Today’s Assignment: Recommend a New Book

I will not be about today because I must write like the wind. While I am away, to keep you occupied and amused, an assignment for you:

Tell us all about a new book that you’ve enjoyed.

For the purposes of this discussion, a “new book” is one that’s been published in the last two years, i.e., since September 25, 2010. Other than that, any sort of book you’ve personally liked and would recommend to others is eligible: fiction, non-fiction, small press, no press, ebook, graphic novel, etc. It just has to exist in the real world and be somewhere people can buy it. Book title and author, please, and also, you know, why you liked it.

Three rules:

1. It can’t be a book you’ve written (i.e., no self-promotion, and don’t make a sock puppet to promote yourself, because, dude, that’s just sad);

2. It can’t be one of my books, because it’s not as if people here are unaware of my stuff;

3. Pick one. Yes, it’s tough. But I don’t want to see laundry lists; I want to see new books you’re really passionate about. Also: One comment only (second posts to make corrections are fine but, come on, guys, that’s what the preview function is for). Don’t worry, I’ll do another one of these in December, so you can make another recommendation then.

Feel free to link to the book in the comments, but remember if you put too many links in the comment (more than three), it’ll get bumped into moderation. Don’t panic when that happens; when I take food/bathroom/RSI-avoidance breaks I’ll check the queue.

So: What new book do you want to tell the world about?

387 Comments on “Today’s Assignment: Recommend a New Book”

  1. Also:

    The comment thread is for recommendations only, not for commentary about other people’s book choices. I want to keep the thread clear for people to make (and read) recommendations. I thank you in advance for your co-operation.

    Also also:

    Comments that don’t actually follow the reasonably simple rules I’ve laid out are liable to be malleted, and (unusually for this site) removed completely. No malice there, I just want to keep the thread clean and easy to read.

  2. Ready Player One. I know, all of geekdom has read it already, but it was superb. The best part was hearing Wil Wheaton’s voice in my head. Uh, while I read it, of course; otherwise that would just be creepy.

    [Quick note: Author here is Ernest Cline. Folks, adding the author name is helpful, too! — JS]

  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is the most entertaining book I’ve read (well, listened to) in years. I highly recommend the audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton.

  4. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. Nominally MG fiction, it’s a great time-travel story set in 1970s New York. Great world, great characters, great storytelling, beautifully complicated.

  5. Constellation Games, by Leonard Richardson. First contact, told from the perspective of a thirty-something nerd who just wants to know if the aliens have any good video games. Reviewed here.

  6. Hounded by Kevin Hearne!

    I guess it falls under urban fantasy, though it’s really a mystery (the usual go-to style for urban fantasy).

    But the characters are hilarious (I love the comments of the canine sidekick Oberon) and the incorporation of all the different mythologies from around the world.

  7. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. The FUNNIEST book I have ever read in my entire life!! I laughed — yes, out loud — so much that my husband thought I had finally tipped over the edge into insanity.

  8. [Deleted because it didn’t follow the rules. Guys, come on, the rules are not THAT hard to follow. Blake, you may make another recommendation that follows the rules — JS]

  9. “Tales From Development Hell (New Updated Edition): The Greatest Movies Never Made?” by
    David Hughes. It’s about movies that were never made (some thankfully so), movies that are unrecognizable compared to their first drafts (the original concepts and drafts of “Total Recall” sound glorious), and movies that were made and never should have been (like Burton’s “Planet of the Apes”). By the end of it you’ll be so angry at how Hollywood works* that you’ll want to fly out there and personally punch Jon Peters–of the spider-robot in the Kevin Smith Superman reboot–in the crotch repeatedly and with great relish.

    But damn are the stories good.

    * If you’re JS or anyone else already familiar with the process, be forewarned as you may suffer PTSD

  10. Greg Rucka’s Alpha.

    Alpha is a thriller. Terrorists take an amusement park hostage on U.S. soil. There’s villains, and guys running around with guns, and unpredictable heroism. But that is so barely what the book is about.

    I reviewed it a while back at my blog, but here’s the gist of what I said:

    “The secret about Rucka’s work, the secret which isn’t a secret at all and which he tells people at every opportunity, is that he thinks all of his characters are people. Every twist and turn in Alpha is a result of thoughtful character-driven action. The people in his books want things, they fear things, they have agency. The plot is the result of that agency.”

    I can’t really express or explain how important I think Rucka’s work is. How important to me, yes (every woman he writes is a woman I should never, ever, date,) but just important. The world needs more action-packed books which remember and highlight common humanity.

  11. This may be weird to recommend a work of history when you’re a sci-fi writer but as a writer myself I feel that history is a great tool to garner ideas from. My recommendation is: ‘The Long Road to Antietam’ by Richard Slotkin. A really good book.

  12. The Good Son by Michael Gruber. I’ve not seen a ton of press on it, and it’s outside the sci-fi genre, but I think sci-fi fans would really enjoy it. The main characters are a Jungian psychologist/religious scholar and her son, a special ops soldier. The plot is full of surprises, but they feel like they rise organically out of the characters.

  13. Of all the recent books I’ve read and enjoyed, the one I think is least likely to be recommended by anyone else here is Fever: Little Willie John’s Fast Life, Mysterious Death, and the Birth of Soul, by Susan Whitall. Little Willie John, an R&B singer who died in the 1960s, is still one of my favourite singers, and I enjoyed this book tremendously. In fact, I think it’s pretty good even if you’ve never heard of the guy.

  14. I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I’m really enjoying Year Zero by Robert Reid. For the first ten pages or so, I thought it was trying a little too hard to be funny, but after that, it’s just funny. Reid started the company that started Rhapsody, so he has some real insight into the business of music licensing. I’m not sure how he came up with the idea of writing a science fiction comedy about it, but I’m glad he did.

  15. I am about halfway through the ARC of Ramez Naam’s NEXUS, which should be available in the US around Christmastime, and so far I am enjoying the living jeehoozus out of it. The first half would definitely be well worth the purchase price even if the second half consisted entirely of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” (And Ramez Naam might really be that crazy, and I mean crazy in the sense that I kept muttering how crazy and wonderful it was when I first read NEUROMANCER and all this cool stuff just kept opening in front of me).

  16. Hmm..

    The last “new book” I read was by Betty White: “If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t).

    Ok. Laugh on. But it was truly enjoyable and I’m glad I read it.

  17. I tend to steer clear of Middle Grade novels…as well as books set in early 20th century coal mines…(because, of course, there are so many of those)…so I was definitely not expecting to just absolute adore Katerina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley. Plus it has one of the most glorious covers I’ve seen recently!!

  18. Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson:
    Non-fiction. Geared towards parents with essentially pre-school age or a bit younger kids. What I particularly liked about it was that it explains the science in the middle path between overly technical and dumbed-down. It’s very useful for my own personal growth and provides a lot of practical tips on how to help communicate with your kid and help him/her understand his/her feelings a lot better.
    Now I keep talking calmly to my amygdala when I’m feeling upset, which is always good for a laugh.

  19. Dead Water by Simon Ings. Like David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten on a number of levels – writing, world-hopping, fun and serious – yet more sophisticated.

  20. THE CLOUD ROADS by Martha Wells. Intriguing mix of fantasy and science fiction (alien beings with magic!) (also ditto above commenter about Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME. Do not be fooled by young narrator and middle grade marketing; this is a wonderful book for any age reader)

  21. My commute book is Bruce Schneier’s Liars and Outliers, an overview of the different tools society uses to keep people honest.

    It’s a look at the way morality, social pressure, and security systems work together to keep people in any group from putting their own needs ahead of the group (more than the group can support).


  22. Putting in a vote for historical fiction (and set on the American frontier) Doc: A Novel, by Mary Doria Russell. It’s a retelling of the life of Doc Holliday, and it’s magnificent. I got an advance copy as a Vine reviewer, and I loved it.
    “If the expected `Western’ is a movie set – of false front storefronts along a dusty street, and decorated with a few suitable props – Doc brings you the real-life community, the rooms behind the façade and the real people who lived in them, once upon a time in the west.”

  23. I can’t recommend Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway, enough. It’s now one of my favorite books of all time and certainly one of the best I’ve read in the last year. It’s captivating, touching, fresh, and enjoyably weird. (I felt pretty much the same way about his first novel, The Gone Away World, too.) Find Angelmaker at an indie bookseller, here:
    And if you’re handy to Brooklyn, NY, they will happily sell you a copy at WORD in Greenpoint. :)

  24. I discovered the Liaden novels, by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, the latest of which is _Dragon Ship_. Also! A bunch just came out as audiobooks, which my wife is enjoying on her commute.

  25. Songs of the Dying Earth – collection of short stories set in Jack Vance’s Dying Earth – great stuff

  26. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Beautiful written book by a great author. I have enjoyed all his books and this is his latest. I close my eyes and have visions on his words.

  27. Under The Ember Star by Charles Allen Gramlich/The Battle For Eden by Mark E. Burgess: Wildside Double # 26. Patterned after the old Ace Doubles. Two SF adventure short novels. They are also available as separate ebooks.

  28. THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON by Saladin Ahmed. Really great story set in an atypical fantasy setting. I loved the characters in this and the writing is suberb.

  29. Revelations, by Elaine Pagels. A comprehensive history of the early Christian church and its internal struggles as various alternate Christianities achieved supremacy (and state backing) or were denounced as heresies and obliterated. The tension between the two (at least) different visions of the communities that grew around the story of Jesus of Nazareth still reverberates two thousand years later, both in the worldwide Christian community and in current American politics. A very enlightening book from my favorite scholar of early Christian history.

  30. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami.

    Its Martin-or-Robert-Joran length may intimidate some (and if so I heartily recommend the slimmer, slightly inferior, but still excellent Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World), but it is one of those virtually perfect books. The term “urban fantasy” has now been taken by the paranormal romance crowd, so I’d call it a perfect, gently consoling urban fairy tale (though one with harsh edges and some unexpected, violent twists.)

  31. I just read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green. Full disclosure, I was given the book for review but rest assured I wouldn’t be tell you about it if it sucked. It’s the story of a not-so-fantastic thing that happens to a boy with Aspberger’s told from the perspective of his imaginary friend. It’s creative and thought provoking and it made me have feeeeeeelings. That’s what a good book is supposed to do, right?

  32. Seeing as Johann took my first choice, the runners up are giving me a challenge. I think I’ll go with Paulo Bacigalupi’s Drowned Cities. The man can write dark, compelling, yet highly accessible stories.

  33. How To Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston. If you only do one thing for race relations this year, then make it reading this book.

  34. I just yesterday finished Kim Newman’s “Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles” — more or less parallel stories to the Sherlock Holmes canon, written from the (surprisingly entertaining, if coarse) perspective of Col. Sebastian “Basher” Moran. It pulls in other work from the era (as in the title story) in a series of short stories in one long arc. There are a lot of lovely little touches in the book, not least being Moriarty’s relationship to the Thin Man, and Newman’s teasing references to that particular character. The footnotes also are an unexpected treat.

  35. Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear. I was both thrilled and heartbroken when I realized about 2/3 of the way through, that the book was the first in a series. Thrilled that there would be more amazing story; heartbroken that the next book was not yet available for me to read.

  36. Fans of meta-fictional narratives would really enjoy The Unwritten, a graphic novel series. It starts out with the premise “what if writing a Harry Potter-esque series made the character real?” and takes it off the deep end. It’s ongoing.

    (Also, reading the thread made me realize that what I consider “recent” books are at least three years out-of-date. I had an awesome recommendation . . . for a book six years old.)

  37. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It’s a book about a book about cancer. Well written, if a bit depressing. I enjoy all of John Green’s writing.

  38. I’m not quite halfway through it, but Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly from Tachyon Publications ( is a terrific study of the concept of the Singularity. It’s a collection of short fiction reprints as well as non-fiction essays on the subject, and includes Vernor Vinge’s paper on the topic. I picked it up at Chicon this year. I’m really enjoying this.

  39. “When The Villain Comes Home” a short story anthology edited by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed “Forgotten Realms” Greenwood. It has a wide variety of stories from newer and more established writers, all of them on the theme of what happens after the adventure when the villain comes home. My favorite story is “Maddening Science” by J.M. Frey, the tale of what happens to a supervillain after supers no longer run around saving the day.

    Here’s the link to the Dragon Moon Press site where it can be ordered, and yes it’s available in electronic and print formats.

  40. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. I read the original papers he did with the late Amos Tversky back in the day, and their work and the work inspired by them has had a huge influence on how I think about and act on a range of issues from computer security to negotiating contracts. The book is partly a memoir but is also a clear, thoughtful distillation of current research about how people actually make decisions and remember, and what makes people happy.

    This new book is even more accessible than their original work, and it is also funny and personal. You get a very strong sense of how Kahneman’s research over the years was influenced by his friendships and collaborations with others, in particular with Tversky but also a range of characters, including folks who strenuously disagreed with him. When he described one collaboration with a staunch critic at length, I found myself thinking, “That’s the kind of classy thing Scalzi would do if he were a scientist.”

  41. *bookmarks this thread to come back to later*
    “Black Boy White School” by Brian Walker. Great YA book that came out earlier this year, with a non-white protagonist (still pretty rare in YA). Very compelling, and the author really nails the narrator’s voice perfectly.

  42. Jim Holt’s Why Does The World Exist … very thorough, yet easily readable. Was a bit surprised that he interviewed John Updike on the subject until I read the depth of Updike’s comments.

    Thought provoking and does not appear to have a bias or hidden agenda, which is refreshing for any subject, especially philosophy.

  43. Catherynne Valente – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
    Read about here (a big idea entry) and bought it at an airport bookshop. It’s a warm hearted novel and the author masterfully plays with the language. Definitely a delightful read.

    Another thing I recently read which I can highly recommend is “Year’s Best SF 17” (editors: David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer), but that’s a collection of short stories, so I don’t know if it qualifies. I recommend it, regardless!

