SciFi and Fantasy Book Club discussion

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Member's Chat > best book you've read this year?

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Ben (bcaldwell) | 251 comments The end of 2008 is nigh. What was your favorite book this year?

Mine would be a close call between Cloud Atlas and Anathem but if I have to choose, I'll pick Cloud Atlas. The most entertaining book I've ever read.

What about everyone else?


Sandi (Sandikal) I've read over 100 books this year. After about 30 of them, I've thought, "That's the best book I've read this year." Then, I remember many of the other books I've read and thought the same thing about. I can't name one best book this year. Sorry.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) I've also read some good ones this year, but if I absolutely HAD to narrow it down to just one "best", I would choose Blindness by Jose Saramago.

Really great book. A little hard to read at times, both because of the subject matter and the writing style (run-on sentences with little to no punctuation, so it's nearly impossible to determine who is speaking) but it's worth it!

Of course, this year isn't over yet, so who knows what greatness I may read in December? (I'm really looking forward to Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch!)


Sandi (Sandikal) I'm almost done with "Blindness". I read "Good Omens" back in January. "Good Omens" is the one book I tell everyone to read. It's so funny and thought-provoking.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) How are you liking "Blindess" so far? I finished it and immediately started recommending it to everyone I know as a must-read.

Of course, now my friend has had it sitting around for months while she finishes off her own reading list. :(


Sandi (Sandikal) I'm probably going to give "Blindness" 4 stars. It'll rate that much for its artistry and symbolism. It's just so utterly depressing for the first 3/4. As a science fiction fan, I would have liked an explanation for the blindness. But, Saramago is clearly not a science fiction writer. The blindness is a tool and it's source is irrelevant.

It's just not giving me that "WOW! This book is so powerful!" feeling. I read quite a few books this year that gave me that feeling, this one hasn't and it only has 30 pages left to do the job.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) That's understandable, we all get something different out of books, especially depending on what we expect from them.

I didn't think of Blindness as science fiction at all, and you're absolutely right that Saramago isn't a science fiction writer. Maybe that's why I didn't look for a reason behind the blindness. I personally think the story was more realistic without one. I enjoyed the book as a look at how people react to the situations that life puts them in and why. Parts were terrible, but people can be terrible.

But anyway, what were some of the books that did give you that "Wow!" feeling?


Ben (bcaldwell) | 251 comments Blindness has been on my shelf for a couple of months. Maybe it's about time to read it.


Mary JL (MaryJL) | 177 comments I susally buy used books so I find authors later. I just discovered Sarah Zettel this year, and her book "Fool's War" was one of best I've read this year. Actually one of the best in the last two years!


Jon (jonmoss) | 894 comments The best I read this year was The Name of the Wind but I don't believe that was published in 2008 (I think it was last year).

I'll have to review my read shelf by publication year to see what the best book of 2008 I've read is.


Kai (wlow) | 64 comments i'm going to go non-fiction and say The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) Oh, I was just considering books that I have read this year, not books published this year.

I don't think that I have read ANY books published in 2008. I'm a used book kinda girl myself, Mary.


message 13: by Shannon (Giraffe Days) (last edited Nov 26, 2008 01:28PM) (new)

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) I've read over 150 so far; I had to look at my list to jog my memory and it's funny how long ago it feels, seeing books I read at the beginning of the year.

Anyway, I would say that The Book Thief was a big favourite with me this year.

Also The Name of the Wind; Out; Grimspace and its sequel, Wanderlust; The History of Love; Halfway to the Grave and its sequel, One Foot in the Grave; and Never Let Me Go - I read lots of great books this year but not much non-fiction sadly.

Mary, I loved Sarah Zettel's Isavalta trilogy, though I haven't read the last book yet - I really recommend it. Starts with A Sorcerer's Treason. Haven't heard of Fool's War, I'll have to get a copy.

Ben, Cloud Atlas sounds really fascinating, I hadn't heard of it before but I'd like to read it.


Ben (bcaldwell) | 251 comments Ben, Cloud Atlas sounds really fascinating, I hadn't heard of it before but I'd like to read it.

I'm sure you'll like it. Mitchell is incredible and so fun to read. I can't get anyone in real life to read it though. It would be fun to discuss.

You also reminded me of some great non-fiction I've read this year. The Omnivore's Dilemma was fantastic and somewhat life changing. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life were both very well done. I just completed China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power, which was incredible, too.

And Jon, I was just asking for your favorite books you've read this year...not that were published this year.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) The Book Thief is definitely one of the best books that I have read in a long time. I read that one last year.


