End of year lists! Some of my favourite books I’ve read this year that have been out however long. Finally working my way through years of book recommendations…
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline.
It’s 2044, and humanity has kind of fallen apart. Most of the population escapes grim reality by living vicariously in OASIS, a virtual utopia with every type of planet, city, weapon, notch of geekery imaginable. And the ubergeek, the one who created this vast universe, has died, and his will grants his fortune will be left to the one user who plays the game, solves the riddles and unlocks the egg.
Despite a cultlike fandom for Halliday, and his life, loves and career, years pass without one single user cracking even the first clue. The scoreboard looms with ten empty space, until one day, Wade stumples on the first key.
Rush, Lord of the Rings, Monty Python, Pac man, obsessive song naming, compulsive show binges, heavy re-reads. Wil Wheaton as a political leader?
Sure it said noobs and other stupid terms, but it was just really good, especially after the string of more serious or dark things that have been cropping up in my books lately. And this is his first novel? Jeez. You can read it as a metaphor, you can read it as someone who likes pop culture, you can read it from a number of perspectives, and I daresay they’re all equally as enjoyable. ★★★★★
Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson.
The public stood in awe ten years ago as Calamity came, giving ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. Not all the Epics used these powers for good. But, said David’s father, we must wait for the heroes, for they will come.
Except, when faced with an unruly Epic in a bank ten years ago, they didn’t. The one he hoped for, the invulnerable Steelheart, proved even worse than the rest. Though his father was killed by him, he also made him bleed, and David’s life wish is to see revenge and make him bleed once more.
It’s fast paced, it’s different, it’s interesting, it’s exciting. You try to play detective, maybe pick up some clues as to the elusive weaknesses or identities of those they’re looking into but, perhaps this is down to lack of talent for solving such mysteries, it actually surprises you. ★★★★★
Carter Beats The Devil – Glen David Gold.
Hypnotising readers for the past decade with his portrait of a 1920s magic-obsessed America, Gold follows Charles Carter – Carter the Great – whose skill as an illusionist exceeds that of even Houdini. It’s basically historical fiction that, for once, isn’t set in a medieval sort of time, and this one features a magician. So, yes.
I knew Wil liked it (a good enough endorsement for me). I knew a lot of other people seemed to like it (it also passed my “What does Goodreads think?” test of being over 4). I then fell kind of hook, line and sinker into it.
It had to get put down a lot in the process because of driving and working and writing and this, that and the other, but now I’ve finished it, it was worth the wait. So many books feel like another, but I can’t remember anything remotely similar and I just loved it all. Different, but really good. ★★★★★
The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky.
“I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day…or wondering who did the heart breaking and wondering why.”
I am evidently one of the last people in existence to actually bother reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower, but I’ll try do it justice. It’s entirely composed of letters from Charlie, the shy, intelligent, socially awkward freshman, battling between being in the background of life, or ‘participating’, as he’s been urged to do.
From first dates, mix tapes, ‘sexy, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, this is the coming of age story that everyone, upon finding out I was reading it these last two days, has either gasped in excitement, or questioned how it had taken me so long. ★★★★★
Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman.
If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.
So, I really love listening to Neil Gaiman talk. Two occasions I was lucky enough to listen to him chat in August and it’s incredibly easy to find yourself inspired by the way he talks, and his reflections; so when the intent is to in a sense inspire, then you end up with something like this. And it’s just wonderful.
The book was fun. I’m not saying it’s a flawless design but I think that for what Gaiman was saying, a book that makes you squint to read, turn the pages, and draws you to stand out quotes is ideal.
I feel like Gaiman is a really inspiring person, and on a gloomy Friday morning, it was a welcome delivery from the postman. Whether my day is as productive following reading this as I feel it ought to be is another question. ★★★★★