  44. Seb Doubinsky’s GOODBYE BABYLON (Black Coffee Press, 2012), which, FD, I was given to review. But I’m a cranky reviewer, so believe me when I say that it is very, very good. It has an unusual style and is thoughtful in a way that disrupts your preconceptions and makes you squirm and wonder at the same time. Full review is forthcoming, but so far it is one of the best books I have read this year.

  45. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

    I know a lot of folks think King is way past his prime, but I thought this book was fantastic from start to finish, which is a hard thing to pull off over the course of 850 pages — ditto for the over-used time travel plot. I loved it, and I’d say it’s worthy of being in the company of some of his early classics like Salem’s Lot and The Dead Zone (my two favorites). And not to troll here, but I think it blows the doors off of The Stand.

  46. Just about any time I get an opportunity to do so without being obnoxious, I find I MUST evangelize for Catherynne Valente’s A Dirge For Prester John trilogy. The first installment, Habitation of the Blessed gets in juuust under the time limit, published November 2010. (Second, The Folded World, was 2011, final, The Spindle of Necessity, is this year.)

    It’s hard to do justice to how I feel about the artistry of this storytelling and artistry. It’s as if you could eat a bouquet of fat, decaying roses… with your eyes.

  47. Laura Hllenbrand’s (who wrote Seabiscuit) Unbroken. A friend sent it to me just before Labor Day, and once I started it I blew off every plan for the holiday weekend to finish it. Staggering and moving story from World War II about Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini (still alive at 95) surviving a plane crash and Japanese POW camps.

  48. My go to genre is science fiction, duh, but I have to recommend something far outside that and a serious book to boot.

    I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish.

  49. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

    This book gave me some insight into just how far we have come in our fight against cancer and just how far we still need to go.

  50. CC Humphreys “A Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453”. Yes, you knew Constantinople fell in 1453, but did you know how? Humphreys’ writing is fantastic, the characters deep and engaging, and the story enlightening. If you like historical fiction (and swordplay, naval battles, etc), this is one definitely worth checking out. Just released in the US this month.

  51. Shine,Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer

    I read so many wonderful books this past summer but for some reason this novel was the first thing I thought of. It examines how human we are, how important it is to be true to ourselves and the main characters a bald suburban mom and her very aspieish astronaut husband are fully realized and not reduced to tropes.

  52. I’m happy to recommend “Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain”, by A. Lee Martinez. I especially recommend the audio version. The narration by Scott Aiello is fantastic. This book is a pretty easy sell, if you read that title and are immediately grabbed by it than run run to buy it, because it delivers all the whacky pulpy sci-fi goodness such a title promises. I listened to the audio book in one non-stop go because I just couldn’t bring myself to stop, it was too much fun. I’ve only done that with one other audio book and I can’t tell you which one, because then I’d be violating 2 of the thread’s rules.

    Find the book here:

    The HIGHLY RECOMMENDED audio version here:

  53. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Its a story we all know, told from a viewpoint not usually taken. Its sad and brilliant, and definitely worth anyone’s time.

  54. The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley. In the middle of the Silly Season of an election year it was so refreshing to read a nonfiction book that wasn’t about how we are on the brink of destruction. Kind of like watching the original Star Trek instead of Night of the Living Dead.

  55. “The Comedy Is Finished” by Donald Westlake. He just died a couple of years ago & this was published this year.

    If you have not read any of his “Dortmunder” series you are missing some of the best comedic crime writing ever. Nice tight stories, surprising twists and turns, odd characters. They compare very favorably to our hosts works like “Redshirts”.

  56. Rose McAleese: Strong. Female. Character.

    Kickass poetry from the west coast. I had the divine pleasure of reading the proofs a couple of months ago. If you like writing that sinks into your bones and proceeds to gnaw on them for awhile you’ll love this stuff. For a taste – watch her riff on Lady Macbeth “a woman’s will” (nsfw – language)

    If you’d like to directly support a small press you can get the goods straight from the publisher: – otherwise the usuals have it.

  57. Code Name: Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. This is the sort of book you want to know as little as possible about going into, but it’s about two women, best friends, and what they did during the war.

  58. Jo Walton’s Among Others. Breathtaking; heartbreaking. (Also, and I don’t think this qualifies as commentary, but smack me if it does: So bookmarking this page for future purchases.)

  59. The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham.

    Abraham rose to (at least) critical acclaim with his fantasy quad The Long Price Quartet, and he’s been a protege/contemporary of GRRM for a while now. The Dragon’s Path (the first book in his The Dagger and the Coin series) is pretty straight-up modern high fantasy, in the mold of GRRM, but more accessible (Abraham doesn’t go on at length about food service, for example). It’s compelling, the characters are richly drawn and believable, the world-building is great (if not groundbreaking – fairly standard medieval Europe analogs abound), the violence is just the right amount of brutal (not the slaughterfest of, say, Abercrombie – who I also enjoy, just for different reasons), and the politics are just as complicated as those found in GRRM’s ASOIAF series, though they don’t seem as complicated, if that makes any sense.

    Basically, if you like GRRM-style fantasy, you’ll eat this right up. Or if you or someone you know likes fantasy but is intimidated by the commitment implicit in starting ASOIAF, this just might be the book for you(them).

  60. THE REST IS SILENCE by John Fotheringham. Set in Nova Scotia, a person decides to live on the land in a world where plastic is being dissolved by engineered microbes. Very interesting!

  61. I’d like to recommend The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker. The Kindle version is free on Amazon:

    This is the first book in the Emperor’s Edge series, about a group of outlaw mercenaries who are trying to redeem themselves by acting in the emperor’s interest–without his knowledge or permission. I enjoy the mix of action and witty dialogue.

  62. Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey. Dystopian science fiction about a society that has lived underground so long, they have no memory of a time when people lived ‘outside.’ The gravest crime is expressing a desire to go outside, and if you do, they’ll send you there. It’s a great story on the surface, but when you look deeper there are layers and layers covering topics like social structure, the role of information control in society, freedom of movement and more. It’s the kind of book that will give you something new each time you go back to it.

  63. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Was an excellent book although a little light on the academics of the subject because of all the case history and stories. Still good for understanding some of the new findings in the field and relating to how we engage with the world.

  64. Code Name: Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. All the best qualities of classic British adventure novels. Two young friends go off to war. They’re both women. If you like H. Rider Haggard, or P. C. Wren, or Ouida, or Patrick O’Brian, you’ll want to read this. It’s marketed as YA fiction, but it’s so much more.

  65. The Dog Stars. Gorgeous end of world scenario which manages to not be like the million other dystopian novels out there.

  66. Barca: the Making of the Greatest Team in the World by Graham Hunter. Yes, a sports book on football, or as we yanks say, ‘soccer’. It’s a breakdown on the phenomena that has been FC Barcelona for the last four years under the leadership of Josep Guardiola (Pep). A great read with lots of personal stories from the players and coaches as well as the author who is an established sports journalist in Barcelona. The author captures the essence of why this Barca may have been the best soccer team ever.

  67. Unsurprisingly, people have already beat me to the punch re: Ready Player One, which is not only the best book I’ve read in the last two years, it is currently my favorite book, period. To the degree that I just ordered an ART3MIS personlized license plate and am heading up a get together of fans who participated in Ernie Cline’s Delorean contest this summer.

    So, yeah. I know many in geekdom have read it, but it still surprises me the numer who haven’t. It’s a wonderful romp through 80’s pop culture with some Meaningful Things to Say, as well.

  68. October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith. It may not technically qualify for “graphic novel” status yet, as the second issue of this comic just came out a few weeks ago. It truly reignighted my waning passion for comics. It’s moody and artistically beautiful in a chunky angular sort of way. And the cliffhangers…oh my heavens the cliffhangers!

    It’s published by MonkeyBrain Comics and available at ComiXology.

  69. Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch (aka Rivers of London), a great urban fantasy/police procedural. I kept having to read out-of-context bits to anyone who happened to be nearby, just because the voice of the narrator was so funny.

  70. The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi (who wrote the phenomenal Windup Girl a few years ago.) It’s set in a future dystopian America; oil has run out, and the south-east has dissolved into a collection of fiefdoms, continually fought over by vicious warlords who command armies of child soldiers. It is a “YA” book, which I guess means that its protagonists are teenagers, it has relatively straightforward prose, its pacing is brisk, and sex is only described obliquely. It’s a quick read (a couple evenings for me) and is really very good. Here’s a great interview with the author about the book, if you care to whet your appetite more:

  71. I love several of the above recommendations.

    Outside of those, however, my passionate recommendation is for Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy)
    by Mira Grant (also known as Seanan McGuire).
    This is an awesome start of a trilogy that was all released this summer so you can complete the entire story. Twin bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason and their colleague Buffy are thrilled when Sen. Peter Ryman, the first presidential candidate to come of age since social media saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead, invites them to cover his campaign. Then an event is attacked by zombies, and Ryman’s daughter is killed. This story is part zombie horror, part blog diary, and all around a great mystery.

  72. Beyond Heaving Bosoms: A Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels
    This book was so much fun to read. It takes an fairly academic look at the genre of Romance, its history, evolution and potential future, while poking fun at that genre the whole time. At times, it’s pretty ridiculous and that’s its charm. I mean, you can be sober and intellectual all you like while reading about the culture of a genre, but that nonsense goes right out the window the first time you encounter the term, “Heroic Wang of Mighty Lovin’.” (A term I’m totally going to use the next time I need to name a pet.)

  73. Lots of books I love have been mentioned, but one I haven’t yet seen is Daryl Gregory’s “Raising Stony Mayhall.” Yes, it’s a zombie story, but it’s one of the funniest, sweetest zombie stories I’ve ever read. I listened to the audiobook and will probably give it another listen next year.

  74. My first few thoughts have already been mentioned, but I haven’t seen Pratchett and Baxter’s The Long Earth here yet. It’s not for everyone—the plot is a bit thin, for instance—but it’s a marvelous bit a world building and I’m really looking forward to the other stories they’re planning to tell in that universe!

  75. Ready player one being taken I’ll go with “The Long Earth” by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter. They let you craving for a sequel. You’ll laugh and will enjoy also the sad parts. It’s a very complet book.

  76. “The Adoration of Jenna Fox” by Mary E. Pearson,
    Medical Ethics, Bio Ethics, Bio Technology,Self-Perception,Memory, Science Fiction
    All wrapped up in a supposedly “teen” novel.
    The author’s first excursion into science fiction is nothing short of brilliant, and should (at the very least) have been nominated for a Hugo (it actually deserved to win). It was, however, ignored because of how it was marketed.
    Listing all the awards this book has won in the literary world would take far too long.
    Go to this link for a description and link:

  77. As a librarian, I have to say it’s HARD to limit myself to one book. So I’m going to cheat mildly and recommend Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride — the sequel just came out. It’s older YA, funny and fantastic. I really like the characters, I like the plotting and pacing, and I like the bad guy because he’s got a moral compass like a crooked accountant– wearing a suit and looking respectable and cooking the books behind the scenes. The hero is a loveable loser who is a different kind of loser by the end. And the Harbinger of Death is in pigtails. And the werewolf…

  78. Space Chronicles by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    Not only is he an incredible intellectual (in discussing how we can actually mount a fully-realizes space exploration program) but he’s a visionary and dreamer (in giving reasoned and stirring inspiration for going in the first place).

    Fantastic book!

  79. Bring Up The Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
    Because, it’s fat, fantastically well-written and researched, and I was completely immersed in the world of the Tudors and Thomas Cromwell. The first volume (Wolf Hall) was excellent, too, but this would read on its own just fine

  80. I think it was mentioned on the blog, but I really liked “Graveyard Special (Mill City)” by James Lileks. It’s a mystery that wanders into memoir but is consistently funny and well-written. It’s a quick read, and well worth the $4 for the Kindle version.

  81. I’ve really loved the Chew graphic novels by John Layman and Rob Guillory. It’s set in a world where bird flu became a major epidemic, causing chicken to be outlawed and making the FDA incredibly powerful. The main character is an FDA agent who gets psychic impressions of everything he eats. And it gets increasingly hilariously ludicrous from there.

  82. “Bossypants” by Tina Fey.

    I liked it for two major reasons:
    (1) It made me laugh so hard.
    (2) It has been making the rounds with women in science and engineering, especially academics, because the male-dominated writer culture she describes is remarkably similar to male-dominated science/engineering academic cultures. Who knew?! In that sense, Tina Fey has served as a role model to me.

  83. Gah! All the books I’ve read that fall under 2 year mark are Scalzi works!

    Still… with daughter, have been getting into comic books lately. The new Wonder Woman of the last year has been pretty good. I really like their take on the Greek gods and how they interact with the modern world. By now, the first 6 issues have been collected in a hard bound trade; Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood (The New 52). The story is not the typical DC superhero. Instead, it’s the old gods causing trouble on earth, with mortals and demi-mortals getting swept up in the mess. Very old school Greek legend type of stuff and fun!

  84. This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. By Augusten Burroughs. Funniest harshest “self-help” book I’ve ever read. I’m actually not completely done with it but it’s fantastic. Very quotable.

  85. “The Coldest War” by Ian Tregillis. Fantastic book. Alternate cold war era with super powered Soviets, mad psychics and wonderful characters. The sequel to “Bitter Seeds”.

  86. Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway, which is incredibly clever and almost impossible to categorize. It is sort of science fiction, sort of a gangster story, sort of a crazy historical novel, and sort of a dark comedic updating of Thomas Pynchon’s V. It’s also by a man who is purportedly John Le Carre’s son. It’s pretty amazing.

  87. With as much as I read, the 1 only is kinda tough.

    Clockwork Angels by Kevin J Anderson and Neil Peart

    It’s a very vivid story and it just draws you in. If you like steampunk, hell, even if you don’t like steampunk, this is one you should definitely take the time to read.

  88. In fiction, “This is How You Lose Her,” a new collection of short stories, by Junot Diaz. Chronicles the rise and fall of a cheater, who learns from his mistakes that the “half-life of love is forever.”