Chris (ChrisfromHawaii) | 3 comments I am almost finished with George Martin's Game of Thrones, and my favorite this year is either that or Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

According to my diary I have read about 73 books this year. I usually average around 50 a year. Many are rereads of books I already own when I cannot get to the library. I started out with Blond Ambition which was awful. A friend recommended it to me and she usually tells me about good books. The two best were probably: Last Train to Memphis (I am an Elvis fan) and The Blue Death about water thru the centuries and today. The Worst Hard Time was also very good.
Alice


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

None of the books I posted before were fantasies. Forgot what I was posting to! LOL! Definitely the Stephenie Meyer books are the best NEW fantasies I have read this year.


Cicero | 48 comments My favourite books of this year are probably;

"Ficciones" Jorge Luis Borges, talk about complete mind numbing brilliance.

"One Hundred Years of Solitude" Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the beauty of the descriptions alone makes this novel remarkable.

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" Junot Diaz, great story with memorable characters with a fantastic use of a sort of spanglish. Also seeing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel mentioning such things as the planet Salusa Secundus and quoting a section from Tolkien's Ainulindale made me feel good to be quite well read in the genre.

"The Shadow of the Wind" Carlos Ruiz Zafon, just a utterly brilliant and well strucured novel.

I have definantly been impressed by the (translated into English) Spanish fiction that I have read this year. it has certainly had an impact on my reading habits. Certainly much more than the French (apart from Alexandre Dumas who remains as one of my favourite authors of all time) fiction that I read this year.

On the fantasy front I have actually not read anything really awesome. Plenty of good nothing great. Last year I happened upon a lot of really special fantasy R.Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing, George R.R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy.

The only fantasy I have read this year that comes close is Joe Abercrombie's "First Law Trilogy" which I have read only the first two novels. Good refreshing stuff with memorable charcters and dialogue with a huge improvement in terms of writing between the first and second novels.

Cormac McCarthy also deserves a mention for "The Road" and "No Country for Old Men." Very well written and with plots and events that stick in your head for a while after reading.


message 20: by Shannon (Giraffe Days) (last edited Dec 03, 2008 10:29AM) (new)

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) I forgot to mention Life of Pi, which I was expecting to be awful and it was amazing.

My new Best Book of 2008 is What is America? by Ronald Wright, which I finished last night. It's absolutely amazing.


Terence (Spocksbro) | 96 comments I can't determine a "best" or "favorite" book but here are 5 "better" and "favored":

The Basic Eight, Daniel Handler
Weight, Jeannette Winterson
Un Lun Dun, China Mieville
The Coroner's Lunch, Colin Cotterill
and a reread of Lloyd Alexander's The Prydain Chronicles


Brooke My favorite discovery this year was Ender's Game and the books that followed. I finally upped some of them to 5 stars, which is bestowed on only the tiniest fraction of the books I read.

I read a lot of books I really enjoyed, though, so it's hard to name any as The Best. Since I know what I like, it's gotten easier for me over the years to mostly pick only books I'll enjoy.


Hoops4nic | 1 comments I read both Cloud Atlas and Anathem in the past 2 months or so. Both excellent books - very thought provoking. But I'd have to go with Anathem as my favorite. It has so much depth and detail. Sometimes I think Neal Stephenson makes a point of including all the research he's done for the book even when it's not necessarily advancing the plot. I'll forgive him that in favor of the way he pulls together all the strings left behind throughout.


Jensownzoo | 202 comments Oh good. I just bought The Book Thief and The Omnivore's Dilemma in Borders' buy-one-get-one-half-off sale. They will get bumped further up in the pile then.

For scifi/fantasy reads this year, I really enjoyed:
Magic Bites and Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Cast In Secret, Cast In Courtlight, and Cast In Shadow by Michelle Sagara (I just got Cast in Fury from the library--it is next on my list)
Also have been enjoying the Jani Killian books by Kristine Smith (first one Code of Conduct)

And the year is not quite over yet!


Imperfectlyrua Castle-Hackett | 15 comments My favorite book this year was the first book I read this year, Glasshouse by Charles Stross. My husband bought it for me for Christmas after he fell in love with The Atrocity Archives. I loved it so much I dove into the deep end of the Stross pool. I read the archives also, the whole Merchant Princes series, singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise. As much as I enjoyed all of these works none of them seemed to measure up to Glasshouse. I was disappointed when I read on his website that he has no plans to revisit his far-future. I loved his anthropological approach to the later half of the 20th century. The logically disjointed storytelling was fantastic and his ability to project modern technology into far future extrapolations was pretty brilliant.

