Sunday Links, December 21, 2014


 The longlist of nominees for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has been announced.

The winners of the Rhysling Awards have been announced by the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

The Folio Prize long list has been announced.

What to Read Next has done its usual splendid job in laying out the monthly releases in science fiction and fantasy.  The list comes in several subparts, so be sure to find your favorite subgenre’s listing and make sure you haven’t missed a book you’d love to be reading to ring in the new year:  fantasy, science fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and horror, and my favorite category, genre benders.  A different blogger lists all the British releases for the month.

Kirkus picks through the avalanche and lists the best bets for December in these genres.

Barnes & Noble also lists the best science fiction and fantasy for the monthMy Bookish Ways displays covers of SF/F/H being published this month, and it’s a somewhat more complete listing because it includes horror.

io9 has its own suggestions about what SF/F books you shouldn’t miss in December.  Barnes & Noble’s suggestions for December SF/F are up at  And The AudioBookaneers has a list of the SF/F coming out in audio in December.

BookRiot lists five favorite feminist books, none of which this particular feminist has come across before. It’s an interesting approach to feminism, in that the books aren’t really about feminism, but written by feminists and with a feminist sensibility. The Third Wave, perhaps?

The Guardian suggests ten books to read once you’ve finished The Hunger Games series.

Author Gail Carringer lists ten books to read when you need a good cry.

BookRiot lists the best biographies of dead writers.  What surprises me here is the absence of Hermione Lee’s biographies of Virginia Woolf and Penelope Fitzgerald, but perhaps they felt they could only list one book per biographer (Lee gets mentioned for her work on Edith Wharton).  I’m generally fascinated by biographies of writers and poets; I always think maybe I’ll figure out the secret to being a great writer.  It hasn’t happened yet, but hey, I’ve got a whole bunch of years left.  I hope (and now I’m looking around for some wood to knock on).

Best Fantasy Books lists the best modern young adult fantasy.  They have a number of other “best” lists too, should you be more inclined to a different sort of fantasy.

Horror Novel Reviews lists the 100 scariest novels of all time — just in case you want to frighten yourself out of your skin while staying up waiting for Santa Claus.

Listly suggests 100 Canadian novels to read in a lifetime.

FlavorWire lists genre books that should be classics.  Of those listed, the ones I’ve read brought me a great deal of enjoyment, and I’d have to agree with the assessment that they should be considered classics by thoughtful readers.  Pick one and give it a go!

The Huffington Post lists the best dystopian novels.  Start with Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery — you won’t be sorry.

BuzzFeed suggests some books by women that you might experiment with by suggesting that if you liked this book by a man, you might well like this book by a woman.  It sounds like a good way to find new voices you may have missed.

Want even more diversity in your reading?  BuzzFeed recommends 19 must-read books by women of color.  I’m going to be looking at this list pretty closely, as there are a number of books here I haven’t even heard of — and some others that I own but haven’t read yet.  Give one a try!

BookRiot recommends three works in translation being published during December.

Amazing Stories lists one book for each of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Masters, and suggests you read at least one this winter.  Some of the books will be hard to find, but others are still in print after many years; there’s bound to be something to your taste.

If you’re tired of reading epic fantasies sent in a vaguely medieval vaguely English countryside, try one of these quite different epics, instead.  I’ve started The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, and I can vouch for the fact that it is very different from any other fantasy I’ve read this year — and excellent, to boot.

A.C. Wise has accumulated a number of links from authors listing the work they had published in the past year.  Look up your favorite and see if you missed anything!

Best of 2014

So many lists!  You can find a list of favorite books of the year in virtually any genre whatsoever.  This is just a sampling of the many available lists; as I’ve mentioned before, the best place to go for a complete listing is Large-Hearted BoyPenguin Random House also has a list of the best of the bests lists.

Paste lists the top 25 comics of the year, and / has a list of graphic novels that would make good gifts.  I’ve got a few of these on my shelves already, and am especially eager to read Saga and Through the Woods, but these lists added quite a few items to my ever-growing wish list.  And I cannot recommend Locke & Key highly enough — these are just excellent work by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.  Those six volumes you should buy for yourself as well as for your favorite people, and you can all enjoy reading them together next to a toasty fire.

The Washington Post lists 50 notable works of nonfiction; the top 50 works of fiction; the five best fantasy and science fiction books of the year (a very odd list that most SF/F readers wouldn’t recognize); the top 10 graphic novels; the five best thrillers; the five best romances; the five best audiobooks; and the 10 best books of the year.

NPR has a lovely display of the covers of the best books of the year in all genres.  When your cursor hovers over a particular cover, you get comments on the book and links to full recommendations.  It’s one of the best ways of making a list I’ve ever seen on the internet.

The New York Times lists 100 notable books of the year.

BuzzFeed lists the 24 top novels and short story collections of the year.

Library Journal lists the best books of the year in multiple areas:  best genre fiction; romance; graphic novels; nonfiction; e-book originals; the top ten books of the year; and a catch-all category entitled “More of the Best.”  There are some odd choices here that I haven’t seen elsewhere, so it’s definitely a series of lists worth looking over.

