a long-term commitment with it; the books (two of 10 so far) range near 1,000 pages each. I stayed up late reading both of them. If you want something shorter, I recommend The Emperor’s Soul.
- Luci Shaw, What the Light Was Like. I love Shaw’s essays. Her poems are no exception to the rule. This particular collection focuses on light (of course).
- Madeleine L’Engle, The Weather of the Heart. L’Engle writes in many genres. I specifically enjoy her essays and poetry. The Weather of the Heart portrays people from the Bible, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation.
- Felix Gilman, The Rise of Ransom City. This book is the second in the series and uses a completely different style. That sort of thing makes my heart and mind deliriously happy. The Rise of Ransom City reads as an edited autobiography, complete with a foreword and footnotes from the editor.
- Guy Gavriel Kay, The Fionavar Tapestry. Comprising three books, this series follows five characters that are transported from their world to the realer and more magical realm. The books combine facets of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, which should come as no surprise. Kay worked on The Silmarillion with Christopher Tolkien.
- Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone. I can’t commit fully to a recommendation since I started reading the book on November 23, but so far I like it. Burdago sets her characters in a dystopian type of Russia, complete with a creepy “unsea.”
- Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Technically, I read the book in 2015, but it’s so good that I have to put in on the list. Chabon is known for his alternate histories of World War 2. In this one, he follows the history of comic books. I’m not sure how anyone could resist that potent combination.
- Margaret Atwood, The Door. Atwood writes gorgeous poetry. I want to write like her and Shaw when I grow up.
Happy reading in 2017!
Image: Paul Sableman (Creative Commons)