    In a recent interview with the Harvard Crimson, Diaz said that he was always interested in love stories because he “was aware from an early age that there was a narrative partition along gender lines.”

    Diaz: “I was aware that love stories were supposedly the bailiwick of girls, and adventure stories were supposedly the bailiwick of boys. Now, we know fundamentally that this is a lie.”

    When asked what the characters in his favorite love stories taught him, Diaz replied:

    “Sometimes the right choice is also the hardest choice. Often, most of us choose for safety. I think it is easier to go to Mordor bearing the ring of the enemy than to advance into the unknown wilderness of another person’s heart.”

  89. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson (AKA The Bloggess)

    It’s crazy and sad and funny and entertaining as hell. She’s damaged and hurting but makes you see that even when things look rotten, there’s humor to be found. Mountains are scalable when you have friends and family at your back. And sometimes, you just have to embrace the insanity.

  90. Rum: A Global History by Richard Foss. You get to read a good book, learn about a fascinating subject, and support a great West Coast Fan, all at the same time!

  91. “A Guile of Dragons” by James Enge. It’s fun fantasy told by an honest to goodness classicist from right here in Ohio. His first book was nominated for a World Fantasy award and this book is the start of a trilogy about the origin of his primary character Morlock Ambrosius. Its good fun and goes a long way towards describing the world in which Dr. Enge writes. Plus he has a cool catch phrase (the author not the character): Everything’s better with Latin!

  92. Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore. This is the third in the Graceling series, but you don’t have to read them in order, although I certainly recommend you read them all.

    This is fantasy between YA and Adult. Gracelings are humans born with a particular talent (cooking, sewing, mind reading, balance, etc) and can be recognized by heterochromia. They are valued, but also feared. Excellent, strong female characters and a great storyline.

  93. The graphic novel FEYNMAN, Jim Ottaviani (Author), Leland Myrick (Illustrator), Review
    Richard Feynman: physicist . . . Nobel winner . . . bestselling author . . . safe-cracker.
    In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Leland Myrick, Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death.
    Anyone who ever wanted to know more about Richard P. Feynman, quantum electrodynamics, the fine art of the bongo drums, the outrageously obscure nation of Tuva, or the development and popularization of the field of physics in the United States need look no further than this rich and joyful work. {End Amazon*}
    {* start JVP*}: it is my friend here, and his other friends (I stay in touch with Feynman’s widow, sister, progeny) agree that it captures him:
    “These images capture with remarkable sensitivity the essence of Feynman’s character. The comic-book picture somehow comes to life and speaks with the voice of the real Feynman.” — Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books

    Once in a while the illustrator misinterpreted (i.e. they show Beckman Institute at Caltech. but say Beckman Auditorium). I liked this better than James Gleick’s biography (though still think Gleick’s book on Chaos is the single best book on the subject to start with). My hands are tied, so won’t give author/publisher of the good book on Feynman’s PHYSICS, anecdotes stripped away. I think my anecdotes about me and Feynman at the topless bar are in print, the odd fact being that another guy who hung out there was Sirhan Sirhan. And a stage hypnotist. Sirhan claimed to have been hypnotized to assassinate RFK. Real life trumps Science Fiocdxtion novels for weirdness.(* end JVP*}

  94. Maphead, by Ken Jennings.

    It’s a trivia book, a science book, a fantasy book about geography and the people who love it for various reasons, all to the point of their particular cartographic obsession. It’s then one book I’ve enjoyed that I haven’t seen mentioned yet.


  95. Out of Oz, by Gregory Maguire, brings the Wicked series to an end, and is the best in the series since Wicked itself.

  96. Future Tides: The Collected Works of Christopher Ruz

    Self-published volume of short work by a young author I encountered on an internet forum. In particular “They Trade In Eyes” is worthy of note, but I enjoyed everything in this collection.

  97. Mortality Bridge – Steven R. Boyett (Fiction)
    July 2011

    I ordered a copy the day after reading his Big Idea. Read it in a few days, and it’s been just over a year but the book still haunts me in the best possible ways.
    Seriously, look up his Big Idea if you don’t remember it.

  98. I absolutely loved Jim Hines new book (and first of a new series) ‘Libriomancer’. It’s the perfect bibliophile’s book – who hasn’t wanted to be able to reach into a book to retrieve some wonder contained within! I discovered this book through a Big Idea piece, so check it out!

  99. Leviathan Wakes by Jame SA Corey
    I just finished this book and loved it. I love reading space operas but a lot of times they take place over many different planets. This book is centered around humanity as it has only recently expanded within our own solar system, including the moon, mars, and the asteroid belt. I was impressed by how ‘big’ the book felt. Our little solar system seems small compared to all the other stars out of our reach, but this book manages to make our solar system seem huge, with endless possibilities. Great read.

  100. Twitch and Die! by David Mark Brown. It’s a zippy zombie/western that builds on the author’s previously established alt-history timeline. It’s not overly gory, so it makes for good reading while eating a plate of spaghetti.

  101. Backbite by Adrienne Jones /

    Adrienne has amazing writing chops, awesome ideas and is very, very funny. I would say that Backbite is probably one of the best SF books that I’ve read in the last 2 years.

    This book surprised me because I didn’t realize that there might be *real* writers out there toiling in relative obscurity and releasing their work for Kindle on the cheap just to get it in front of readers. This book substantially changed my opinion of the quality of work I expect to find regardless of the price or delivery mechanism.

  102. Well this summer I discovered the Sherif Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson when I stated watching the A&E series. Great stuff. Great insight into cheyanne and crow Indian life of the rez.

    And of course the new Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child A Wanted Man. The only thing I have to say about Reacher other than I love the books is: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? Really? I’ll see the movie anyway of course

  103. Wow, a ton of great recs, including Stephen King’s ’11/22/63′ and Erin Morgenstern’s ‘The Night Circus’, both of which I might have recommended if they hadn’t already been.

    Since they have, I’ll go with N.K. Jemisin’s ‘The Killing Moon’ It’s the first book in her Dreamblood duology, which is complete for those that don’t like starting unfinished series. It’s got great characters, fantastic world building, an interesting ‘magic’ system, and is a riveting story that’s popped up in my thoughts often since I read it a couple of months ago… not to mention the gorgeous cover! Check it out and read some sample chapters at

  104. Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear. I had just about sworn off epic fantasy for always doing the same damn thing in the same damn setting, with slight variants along the way. And then I hit that book. It’s gloriously epic, intensely personal, set somewhere other than pseudo-Europe or faux-Japan for once, and built out of prose that takes my breath away each time.

    Also, I love the warrior tiger; she’s one of my favorite characters, and that’s out of a cast where I love every viewpoint character (except the main antagonist, who I can still sympathize with while hating), and a lot of non-viewpoint characters.

    As mentioned above, it’s the first in a trilogy; it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it does end with a lot of major plot deferred for later books. That said, it’s going to be a trilogy, not an endless series, so there’s no danger of it stretching out for a dozen books before wrapping things up.

  105. Felix Palma’s The Map of the Sky. It’s a sequel to his The Map of Time and features HG Wells as a main character with appearances by Edgar Allen Poe, Garrett P. Serviss (who wrote the unauthorized sequel to The War of the Worlds), Richard Locke (who pulled off the Great Moon Hoax in 1835) and several characters from the first novel. Well written, fun book.

  106. I can’t recommend Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente, highly enough. It came out in 2011 and hasn’t gotten anywhere near the attention it deserves. What that woman can do with words is nothing short of magical, and the Russian fairy tale is fascinating in its own right.

  107. Prepare to Die!, by Paul Tobin. It reminded me a lot of Soon I Will Be Invincible (and, in fact, I’ve recommended to people that they be read back-to-back).

  108. The Dead Man’s Brother by Roger Zelazny. It is a long unpublished thriller novel Zelazny wrote in the early 70’s. Certainly not his greatest work, but just reading his prose style again was a joy. One of my favorite lines, which to me is just classic Zelazny is a one-sentence paragraph ending a scene:

    The rain rained.

  109. The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger (published just under 2 years ago in October 2010) is a fascinating and beautiful little spec fic graphic novel/comic book about the love of reading and how obsessive it can be. Everyone who would call her or himself “a reader” should read and perhaps own this little gem. (Niffenegger is probably most well known as the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife.)

  110. Mine is non-fiction: The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. I borrowed it from the library and found it so interesting and helpful that I’m actually buying a copy for myself. In hardcover, even!

    I’m looking forward to reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which looks to be a converse approach to the same topic.

  111. An Object of Beauty, Steve Martin, (Hatchette / Grand Central, November, 2010). Words and thoughts to be savored. As with his novellas, it would be a shame to read as a ‘page turner’. A story in and of the contemporary art world.

  112. The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman is amazing. It’s got similarities to early Mieville but remains its own.

    The Line is the railroad, and is directed by groupthink higher beings. It is in perpetual conflict with The Gun, a group of people with special infernal weapons that can tell them what to do and punish them if they don’t.

    Only one group has ever managed to resist both of these groups for long, and that was the Red Valley Republic. Since its general was wounded by The Line’s mind-bombs, the Republic fell, but there might still be weapons he’s aware of to resist them, if his injured psyche can be pried open by the psychologist Liv Alverhuysen.

  113. I’ll step away from science, science fiction, and graphic novels — my usual haunts, and which had too many great titles to choose from — and offer something from out of left field. Or, rather, center field:

    “56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number In Sports” by Kostya Kennedy.

    Sure, this is a book about baseball, but it’s also about statistics, fame, pressure, humility, and one last good summer (not for everyone, not in all ways, but…) in America before a horrible war.

  114. If you are at all interested in Rome, Roman history, or the Roman Empire, you really should take a look at “Rome – An Empire’s Story” by Greg Woolf, Oxford Univ. Press 2012. First of all it’s not written in your standard narrative form. Instead, the author writes in what can be best described as a seminar / topic view. I found this style easy to read, and even easier to pick back up and go back to a previous chapter / topic to re-read something I wanted. The chapters are not linked together by the story but are referenced back and forth. Some of the chapters were pretty standard (‘Rulers of Italy’, ‘The Generals’, and ‘Emperor’s’) but others were not (‘Imperial Ecology’, ‘Slavery and Empire’ and ‘Imperial Identities’). Imperial Ecology? I read that one twice right away. Very well done.

  115. To second Ellen Fremedon, Code Name: Verity is the best novel I’ve read in the last few years. It’s the story of two best friends, a pilot and a spy, and what happens to them during World War II. And yes, they’re both women. It’s simply marvelous: smart and funny, thoughtful and sneaky, and very moving. I read it in one sitting, simply couldn’t put it down. Marvelous, marvelous book.

  116. Liminal States by Zack Parsons is wonderful – a mix of horror, historical fiction and SF that somehow manages to do justice to all three at once.

  117. Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee. It’s a tale told by a demon of the fall of the angels and of man. the demon perspective was very believable.

  118. Going the indie route here: “Trixie and Me” by Aussie Peter Cawdron. Great dark hard-scifi novella with a ZOMG plot twist at the end that will have you starting the book over immediately

  119. I am an elementary school librarian, so I want to recommend a kids book if that’s okay. I know most of the folks who read this blog are probably into SF and looking for fun books for their kids. And if you have kids between 4th and 8th grade you’re probably already aware of this, but Tom Angleberger has a hilarious a actually kind of touching kids book called The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. It’s told in multiple point of view format but it’s not confusing because each character is presented with a different style of writing. The kids are all basically presenting their “case file” trying to figure out if the weird kid Dwight who always carries a little origami Yoda on his finger is crazy or not. The Yoda gives people advice that Dwight swears he has nothing to with. Is he just playing them or is the origami Yoda “real” and actually able to predict the future? And how can “Yoda” always be so smart when Dwight is such a loser? It’s a surprisingly wise little book that definitely captures the social dynamic of middle school pretty well. There are, of course, now squeals: Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Secret of the Fortune Wookie.

  120. Just finished Leviathan Wakes on Sunday. It’s a thriller set in a teeming, politically charged solar system, complete with a detective out of Dashiell Hammett and vomit zombies. Wonderful wonderful.

  121. I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Picked this up on impulse last week, since I’ve already read a biography or two of Cohen, but this one’s the best. Engrossing and thoroughly intriguing; the interviews with Cohen are witty and revealing (although not overly so), and Simmons has a knack for getting to the heart of the matter when writing about the man’s songs

  122. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. It’s a coming-of-age story set in Texas in the 1890s. Just a magical combination of setting and character; the protagonist is delightful, and her relationship with her grandfather is marvelously well-drawn.

  123. A second recommendation I have is the comic book series Saga by Brian K Vaugn, illustrated by Fiona Staples. It’s a interstellar story (a saga if you will) about a Romeo and Juliet style couple who are on opposing sides of a war, yet fall in love and have a child. It’s wacky and fun and exciting. No collections yet, but we’re only 6 issues in.

  124. I’ve chosen to whittle my list down to one by first going non-fiction as there’s already lots of excellent fiction being listed. Second by picking something not already on the list. Therefor:

    The Gun by C.J. Chivers

    Chivers’ is a former Marine and Army Ranger who served in the first Gulf War. He then moved on to journalism becoming a foreign correspondent reporting from Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq and the former Soviet Union.

    In ‘The Gun’ he applies his writing skills and military knowledge to a history of the AK-47. The book actually starts with a history of automatic weapons and then moves through the development of the AK-47, it’s variants and it’s competitors. His chapter on the initial development and deployment of the M16 is pretty damning.

    What brings the book above and beyond is the coverage of the social and political implications of the AK-47 that continue to this day and will likely be with us well into the future. He argues that by virtue of the massive number of AK-47s (and variants) produced, the ease of use (you can teach a 10 year old to use it), and it’s durability (stashes buried for years in the tropics are functional right out of the ground) the AK-47 has had a significant and lasting effect on the shape of the modern world.

