Jun 28, 2009

The Sunday Salon – Favourites of the Year So Far

The Sunday Salon.com

Hello Sunday Saloners. Please insert the usual I-can’t-believe-half-the-year-is-gone-already ramble here. You already know it, so I’ll spare you, but seriously, the older I get, the quicker time seems to pass, and the less time I have for anything. It’s not fair! Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to list my top ten reads of the year so far, and then compare it with my final list in December. Some I'm sure will make the final list, but who knows what discoveries the second half of the year will bring? So, in no particular order except for number one, here they are:
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness – what an excellent series this is. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the second book next week, but until then, they can be summed up in one word: wow.

  • What I Was by Meg Rosoff – A quiet story about friendship, love, identity, memory and misunderstandings. I’m not even sure why it touched me so much, but touch me it did. For another opinion, check out Paperback Reader's or Melanie's.

  • Bad Science by Ben Goldacre – everyone should read this book! It’s informative, important, and fun.

  • Bone by Jeff Smith – A epic that is as personal as it is grandiose, set in a detailed world and full of memorable characters. (On a side note, the other day I went to a friend’s house for dinner and she served a quiche. I had to explain why I kept giggling, but I think that even after I did she remained convinced that I wasn't all there. Which is probably what you're thinking right now if you haven’t read Bone. This will make sense if you do, though. I promise.)

  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – I think everyone who's convinced they dislike all science fiction should pick up this book. If this doesn’t change your mind, I don’t know what will.
What about you? What are your favourite reads of the year so far? (She asks, knowing very well that this will inevitably result in more books being added to her wishlist. I’m hopeless.)

Also, I was looking at my Read in 2009 list and I thought I’d do a bunch of nerdy stats – because is there a better way to spend the time when you should, in fact, be working on a final essay? Anyway, I thought I was making an effort to read diversely this year, but the stats revealed that only 33% of the books I’ve read so far were by women, among other distressing facts. So I’m thinking of reading only female authors in July to help balance things. Does anyone want to join me?

I almost forgot! The winner of my YA Carnival giveaway is: Marineko! I actually had a bit of an eek moment when I realized she’d won: I worried you’d all think I’d rigged it because she picked the one book I keep telling the whole world to read, Tender Morsels. I absolutely swear I didn’t, though! I’d have taken a screenshot of random.org, but I closed the tab before I realized that number 42 (ha, 42!) was her. I know I’m being paranoid, though, and that you won’t actually suspect me. Congratulations, Marineko! I’ll be sending the book your away very soon.

And speaking of loving a book so much you want the whole world to read it, have you checked out Amy's Book Drive yet? She and Lenore are trying to get two hundred copies of Nothing But Ghosts sold before next Friday. Before I read The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee I had no idea how important initial sales were for a book's ultimate fate, but they are very important indeed. So if the book sounds like one you'd enjoy, considering helping. There are prizes involved too!


  1. *blinks* I'm number 42? YAY! Oh, how I can't wait to read it.

    I love your list - I'm interested to read the Chistopher Barzak and Kij Johnson ones in particular, because of the short stories I read by them for the Once Upon A Time III challenge. Right now I'm re-reading a book I just read last week, which is definitely in my top ten of the year so far - The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

  2. Btw, I haven't heard of Nothing But Ghosts until now, but it sounds right up my alley. I'll look out for it at my store.

  3. Tender Morsels is yet another book I desperately want to read.

    I would join you in a books written only by women July but I have one month left to read my library copy of The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb.

  4. A bunch of your favorites are already hanging out on my wish list because of...well...you! Sounds like you're having a good reading year so far. =)

    I totally relate about time fasting so much faster as I get older and the never having time for anything. When I was a kid, summer used to seem so looooong. Now it goes by in a blink. *sigh*

  5. I totally understand your paranoia. Random.org happened to pick one of only two people who entered my contest who have been subscribers for awhile now...but I didn't rig it, I swear! :) Congrats to Marineko!

