The category winners in the 2014 Costa Book awards have been announced. The Book of the Year will be announced on January 27.
The Book Smugglers have added a number of new writers to their Smugglivus celebration, which I first discussed in my last Sunday Links. Here are some more writers, bloggers and lovers of the written word giving you guidance on the best reads of last year: Sophia McDougall; S.L. Huang; Rebecca Hahn; M.R. Carey; Max Gladstone; Sarah McCarry; Michael Wojcik; Merrie Haskell; Saundra Mitchell; Rochita Loenen-Ruiz; James Dawson; Stephanie Burgis; Genevieve Valentine; Andrea K. Höst; Catherine F. King; The G of Nerds of a Feather Flock Together; Jody of Lady Business and Book Gazing; Cuddlebuggery; Gavia Baker-Whitelaw; Jared Shurin; Foz Meadows; Sunil Patel; Paul and Renee of Fangs for the Fantasy; and Kelly and Kim of Stacked. (Some movies, television and games sneak into the recommendations, too.)
Bibliotropic lists the top five urban fantasy novels of 2014.
Author Jeff Somers shared his favorite reads of the year at My Bookish Ways.
Powell’s listed its best blog posts pf 2014. There are some great essays by some great writers among those links.
Larry Nolen of the OF Blog of the Fallen is as perverse as ever; instead of a “best” post, he wrote a “worst” post — and I disagree with at least five of his six choices. To each his own taste! I suppose when you read more than 400 books in a year, some books that might appeal to a reader who luxuriates in prose might not seem as good (a comment that particularly applies to Nolen’s choice of Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, which I thought was one of the best books of the year). (Nolen also listed the top books of the year: 1-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, debuts, foreign language releases, short story collections, and translated fiction.
SFGate, the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, listed the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2014.
Bibliotropic lists the best speculative fiction of 2014.
The moderators at BestFantasyBooks.com list the best fantasy of the year.
BuzzFeedBooks lists the most exciting literary debuts of 2014 in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
Kirkus lists the most overlooked books of the year.
io9 lists its choices for the best science fiction and fantasy of 2014, calling it a “crazy good year for books.”
BuzzFeed lists the 28 best books by women this past year.
Mashable lists 21 page-turners “that took us on journeys, opened our eyes, and made us laugh in 2014.”
BookRiot has links to the ten best literary TED talks of the year.
Bookworm Blues lists the best science fiction and fantasy of the year, broken down into nine subgenres and including an honorable mentions section. It’s probably enough reading to keep most folks going for the first half of 2015.
Tangent Online lists the best speculative short fiction of the year — short stories, novelettes and novellas. I wish they’d linked the stories that were published online, because a great many of the favorites were — but you can probably find them just by inputting the title of the story into your favorite search engine.
Tor.com also lists short fiction favorites based on its readers’ opinions, and does provide links.
Omnivoracious lists the top ten graphic novels of the year.
My Bookish Ways asked a number of authors to name their favorites of the year; the round-up of the posts they wrote in response is here.
The Qwillery has a short but sweet list of great books from 2014.
The SF convention Concatenation lists its favorites from last year.
What to Look Forward to in 2015
Kirkus tells us of the “must buys” coming out in 2015.
Rob’s Blog o’ Stuff has a different take on the science fiction and fantasy to look forward to.
GoLocalPDX lists ten novels to look forward to from writers living in the Pacific Northwest.
Speculating on SpecFic’s list of forthcoming fantasy has me excited; lots here I want to read.
Hello Giggles lists the most eagerly awaited young adult fiction.
Bookish takes a more seasonal approach, listing the best books coming out this winter — so some of these you’ll already find on bookshelves. Here are the listings for nonfiction; mysteries; children’s books; teen books; science fiction and fantasy; and romance.
Barnes & Noble lists some good books coming in the first five months of the year.
Paul Weimer of SkySeaStone.net lists the science fiction and fantasy he’s looking forward to in 2015.
Tor.com lists some of the notable books by women coming in 2015 in genre fiction, noting that it’s impossible to give a comprehensive listing these days — good news for women!
My Bookish Ways lists the January books not to miss in science fiction, fantasy and horror, as well as in mystery, suspense and fiction. And they’re way ahead of me: here are the February books not to miss in science fiction, fantasy and horror and in mystery, suspense and fiction.
Tor.com does its usual excellent job of listing all the science fiction and fantasy books being published in January in a whole bunch of subgenres: paranormal/urban fantasy and horror; paranormal romance; fantasy; science fiction; and genre-benders. That last category is almost always my favorite, and with books by Peter Carey, Michael Moorcock, Sarah Pinborough and Jo Walton, this month is no exception. British releases are noted as well.
Kirkus suggests the best science fiction and fantasy reads for January.
Always wanted to read Stephen King, but don’t know where to start? BookRiot tells you the three novels you should start with. The first two strike me as odd choices; I’d go with Misery instead of Dolores Claiborne, for instance, and probably IT or The Stand instead of Under the Dome.
