I love the end of the year, tidying up loose ends and dreaming about what next year may bring. And plotting! Much plotting. But before that I’m taking a look at the top ten books I’ve read this year. Linked to reviews and in reverse alpha order by title, as the W’s get oh so little love:
When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
A poetic look at what life was like in Japanese internment camps during World War II. It’s a part of American history that gets glossed over too easily and Otsuka brings it to poetic life. Especially relevant considering the current political situation and fear of those who don’t look like us.
What Doctors Feel by Danielle Ofri
This book guided my first year working as a medical interpreter, especially the times I was scared of messing up so bad that it would end up hurting patient. “Being a doctor means living with that fear, incorporating it into one’s daily life,” Ofri writes, “…figuring out how to titrate it appropriately is a vital skill for a doctor.” I’m working on it.
Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by David von Drehle
From my “Summer of Fire”, where I read about all kinds of blazes. This book was my favorite of the bunch because it not only detailed the tragedy itself but also it’s aftereffects, from the trial of the building owners to how it helped shape the labor movement and political reform.
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
Simply delightful. It’s wonderful to get to know characters by what they say and do without paragraphs of collected details. While it took me some time to get into the story (starting the book while waiting in line didn’t help) once things got going I was entranced. And watching the whole plot unravel at that last soiree? Stunning. I can’t wait to read the rest of her stuff.
Poison Study by Maria V. Synder
How I love plotty fantasy! It’s all here – lots of action, great world building, rival lands without an obvious good guy or bad guy, and even a little romance. After blasting through the first two books (second review forthcoming) I’m trying to ration the rest.
Night Calls by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
I have no idea how this book flew under the radar when it was published twenty years ago – it’s Little House in the Big Woods with vampires and werewolves. Instantly awesome, right? Add in a young female protagonist, an interesting magic system, wonderful characters and plotplotplot to get an amazing read. And it’s a series, yea!
Love Marriage by V. V. Ganeshananthan
Review forthcoming – a lyric telling of one family’s Tamil diaspora experience. It’s one of those novels that is filled with history but never feels fact-y. I feel like a better person for reading it… but more about that next week.
Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin
My hands down favorite non-fiction of the year. After working at a desk job MacLaughlin quit and became a carpenter’s assistant. We get to see her learn the job but it goes much deeper than that – what does our profession say about us? How do we change when our job changes? Ooo, now that I think about it this might be a good pairing with some Studs Turkel… I sense a “Winter of Working” coming on!
Falling Into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath
Everything I love in a Regency romance – banter! Historical accuracy! Twisted tropes! Heath is a master of the form and one of my all time favorite romance authors. A strong start to a new series.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
I have a review lined up for this one as well, never fear! Mary Russell literally stumbles over the retired Sherlock Holmes one day and he is impressed with her powers of deduction and observation. She become his apprentice and they solve harder and harder mysteries until their very lives hang in the balance. (Dun-dun-DUUUUUN!)