I really can't say enough about this book, I made several friends read it and they all enjoyed it (if not as much as I did)


Christina | 17 comments Best books this year:
Junot Diaz: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - I exptected a lot from it after seeing reviews and it didn't disappoint me.
Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore - loved this book. Looking forward to reading more by this author.
Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre - first time I read it and loved it. Also loved Pride and Prejudice but I read Jane Eyre first and I think that's why I loved that the most because they are somewhat similar.
Carlos Ruis Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind - very good novel, not what I expected.
Michael Bond: A Bear called Paddington - what can I say? Loved it!


Leslie Ann (LeslieAnn) | 179 comments My Best Books Read in 2008 list:

Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA
A Game of Thrones

I'm such a slow reader, I can only get through perhaps 2-3 longish books per year anyway. The remainder of my reading is of newsmagazines. At this rate, I'll never finish my backlog!!



Laurel This was a great year for fantasy, as far as I'm concerned. I discovered some new authors, read some established authors for the first time, and finished off almost all of Guy Gavriel Kay's books. Couldn't ask for better!

I highly recommend:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Lies of Locke Lamore by Scott Lynch
Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley
The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay
Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan
A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez

It was a very good year.....


Amy (amyhageman) | 60 comments I don't think I actually read any books published in 2008 - but I did read some great books. Here are my favorites:

Ender's Game
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
The Wee Free Men: A Discworld Novel
Neverwhere: A Novel
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
The Poisonwood Bible
and A Song of Ice and Fire series by
George R.R. Martin


Ron | 77 comments Jon wrote: "The best I read this year was The Name of the Wind "

I agree. Mine, too.

Has anyone else noticed Rothfuss' peculiar sense of time? Throughout the book too much happens for any given hour or day. First, of course, the single day in which Kote/Kvothe during which tells this tale. Then, the single hour in which he spies on the University admission committee hearing "hundreds of questions and thousands of answers." Then there's the enormously long day when he travels from the University to Trebon and has 130 pages of adventures there.

I overlook how quickly he heals, that's a common fault among authors. Didn't they ever break bones or get badly burned or cut? Kvothe's special, of course. ;-)



Jon (jonmoss) | 894 comments Now I'll have to re-read The Name of the Wind again. I hadn't noticed the expansion of time the first time I read it because I was so wrapped up in the story. A re-read will be good to step back from the story and look at it more critically.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) I noticed it at times, Ron, but it didn't bother me because it was such a great story! If the story or the writing had been poorer, it would have bugged me. My only complaint with the book was that he continually uses comma-splices instead of semicolons. But I loved the book so much that I can forgive pretty much anything ;)


Jackie (thelastwolf) The conclusion to the Dune saga:
The Hunters of Dune and The Sandworms of Dune.
It was one of those rare experiences when I am completely satisfied by later novels in a series. Usually they fizzle out to nothing, as if the author is trying too hard to recapture the magic of the original novel. Not so here, these two novels were every bit as exciting and thrilling as the original Dune. And the best part is, the ending was totally gratifying, satisfying on so many levels. A perfect ending to a perfect novel.



Ron | 77 comments I also noticed the dashes, but I tend to overuse them, too. Glad to have an ally.


Sandi (Sandikal) I hadn't noticed the time thing in "The Name of the Wind" either. I figured that any implausibilities in the narrative had to do with the fact that Kovthe is ultimately an unreliable narrator. He's telling his story in his way, including the parts that he wants to include and leaving out the ones he wants to leave out. Some parts are exaggerated and some are minimized. As the story progresses, it'll be interesting to see if we ever get the "real" story.


Ron | 77 comments Totally agree . . . about the unliable narrator business. Of course, Rathfuss was nice enough to tip his hand on that matter early on. Part of the fun.


Kelly Maybedog (Maybedog) | 51 comments My favorite book this year in the sf/fantasy genres was Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff. Loved it. Outside of that I think Middlesex, although I'm not done with it yet. Another favorite was Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 2)by Alexander McCall Smith. Although I read a ton of books, I haven't had great luck this year so it was pretty easy.


Cicero | 48 comments Christina nice to see that you enjoyed "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and "The Shadow of the Wind" as well. I think if I had to chose a best novel of 2008 it would be Carlos Ruiz Zafons' novel.

All this discussion of Rothfuss reminds me that he probably deserves a re-read as I didn't give him the attention his book should have received due to bus journeys.


Steven | 7 comments My favorite this year was "Perdido Street Station" by China Mieville. I also really enjoyed "Scar" by the same author.

"Monster Island" by David Wellington, for all it's flaws, was a lot of fun, and it's free online.

Thanks to everyone that posted. It seems I have some good books to track down.