    It’s a really good read and I’m not just saying that because I read a lot of it lying on a beach in the south of France. :)

  125. Oh folks, I beg, implore, (very nearly threaten!) you to please please please read a novel by a feller named JAMES RENNER, his first. Apparently he was a true crime writer prior to this (it shows) but this work of time travel SF is the most META slingshot-around-the-mind cranial corkscrew of a book I’ve ever read. It’s stunning, it’s called THE MAN FROM PRIMROSE LANE, and it’s probably the best book I’ve read this year. Seriously, the only time the arts have “messed with me” more was the first time I saw Spike Jonze’s ADAPTATION.

  126. Slow Apocalypse by John Varley. Varley’s works are always competent, and often brilliant. Here he imagines a highly plausible way to totally disrupt the world, and builds an extremely readable story with excellent characters around the results. And it will scare the pants off of you when you consider the implications of this as applied to today’s real world.

  127. Mine is THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE: WHY VIOLENCE HAS DECLINED, by Steven Pinker. Incredibly comprehensive, compellingly argued, and astonishingly optimistic look at global trends in war, crime, human rights, and ethics. If you don’t have faith in the increasing benevolence of humanity, you MUST read this book.

  128. _An Officer’s Duty_ by Jean Johnson

    Second in a series of books about a precognitive woman from a heavy gravity (3.2g) world who foresees a terrible future in 400 years. She joins the military to change the future so the human race will be ready to fight the oncoming terror, long after her death. This is the story of her life fighting the Saliks on the Space Navy Blockade force.

    My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.8 out 5 stars (18 reviews)

  129. One of the very rare books I finished and immediately started re-reading, released earlier this year: An Unclean Legacy, by Jenna Katerin Moran, who also does the web fiction project Hitherby Dragons and the RPG Nobilis. I just wrote about it on my blog, where I said:

    A friend insisted that I read this — “it’s about Gargamel from The Smurfs, about what happens after he catches all the Smurfs and turns them into gold, but she makes it… beautiful and terrible and true.”

    “Buh wuh?” I said intelligently.

    (I have heard of The Smurfs, but only just, and before this encounter, I could not have summoned up even enough knowledge to fake convincingly, as I can with a lot of other pop culture from before I went to college.)

    “Just read it, it’s really good.”

    So I read it, and it was really good.

    The eigenvectors of the story remain, but no longer is it just a cartoon tale of a black-clad villain’s incessant but impossible quest to destroy the heroes. The book’s center is a magician, one Montechristien Groeneveldt, who as a younger man was once upon a time a hunter of the blue essentials, spirits of intention. Ultimately he captured them all and refined them into the alchemic gold, which has given him incredible power. Now he has seven children by his now-dead wife (who died giving birth to the last), and he is trying to raise them with some success, and ultimately bequeath to them his power. It’s a book about dysfunctional families, and the price of obsession, and the myths we make for ourselves, and a lot of other beautiful and terrible things. It takes the source material and first makes it mythic and then makes it personal — and doing either one is a rare feat, but doing both is damned near impossible.

    One thing I especially admire of the book is the author’s deft hand with humor. She strikes a rare balance of approaching heavy topics lightly without making light of them, and even in the slapstick moments where it nods to its source material, I found those moments didn’t break the magic circle and throw me out of the story, but added to the gestalt the story was building, and drew me deeper in.

    Highly recommended.

  130. At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories, by Kij Johnson. This one also just barely made it in under the time limit, but in the opposite way: its official release day is today. I got my copy a week ago, and haven’t read all the stories in it yet, but I’m already in love. Its language is beautiful, and its plots deceptively simple, magical, and sometimes deeply disturbing. It’s no surprise that many of the stories in this collection won Hugo and Nebula awards.

    The Man Who Bridged the Mist, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novella, is available to check out at

    For a much shorter, unicorn-pegasus-kitten-esque story, try Ponies, which won the 2010 Nebula award for best short story:

  131. Just finished the audiobook (I commute 20 hours/week, so audiobooks=reading in my world) *Liesl & Po* by Lauren Oliver. It’s a YA novel, beautifully written with worldbuilding that connects to the narrative in subtle ways. Although the end is a bit hurried, overall it expresses some really complex ideas about friendship, family, and love. And the audiobook performance–by Jim Dale–does the text full justice.

  132. Every Day by David Levithan. It’s the story of a teenage consciousness that wakes up each morning occupying the body of a different teenager and having to live that person’s life for a day.

  133. Ian Tregillis’s THE COLDEST WAR. Second book in his Milkwood trilogy, a brilliant follow-up to BITTER SEEDS. The Germans in 1939 have developed a team of super-power soldiers with X-Men like abilities. They would easily conquer Europe, except the British mange to counter with Warlocks! Tregillis comes up with a clever and unique accounting for how magic would function that actually makes sense from a physics point of view (once you accept the concept of extra-dimensional beings).

    Full disclosure: Ian was a former physics student of mine at the University of Minnesota. (Who knew physicists from Minnesota writing about superheroes would be a ‘thing?’). I thus take full credit for his literary success. He is not the first of my students who has responded to the tedium of my lectures by escaping into a rich inner world of the imagination, but he IS the first to generate a series of gripping page turners from the experience. If you enjoy Ian’s books – well, you’re welcome!

  134. So new, it isn’t even out yet!

    I’ve read the eARC of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (working title—Ivan, his booke) available for $15.00 on the Baen web site.

    The first seven chapters of the book are available for free:

    It’s a swan song to the Miles Vorkosigan universe, alas. But what a wonderful swan song it is. I giggled through most of it. Am saving the re-read for November when the actual book comes out.

    It does not, alas, have gorgeous cover art (especially as much of the detail is lost under the text). When Lois was born her engineer father forgot to invite the Art Fairy to her christening and thus she was cursed for all eternity to never have good cover art. It’s not as bad as A Civil Campaign. It’s right up there with the Cryoburn cover (by the same artist).

  135. Just finished Felix Palma’s The Map of the Sky, follow-up to his equally wonderful The Map of Time, which absolutely must be read first. Sky contains perhaps the most unreliable narrator I’ve ever encountered, deployed to glorious effect.

  136. My pick would be _Embassytown_, by China Mieville. It’s a fantastic intercultural conflict story laced through with an interesting meditation on the nature of language … and it’s got a relatively sparse style that is shorn of Mieville’s normal baroque prose. :)

  137. G. Willow Wilson, Alif the Unseen
    This is an imperfect book; it’s better than a “magnificent failure” — a lot better — but there are admittedly points where the author’s ambition exceeds her (present) skills. And if that’s the most critical thing I can say about it, it’s pretty darned good: If nothing else, it is a nonpolemical polemic. It was a highly satisfying reading experience.
    I strongly recommend getting it at the library, for a very simple reason: It belongs in the “science fiction and fantasy” section, but librarians need to be educated that they can’t just shove it in “general fiction” due to its imprint… and vice versa.

    And I’m going to follow the rules and not make recommendations of nonfiction and of professional books, since I’ve used up my allotment of one book. That said, I wish Our Gracious Host would have allowed for that in the rules…

  138. I recently finished Stina Leicht’s “And Blue Skies From Pain,” the sequel to “Of Blood and Honey.” I loved the first book and was, honestly, a little apprehensive about the second. I have gotten burned by series in the past, especially by the ‘middle’ book. This one did not disappoint. Set in 1970’s Northern Ireland, the series parallels the Irish War with the war between the Fey and the Fallen. The Catholic Church has their fingers squarely in both conflicts, and it is pretty much on the shoulders of a priest and a young man who is half Fey to keep the Church from destroying the good guys in the latter conflict. There is a lot of good history, good story telling, and good action in these books. As one who never saw herself as a fan of dark urban fantasy, I am intrigued by this series and waiting for the third one to come out.

  139. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson. Basically, it’s a Terminator/Skynet scenario, but without time travel and with much more realistic robots (swarm intelligence, cars that can’t drive over rubble, reset them to remove evilness). Even though I generally don’t like stories that jump through several main characters with journal entries, it very well written and engaging.

  140. Another vote for Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. I’ve been a fan of the author for several years, but she absolutely hit it out of the park with this one. It’s heartbreaking and amazing. It’s about friendship and love and incredible bravery.

  141. I’ve been a hardcore fan of Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh ever since I first read it in 2011. It’s a horribly underrated novel, one that takes the idea of what happens when the Apocalypse isn’t necessarily a single event, but a long, slow decline while something else comes around.

  142. “Grail” by Elizabeth Bear (but you should really read “Dust” and “Chill” first). On top of the high-tech bio-engineering, worldship, and Amber-level familiar strife, “Grail” adds the colony who leapfrogged the Jacob’s Ladder to its destination: a very “green” society whose goals are harmony and peace with the planet. There’s a serious philosophical conflict here between the aggressive, combative New Evolutionists who believe in changing the environment to suit them, and changing themselves to suit their environment, versus the “Rightminded” society of Fortune who want to disturb things as little as possible. There’s puzzles to figure out, cool tech, CJ Cherry-style alien modes of thought in the humans, and an interesting alien too.

  143. There are a lot of really good books that have come out recently, but I have to say I’d recommend Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire. Her work has already been recommended upthread, but this book, (book 1 of a series, natch) is an excellent bit of urban fantasy that’s absolutely chock full of mythology. And it’s not mythology done in the whole “I’m going to stick in dragons for the heck of it”, but actually thought-out mythological creatures, with their own cultures and biologies. You can tell she did her research, and she drew creatures from all over the world, not just the standard Greco-Roman set. The book passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, and the worldbuilding is done excellently. I am chomping at the bit for the next book, but in the meanwhile, her site has a lot of information on the InCryptid series and it’s absolutely fascinating. Also, Kory Bing does the site art, and as a fan of Kory’s work (check out the comic Skin Deep for more awesome urban mythologies if you haven’t already), it’s wonderful to see an author and an artist working in such perfect unison.

  144. I got so caught up in Téa Obreht’s “The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel,” that I burned through it over two days when I should have been working, fixing meals, talking with my wife, walking the dog, brushing my teeth, etc. Might have read the book faster, but I savored almost every page and made frequent detours to Wikipedia as Obreht introduced me to something else new and fascinating. I see on Amazon that readers’ opinions are all over the place; half gave “The Tiger’s Wife” 4-5 stars, but more than a fourth gave it 1-2. Myself, I enjoyed Obreht’s writing, the mix of myths and folk tales, the way she evoked images of life in eastern Europe. All an amazing effort for a new writer.

  145. Duh, I fell into the “new to me” = “new” trap.

    Okay then, Restless In The Grave by Dana Stabenow. Ye gods, a team-up between two of her regular characters, Kate Shugak *and* Liam Campbell. How could it not be awesome?

  146. _The Big Short_, by Michael Lewis. Lewis is a great storyteller and has the financial background required to understand the economic crisis. He does a good (and entertaining) job of explaining what went wrong with the world economy in 2008.

  147. Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. Historical fiction based on the life of Alice Liddell. Beautifully wrought, the author’s surmises ring true, and any speculation on historical personages is well-founded.

  148. I finally finished the original version of The Stand after stalling halfway through 30 years ago. I still have that dark blue cover with the scary eyes. Trudge through the boring committee meetings and you’ll enjoy the rest. The new version is twice as long!

    Way to keep the comments clean Scalzi.

  149. Wow, lots of great recommendations. Unless I missed one, I’ve actually read five of the books recommended and have a bunch of them on my TBR or wish list. As to my own recommendation, going Indie with an author I discovered just over a year ago, Randy Attwood, and his book Rabbletown: Life in these United Holy States of Christian America , an amazing dystopia that I think out to be required reading for everyone. I have a huge backlog of books I need to review, yet I’ve made time to read this book three times (yes, three) in the past year. My review explains why more succinctly than I could right here. Here: Of all of his works – and I love them all – this is my favorite, and this is the best book I’ve ever read. I’ve read books I’ve liked more, mind you, based upon pure enjoyment, but this one … it’s something I’m very passionate about and I think more people should read this amazing book. Recently released in POD paperback, if you like your books in paper.

  150. For the person who recommended The Emperor’s Edge earlier, have you looked at the other series of novellas by Lindsay Buroker, loosely called the Flash Gold Chronicles? Steampunk in the Yukon with an incredible power source that everyone is after. She just released the third one, Peacemaker.

    Darn you, JS! Now I have a whole list I can only dribble out one… at…a…time!

  151. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I read as an eARC earlier this year. I’ve been wanting a book about Ivan for a long long time, and when it finally came, I worried that it might be a disappointment. It wasn’t. Probably not the place to start the Vorkosigan universe, but damned satisfying for this long-time fan.

  152. The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson. Set in North Korea, it is brutal to read in some places. But it has elements of magical realism, which, for me, tempered the brutality. I found the book revelatory. From
    Michiko Kakutaniny’s Times review:
    “Set in the recent past, when the country’s eccentric strongman Kim Jong-il (who died in December) still ruled with an iron whim, the novel conjures an Orwellian world in which the government’s myths about the country — its success, its benevolence, its virtues in taking on the evils perpetrated by the United States, South Korea and Japan — are not only tirelessly drilled into the citizenry through propaganda broadcasts but have also become an overarching narrative framing everyone’s lives. As Jun Do learns, people’s identities are subordinate to the roles the state expects them to fulfill, and even words or acts that inadvertently cast doubt on the greatness and goodness of the government can lead to death or prison or torture.”

  153. The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams. A strange hybrid of film noir detective and fantasy.
    The protagonist, an angel assigned to Earth as an advocate for souls in their final judgement, is faced with a mystery of cosmic proportions and his lust for a demonic adversary.

  154. My recommendation is for THE HOMESICK TEXAN COOKBOOK by Lisa Fain. Lisa is a seventh-generation Texan currently living in New York City. When she moved to Manhattan, she quickly discovered that a lot of the everyday foods she grew up with in the Lone Star State just weren’t readily available in the Big Apple. (I was particularly amused by her inability to find a can of Rotel tomatoes anywhere in the five boroughs.) As she began recreating those foods in her kitchen, she started writing a blog, The Homesick Texan, to share her cooking with others. This cookbook is a collection of recipes from the blog (and she has a second cookbook in the works).