Kirkus lists the top nonfiction of the year; the best fiction; the best children’s books; the best books for teens; the best books put out by independent publishers;

GoodReads lists the best books of 2014, as chosen by its members.

Huffington Post lists its best books of 2014.

Notes from Coode Street has a voluminious list of the best science fiction, fantasy and horror of the year.  The entry is denominated as “Part 1,” though there’s no Part 2 as yet; you might want to keep an eye out, because this is a phenomenal list.

Publishers Weekly has a long list of year’s best books in numerous categories.

Entertainment Weekly lists the ten best fiction books of 2014.

Oprah and her various organizations and publications list their best books of the year.

The LitReactor staff lists its best books of the year.  There are some interesting choices here that vary from the publishing industry’s general agreement.

BookRiot asked its contributors for their favorites, too.  Once again, the choices are often unique.  Isn’t it fascinating that individuals seem to pick different books that organizations do?

My Bookish Ways asked a number of SF/F/H writers to list their favorite books of the year:  Daryl Gregory, John Horner Jacobs, Gemma Files, Teresa Frohock, Jason M. Hough, and David Nickle.  There’s some very cool stuff to be found here, as the choices are as idiosyncratic as the writers themselves.

The Book Smugglers celebrated “Smugglivus” by asking SF/F/H writers to list their favorite books of the year:  Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Aliette de Bodard, Kate Hall, Fiona Wood, Catherine F. King, Rin Chupeco, Deborah Coates, Charles Tan, Kate Elliott, Y.S. Lee, Susan Jane Bigelow, Octavia Cade, Robert Jackson Bennett, Kate Milford, and Erin Claiborne.  If you take a look around the site after reading these wonderful columns, you can also find guest posts by bloggers, reviewers and others for more tips.  And one of the Smugglers, Thea James, writes in a panic about great 2014 books that she hasn’t gotten to yet.

The Millions did much the same with a wholly different set of writers, though the question here was what the year in reading was like for each writer, so there are plenty of books discussed that are not 2014 publications.  There are columns by:  Emma Straub, Thomas Beckwith, Tess Malone, Rachel Cantor, Jean Hanff Korelitz, William Girardi, Bill Morris, Julia Fierro, Caitlin Doughty, Scott Cheshire, and Molly Antopol, Anthony Doerr, Eula Biss, Stephen Dodson, Jess Walter, Karen Joy Fowler, Blake Butler, Janet Fitch, John Darnielle, Leslie Jamison, Ben Lerner, Matthew Thomas, Garth Risk Hallberg, Laura van den Berg, Celeste Ng, Mark O’Connell, Nick Ripatrazone, Jane Smiley, Phil Clay, Tana French, Emily St. John Mandel, Philipp Meyer, Edan Lepucki, Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Jayne Anne Phillips, Maureen Corrigan, Caitlin Moran, Lindsay Hunter, Eimear McBride, Walter Kirn, Porochista Khakpour, Tiphanie Yanique, David Bezmozgis, Dinaw Mengestu, Rabih Alameddine, Rebecca Makkai, Gina Frangello, Hannah Pittard, Michelle Huneven, Lydia Millet, Ron Rash, Darcy Steinke and Tom Nissley.  There are also columns by staff writers for The Millions, publishers, editors, and other associated with books; the comprehensive index is here.  I may spend New Year’s Day reading these columns and drawing up lists to guide my own reading — and then diving into the columns from past years, as I never knew these existed before.  They look delectable.

A number of other writers have written blog posts about their favorite books of the year.  A few of the best are by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Jeff VanderMeer.

SF Signal asked a different set of authors for their best books of the year, and put them all together in a MindMeld post.’s reviewers listed their favorite books of the year.  Once again, there are some genuinely unique choices with good explanations for why those choices were made. also polled its readers by Twitter to learn their favorites.  While most selections are predictable (these are the readers who cause books to show up on bestseller lists, after all), there are some unusual selections that I didn’t expect to see here.

Powell’s Books has numerous best of the year lists:  cookbooks, kids’ books, nonfiction, fantasy and science fiction, Young Adult fiction, and fiction.

The Globe and Mail lists the 100 best books of the year.  A number of the books listed here won’t show up on this side of the pond until 2015, so this will give you a start on your new year’s wish list.

The New York Times asked all of the authors of its Bookend feature, which appears in the book review each Sunday, to list their favorite read of the year, new or old.  Almost no one listed a book first published in 2014, which I find rather fascinating.

Barnes & Noble lists the best anthologies of the year.  I’m a short story lover myself, so you won’t be surprised to known that I own most of these — but I’ve very glad to know about the ones I missed.

BookRiot has a lengthy guide to the best books published by independent presses in 2014.

Slate recommends 2014 books that have been largely overlooked, but that are worthy of your attention.

Holiday Shopping

Kirkus has a holiday gift guide for the science fiction nerd in your life.

