EDIT: I have no idea what happened to the formatting in this post. I've tried fixing it multiple times now and nothing's changed. Oh well~
Over at the The Bathroom Monologues, John is encouraging bloggers to write about the best books they read in 2011. Okay!
2011 was the year I kinda-sorta got back into reading. After high school and college, I just never, as in really rarely, read books for pleasure. It just kinda stopped and wasn't a priority anymore. Reading is also a huge emotional investment for me and I just didn't have the spoons to spare until about 2010. Last year I read a total of three books for pleasure - Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami. And that was more novels that I had read for pleasure in a half year than in all of college combined.
This year was much better, with the first few months languishing in unemployment and the rest doing so much travel for the job I eventually got. I had a lot of time to read. In total I read eight books this year, most of them huge fantasy tomes from one or two series. For those I just picked my favorite of the series I read this year to talk about.
1. Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
Also read: Kushiel's Scion
It's pretty safe to say by now that the Kushiel's Legacy series is one of my favorites ever, even after a really rocky start with Kushiel's Dart, the first in the series. And although it took me over a year to get around to reading the next two novels, it was a well-worth wait. The novel here in particular is the best I've read so far, the last of the first trilogy in the series. Watching Phédre's journey from love to loss again, being divinely sent into the bowels of Hell to save her nemesis's son, traveling into the heart of Africa to learn the Name of God and then off to the English Channel to save her childhood friend was thrilling and moving unlike most books I've read, in fantasy or otherwise. Even though I affectionately call this series "The BDSM Porn Novels" they really are much more than that. Setting aside Carey's inability to jump into a story, some irksome style choices, and taking way, WAY too long to explain the history and religious systems (and I'm a religion scholar, so damn yo) it's a great fantasy series that I totally recommend to those with a strong sexual kink stomach. I've started reading the next trilogy in the series, and it's okay so far. But I have a feeling this one will be my favorite out of them all.
2. A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin
Also read: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Feast For Crows
I make it no secret that I think Martin is a pretty horrible writer with incredibly problematic situations in his novels, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy them at all. I must if I've read them all up to the latest installment. I bought the first novel on a whim in a Japanese English Bookstore in Nagoya I watched the show alongside reading the first book, and it was the merits of the show that kept me reading the series even though I raged at the crappy writing more than once, and in public, no less. (Look, I don't give a crap if people are dying all willy-nilly because you're a Badass Up In Here, but when women are getting raped every single page because LOL IT'S WAR your penis-privilege is showing.) Anyway, this novel is the best of the series thus far. So much drives the plot forward, and on more than one occasion I had a OH NO YOU DIDN'T moment. (Mostly, the epilogue. Hoshit. Red Wedding? Not so much. It was written horribly and anticlimatic.) Also it has the best cover. So yeah.
3. All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
This is especially poignant considering McCaffrey's death recently. I used to be a big fan of hers when I was a bb author in middle school, and I picked this up, one of the few early Pern novels I had yet to read, at the airport before blasting off for Japan. It's very McCaffrey. It's a good thing I had read the previous novels because there are SO MANY CHARACTERS with little to no development that, had I not known any of them, it would've been awful. The story is kinda interesting. I had read the novels before and the couple after, but not this one in-between, so it answered a few questions I had during The Skies of Pern years ago. There isn't much to say about this novel. It was a short read, not the best one, but very nostalgic for me nonetheless. I will be damn glad to never read anything about the basic-ass Jaxom again, though. (Also, it's really weird to realize years later that F'lar is abusing Lessa, but hey who cares right. ~It's from another time*)
4. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Another airport pickup. The premise of this seemed interesting, but Murakami is a HUGE hit or miss for me. And this was a miss. Again. I just can't get into his style, thanks. This book was just too weird even for me. I had no idea what he was doing or why and I am honestly okay with being ~left in the dark~ ohohoho. Whatever, I only read it because I'm a Japanese Studies graduate and to weeaboos he is the only author to ever happen in Japan. Actually, I really liked the Chinese prostitute/love hotel subplot, and the Denny's bickering was hilarious at times, but the whole thing with the MC's sister and..whatever...the hell...was going on with that (it was never explained) was enough to drive me away from this novel. So, this is probably the worst novel I read in 2011. But it's still on the best list because I didn't read that many different things. :(
Hopefully with my new Kindle Fire I can read more than 8 novels this year, ha. I usually read one in 2 weeks - month, so here's to 12!