    The blog can be found here:

  155. I’ve been reading a lot of YA fantasy recently, partially because there tends to be less boinking, and partially because the writing tends to be really really good.

    Since several other YA books I love have already been recommended, I’m going to go with “Touch of Frost” (2011) by Jennifer Estep. (There’s a short story/novella eBook (“First Frost”) available you can get cheap and read as an introduction to if you’ll like the series.)

    It’s a complete story, and although many plot points are left unresolved, it doesn’t leave you hanging at the end (which I DESPISE in a book).

  156. God’s War by Kameron Hurley

    It’s a fantastic and very brutal SciFi novel with a fascinating background and some awesome tech stuff. One of those novels with an extremely elaborated world-building plus a smart plot.

  157. Best book I have read so far this year is The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks. This is the sequel to The Black Prism in the LightBringer Series. Brent is also the author of the Night Angel Trilogy which I highly recommend.

  158. Leaving aside the things I enjoyed that have already been mentioned, and the ones that are so far into a series that there’s not much point in recommending them, I’ll think I’ll go with Digger by Ursula Vernon. Seeing as how it just won the Hugo, it shouldn’t be obscure, but I don’t usually read graphic novels and wouldn’t normally have picked this up if someone hadn’t recommended it back in Hugo nomination season. It’s the story of a wombat who finds herself far from home in a very odd place. I like the inventiveness of the world and the secondary characters, and the statue of the god Ganesh, but what I love is the character of Digger herself, and the side jokes about wombat culture and the practicality of wombat engineers. There’s a lovely bit when Digger is talking herself into not panicking over a strange situation: “Just think of it like a cave-in. … Don’t try to fix everything at once. Focus. Just assess the situation and do whatever needs to be done next. And don’t waste air. Well, that last doesn’t really apply, but it’s a useful sentiment anyway.” I think I’ll make that my motto: Don’t waste air.

  159. _Full Share_ by Nathan Lowell. (Third in a series of four so far). A young man signs up as crew on a trader starship instead of going to college (having no choice, since his mother just died and they live on a company planet). The first three actually managed to be engrossing and fast-moving without actually containing any antagonists or serious conflicts. The fourth does have those features, so it’s not just that the author can’t do them.

  160. Kraken, by China Mieville. Mieville is god, IMO, and this is why…never-flagging invention, believable characters, horror that makes you think about why things are horrible, and biting humor. And squids.

  161. I recommend The Song of Kwasin, the very looong awaited conclusion to Philip José Farmer’s Khokarsa series which began with Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar back in the mid-seventies. Christopher Paul Carey completed the third and concluding novel based on Farmer’s partial manuscript, outline and notes. All three novels were published by Subterranean Press in the omnibus, Gods of Opar: Tales of Lost Khokarsa:

    The last word from Subpress about the book was that the trade edition was 90% sold out. Strangely the signed limited edition was announced to be sold out upon publication back in May, but since they launched their new website, they have the limited listed for sale. Maybe you can still get one.

  162. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt [] — a coming-of-age story with characters you wish you knew, told from the viewpoint of 14-year-old June. Despite the age of the character, I wouldn’t characterize it as just for a YA audience at all. One of the best things I’ve read this year.

  163. “The Far West” by Patricia C. Wrede. It’s the third book in her Frontier Magic series and a great mixture of fantasy, coming of age story and naturalist exploration.

  164. I would like to recommend “The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual-The Biggest Bank Failure in American History” by Kristen Grind. It is a totally fascinating account of the failure of what used to be my bank. She tells a great story.

  165. The Wave by Susan Casey (I know… it was published early September 2010). It was a fun mix of chaos, science, and an insight into surf culture. Even as a non-aquatic, it was truely fascinating. The science was presented as accessible to a layman’s view, but not in a condescending or preachy manner.

  166. Jonathan L. Howard’s “Johannes Cabal the Detective” (Doubleday, 2010). The second book in a delightfully nasty series about a necromancer in a quasi-Edwardian Europe who is at war with both Heaven and Hell, and which doesn’t seem to have gotten the attention it deserves. If nothing else it is a fine portrait of what the temperment of the dedicated terrorist might be like.

  167. Many books I’d recommend are already taken. But here’s something no one has got to yet : _The Rapture of the Nerds_ by Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow. Yes, that is really the name

  168. 2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson. I know that not everyone likes his leisurely and amiable style, but there it is. He’s also one of the best hard-SF writers around.

    If it hadn’t been published in June 2010, the obvious choice would have been The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell, which Blew. My. Mind.

  169. _Embassytown_ by China Mieville, the first of his adult books I’ve liked so far. And I really, really liked it — shoved aside everything else I was in the middle of and read it straight through in 2 days.

  170. Psion Beta by Jacob Gowans. Just makes it in under the two year mark for recent books. Shades of Ender’s Game in a good way. It’s the goods! Great characters, who drive a rich plot and convincing world building. The highs are great, but the lows, the darkness in the past of Sammy are equally engrossing.

  171. I love supporting new artists, but I didn’t expect much when I paid $20 for Adam Dyer’s first novel, The Tower of Light, after meeting him working in an Atlanta pizzeria. I am a slow reader, but I devoured this lengthy book in 2 weeks. It’s a little bit of Tolkien mixed w/ C.S. Lewis; and dash of Star Wars in a quasi steampunk setting. He creates a totally unique universe of amazing characters in a dark, compelling and ultimately uplifting epic.

    Adam is a renaissance man who mixes his training as an animator w/ martial arts and an obvious love for storytelling. Amazingly he wrote this first novel in a year, and he self published it on his own. Help ‘discover’ this incredible new voice.

  172. The Unincorporated series by Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin with four books released so far.

    The most recent is the novel “Unincorporated Future”.

    Imagine a system wide society where everyone is required to sell “shares” of themselves and those shares are tradable on a stock market. Where, if you don’t own more than 50% of yourself, the legal system can force you to do things you don’t want to.

    What happens to that society when a man is awoken from suspended animation who refuses to allow a portion of himself to be “sold”?

    That is the story told in the Unincorporated. Evolving from a one man crusade to a system wide rebellion.

    A great idea well written and – good lord – no waiting years for sequels – the first book is less than 2.5 years old and they just released the fourth novel.

  173. Toby Wilkinson’s “The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt”. Politics and statecraft haven’t changed over the millennia and Wilkinson’s very readable book points it out. If you aspire to be Controller of the Robing Room, Overseer of Clothes, Administrator of Every Kilt, Chief of Secrets of the Bathroom, and Overseer of the King’s Breakfast as did Vizier Khentika of the 5th Dynasty you need to read this rich study of truly ancient history.

  174. Boneland by Alan Garner because, having waited thirty plus years to find out what happened to Susan and Colin, not only was I not let down but I’ve seldom read anything that ripped through my soul so gently yet irresistibly.

  175. Leviathan Wakes (and its sequel Caliban’s War)! Both exciting, original and gritty science fiction novels! I loved ’em!

  176. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Still in the middle of it but so far fascinating.

  177. The Last Lost World: Ice Ages, Human Origins, and the Invention of the Pleistocene by Lydia Pyne.
    I’m about half way finishing this book, which is a poster child for over-writing. Nevertheless, I found this gem: What innovation has had the greatest impact on human development? The answer is “cooking”!

  178. I’ve just finished reading Ed Wysocki’s The Great Heinlein Mystery: Science Fiction, Innovation and Naval Technology.

    A couple of times, Robert Heinlein claimed in his correspondence that an invention he’d described in an early story had shortly afterward been implemented by the U.S. Navy.

    What was the invention? Heinlein refused to say. It was classified.

    About twenty years ago, Ed Wysocki began investigating this puzzle. This book is his account of the quest.

    He assembles every passage from Heinlein’s letters that might bear on the problem. He reviews the Navy’s use of electronics and electromechanical systems. He examines other technological innovations that have been influenced by science fiction stories. He collects information on the careers of naval officers who might have been involved. He meticulously finds, and annotates, every passage in a Heinlein story, from the period in question, that touches on technology of any kind. Then he tries to zero in on an innovation that meets all the constraints. And he comes up with a plausible solution.

    This is a specialized book that will interest only a select group of readers. I liked it. I enjoy solving puzzles. I am interested in military history and technology. I am intrigued by the feedback loop by which innovations in the real world affect SF, and SF in turn shapes new innovations. I am strongly interested in Heinlein’s work, and have published some Heinlein-related research of my own. So for all these reasons, I enjoyed reading The Great Heinlein Mystery.

    Amazon allows you to browse part of the book using “Look Inside” at the link above. If it sounds interesting, take a look.

  179. Rx: A Tale of Electronegativity by Robert Brockway.

    Brockway is a writer for, if you’re familiar with it, and the book is very similar to John Dies at the End by David Wong, if you’re familiar with that.

    If you aren’t familiar with either of those things, be ye warned: it is very irreverent. But, if like a bunch of well worded dick jokes (he uses the phrase “disco penis” more than once) and eloquent swearing mixed into a clever sci-fi novel, this is the book for you.

  180. The Score by Richard Stark, adapted by Darwyn Cooke – All the great Stark prose combined with Cooke’s wonderful art. A beautiful crime noir.

  181. The “Monster Blood Tattoo” YA fantasy trilogy by talented Aussie author/illustrator D M Cornish:
    (Latest paperback editions are in the specified timeframe.)
    Extremely creative use of language, morphing (but not destroying) myths & tropes, wonderfully developed characters.
    There is a gentleness to this series that balances the action. Especially if you know of YA readers who would respond well to fantasy with less horror, this is a great choice. There are monsters, dangers, battles, etc., but instead of taking a gruesome direction, Cornish spins his tale in more thoughtful directions with moral ambiguities that feel oddly real … but with monsters.
    And the zoomable map on the website – wow! More series could use something like that! But be careful – spoilers therein. :-)
    So happy I’m the first to post these fun books!!

  182. John Niven, “The Second Coming”

    God’s been on vacation since the Renaissance, and isn’t happy about how things have turned out. He sends Jesus back for another try. As a struggling musician in New York City, Jesus tries out for a ‘top-talent’ show to get attention. His message is simple: be nice. (Apparently Moses made up all that other stuff.)

  183. Daniel José Older’s collection SALSA NOCTURNA from Crossed Genres Press. Ghost stories set in New York City’s barrios, full of music and humor and spookiness and other good stuff. Highly highly recommended.

  184. Flight for Control is an airline thriller by Karlene Petitt, an active pilot for a major int’l carrier. Lots of insider detail presented in a manner understandable to the lay reader — but accurate enough to be a bit scary to the informed reader. I wrote a full review on my blog, HERE.

  185. Clean by Alex Hughes.

    I love the protagonist. Even with all his problems, he’s a guy you want to know and a guy you’d want as a friend if you were in trouble. I love his emotional vulnerability and how he continues to do the right thing, even when the personal cost is very high.

    And of course, I still love the hover cars and telepathy and gritty, post-Tech-war world Hughes created.

  186. Enchanted by Alethea Kontiss. It was a Big Idea on Whatever and looked interesting. I wasn’t prepared to be so completely entertained and enchanted by the blending of fairytales and quirky characters. Great pace to the story. I listened to the audiobook and often sat in the car longer just ot keep the story going.

  187. I just finished reading How to Think Like a Neandertal, by Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge (2012, Oxford University Press; 210 pages). This book came to me through a recommendation by a friend who is reading it for a class in Neandertal cognition she is taking this semester at Berkeley. But don’t let that, and the fact that it is written by an anthropologist and a neuropsychologist from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, lead you to believe that it is just a dry, dusty, boring academic tome. It is, in fact, a wonderful book, written with clarity and wit without any of the dumbing down that some people might think that would mean. This is what scientific writing should be like, interesting and accessible to the layperson while retaining its scientfic accuracy. And, really, how can you resist a book that has a chapter on the possible capacity in Neandertals for joke-telling and clowning around that is titled “A Neandertal Walked into a Bar…”?

  188. Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru – it’s beautifully written, with one kinda-sorta central story of an austic (is he?) child that goes missing, along with some almost short story-like other chapters that range from a Spanish monk in the 1770s, to a 1940s nuclear engineer, to a 50s sci-fi cult to a present day rock star and many more.
    All centered around a mysterious location, Pinnacle Rocks in the Mojave Desert, it touches on myth, imperialism, spirituality, quests for knowledge and all the kinds of things that literary critics love, but in an engaging, readable way.
    It’s also far less dry and far more entertaining than I’ve apparently made it sound.

  189. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
    One of the best books I have read in 2012. As soon as I had started it I did not stop reading until I had reached the end. (Except to you know deal with the needs of being a human like using the rest room). This book is a zombie novel told from the point of view of an MC who is suicidal but has found herself hold up in an empty school with group of other teenagers who, unlike her, want to stay alive. An engrossing, intense and provocative read.

  190. My first choice (Martha Wells) and my second choice (Seanan McGuire) have already been claimed, so i’m struggling with the third tier. But i think i’ll go with the Jack Campbell (aka John G Hemry) book “The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Invincible”. However it’s the second book in the second series in that universe, so if you don’t want to jump in at the middle you might want to start with “The Lost Fleet: Dauntless”. The main reason i like them is because of how realistically he handles space combat. I also like his characterization, but honestly it’s easier to find SF stories with good characterization than “realistic” space combat at the fleet level.

  191. “The Magician King” by Lev Grossman. Beautiful, painful, tragic and insightful in a way that a lot of genre can’t really touch. Sequel to “The Magicians”. These books are polarzing – people either seem to really like or dislike these books.

  192. Wool by Hugh Howley. Life in a silo after many, many generations. This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

  193. I don’t know if this will be disqualified- it’s the collection of the first year of the comic strip 9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney, Out Whom Shall We Gross? The strip itself was published somewhere around 30 years ago originally- but the collection came out this past year from Pib Press. The strip is about a 3 generation family – a woman, her mother and her daughter living together. It is hilarious and touching at the same time.