    I like the idea of making a top-ten list for the year. I might just have to copy you. :)

  6. If I was making a list I'd have to put Christopher Barzak on it too! I think he's being knocked off the top spot by Possession, but definitely still in my top 5. Old Man's War is on there too and pretty much everything else you list is on my wishlist! =)

  7. Of all the books on your list, the only one I've read is Bone. I must get to work! Congratulations to Marineko! I bought my copy of Nothing But Ghosts last week.

  8. My favourites so far are The Strain; The Adoration of Jenna Fox; Soldier in the Mist, and Wyrd Sisters :)

  9. The only one from your list I've read is Fingersmith (loved it!). A mid-year list is a great idea, maybe I'll make one this week, too.

  10. What a fun post, Nymeth! At first, I thought, "Oh no...my poor wish list!" But of course, that was a ridiculous thought as you'd already "made" me put them all on my wish list. Actually, you've already "made" me buy most of them! ;)

    My favorites of the year...good question. I'd have to go look at my lists to make sure, but a few that pop to mind: Castle Waiting, The Amazing Maurice, Fables, The Sandman, The Hunger Games, House of Stone, The Curious Incident. See, you've nothing to fear from me, as you've read most of those already. :)

    I'd love to join you in the women authors for July, but I can't. I think you'll forgive my reason though...I am finally going to read Nation!!!!!!!!

  11. Ohhhhhhh Nymeth what a fun post! I'm working on my mid-year review, but I hadn't thought about doing favourite books yet. Must add that!

    lol @ your paranoia

  12. I *just* finished Old Man's War this weekend. And I love, love, loved it! I can't believe I didn't pick it up any sooner. :)

    I hope to be getting to Tender Morsels soon. I'd love to get to it in July :)

    As for my own favorite reads, I love EYES LIKE STARS by Lisa Mantchev and MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD by Francisco Stork.

  13. Great list! I plan to read The Love We Share without Knowing soon (I bought a copy the moment I finished reading your review!)

    The Fingersmith is one of my all time favourites, so I'm pleased you enjoyed it too.

  14. I got four of those on my TBR list. Hope you read many more great books!

    TSS: A World I never Made

  15. I have my copy of Nothing but Ghosts!

    I don't think I'll ever look at quiche the same again. Too funny.

  16. I just counted up and I read 18 fantasies so far this year!! but still short of my 50 - only at 39 *sniff*

    I have to read Tender Morsels too! It was a library book that had to go back. I've even begun looking at Sarah smith again because of you!!! I discovered I have read her before, but I can't remember anything about it. I'll blame baby hormones on that, for that year!

    and yes, I remember doing anything to avoid writing final essays too. good luck, Nymeth! I'll email later today about the Mythopoeic badge/challenge, since I'm about ready to do it, hurray!! :-D

  17. I've already read a bunch of your favourites, (and I totally agree with you about their awesomeness, except that OMW was more a fun read than an amazing one for me), and many of the others are on my list. You are BAD for my internal future wishlist, Nymeth. Very, very bad.

    Hmmm, my favourites so far... well, off the top of my head and not including rereads, (which have mostly been mindblowing), I'd say THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS by Caleb Carr, CORAMBIS by Sarah Monette, the Black Jewels books by Anne Bishop and CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL by Glen David Gold.

    Re: male and female authors, I find that I've read far more women than men this year. According to my little tally, (which is probably missing at least two or three folks, as I always forget I'm keeping it), I've read 59 books written or edited by women and 44 books written or edited by men. There's a bit of overlap there, as I have a few that we coauthored/coedited by male/female teams.

  18. 39 books read I mean, so far, since my goal is 100 for the year....

  19. Honestly, I don't even want to think about the year being half over. How the heck is it going to be July in two days?? Anyway, don't want to think about it anymore. :) I've seen a few top 10 lists so far and I'm noticing some of the same books on the lists. I guess that means that we're reading great books (um, or you are). I've got Fingersmith in the stack, but I'm looking at that stack right now and that sure is a thick book!

