This week’s focus is my top ten new (to me) authors I read during 2014.
1. D.C. Pierson‘s The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To wasn’t published in 2014, but I finally got it off my to be read shelf early in the year and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.
2. Ben H. Winters‘ The Last Policeman was chosen for my local community read earlier this year. And while I never quite made it to any of the discussions of the book, I still read the entire trilogy during 2014. Set in a future Earth facing imminent collision with an asteroid, the series examines how society would crumble in the wake of a such news and how various people would react to it. Our hero is a police detective, promoted only because so many others have abandoned their jobs, who keeps trying to close cases, even if there’s no way to really convict the culprit or even if the sentence for said culprit would be a life sentence. The entire trilogy is superbly done and as the asteroid gets closer to Earth, it’s fascinating how society continues to break down and the various scarcities that develop.
3. Emily St. John Mandel‘s Station Eleven is making a lot of year-end best book lists — and for good reason. It’s a book about the end of the world that is far less bleak than The Road, but equally as compelling. But Eleven wasn’t the only Mandel book I read this year. I also read and enjoyed The Lola Quartet. Both are worth every heap of praise that you’ve probably already heard. Consider this just one more recommendation for both.
4. William Campbell Powell. If I had a vote for the Hugo Award for 2015, I’d give it to Expiration Day. In the near future, the ability to have children has been dramatically reduced, leading to couples adopting robotic children. Each year, the family goes on a “vacation” where the child body is upgraded until such time as the children get too old and they’re retired. Our hero is one of the adopted children who realizes that she’s not human and has to struggle with the implications that her life is coming to a close and what, if anything, she can do about it. This one may be shelved in the young adult section of your library or book store, but it’s worth finding.
5. Miranda Kenneally’s Breathe, Annie, Breathe was outside my usual reading comfort zone, but I’m glad I found it and read it. Annie’s struggling with issues related to the death of her boyfriend and so to honor his memory, she vows to run and finish the Country Music Marathon. But Annie faces more than just the physical toll of trying to get in shape for the epic run. She faces the guilt over her memories and the guilt over her new feelings for a fellow runner and adrenaline junkie. Kenneally brings Annie’s dilemma to life in a believable way and one that doesn’t become cliched. And I’ll admit part of the fun was seeing familiar locations from the Music City area referenced in the book.
6. Raymond Chandler. Well, this is a new to me post. And while Chandler’s isn’t new to everyone, he was new to me this year with The Long Goodbye. As a mystery fan, I love seeing the roots of the hard-boiled private investigators of today and Marlowe is certainly that. I kept feeling like I was reading an early Michael Connelly work as I read this one and I was interested enough to add more Chandler to my ever growing to-be-read pile.
7. Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky‘s Sex Criminals is one of the most subversive and entertaining comic books to come along in a long, long time. It had my vote for best graphic novel on GoodReads for the collected edition of the first five issues. And while the title may by what draws you in, what will make you stay is the wit and the characters. Suzie and Jon share a very special power — the ability to make time stop when they, um, well, you know. Fraction’s scripts and Zdarsky’s art make this one of the best comics out there today. And while you may have to wait a bit between each issue, it’s worth it. Also, I can’t help but recommend the single issues if only for the letters’ pages at the end of each issue.
8. James S.A. Corey‘s Leviathan Wakes had been sitting on my to-be-read shelf since it was published. I’m glad I finally got around to it this year because it was so fine, sweeping space opera. And also it’s a series that I want to try and catch up on before I’m seven or eight books behind!
9. Craig Johnson‘s Longmire series is one that I’ve been wanting to check out on Netflix, but the bibliophile in me kept wanting to read the books first. I read the first in the series and loved it. Now to find time for the rest of the books and the series.
10. Emily Giffin. Again, outside my usual reading comfort zone and I got some odd looks when I picked The One and Only up on reserve at the library. But I stand by it as one of those books that defies its marketing and is, simply, a good book with an enjoyable set of characters. Will I read more of Giffin? I might.