With the turning of the year, it’s about time for my annual post on my favorite books I read over the course of this past year. I’m posting it a bit later into the new year this time around due to living pretty internet-free over a couple weeks I spent in Greece (which was amazing!) during the holiday season. But without any further ado, here’s my favorite works I read this past year (book titles are hyperlinked to longer Goodreads reviews for interested parties).
10. Demon in Democracy by Ryszard Legutko
I got the privilege of reading this book for a book club, so the discussion may have biased me a little on this book and I’m not sure how much I agree with all of its points. But as a book questioning the sustainability of Enlightenment-era liberal democracies, it sparked a lot of thoughts on my end and was quite good, nit-pickings aside.
9. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu
It was a toss-up between this book and the first in the trilogy, The Three-Body Problem. But there was a bunch to love about this series between its creative worldbuilding, thought-provoking themes, and superb plots. The characterization wasn’t phenomenal, but for idea-driven sci-fi, it was great!
8. Rhetoric of Love by Douglas Jones
This is a bit more textbook-y than the other works on the list and I probably wouldn’t have necessarily picked it up if I wasn’t a Rhetoric teacher (or a partial Rhetoric teacher at any rate). However, it fundamentally shifted several parts of my beliefs on how to best persuade others. Like with Demon in Democracy, even when I disagreed with the work, it made me think. It being written by an old high school teacher of mine was an added bonus.
7. The Burning White by Brent Weeks
You know when you’ve been following a long epic fantasy series for a while and when it finally wraps up, it does so phenomenally as a new high-point of the series? This was one of those books.
6. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
For the past five years, I’ve been telling myself that I should read more biographies than I otherwise do. I still don’t read as much of them as I want to. However, this was a very worthwhile choice for this year. I’d seen the movie before–but the book is far better!
The Red Rising series is definitely one that’s gotten better and better with each proceeding book. If you’re in the mood for fast-paced sci-fi with increasingly-complex themes and some well-done characters, I’d definitely recommend this series.
4. Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins
This is one of the best books I’ve read about writing as a business and what the process of learning to write seriously and make a living off of it looks like. Highly recommended to the different writers that follow me here!
3. Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis
I originally read this book for research purposes for an article I was writing for Story Embers. But I should have picked up this book earlier. Lewis lays down a number of fundamental mindset-altering ideas that I’m still mulling over months after reading it!
2. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
I originally picked up this book because I was intrigued by its premise (a nearby future where people develop a “cure” for autism and several autistic main characters need to decide if they should take it or not). I wasn’t expecting to be so captivated by the rich, authentic voice the author wrote the story in. Between powerful themes, memorable characters, and some heartbreaking moments, this was very close to being my favorite story I read this year if not for…
1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I’d never heard of this book before this year (a bit surprising given its popularity, as I’ve later discovered), but it did a number on me, well-earning the status of being the fourth book that’s brought me to actual tears as I’ve read it. There is a painful rawness to its characters, an atmospheric vividness to its fantastical elements, a beautiful simplicity to its prose, and a quiet ingenuity in its plot. It’s up there not just as my favorite book for this year, but also probably one of my favorite books of all time. Suffice to say, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.