Ron | 77 comments I would add as my second choice The Firefish Legend by Polivka.


Jeffrey | 193 comments I read so far a little over 120 books, and while I gave a lot of sf or fantasy 4 stars it was the thrillers and mysteries that I read that were the top books.

I think the best two books were:

Lush Life by Richard Price
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Among the better fantasy and sf novels:

Captain's Fury and Princep's Fury by Jim Butcher -- the high level of his Codex Alera is maintain in these novels

Pirate Sun by Karl Schroeder The third book in his Virga series is again a sharp sf tale in a really ingenious world

Cast in Fury by Michele Sagara (Michelle West) This fourth book in her Cast story is very good. Her Kaylin character is a really fun character

The Magicians and Mrs Quent I think this book is a pretty good fantasy - not 5 stars but for a first novel very good

Territory by Emma Bull This western fantasy about the events leading up to the Gunfight at the OK Corral really is a fresh and inventive look at an American legendary story

The Fox by by Sherwood Smith is the middle book in a fantasy trilogy (so far) but unlike most middle books this one is just a flat out great read

Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost, this slim fantasy novel is a lyrical set of connected stories about a puppeter her musical accompaniest, gods and her manager.

Halting State by Charles Stross, although the final third of this book is not great the first two thirds are superior sf. Nominated for the Hugo award its the best pure sf novel I read


Lori (Hellian) I can't remember all the books I read this year! Brasyl by Ian MacDonald was great. And I loved the whole Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko. The Master and Marguerita by Mikhail Bulgakov, Enchantress of Florence by Rushdie, and Anathem by Stephenson. I also discovered and raced thru the whole Katerine Kerr series.


Mofo (Moforious) | 6 comments LIBERATION by Brian Francis Slattery


Sandi (Sandikal) Mofo wrote: "LIBERATION by Brian Francis Slattery"

I read Spaceman Blues: A Love Song last year. It was weird. It was really, really weird. I liked it. I'm looking forward to reading Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America.


mlady_rebecca In the SF/Fantasy genre, my favorite reads for 2008 would be:

Anne Bishop, The Black Jewels: Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood / Heir to the Shadows / Queen of the Darkness and the rest of the Black Jewels series.

Anne Bishop, Sebastian and Belladonna

Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel's Mercy

Lisanne Norman, Turning Point and the rest of the Sholan Alliance series.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, The House Between The Worlds, a childhood favorite that I re-read this year.

John Christopher, Tripods Trilogy, another childhood reread.


message 46: by Adam (last edited Dec 08, 2008 06:05AM) (new)

Adam | 8 comments Master and The Margarita is the best book of any year. The year isn't quite over but my votes are...
Kyril Bonfiglioli's Mortdecai trilogy
Jeff Ford's The Shadow Year
all the Lucius Shepard I read this year
Maurice Richardson's Exploits of Engelbrecht
Jeff Vandermeer's The Situation
Blaise Cendrar's Morgavagine
Thomas Ligotti's Teatro Grottesco
Tove Jansson's Moomin comics
and on the reread pile Michael Moorcock's Conditions of Muzak(should be read every Christmas like Dickens's Carol)
Howard Waldrop's "Fin de Cycle"
-Adam


Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) mlady rebecca, you've reminded me that I have Sebastian on my shelf waiting to be read - I loved the Black Jewels trilogy and really wanted to read more of her work.


message 48: by Kersplebedeb (last edited Dec 08, 2008 08:01AM) (new)

Kersplebedeb | 32 comments in terms of SF, hands down i'd say Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville.

in terms of non-fiction books, On War by Clausewitz was pretty good and Yezid Sayigh's Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949-1993 was great, but both titles were hard going and took me months to finish, which really tempered the "fun factor".

in terms of technical works, Richard Hendel's On Book Design was fantastic.


Christopher | 41 comments In sci Fi/Fantasy the answer is unquestionably Jim Butcher's Small Favor.

The Dresden Files series are like literary crack for me, and they just keep getting better and better as the characters deepen.

In non scifi/fantasy, and while I haven't 100% finished it yet (I've got <100 pages to go though, so I'll be *shocked* if it disappoints) I have been positively blown away by The Skull Mantra. Elliot really seems to have made a thorough study of Tibetan and Chinese culture which shows through in the prose, and the mystery is rich, complex and thus far incredibly satisfying.


mlady_rebecca Shannon, Glad to help. You can see that it's the same author writing both series, but they are each unique in their own right.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Anathem (other topics)
Cloud Atlas (other topics)
Blindness (other topics)
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (other topics)
The Name of the Wind (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

George R.R. Martin (other topics)