So, my very most favorite books from the past year.
The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane, as read by Christina Moore
Here's what I said after the first one:
I loved this book so much! The story was great! The characters were great! The language is delicious! New York City is incredibly well-described! Anything I say will sound a bit goofy because I am so enthused! Also, the reader did an amazing job. Mostly, I'm just wondering wtf I didn't read this as a 10 year old when I was reading Every Other YA Fantasy The Library Had.... it came out in 1983. I'm so excited that there are 9 more of these, although I realize my inner 10 year old probably can't sustain this level of enthusiasm that long.
And here's what I said part way through:
This series has come to mean an awful lot to me. I listen to it when I can't sleep or when I'm lonely or when things seem really hard... like the rope you hold on to when you're crossing a log bridge, you know? It's that kind of a story.
I'm in the middle of the eighth one now, and my inner 10 year old is still completely in love.
Not-yet-published theses, by no-longer-undergraduate friends (bis)
As transparent as this pseudonym is, I somehow don't feel like naming these. Or even saying much about them :D. But they were very, very good.
Bluets, by Maggie Nelson
This book was heaven for me. I read it all in one go over lunch and then I immediately bought a copy for me and two for friends. I will be rereading it again this summer. At least once.
Evil for Evil, and The Escapement, by K.J. Parker
Oh, man. These books wrecked me. Particularly close readers *might* just possibly remember that I've read the first book in this trilogy, Devices and Desires, several times, and that I've occasionally accused it of being My Platonic Book. I love it so. These ones are equally tightly plotted and they rise to absolute brilliance regularly. And yet. And yet. They are so heartbreakingly sad. I found myself, at the end, telling myself consolingly that I wasn't meant to *believe* this story's thesis about the world; instead, I was meant to react against it, and in so doing formulate my own more joyous and less desperate conclusions. Whatever the intent, I loved these. Fucking K. J. Parker, man; there's no one else like her.
Mr. Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi
I loved this book so much. Twisty and beautiful and sharp-toothed, and everything resolves perfectly at the end, without resolving at all. <3 <3 <3. <3 <3. I'mma reread it soon. And various persons should count themselves lucky I didn't actually make them listen to the last two chapters on Skype. Unless, I suppose, any of you would actually LIKE me to read you the last 2 chapters on Skype. In which case, let me know, eh?
An Angel at my Table, by Janet Frame
Oh my god. This is brilliant. Recommended for anyone who likes a) memoir, b) affectionate family stories that are also sad, c) reading about other people's time in college, d) historical context around psychology and psychiatry, e) stories rooted strongly in a sense of place, f) non-fiction about writing and/or writers, g) New Zealand. As I like ALL OF THESE THINGS, I was well-satisfied.
The Bone People, by Keri Hulme (reread)
I first read The Bone People as a young teenager - 13 I think? - and the father in the story was so like my own father, good and bad both - more so, but still recognizably alike in a way no other father in a book ever had been - that I managed to block out everything about the book except that it was really good, so I didn't have to think too hard about what it meant. Rereading now, it was even better - because I'm not so in need of compartmentalizing as a coping mechanism, and so there were a lot of powerful things I could look at more squarely. Also her writing is amazing, and there are allusions I caught this time around that I wouldn't have heard at thirteen. [Warning: It's a very violent book. Bad things happen to a small child at the hands of someone he loves. Please don't read it if that will hurt you. It helped me, both times, because the book doesn't stop there.] I loved it so much I went and read everything else of hers I could easily get my hands on, and then started ILLing things that are harder to find.
The Love School, by Elizabeth Knox
Chronological collection of Knox's essays and occasional nonfiction. I am so in love with this author I cannot even tell you.
Anyone out there reading this, who hasn't already told me what books they dug in 2013, is hereby strongly encouraged to do so. Actually, even if you already did, I welcome additions or reiterations :)