CBS Connecticut lists the best books to buy as gifts based on the preferences of your intended recipient.  You’ll find books for cooks, bakers, music lovers, baseball fans, and many more.

Tips on Life and Love has suggestions on books to buy for boys to get them away from those videogames for a while.

/Film suggests the best movie and television book gifts of the year.  I’ll bet there are books here you’ve not even heard of, but that would be perfect for the movie lover on your gift list.

The Los Angeles Times suggests gift books for every interest.

The Sydney Herald suggests gift books for the lover of science fiction and fantasy.

The Nerdist has suggestions for the booklovers on your list that aren’t actually books.  Love the Batman book shelves, impractical as they are.

Powell’s has a good (and amusing) graphic to help you find the right book for the toughest person on your list.

And the best place to do your book shopping?  Your local independent bookstore, says Huffington PostBustle agreesSlate disagrees (though that article is a few years old).  In any event, independent bookstores should be having a very merry Christmas indeed, given James Patterson’s gift of $473,000 to their coffers.

Looking Forward to 2015

A Locus Roundtable features writers, reviewers and critics discussing what books they’re looking forward to in science fiction, fantasy and horror.  I know I say this a lot, but really, I want one of each.

Would you like to challenge yourself to read differently, more diversely, with more forethought in 2015?  BookRiot has some ideas on how you can do that.  I printed out the list and am going to give it a go myself.

Thinking about Books

Brain Pickings tries to figure out what makes a book great.

The Los Angeles Review of Books, through the scholarly pen of writer Nick Mamatas, looks at whether the canon — and the universe itself! — can survive the influence of H.P. Lovecraft.  Mamatas takes what may be a controversial question in some quarters:  whether Lovecraft is a bad writer or simply a difficult writer, and plumps for the latter answer.  LARB hasn’t been around for all that long, but it has definitely established itself as an important periodical for the literate.

BookRiot says that the Bechdel Test alone isn’t sufficient to judge whether women are properly represented in our literature.  Maybe the Mako Mori test will do it?  Or maybe — just perhaps — it’s the responsibility of readers to insist that women be portrayed accurately.

Kids read a lot more than the conventional wisdom would have you believe.

BookRiot talks about five book culture heroes of 2014.

Author Kameron Hurley gives us some insight into what it’s like to be a professional writer these days.  It certainly doesn’t sound like one halcyon day after another, does it?  But still, to see your name on the spine of a book; could there be any greater thrill?

The Business of Books

ABE Books lists its 50 most expensive sales in 2014.  I wonder who would spend $40,000 on a book ordered off the internet?  Wouldn’t you want to see it in person before laying out that sort of cash?

Hachette has purchased Black Dog & Leventhal, the latest in a string of purchases that seem especially designed to strengthen their backlist.  In the internet age, those older titles are more valuable; you can make them available virtually forever at almost no cost, so any sale is a win.  That makes me happy, because I hate it when books disappear.

Publishers Weekly talks about a new approach to writing for science fiction and fantasy:  crowdfunding.  I’ve donated to a number of wonderful anthologies and magazines through Kickstarter, but seeing this through the eyes of the traditional publishing industry is interesting.

Publshers Weekly also looks at the future of self-publishing.

Author Tobias Buckell suggests that Kindle Unlimited isn’t a good deal for anyone but Amazon.

Fun and/or Funny

Thought Catalog lists eleven things you should know before you start dating a bookworm.  We all know these things, of course, but perhaps it would make our lives easier if we simply printed out this post and handed it to potential suitors to avoid misunderstandings.

LitReactor has some suggestions for Stephen King about what he should write next.  It’s a more thoughtful article than you might immediately suspect.

Some Grace and Beauty to Cap Off Your Reading Year has listed all of the free fiction it posted during 2014, with links to each story.  With the right software (I’m using Readability), you can transfer all those wonderful stories to your ereader and curl up in your favorite chair to read them one right after the other, like the best box of chocolates you ever saw.

Strange Horizons did the same thing, and links not just to the stories but also to the podcasts of those stories.  It’s enough to make you think of fireplaces and hot buttered rum and a snowstorm that “forces” you to stay inside and read and read and read.

BuzzFeed gives us a look at the most beautiful book covers of the year. gives us photographs of the most fashionable villains in fantasy and science fiction film.  I’ve always thought that Spike (from the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” television show) was gorgeous, so he really does belong here, but if he’s not to your taste there are plenty of others to feast your eyes on.

BuzzFeed lists the 51 most beautiful sentences in literature.

These photographs of fairy tales come to life will make your eyes very happy.

Those photographs led me to these 1914 Scandinavian fairy tale illustrations by Kay Nielsen.  Aren’t they amazing?

And those, in turn, led me to these 1919 illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by illustrator Harry Clarke.  There is a sensuality to them that makes them all the more terrifying.

A body painter has turned humans into absolutely beautiful animals.

I hope these links keep you warm, dry, safe and happy over the holidays.  I wish you all the best, and look forward to giving you more good stuff to read in 2015.


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