    Hope the next half of the year is just as great for you, Nymeth!

  20. Hey Ana! I think I am going to do a post like this, too, but probably not until Tuesday or Wednesday. I have read a lot more this year than I normally do, so picking just ten is going to be very difficult. The three I know for sure are THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, THE LOVE WE SHARE WITHOUT KNOWING, and THE GRACELING. Other than that, I need to look at what I have read. To be truthful, some of the books I feel like I read an eternity ago, not a matter of months! I mean, it is hard to believe that I read John Green and Scott Westerfeld for the very first time this year...

    Anyway, hope you have a successful second half of your year, too! Several of the books in your favourites I plan to read, but haven't got around to them yet.

    Oh, and I sort of stalled on Lavinia. I read just a bit too much in June and got a bit burned out. I think I am back on track now, though, so I will finish it up soon!

  21. What a great idea, Nymeth! If I did a top ten list so far, I think that would be just about a third of what I've read so far this year. :-) I could probably make a top five list . . .

    I really do need to read something by Sarah Waters. I think I own most of her books and yet I haven't read a one. Is Old Man War the first in the series? I've been thinking of getting that one for awhile now.

    Congratulations to Marineko for winning the YA Carnival giveaway!

    Have a great week, Nymeth!

  22. Ooh I need to do this. What a great post. I shall have to look over my books for the year to decide. I really want to read Tender Morsels soon.

  23. Congratulations to Marineko! You know 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything ;o)

    My fave so far this year is Dreams Underfoot by de Lint. Ya, I'll get to the review soon so I can gush.

    You do realize that time does get shorter as we age? OK, so not really, but it does seem so if you think about it this way:
    When you are 10 years old, 5 years is one half of your life (really long).
    When you are 40 years old, 5 years is only an eighth of your life. See? Getting shorter ;o)

  24. Listing your favorite books of the year is a pretty good idea. I haven't read of them, I have to confess.

    Most of the books I read are by women. In fact, I'd say I only read one or two books by men a year, if that--unless they're using female noms des plumes, which is a possibility.

  25. Um, *hi nymeth's favorites, I love you, bye*

    Seriously, I want to read all of the ones I haven't read yet. And Fingersmith is sitting here eyeing me up right now begging me to be taken off the shelf. I think I may just have to do that. And why haven't I read Tender Morsels yet??? Why??? Seriously, there's something wrong with that! Same thing for The Love we Share...

  26. Wonderful list, Nymeth, and a great idea. As usual, I've added some to my TBR pile!

    I may steal this idea for next Sunday's Salon!

  27. A bunch of us are doing an 'Orange July' where we're reading from the Orange Prize winners, shortlists, and longlists. All, of course, women.

    Think about joining us! It's informal with no official requirements.

  28. Good luck on wrapping things up Ana!

    (Hopefully your essay is already finished and you can relax. And if it's not..... from one self-proclaimed procrastinator - begone, quit reading and write! :P )

    Have a good week :)))

  29. I had just done my Musing Mondays post when I read your post about our favourite reads so far, what a nice coincidence! :D

    Here's my favourites and I can't wait to read more great books which're releasing in the near future!!

  30. I listed my top few favorite reads due to the Musing Monday question this week and enjoyed reading yours. The thing that constantly amazes me is just how many different books are out there being read by so many different people! Hope the 2nd half of the year is as enjoyable for you as the first half.

  31. I'm bookmarking this book and I'm going to try and find every book I can from this list :)

    I would have stumbled it, but just joined it and I'm really not sure how it works.

    Congratulations Marineko :)

  32. Nymeth,
    Hang out with me. I read 85% books by women. lol I need to remember our other half.

    This is my fourth year running the library and since that time children and YA books dominate my reading habits. I would love to read a few more literary pieces but this first half of the year has been about the young.