  194. The Steampowered Globe, seven short steampunk stories by authors from Singapore. I read it for the A More Diverse Universe project, celebrating authors of color in speculative fiction, and I really enjoyed it.

  195. Caine’s Law, by Matthew Stover. It is a mind-screwing, timeline-bending, ass-kicking gripping read. And considering that everything else I read now is on a Nook, it’s the last paperback novel in my bookcase that I’m proud to have bought and own.

  196. Since someone already mentioned Black Prism (even if indirectly), I’ll go with Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. Well known in fantasy circles, but a lot of people still seem to have never read him, which makes me sad. Far and away my favorite writer in fantasy right now, and all the books I’ve read of his were good, but IMO Under Heaven is the best he’s written so far.

  197. I found Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld novel Snuff to be thoroughly enjoyable and IMHO the most intricately-developed work to date in the Discworld series. I began re-reading it at once (well, as soon as the room quit spinning) and will undoubtedly be visiting it many more times – say, after I finish typing this reccomendation.

  198. Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World. The Servants of the Line versus the Servants of the Gun. Superbly written, stunningly original, and I shouldn’t tell you any more about it. Just go read it.

  199. “The Grass King’s Concubine,” by Kari Sperring. Powerful, elemental fantasy, in a world in upheaval — not only are the fay creatures realistically alien, and the humans well-written and -rounded characters, but I love the joined worlds that she’s created. Part of it’s that I love anyone who shows the underside of their industrial revolution, the abuse and exploitation of workers, and the tensions that creates, but also how this disruption is reflected in the other magical worlds. I really can’t recommend her work highly enough, especially if you enjoy thoughtful adventures in your fantasy.

  200. Marzi: A Memoir by Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia. Graphic memoir (in the comic-book sense) of a child growing up in Communist Poland. Really sharp insight into childhood and social conditions of the time.

  201. Since The Night Circus and The Fault in Our Stars have already been suggested, I am going to say A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Its the first in a trilogy, and the second book, Shadow of Night just came out. This book is magical, both figuratively and literally, and the characters will suck you in….be prepared to ignore your life for a while once you pick this up.

  202. Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear. Not a ghost story. This is fantasy and the protagonist & his culture are Mongol derived. Also other cultures from the same area. This book made me deeply quietly happy in a way a book has never done before. As if some need of which I was unaware had been filled. Two caveats. 1. I am a Mongol junkie. 2. This is part one of a trilogy with the books being released one/year.

  203. Midnight Riot/Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich. Simply the most page-turning book I’ve read this year. Wonderful characters, fabulously detailed London settings, good mystery, and great narration by the main character. Plus there’s more!

  204. “Red, White and Blood” by Christopher Farnsworth, #3 in the Nathaniel Cade series. I know, I know, vampires have absolutely been done to death–cute and positively cuddly ones, teeny-bopper ones, yada-yada-yada–BUT, Farnsworth has really done a good job of making Cade, the “President’s vampire”, sworn to protect the United States from the Darkness since Andrew Johnson was President, a fascinating character. The humor and tie-ins to classic horror (print, TV and movies) are a hoot, but the plots are well done and keep you guessing.

  205. All Clear by Connie Willis. You could call this cheating, since it’s really the second half of a two-part novel, but it was published as a separate book on Oct 19, 2010 (according to Wikipedia), so I think it counts. Much less depressing than Doomsday Book, but much more serious than To Say Nothing of the Dog, I think it marks the new high-water mark for her works.

  206. Beautiful Ruins combined Hollywood, WWII, Italy and many interesting aspects of human nature in a surprising, interesting and upbeat way. Many colorful characters, many happy endings.

  207. Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860 by Anne Farrar Hyde; it’s part of a series published by the University of Nebraska Press, which does a lot of books about the history of the American West. Hyde writes about the history of the western US both in personal and political terms. It deep and chewy and very thoughtful and shows not only that history is complicated, but why it’s complicated.

  208. In the same genre as “Reamde” and “Ready Player One”, “For The Win” is worth a look. Cory Doctorow has just the right writing style and good stories to keep me hooked. He also injects a certain amount of relevance to the real world that stimulates thought.

  209. Well, my to read list has tripled in length. Thanks for all the recommendations everyone. Recently I enjoyed “The Troupe” by Robert Jackson Bennett, in which a young man joins a vaudeville troupe with an ancient secret. The look into the life of a vaudevillian performer is fascinating, as is the rest of the story, as the group of players continues to run one step ahead of the grey men set to steal the power of their show.

  210. Among Others, by Jo Walton.
    She clearly loves science fiction, and she’s made an eloquent, passionate, beautiful book about it.

  211. Broken Blade by Kelly McCullough. I think it was a Big Idea piece at some point. Sort of a noir fantasy assassin story. Very well written, especially the funny dialog between the main character and his familiar.

  212. The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi. Amazingly original post-singularity fiction. Sequel out this week too.

  213. Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge. This sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep begins about ten years after the ending of Deep and is a worthy successor to that novel (though clearly it is the second of a trilogy – or perhaps more). Vinge as an author is a relatively new (for me) author all of whose writing I have enjoyed. Though Children may dwell a bit overly much on the politics of the Tine world, the lengthy buildup is worth it by the time the last chapters are completed.

  214. Matthew Woodring Stover’s Caine’s Law, about a dystopian future in which one of the biggest forms of entertainment is a sort of alternate reality TV — Actors go to another dimension, a fantasy world where magic works, and their sensory perceptions are recorded and available to buy/rent for viewers back on Earth. The protagonist has had every horrible thing happen to him but he just won’t quit, and when he’s in shape he is probably the deadliest hand-to-hand combatant in two worlds. (The author is a martial artist and it shows.) Action-y page turners for the most part, this is the 4th in the series and you’d have to read the others first. (But they came out more than two years ago).

  215. Several others have already recommended Nick Harkaway’s astonishing second novel “Anglemaker”, which might make this superfluous… but it’s not going to stop me.

    Some writers I love for their biting irreverant satire, like Vonnegut, Swift and Twain. Some writers I love for their opulent, vivid use of language, like Tom Robbins and Robert Anton Wilson. And some I love for the sheer inventiveness of their storytelling, like Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon.

    Nick Harkaway manages to do all of the above. His first novel, “The Gone Away World” blew me away, and “Angelmaker” surpasses it. If, like me, your favorite logical operator when dealing with genre is “AND”, then you’ll especially love Harkaway. Because if you can only read one Sci-Fi/Gangster/Espionage/Science Fiction/Steampunk/Satiric novel this year… this should be it.

  216. “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein. Short Essay-like book that focuses mainly on the Congress and how the GOP’s self reinterpretation of acting as an opposition party of a classic parliamentary system (like UK) strangulates the American system. I don’t agree with every detail of the authors work, but the main idea is worth a thought.
    (btw I hope my comment makes any sense, its a 1:1 translation from German)

  217. Since graphic novels seem to be somewhat unrepresented, I’m going to go with “Underwater Welder” by Jeff Lemire. If you like the Twilight Zone, then this will be right up your alley. Same creepy, eerie vibe, but is touching and sweet at the same time. The art may not be for everyone, but I bought it and couldn’t put it down.

  218. Language Intelligence: Lessons on persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga by Joseph J Romm

    Summary: short words and repetition are the way to go

    I had an ongoing argument with a therapist I did some copy editing for. He thought his audience was composed of normal humans who might want therapy, but his articles were written in pretentious academic speak. If I ever come in contact with that fellow again, I’ll recommend this book to him.

    Romm talks about rhetoric and how modern politicians lack the skill. I got so jazzed reading this book that I printed out the Gettysburg address and did my own counting and analysis. I think I might actually need to read the book again to make everything sink in though. It was full of lots of good stuff.

  219. By now, my first choices have already been selected, so I’ll go with To Journey in the Year of the Tiger (Tails from the Upper Kingdom) by H. Leighton Dickson. It’s set in a future where humans have been replaced by evolved animals.

  220. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz. Yes it is a ride on the 50 Shades train,yes it is published by a Harliquin label but Ms. Reisz can write. The book plot is a hero’s quest ripped straight out of Campbell. There are a small number of didactic moments but it is a book that made me think far more than I expected it to.

  221. Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle.

    This is a graphic novel about Guy’s stint working as an animator in North Korea. It should be enough to disabuse anyone….Republican…Democrat…whatever….of the using the phrase “Dear Leader” to describe a U.S. President ever again.

  222. “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin. (

    It isn’t fantasy, but it is mystery/thriller. The blurb on the back labels it as “literary thriller” which is oddly accurate. I kept thinking, you know, not that much going on in terms of plot, and there’s all this lovely, rich setting, yet at the same time I am on the edge of my seat due to the suspense. It’s masterfully written. I plan on re-reading it at some point in order to take it apart and learn from it.

  223. THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater. Much like The Night Circus, it defies genre and brings a beautiful, lyrical darkness to a new myth. And I also stand behind recommendations of Matt Stover and Chuck Wendig, because if I don’t, they’ll hunt me down.

  224. Not Bad For A Human – Lance Henriksen’s Life & Films.
    An autobiography co-written with Joseph Maddrey. An amazing read, not the usual “I slept with half of Hollywood” actor’s bio, it tells the often heart-breaking story of Lance’s early life and journey into acting, along with details on lots of his films. Available in hardback, paperback and e-book:

  225. Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. It’s about a girl, dragons, music, politics, tragic romance, royalty, and intrigue. One of those books that pulls you into its world and makes it hard to put it down and come back to reality.

  226. Sacre Bleu, by Christopher Moore.

    This is a book about the color blue. And the French Impressionists. And the price one pays for art. Like all of Moore’s books it is laugh-out-loud funny (his “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend,” is the funniest book I have ever read), but it is also more structured and thoughtful than his previous work. And if you can find the first printing, all of the prints of the paintings throughout the text are in color!

  227. I’d like to recommend Existence by David Brin. It’s the closest thing to Stand on Zanzibar that I’ve read. And I really liked Stand on Zanzibar!

  228. ‘Elfhome’ by Wen Spencer. This is the third in her Tinker series – like others I’ll cheat slightly and recommend starting with the first book.

    The series has elements of cyberpunk, fantasy, and paranormal romance but I think the core idea is the way she builds a believable picture of a society of immortals.

  229. I don’t know the man, and I don’t owe him any money. When I say that Anthony Ryan’s _Raven’s Shadow Book One: Blood Song_ is the best new book I’ve read this year there is no impetus for that praise other than…it’s the best darn read of the year.

    If you like Epic Fantasy Coming Of Age stories like _Name Of The Wind_ you’ll likely adore this book.

    Again, I’m just a fan–albeit a HUGE one.

  230. Broken Blade by Kelly McCullough. It’s the first of a trilogy, second is out and in my to-read pile. It’s a big departure from his other stuff with WebMage but that’s not a bad thing. Broken Blade looks like a traditional high fantasy thing but it’s an urban high fantasy. Think urban high fantasy like Lies of Locke Lamora. There’s a lot of thriller elements to this with political intrigue and spies and stuff. Awesome read. I did a full write up of it over at my blog if’n you want more than just this paragraph.

  231. War Paint by Kyle Cassidy. I’m mostly a fiction reader, but I kept War Paint on my desk and took breaks to read it in bits and pieces. It called to me.
    It’s a coffee-table book of tattoos gotten by armed forces personnel, and the stories behind why they got those particular tats. Awesome stories, gorgeous photos.

  232. Steve Wiegenstein’s Slant of Light, about an attempt to create a utopian society in 1850’s Missouri. The Civil War causes complications. Excellent fiction from someone who understands the history of that area.

  233. I absolutely LOVED one of the books featured on a Big Idea post: The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. The first line was a great hook: “The body you are now wearing used to be mine.” Myfanwy Thomas wakes up with no memory of who she is, and finds a letter in her coat pocket from her old self. The old Myfanwy Thomas explains to the new how to fake her own life in order to find out who destroyed her memories. Oh, and she works for a secret British agency in charge of overseeing supernatural occurrences. Is it great literature? Probably not. But it was a hell of a fun read.

  234. Poison Flower by Thomas Perry.
    The latest installment in the Jane Whitefield series. Very bad things happen to a very good woman who helps people who really, REALLY need to disappear do so.

  235. Prospero Regained, by L. Jagi Lamplighter.

    Great fantasy retelling with really good characters, plenty of plot twists, and a modern day Prospero family who run a vast commercial empire whose true purpose is to control primal force….and of course, a mystery, a disappearance, and some very suspicious Staffs of Power. This is the 3rd book of a trilogy that starts with Prospero Lost, but all the books are very recent and came out close together.

  236. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. A first novel by an author that lives in my town. Fun read of a thriller with supernatural stuff.

  237. I waded through the whole list in order to make sure Existence by David Brin was not on the list before I posted my recommendation, and of course the last entry on the list is the very same book. I have to say Existence is my favorite book of 2012.

    I’ll also echo the call-out for Mira Grant’s Feed series. My son and I both devoured the series (yes, I went there) in mere days.

  238. Haven’t seen too many mystery shout outs but, while science fiction is my preferred reading, I would definitely recommend Norwegian author Jo Nesbo. “Headhunters” is a terrific stand-alone: clever, violent, creepy-with some plot twists I just didn’t see coming. A great read. Nesbo is probably best known for his detective series about Harry Hole, but if you aren’t ready to jump into Harry’s tormented life, this is a good place to get a taste of his style.

  239. Oh, this one barely squeaks in, but I found The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Whitchapel Horror by Edward B. Hanna. Hanna doesn’t try too hard to imitate Doyle’s style, and the ending was one of the few things that didn’t work that well for me (though it fit, in a way), but overall it was pretty entertaining – far better than many of the more recently-published Holmes pastiches.

  240. To add to the graphic novel recommendations: Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener.
    It is an ongoing series, but the issues are collected in Trade paperback format. Volume 6: Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X came out earlier this year.

    The series is a fun mix of robots, action-adventure, science fiction, Tesla, WW II, and the present.