The Huffington Post suggests nine true crime novels that fans of the podcast “Serial” will probably like. If you haven’t read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote before, it’s time; it’s an excellent book. Joe McGinniss’s Fatal Vision is another one worth reading. I’m going to have to try some of the others.
Damien Walter lists seven literary science fiction and fantasy novels that everyone should read.
Walter seems to be getting his lists of “musts” out of his system. Here is his list of the three books every author should read.
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at a new generation of graphic novels written by women. They don’t all have to be about superheroes, you know.
Seventeen writers tell us of their favorite young adult novels.
Lynne Truss lists her top ten gothic novels.
NPR says that all the writers I love love Dorothy Dunnett. I’ve been meaning to read her books for years; maybe it’s finally time.
Jamie Todd Rubin writes about the difference between listening to a book and reading that book. He’s changed his mind, having some years ago rejected the notion of audiobooks but now come to think that they’re quite wonderful.
Bookish suggests some bookish New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think hitting a particular number of books is a good resolution, not unless you’re a sparse reader (and I don’t expect many people reading this post fall into that category). But reading more classics? Check. I’ve got Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, Little Women and most of Jane Austen’s output on my list this year. And I’ve got to do more reading from my own shelves. Too many books, too little time!
Perhaps reading outside one’s comfort zone, to follow different races, genders, countries, languages, is a more achievable resolution. BookRiot answers frequently asked questions about reading diversely.
The Atlantic looks at what it means to say a book is “difficult,” and concludes that that varies from person to person. The essay takes off from an earlier essay about how you should finish what you start, especially if what you’ve started is a classic of literature. Both essays seem a bit — well, snobby. But they’re the kind of snobby I approve of. Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey is harder to read than Pride and Prejudice, at least for me. Your mileage may vary. In any event, I suspect that the essay was prompted, at least in part, by an old essay from The Millions, in which it stated its intention to take on books that are more traditionally considered “difficult” with a series of posts introducing and describing those books, even though that series seems to have petered out in 2010. (Which is a shame; those were interesting posts.)
Words Without Borders has a special issue on alternate histories. This publication focuses on international literature and translation. We pay too little attention to the literature of non-English speaking nations, but that may be changing; and this may be a way to help that process. My only complaint about this publication is that there doesn’t appear to be a way to download the whole thing in one fell swoop. Fortunately, Readability let me download it article by article, so I’m all set.
It will surprise no one, I think, that I was the librarian for my third grade class. I took great joy in arranging and rearranging our books — we didn’t have many, though in my memory there were plenty. I got lots of compliments for my work in making the library look appealing. But I felt compelled (oh, dear, I was so preachy and such a teacher’s pet!) to remind my class that books were to be read, not just looked at. The nun who was my teacher, Sister Mary Martha, had those words put on a banner that then hung above the library. I still feel that way — books are utilitarian objects, even when they are also beautiful and/or valuable — and a book should be used, in the best sense of that word. Jamie Todd Rubin agrees with me in a lovely essay.
NPR celebrates literary magazines, noting their longevity in a world that would seem to have passed them by. The Paris Review has three times the circulation it had ten years ago, which is good news for literati everywhere.
Maybe you already knew about unglue.it? Free books! How could I not have known? There’s a huge range of material on offer, from the abstruse scientific treatise to short science fiction stories. Take a look around and see if anything strikes your fancy.
I don’t usually link to interviews or profiles of authors, but this article about Ted Chiang just strike me as special. If you haven’t read Chiang’s short story collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, make it your next purchase — it’s wonderful.
Writer Jo Walton explains how owning an e-reader has changed her reading habits: “What it is, of course, is a library in your pocket,” she says, and there’s a part of me that has to agree. We both still want actual physical books too, though, I hasten to add.
The Guardian lists the top 10 magical worlds in children’s books.
Urban fantasist Max Gladstone thinks that the movie “Die Hard” might just be a fairy tale. He builds a good case for his proposition.
Bookstores, Libraries and the Business of Books
An Amazon addict at BookRiot tried shopping local to see if it could cure her Prime addiction. She found that the bond she developed with her nearby bookseller paid off enormously with great book recommendations and a closer tie to her community.
Thomas Lee says booksellers did everything wrong in negotiating with Amazon over the past year.
Joyous Links for Bookworms
Here’s a vacation I’d love: traveling about the world visiting libraries and bookstores.
Wherever I happen to vacation, I visit the homes of authors. It’s really something to stand in the room and stare at the view that was Herman Melville’s when he was writing Moby-Dick. Next best to being there is this article full of photographs of writers’ homes.
BuzzFeed is looking for words that book lovers really need.
Bustle offers 10 signs that you’re a bibliophile. As if you needed them.
I’ve linked before to the gorgeous sculptures made by a myserious, anonymous artist who leaves them in libraries and other bookish places. The artist spoke with BBC News about her work in an interview that will leave you none the wiser about her identity.
And on a more sober note, BuzzFeed offers 15 inspiring quotes from writers we lost in 2014.
But we can’t end on a sad note, so here you go: the story of Harry Potter if the leading character in the books were Hermione Granger instead. A rare pleasure, this bit.