    Short list:

    The River and The Rock by Kekla Magoon. Historical ficition seems to be a popular sub-genre for me this year. Incredible yet accessible prose. Love, love this debut novel. If you want to learn about the Black Panthers beyond the hype, read this.

    A Cool Moonlight by Angela Johnson. There is beauty and magic, growth and acceptance in this slim volume. After reading it, I felt a quiet joy in remembering what it means to believe in something intensely.

    A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott. Time travel,history of the New York race riots and the civil war, domestic terrorism, 911 romance and self-discovery all in one YA novel. Zetta weaves a tale both fantastic and realistic. The social commentary is thought-provoking and the pacing is heart-pounding. Moreover the exploration of race is intimate and complex. No broad strokes here. Like Butler's Kindred, the author illustrates that when it comes to race, it's not black and white. The book leaves you aching and hopefully re-examining race relations and issues of terrorism in an informed way.

    The Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. I read a lot of multicultural lit and what I try to get readers to remember is that we come to a read with a lens: our personal experiences and values. If you want to really appreciate another person's world, try to avoid allowing your lens to obscure your view. Your view isn't the only way to live and to be happy. Mitali allows the reader to see the world through another person's lens. We see the world as Asha knows it. We get an intimate look at her life and the the lives of other young girls growing up in India in the 70s. I value learning others' ideas of family, values, culture and customs. The book is tender and heartbreaking. Mitali could have easily given us a fairy tale ending instead she kept the book consistent with the values of the characters. What I particularly liked how she shows us how we find joy and strength within the restrictions of our culture and times. We push when we can, but that doesn't mean we don't experience love or finding meaning because of barriers. Highly recommend this.

    And you just gave me my weekly feature for lColor Online. Thanks. lol

  33. I am glad to see Old Mans War on your list. Every time I see a review of the book I think back to the days of aol journals because John worked for aol back then and everyone emailed him a lot..now he's becoming a well known author and I think that's so great!

  34. Yippee for Marineko!! I just bought Nothing But Ghosts, have a few of these already on my tbr and I think I'll just go add the rest right now. Good post - thanks! (and one more kick for me to do MY stats...)

  35. I read Fingersmith earlier this month, and I feel exactly the same way about it, I loved it so much. I'm usually not into Victorian era books, but Fingersmith was amazing and though provoking for me, with regards to treatment of women and treatment of the mentally-ill.

    I really want to read Tender Morsels soon! =)

  36. I know, it's hard to believe the year is just flying by isn't it? There are still so many books I want to get to this year, challenges I want to finish, etc. but well as long as I'm happy with what I'm reading then that's what counts :)

  37. I really want to read the top 3 on your list. This year has been really good for reading so far. I loved the Camelot series by Sarah Zettel and think you would too. Also Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Dreaming series by Queenie Chan, Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson, Crossing Midnight series by Mike Carey, Girl Meets boy by Ali Smith (in fact the whole Canongate Myth series)The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop, My Swordhand is Gently Singing by Markus Sedgewick (you have to read this), Sunshine by Robin McKinley and the James A Owen series. OK so my list is a little long...

  38. You always read the most interesting books. I must get some of Sarah Waters books. I must.

  39. Great post! My favs this year would include In the Woods by Tana French, Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop.

    And I can't believe that half the year has already gone, either! Scary.

  40. you always read such unique books!
    Georgette Heyer has really wowed me so far this year.

    and oh my gosh....I-can’t-believe-half-the-year-is-gone-already .....lol....time does fly.

  41. Marineko: If 42 is not a lucky number then I don't know what is :D I think you'd really like both Christopher Barzak and Kij Johnson.

    Claire, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    Megan: It's been a great reading year so far, yes! I hope the second half is just as good. Summers did use to feel much longer :(

    Amanda: I'd love to see yours!

    Meghan: Possession was my favourite the year I read it too :) SUch a brilliant book.

    bermudaonion: I did too! I can't wait for it to arrive.