    I hope you all check it out and enjoy it!

  241. Definitely “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. It’s a wonderful book about love, family, dealing with loss, and the lies we tell ourselves. One of the things that I loved about it is that the child in this book isn’t the “magical child” who somehow finds all the answers to everyone’s problems – he’s a real kid dealing with real things, and struggling mightily to do so. I can highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who reads this far down in the comment thread :)

  242. A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano. It was a good story with interesting characters set in the last few years of Flannery O’Connor’s life in Milledgeville, Georgia. She was interestingly meshed with the fictional characters and story of the book.

  243. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold. This is Ivan-you-idiot’s book, and it is a November release, but I got the eARC as soon as it was available. If this makes it too new, I’d like to point out Cryoburn, by the same author, from November 2010.
    Lois is a wonderful author! I have enjoyed all her books except for one early book.

  244. I drove my husband nuts milling around trying to get at his brand-new copy of “The MVP” by Scott Sigler. I finally gave in and bought my own copy for my Kindle. For someone who knows absolutely jack about football, I have enjoyed the hell out of the whole Galactic Football League series.

  245. Rogue, Michael Z. Williamson. The continuing adventure of Kenneth Chinran in the Freehold universe. One of the people he trained to help take down Earth is back there and has to be stopped. He’s the only one who might be able to stop the catastrophe, but Earth won’t hear of his being allowed to try … well, now, like that will stop either of the combatants!

    The hard part of this was the date. I probably average five books a week, but recently my focus has been on psychology and taiji quan and baking and completing series, and they’ve all been classics (or in the last decade, if newer.) Most of those qualified by date have already been mentioned above.

    The place to start in the Freehold universe is Freehold, of course, and the first book of Chinran is The Weapon.

  246. In general: Charles Stross’s “Laundryverse” books. In specific: The Apocalypse Codex, the latest book in the series.

    Why? Well, I’ve liked the Laundry books since I first read The Atrocity Archives, and they’ve just got better as the series has rolled on (good news for fans: apparently Charlie has a 9 book arc planned for the series, and book 5 – the next one – is going to be a good “for those who came in late” point). I enjoy the combination of playing around with spy thriller tropes through the lens of horror fiction, garnished with computer geeks-for-a-living in-jokes. Plus he has some wonderfully terrible puns, which is always a bit of a go-to thing for me for an author.

    Stross is the one author I really make an effort to keep up to date with these days (mostly because he’s British, and thus a bit more readily available here in Australia; apologies to Our Gracious Host, but on a limited income being able to acquire a book locally rather than having to pay extra to go into the city and buy it does make a difference).

  247. ERMAGERD! BERKS! Well I have downloaded at least 10 different samples based on the recommendation of others, I’ll probably take a hit in the wallet later. Most of the books I was getting ready to recommend have already been posted by others. I’ll mention a non-fiction book, “Death From The Skies!” By Phil Plait who has the Bad Astronomy blog.

  248. let’s pretend this never happened (a mostly true memoir) by jenny lawson

    i was in the hospital when i read this and it gave me a perfect excuse for the tears. of course, then i had to come up with a logical explanation for the bouts of hysterical laughter. i found that simply waving my nook at people just wasn’t very effective. jenny lawson is open and honest about her childhood, her family, her mental health, the loss of a child, and just about everything else in her life. she makes it okay to not be okay. and she lets you know that it does get better. maybe not for long, maybe not when you want it to, but it does get better. and sometimes that’s enough.

  249. The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman. A young woman in the 1960s travels back in time to the 1860s and is immediately presumed to be a slave…by her own ancestors. The exploration of slavery, both literal and metaphorical, and of all the various kinds and degrees of unfreedom, is what makes this book a gem. It’s YA, but if you think that means “too simple for adults” this book will persuade you to think otherwise.

  250. Best 2 books I have read this year are Cinder by Marissa Meyer and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. Both are debut novels and first in a series. Both leave you wanting for more, although in the case of Cinder, you wonder what direction it could go since the basic Cinderella is almost complete. Will it take 3 more books to reunite Cinder, the Prince, and her dropped robotic foot? Why is good stuff like this hidden away in the YA (or younger) shelves in Bookstores?

  251. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. Greaty zombie YA novel set in what’s implied to be the Romero-verse 15 years after the night of the living dead. Really enjoyable read.

  252. I was torn between Hounded By Kevin Hearne (which is fantastic) and Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. Since Hounded has gotten many nods, I will glad recommend Stormdancer. The book is beautifully written and set in a feudal steampunk Japan. The story is great and the coolness just flows out of the book.
    My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland is a great book as well with a unique take on zombies, but Angel Crawford makes the book a compelling read.

  253. Could we do this every year? I found at least one book I have to read (and several I already bought and recommended through the big idea)
    My book, which I inhaled yesterday, is Unaccountable by Marty Maccary, an eviscerating take down of the problems in US medicine, it might just save your life

  254. Just finished Treehugger by Kea Alwang. Fantastic book with shades of Star Trek, Star Wars and HHGTTG. The multiverse she created is fascinating and the characters engaging. Main character is regular teen on Earth, but has a secret life as a type of planetary ambassador (well, the kind who also kick-butt). Plus, it’s on sale now for a buck.

  255. “Unspoken”, by Sarah Rees Brennan. Kami has a few small problems–she’s a plucky teen girl reporter in a sleepy English village, the creepy family that lives in the ominous manor has come home, and she and her childhood imaginary friend still have long mental conversations. It’s funny, and fascinating, and startlingly dark in spots, and the first in a trilogy!

  256. The most amazing and life-changing book I’ve read in a long time is – The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

    Unlocking the secret of our political communication. This is what every campaign and PR manager needs to read and understand – there are ways to communicate to the public using their morality matrix. This book changed my viewpoint. It takes a strong book to do that. It changed the way I talk to people. It changed the way I use reason to reinforce my viewpoints and it has changed the way I deal with the reason shot back at me. It’s a major work. It’s a revelation.

    I can’t say anything more important than I recommend this book to everyone.

  257. I’m going to go with The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi. I thought this was as if you took Roger Zelazny at his best in Lord of Light and crossed him with Charles Stross. It was a great adventure, and a very nice twist on ‘the singularity’ where the characters were still mostly human, but the scope was large.

    The sequal is coming out in November, and I’m looking forward to it.

  258. 2011-Carte Blanche-Jeffrey Deaver
    Excellent modernization (reboot if you prefer) of the literary James Bond. Too bad it was a one-shot deal. :-(

  259. If you have a strong stomach and don’t mind reading about violence against animals, BAIT DOG by Chuck Wendig is a fantastic read. It’s a bit of a genre hodgepodge in that some elements could fall under YA, while some of the more brutal aspects pushes it more solidly into adult reading territory. It also comes with the novella predecessor SHOTGUN GRAVY. It has a strong, bad ass heroine that isn’t ridiculously over powered or flawless. And it’s written with Wendig’s unique voice. Highly recommended.

  260. The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abrahams — not QUITE as wonderful as his Long Price Quartet, but an amazing story just the same. I particularly liked how you start out sympathizing with one of his major characters, who then does something so horrific that you’re astonished and upset … and in spite of the fact that you now know the character is capable of terrible evil, you still understand him and sometimes you even still sympathize with him, because he is a real person with both good and evil within. THAT is great writing.

  261. Since 1Q84 is already taken: Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu. I sort of hate to make the obvious comparison to Octavia Butler, but the affinity is a lot more than demographic (although WFD is fantasy and Butler mostly stuck to sf), and Okorafor-Mbachu can write characters too.

    Anyone going to collate these results? I’d be interested to see the most-upvoted books.

  262. I’ve really been enjoying Stephen Lawhead’s BRIGHT EMPIRES series, which started with The Skin Map, followed by The Bone House and the recently released The Spirit Well. An sort of crazy treasure hunt story involving ley lines, interdimensional time travel and interwoven character and story lines that are traveling towards the center of the multi-player plot. It started a bit wobbly but has been gaining strength and I was extremely disappointed when the 3rd book ended with yet another cliffhanger. It’s not a series to cure cancer or anything but it’s great fun to read.

    I want to also pile onto the Hilary Mantel suggestion made earlier. Bring Up the Bodies and Wolf Hall are some of the most amazing books it’s ever been my pleasure to read. Astounding non-genre work that you owe it to yourself to discover.

  263. I’d highly recommend “Womanthology: Heroic” published by IDW. It’s a mixed bag, as are most anthologies, but it’s put together really well, is a beautiful book, and showcases some amazing talent, both established and new.

  264. Empty Space by M. John Harrison. Empty Space is the conclusion of the Kefahuchi Tract trilogy which includes Light [award winner] and Nova Swing. Each book stands on its own. Mike Harrison is writing some of the best prose in literature, sci-fi or otherwise. I’d only pit a few people against him, William Gibson and Thomas Pynchon being among them for their deft handling of prose. This book is insane. The meaning runs in front of you and tantalizes along the way like a naked forest nymph. Said naked forest nymph is probably the only thing not in this book. Ancient cultures, mind warping and reality warping space anomalies and different, competing physics all of which somehow work for their various peoples. If you haven’t read Mike Harrison you’re doing sci-fi, and lit in general, an injustice.

  265. I just finished Tony Danza’s book about being a new teacher, “I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High”

    I picked it up because that was the exact same thought I had about a week into my first year of teaching. It’s a great look at how much time, work, and emotional investment goes into being a teacher, much less a teacher at an inner-city school that’s in danger of becoming what is euphemistically called a “Renaissance school” – one that is failing to improve test scores.

    He writes with great sincerity, and although the first semester was part of creating a reality show, his commitment to the school and to his students vastly outweighs the network’s need for a captivating show. Well worth a read.

  266. The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean (July 2012). This nonfiction takes an enjoyable trip through the history of genetic science, from its origins, its interconnected and often strange stories, from molecules to diseases to curiosities, and the surprisingly interesting lives of the scientists along the way. Kean is a wonderful storyteller and can make the often dry and academic scientific subjects come to life and is as engrossing as any page-turner novel. If you’ve enjoyed his 2010 book The Disappearing Spoon about the periodic table, you’ll love this one too.

  267. Deborah Geary – Modern Witch series. Great storytelling, excellent world building, i really connected with the characters and i pounce on each new one she puts out as i cant wait to be immersed in their lives again:). Only selling on Amazon as ebooks but you can get epub copies if you email her direct.

  268. The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. This is young adult, but it’s also a fantasy…or maybe magical realism.

    Either way, it’s just fantastic. The characters are sharply drawn, including the “water horses,” the island of Thisby is a major character in its own right, and the writing is rich and evocative. I can’t imagine this one not getting nominated for a ton of awards.

  269. The Evolutionary Void, by Peter F. Hamilton

    Barely squeaking by the deadline with a publish date of October 4, 2010, it’s a little bit older, but it’s in contention for my favorite book of all time. The final book in the void trilogy, and the fifth in the larger commonwealth saga, it’s a mixture of science fiction, space opera, and a bit of fantasy. He takes tired old SF concepts and breathes new life into them, and it’s just a huge pleasure to read. There are multiple intertwining plot threads, exploding stars, and epic confrontations. It’s hard to convey how much fun it all is, check it out. =)
    Quick note: He has a rough time writing female leads, so a couple of them are brainless sluts who sleep their way through the cast and are inexplicably central to the story =/ If you can put up with that, it’s smooth sailing.

  270. Right now I am reading “Your Medical Mind” by Jerome Groopman, MD, and Pamela Hartzband, MD. The subtitle says it all: “How to Decide What is Right for You.” I have been a heavy consumer of health care in the last year and the book has helped me better understand some of my recent choices.

  271. Going to recommend the Wool omnibus by Hugh Howey, even though it’s up there 3 times already.
    It is simply the best scifi I have read in a long time.
    Although small in scope (it all takes place in a cramped undergound silo with maybe 1000 people or so), it is huge in the ideas department.

  272. Day Zero by Rob Reid was a brilliant book. Kind of reminded me a bit of John Scalzi’s lawyer in Fuzzy Nation.

    It’s both a really good sci-fi story and a really funny/sad explanation of how copyright law is used and abused on our planet.

  273. I’d like to recommend The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka — the many stories of the Japanese “picture brides” who came to the San Francisco area after World War I. Otsuka has an unusual narrative approach, and I thought it worked really well. The book is a fast read, and extremely compelling. The Guardian review called it “a small jewel of a book,” and I concur.

  274. Mentioned before, but I want to emphasize the wonderfulness that is The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

  275. My most recent find is Fobbit, a new novel by David Abrams. Its closest precursor is Catch-22 (a comparison I do not make lightly), but its satire is a little more political and less existential, as it occurs in the ongoing madness of the Iraq War. It’s set largely in a Forward Operations Base (FOB), where the various support personnel work and develop strong feelings of simultaneous shame and relief that they’re not on the front lines. Civilians will laugh, wince, and have their eyes opened to a number of things; veterans will probably either love the book unreservedly or hurl it across the room. Enjoy!

  276. It’s so hard to pick just one, but . . .

    I would say the best book I’ve read published in the last two years is Ellen Willis’ ‘Out of the Vinyl Deeps’, from the University of Minnesota Press – a collection of Willis’ writings on rock from the New Yorker, dating from the late sixties to the early aughts. This is a must-read for anyone interested in rock music, or in the intersection of feminism and pop culture.

  277. AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton. A fantasy story with a main character that most SF readers, hooked at the eighties, can relate to

  278. The Castle Omnibus, by Steph Swainston. JS, you should remember her: you wrote a piece about her. She quit full-time writing because she couldn’t cope any longer with all the hassle that went with it. It made me curious, so I went to my local bookstore and ordered her first book. Very nice surprise indeed: well written, not too heavy-duty but sprinkled left and right with original ideas. So I went back to the bookstore and ordered the lot. Turned out to be a really good idea.
    The Hot Chocolate hit ‘Every one’s a winner’ comes to mind, don’t you think so too?


