I had a goal to read one-hundred books in 2012. I failed. Although I only made it through about eighty-five books, I still feel accomplished to have added new entries into my library. What follows is a list of books that I read over the past year that I feel everybody should check out (click on the book covers for Amazon linkage).
- Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey: While there is a large crowd of people who still shun e-readers as the inception of the book-pocalypse, e-readers have been nothing but positive for struggling, independent authors. Howey is an excellent example of this. While it is difficult to discuss anything about Wool without spoiling everything about the plot, suffice it to say that it is a post-apocalyptic drama focused around an isolated group of individuals trying to survive in a harsh environment.
- The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: I don’t usually go in for very long book series. This particular series about a wise-cracking wizard who resides in Chicago has over ten entries in it now, but the quality of the writing and the story only increases with each iteration. There is a valid comparison to be made to the X-Files in that some of the books are very much monster-of-the-week episodes, while others are focused more on the over-arching mythology that ties all of the novels together. Butcher finds a success through his flawless portrayal of humanity in a character (Dresden) while managing to truly bring the “urban” setting into life for the fledgling urban fantasy genre.
- Solar Clipper Trader Tales by Nathan Lowell: Science fiction has always been
a favorite or mine, but it typically tends to favor either a lot of science or a lot of fiction. (Sometimes fiction that, even for Sci-Fi, can stretch the imagination). The books from this series by Lowell feature plot-lines are refreshingly simple. There is no grand enemy. There is no hero’s journey — mono-myth be damned! The science fiction is all in the setting while the story is driven by a young protagonist trying to make his way through a new life aboard a trading vessel.
- Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson: Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. While fantasy novels are popular right now because of popular media exposure (some still ride the Harry Potter train while others leech from Game of Thrones), Sanderson remains uniquely imaginative. While all of his novels feature inventive uses of magic, Warbreaker features the best combination of a unique magic system coupled with accessibility. Well-written characters? Sure. Humor? Definitely. Magic system based entirely around color? Definitely.
- Airborn by Kenneth Oppel: Steampunk airships. Lost worlds. Alternate Earth biosphere. Classic adventure. This novel feels very much like a throwback to older tales such as Tin-Tin — there is an immediate sense of innocent adventure. The worst enemies are sky pirates and the greatest threats are those created by the environment. Enjoyable reading.
Of course, my recommendations are fraught with biases toward fantasy and science. I admit that. I will assert, however, that good books are good books, regardless of genre. Even if you have not read or have not enjoyed science fiction or fantasy before, give one of the aforementioned books a shot — in the worst case, you’ll simply be supporting an author. Best case? Good book.