    Maree: Love the last, and really want to read all the others!

    JoAnn: Do! I'd love to see it :)

    Debi: Actually, I do have a lot to fear! I haven't read the last three yet, and you definitely made me want to. Also, reading Nation at last is definitely a good reason :D

    Eva: I remember you worried too when drawing your penpals, so don't laugh :P

    Becky: It was so good, wasn't it? Even though I knew Chris, Renay, Carl, Kim, etc had loved it, it still completely surpassed my expectations. Eyes Like Stars and Marcelo are both on my wishlist.

    Jackie: I can't believe it took me this long to get to Sarah Waters, but I'm so glad I finally did.

    Guatami: Thank you! I hope so too.

    Beth: lol, we are doomed to always finding quiches hilarious, to the puzzlement of those who surround us :P

    Susan: Not all that much to go to reach 50, though! And then only another 50 :P You can do it! I look forward to hearing from you about the mythopoeic project :)

  42. Memory: Sorry :P If it's any comfort, you are bad for mine too. All your favourites are ones I want to read too, including Anne Bishop because I want to read her again. And again :P I'm hoping to improve my ratio over the next few months. It won't be hard, since there are so many books by women that I'm really looking forward to.

    Trish: And now it's the 2nd of July! Aaaaah! Seriously, fastest year ever. And trust me, even though Fingersmith is a chunkster it's a much quicker read than many books half its size.

    Kailana: I want to read all your favourites! Well, except the ones I've already read :P Don't worry about Lavinia...I'm about 6 reviews behind, so there's time!

    Literary Feline: Yes, Old Man's War is the first in a series, but the ending is not a cliffhanger or anything. It would easily work as a standalone. I hope you're having a great week yourself :)

    Scrap Girl: I hope you enjoy it when you do!

    Terri B: Yep :P I have to read Dreams Underfood. And lol :P You know, I think there have actually been some studied about time perception and age that explain why we feel that it goes by faster as we get older.

    heidenkind: I love many women authors, but because I read a lot of speculative fiction, which is still quite male-dominated, they tend to be unrepresented in my reading. Must change that!

    Chris: Yeah, we're you going to read The Love We Share Without Knowing for the read-a-thon? Months ago? For shame, Chris :P

    Gavin: I hope you do!

    Michelle: Oooh, I love the idea! In fact, I think I have a few Orange nominees in my tbr pile!

    Christina: Thank you! I only have one more to finish, due next Monday. I'm currently procrastinating, yes, but I still have 3 whole days :P

    Melody: I love that this was this week's Musing Mondays topic!

    Kim: I know! Diversity is a wonderful thing. Thank you for the good wishes, and likewise!

  43. Violet: yay :D I hope you enjoy the ones you find!

    Susan: That's one of the reasons why I love hanging out at your blog, actually :D Thank you for this list! I seriously want to read every single one of them.

    Deslily: Do you read his blog? From that I definitely can tell what a cool person he is!

    Care: Can't wait for my copy of Nothing But Ghosts to arrive. So many books I'm dying to reeaaad.

    shananaginsbooks: I'm actually a fan of the Victorian era as a setting, but I bet I'd have loved it anyway if I wasn't. Such an amazing book.

    Iliana: Exactly!

    Rhinoa: I hope you love my top 3 as much as I did! Speak is one I want to get to soon, and I will definitely read The Dreaming before the end of the year as well. And Girl Meets Boy! I can't believe I left it out. It deserves to be on my list.

    Alice: Yes you must :P

    Cath: I loved the last three, and I plan to read the first two!

    Naida: I've been hearing so much about her lately. Hopefully I'll read one of her books before the end of the year!

  44. I haven't read any of the books on your "best of" list :( , but PAPER TOWNS is on my wish list.

  45. I'm really looking forward to The Love We Share Without Knowing. I think I'm going to have a Japanese-themed reading fest for the next couple of months, in conjunction with Bellezza's challenge.


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