  279. I don’t read a lot of Fantasy or SF, but those books I have read recently are almost exclusively by authors featured in The Big Idea. Howard Andrew Jones’s novel “The Desert of Souls” is a fantastic tale of sword and sorcery set in 8th century Baghdad. While it reminds me a bit of the best features Fafhrd an the Grey Mouser tales, Jones has a style that is uniquely his, and does a great job of presenting a richly populated world of characters that are familiar in the genre, but also fit well into the setting of the “Arabian Nights” as parts of the whole, not European types dressed in the mufti of the caliphate, though there are enough “outlanders” to give an idea of what an international city Baghdad was. I really loved the pace of the book, detailed but not dragged down by exposition, I am really looking forward to the next book in this series.

  280. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

    OK, it’s YA. But it’s brilliantly done and funny. A plane load of Miss Teen pageant contestants crashes on a deserted island. There are so many levels to this book, and so much humor that teens might chuckle at but adults will really GET. There are the sponsor announcements, the behind-the-scenes machinations (is the island REALLY deserted?), sexy pirates, first love, first heartbreak, mental illness, handicaps, and one girl with a tray stuck in her head. My teens found this to be laugh-out-loud funny, and so did I. In fact, I love the book so much that I persuaded my book group to read it!

  281. Fated (and subsequent books in the series) by Benedict Jacka is an increasingly rare quality urban fantasy. Mr. Jacka handles the magical ability of his protagonist to read various futures quite well. As Jim Butcher said his main character would definitely make Harry Dresden nervous;.

  282. Thanks to the folks who recommended READY PLAYER ONE. I downloaded it last night to my KINDLE. Later tonight, will finish. An unexpected trip into a new universe, thank you very much. I love falling into such reads. Reminds me of that late night reading of OMW way back when.

  283. I know Stephen King doesn’t need any help to sell his books, but THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE was a beautiful book. He jumps right back into the characters you love from the Dark Tower series and tells a great fable inside of a scary story inside of an epic.

  284. Turing Evolved by David Kitson. In sore need of a good editing, but perfect cyber-mil-asimovian SF

  285. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

    If you loved Robison’s Mars trilogy you’ll want to read 2312. After the events of Blue Mars, humanity has expanded throughout the rest of the solar system. Colonies have been established on planets, moons, and asteroids. Terraforming the rest of the solar system is the goal. 2312 is a future of technological achievement on the edge of disaster.

  286. AHA! No one has mentioned “Hide me amongst the graves,” by Tim Powers. It’s a stand-alone sequel (of sorts) to his hidden history “The Stress of Her Regard,” and features vampires, Victorian sensibilities, and Christina Rosetti. VERY fun, and only out about a month.

  287. Pym, by Mat Johnson. Fantastic reply to the Poe story. Very smart and insightful. Highly recommended.

  288. How about The Books of the Order by Philippa Ballantine? Book 1, Geist, comes in just under the wire, published in September 2010, and I believe book 3 just came out recently. Engaging fantasy with interesting world-building and a really unusual older heroine.

  289. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card.
    How has no one mentioned this one yet? I would have put Ready Player One ahead of it, but not by much. This is the first of a new series that melds the styles of Ender’s Game with Alvin Maker to make something even better. He has another new series (the first book of which is The Lost Gate) which is also mind-blowing. These are MUST READS.
    Big thumbs up to those mentioning new Stephen King works too, the man is churning out gold!
    My to-be-read list is so long now, I will be reading stuff from 2011 when it’s 2014. I’m not complaining! :)

  290. Fantasy: the Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Wonderful organic worldbuilding, and some amazing characters-I love the rise and fall of Stenwold. This series doesn’t get enough appreciation!

  291. “Love and Capes”, graphic novel series by Thom Zahler. Volume 3 came out last year. Series is still continuing. Superhero and “ordinary” woman fall in love. Focus is more on the relationship than on the superheroing. It’s funny and simply a fun read.

    (Comics through the beginning of Volume 3 can be found on the “Love and Capes” website. The most recently posted comic is on the home page.)

  292. Thomas Mallon’s _Watergate_. May speak to old guys like me more than others, but you had to be there, in DC, spring of 1973 to the summer of ’74. What a time! What a conspiracy! What characters!

  293. Just finished Richard Kadrey’s THE DEVIL SAID BANG because of his write up in “The Big Idea” here. Actually, I read through all four Sandman Slim books in order, and loved them all. Think Christopher Moore meets Dashiell Hammett, and you get the idea…

  294. “1. It can’t be a book you’ve written (i.e., no self-promotion, and don’t make a sock puppet to promote yourself, because, dude, that’s just sad);”


    Okay, best book I’ve read lately that I didn’t write…Robin Waterford, DIVIDING THE SPOILS: THE WAR FOR ALEXANDER THE GREAT’S EMPIRE (Oxford, 2011) A fairly readable account of the Diadochi and their struggles to first claim and later to simply divide the Hellenistic World after Alexander’s unexpected death.

  295. The Lords of Harambee by Mark Jacobsen. It’s like Black Hawk Down in space. It’s a cool military science fiction book that differs quite a bit from the run-of-the-mill military sci fi. Deals with sociology, international relations, diplomacy…all kinds of cool stuff.

  296. “The Demi-Monde: Winter” by Rod Rees

    The Demi-Monde:
    1. A subclass of society whose members embrace a decadent lifestyle and evince loose morals.
    2. A shadow world where the norms of civilized behavior have been abandoned.
    3. A massive multiple-player simulation technology that re-creates in a wholly realistic cyber-milieu the threat-ambiance and no-warning aspects of a hi-intensity, deep-density, urban Asymmetric Warfare Environment.
    4. Hell.

  297. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

    Many writers, and lots of other folks, me for example, are introverts.. This book explains how we get along in a culture, the U.S.) where extroversion is desired. Along the way, it talks about the physiological basis for much of our introversion. From the Amazon description:

    “Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.”

    I’m having a good time reading it.

  298. Little America by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Powerful boots on the ground reporting about how we went wrong (and continue to go wrong) in Afghanistan by the guy who clearly delinated how it all went south in Iraq.

  299. Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin.
    While Mark Helprin, the commentator annoys me to no end, Mark Helprin the novelist has much to say about the greatness (and smallness) of the human spirit.

    And reading of his fictional election in the midst of a crazy New York winter (MUCH later in the book) always makes me smile in when we are in the “crazy season.”

  300. Just finished Stonemouth by Iain Banks. Also just re-read his last “sf” title, Matter. Both are to be highly recommended.

  301. I haven’t yet seen a recommendation for Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (though one could pop in before I get my comment posted). Stephenson is one of my favorite authors but I thought in this book he surpassed himself in both character development and plot. It was the evolution of the protagonist through the story that really hooked me – I don’t re-read much, but I’ve read Anathem at least three times.

    Great thread – I can see that I won’t lack for reading for the next year or two.

  302. I received an ARC of Feedback by Robison Wells, which is the sequel to Variant. I just read them this week back-to-back and really enjoyed them. The Lord of the Flies meets boarding school is the pitch I would use; fast-paced, fun teen fiction. I’m not a teen anymore, but I connected with the kids in the books and thought Robison crafted a cool, thoughtful story.

    Bookmarking this thread! Very fun.

  303. It’s already been mentioned four times, but that’s about ten too few: The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. One of the few books that I didn’t want to see end.

  304. Magic Under Stone, the sequel to Magic Under Glass, by Jaclyn Dolamore. YA, decently written, and very enjoyable fantasy about an enchanted clockwork prince and efforts to restore him to life. I am patiently awaiting book three.

  305. Sea Hearts (also published as The Brides of Rollrock Island in some countries) by Margo Lanagan. I’ve been meaning to read it all year – we got it in Australia eight months before the US, and I even shared a book launch with Margo, but I finally dove in last week and found myself immersed in her beautiful language and sharp, biting ideas.

    This one explores all the facets of the seal wife folktale, looking at the effect on an island community (over many generations) of one witch’s ability to summon beautiful, docile wives and “mams” out of the bodies of seals. A gorgeous story that feels like a real piece of history, told through many voices. I expect to see this one on the World Fantasy ballot next year!

    Oh and a quick shout out to Jonathan, I think, who recommended the Feynman graphic novel? That answered the question of what to get my honey for Christmas this year. Cheers!

  306. ALCHEMIST OF SOULS by Anne Lyle. Wonderful characterizations and an imaginative alternate history of Elizabethan times.

  307. The Last Ringbearer by Dr. Kirill Yeskov
    Based on the notion that history is always written by the victors, it takes another look at The Lord of The Rings, from the point of view of Mordor, which has a technological civilization at odds with the magical civilization of the Wizards. In this version, Orcs are simply another race of humans, who have been portrayed by the victors as monsters.

    The book itself is not new (originally published in 1999), but the second edition of the English translation (from Russian) just came out last December, so I think it meets the requirements for “new”, and most readers are unlikely to be familiar with it.

    It bends the rules a bit, since it’s not actually published (in paper) due to potential copyright issues, but I’d definitely recommend it. It’s available in ebook form as a free download here:

  308. Maile Meloy’s “The Apothecary.” Randomly came across it because of the beautiful promo poster in Parnassus Book’s bathroom. When I checked out, one of the staff told me she had read it though it’s technically a children’s book (she was younger than my middle-aged self)–and was blown away. I agreed, and wrote a book review about it, though that isn’t something I’m used to doing. Thanks for asking!

  309. I’d have to join the others who mentioned the new books by James S.A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes and its sequel Caliban’s War, both of which were published since September 25, 2010.

    They are simply instant-classic hard sci-fi space opera. For anyone who is a fan of Peter Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds or Neil Asher, trust me, you will love these books!

  310. I’ve read a huge amount of new releases and agree with many of the mentions about, so I’ll throw in something different “How to Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran. It’s just been released in the States, and it’s a damn good read – makes you laugh and think. Give it to your daughters.

    And damn you all, this will be bookmarked, and the Amazon One-Click will be abused.

  311. Libba Bray’s newest book, THE DIVINERS, which is so new it only came out last week, is perfect for the Halloween season, if you like YA fantasy. It’s an urban fantasy/Gothic novel sort of thing that takes place in Manhattan in the twenties. It has all the bestest things in it–teenagers with superpowers, flappers, a wacky museum, grisly occulty murders, goofy twenties slang, all of it. Libba Bray always writes from a pretty unapologetically socially progressive worldview, and there is stuff about gender and race and the dangers of religious fundamentalism and all that heavy stuff, then things explode and there are, like, sparkles and gin and people saying “That is pos-i-tute-ly the cat’s pajamas!” and all that jazz so it isn’t depressing or preachy. Both funny and scary.

  312. I’m shocked no one has mentioned this, but Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL deserves all the praise it has received and its place on the bestseller lists. The pacing is extraordinary, yet not too fast. The writing is crisp. The plot twists are bizarre and shocking, yet just believable enough to keep one going.

  313. I would recommend Enemies: A History Of The F.B.I. by Tim Weiner. Mr. Weiner delivers a riveting account of the counter-intelligence (not criminal catching) history of the F.B.I. What suprised me the most after reading this book was the extreme lengths J. Edgar Hoover went to spy on suspected Communists in the American public. I never realized how cunning and batshit insane the man was.

  314. I see Chuck Wendig already has a few mentions. I have only recently discovered him. The first book of his I read, and my favourite so far, is “Double Dead.” I generally avoid vampire stories, but this foul-tempered vamp woke up from a long period of unconciousness right in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. When he finally tracks down some humans to feed on, it is pointed out to him that if he doesn’t want to starve, he needs to keep them safe. Very funny and entertaining. I immediately bought the sequel, and then “Blackbirds” and “Mockingbird.”

  315. I’m surprised Brandon Sanderson hasn’t been mentioned yet – I would recommend “The Way of Kings” (my favourite fantasy book), but I think it misses the date by a few days. So instead I’ll recommend “The Alloy of Law”, set in the same world as his Mistborn series (but can be read separately), a western gunslinging novel where some people have magical affinities for certain metals, which grant them powers.

  316. I just finished “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” which others have mentioned as well. It really opened my eyes to what cancer is and how it is treated. It is an amazing book.

  317. I know this is a little late (ha!) but since no one else seems to have mentioned it:

    Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles.

    It’s an amazing first book, a dystopian tale of the coming End of The World as remembered years later by a (then) 11 year old girl, Julia, living in California. It seems one day the Earth’s rotation seems to have slowed down. No one knows why but the changes are profound as days and nights get longer and… look, just read the book for yourself. You can thank me later.

  318. 1. This thread is going to shift a lot of my money to Amazon.

    2. Stunned that no one has recommended Terry Pratchett’s latest: Dodger. This is not a Discworld novel; rather, it’s a look into the early Victorian Age. Charlie Dickens is a featured character, and the story is full of sweetness, adventure, and the sewers of London.

    3 . PTerry’s alzheimers doesn’t seem to have affected his writing. This book has the true voice.

    4. It is really _fun_ to open up your Kindle, and find a brand new Pratchett book ready to read that you’d forgotten you’d ordered a couple of months previous.

  319. Black Heart by Holly Black. It’s the third in a trilogy and you really need to start with White Cat. They are fantastic books – beautifully written, morally complex, and full of fascinating characters. They’re set in a world that’s like ours except for the existence of curse workers, people with magical talents. Using your talents is illegal and Black works through the consequences of having this marginalised but very dangerous group of people in a society like ours. The best, most inventive and thought-provoking YA I’ve read for ages.

  320. I’m currently finishing up a book called “Tell Me When It Hurts” by Christine M. Whitehead. You can get check her out and get the book right off of her website, One of those books romance thrillers you can sink in to and imagine yourself as the main character. Might have to check out some that others have mentioned!

  321. Whiplash River by Lou Berney. My first pick was already taken, but this is a close second. It’s important to note that this is a sequel, but I think it can stand on its own if you start here.

  322. I really enjoyed Zero History by William Gibson, which was a relief since his previous book had felt a little… cold? This one is just humming with nervous tension the whole way through.

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