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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some Favorite Reads from 2011

Now that Twin-Bred has made two lists of favorite 2011 reads :-), it seems only right that I "pay it forward" and post a list of my own. Mine will include both 2011 releases and books I read for the first time in 2011.

In no particular order, here are a few books I read this year and greatly enjoyed. The first two were released in 2011.

--Doc by Mary Doria Russell. I have loved every book except one by this author (the one being Dreamers of the Day). Her science fiction novel The Sparrow may be my favorite novel of any genre or type, from any era. I'm delighted that I loved Doc as well.

Doc is historical fiction, dealing with the early days of John ("Doc") Holliday. I learned a great deal about characters with whom most of us (in the U.S. at least) are somewhat familiar, and about others in the Earp circle. As usual for Russell, the writing is beautiful and the portrayal of the characters often deeply moving. There is one long and stylistically unusual passage, about how things might have gone if one event had been different, that I particularly cherish in memory.

--These is My Words by Nancy Turner. Also historical fiction -- and yes, this and science fiction are probably my favorite genres. . . . This novel purports to be the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, Arizona pioneer, written from 1881 to 1901. While the events described are not unrelieved tragedy, this account in other hands could have been leaden and depressing. It is, instead, inspirational, uplifting, and often very funny.

--Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon. This science fiction novel was published in 2003, but I had never encountered it before this month. Like my debut novel Twin-Bred, it concerns issues in communicating with the indigenous sentient species on another planet. I recommend it for its handling of those issues and of the alien species itself, but even more for the evolution of the main character, Ofelia. It's a delight to see her come into her own.

--Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge. More science fiction published in 2003 -- a good year, it seems. . . . I'm going to be lazy and suggest that you look it up on Amazon for plot info. The plot, for me, was secondary. I loved the relationships between characters, and Eskridge's enviable gift for just the right amount of vivid and original description.

--Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. Butler apparently died in 2006, but somehow I missed the news until recently. Readers of science fiction will greatly miss her. This is my favorite of several related books, eventually published together under the title From Seed to Harvest. It involves two very unusual and formidable people who meet and develop a relationship as unique as they are. One of them, in particular, is in many ways very unsympathetic -- and yet, we sympathize.

That's all for now. I may add a few more in a subsequent post. (Maybe if Twin-Bred shows up on any more end-of-year lists. :-) )

1 comment:

Cath said...

I read These is My Words last year too and absolutely adored it. It made my top three for 2011 in fact.

Have made a note of 'Doc'. I read MDR's Sparrow and Children of God some years ago and keep meaning to read more by her. This one sounds excellent.

Will look into a couple of others you've mentioned as well. Also note that you're doing Carl's sci fi experience so will follow you to see what you read.