The Geomancer


Authors call out their favorite reads of 2013

The new year is a great time to look ahead, but also the perfect time to think back on all the awesome things you accomplished throughout the past year.  Finally took that dream vacation? Check! Watched all three seasons of Game of Thones in one week? Check! Read more books than you purchased? Well...made a bigger dent in your "to be read pile" at least?

And from that pile there are always one or two books that stick out above the rest.  We asked a couple of our authors to tell us their favorite book (or books) that they read in 2013. Here's what they had to say:

Mike Resnick, author of The Doctor and the Dinosaurs, the newest Wild West Tale.

It's a close call, but I think my favorite novel (read, not published) in 2013 was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, followed by Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, and The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode.

Ari Marmell, author of Lost Covenant and In Thunder Forged.

I haven't read as much this year as I'd have liked, and I'm having trouble remembering what I read early in the year. But so far as my rickety memory allows... My actual favorite book is one that an author friend of mine wrote, that hasn't yet been picked up. But beyond that, I think I have to go with Chuck Wendig's Blackbirds. It's a bit darker/uglier than my usual urban fantasy fare, but it's absolutely gripping, extremely well written, and has a great combination of humor, horror, mystery, and drama.

Tim Lebbon, author of The Toxic City trilogy: London Eye, Reaper's Legacy, and Contagion.

Stonemouth by Iain Banks was the best book I read in 2013.  I'm a long-time fan of Banks, both in his with-M and without-M guise, but this one just blew me away.  The story of a man returning to his hometown after several years in exile, it's filled with the sort of sharp characterisation, cutting wit, and deep emotion that raises Banks's writing way above most of the competition.  The humour is always well placed and unforced, and it's often the soul and heart of any Banks book.  He always manages to find meaning in the ridiculous, and nonsense in the sublime.  In short, his writing is always very real.

Several weeks after I finished Stonemouth, I read about Iain Banks's terminal illness.  Not so many weeks after that, he died.  I felt almost as bereft as if I'd lost a close friend, such is the impression his work has had on my life, and the influence it had on my own writing.  I've been reading him since I was a teen and now, in my mid-forties, I know that I'll treasure his books forever.  Stonemouth is as good as anything he's ever written, and although I'll always associate that book with the sadness of his death, it remains one of my favourite novels.

Mandy Hager, author of The Crossing and Into the Wilderness, the first two books in her Blood of the Lamb trilogy.

My top book for the year is Mal Peet’s Exposure. This retelling of the story of Othello, set in the world of celebrity South American football, gives a brilliant insight into the cut-throat celebrity world, with a nod to racism, poverty and corruption. Peet uses shifting point of view to bring together a diverse cast of characters, including street kids, a sports reporter, corrupt public officials and elite sportsmen (and their hangers-on) – and somehow manages to bring all their stories together in a way that feels natural and totally believable, while staying true to the original themes and plotline of Othello. By presenting such a diverse range of characters, the contrasts between those with power and those without, and also the good and bad in human beings, is powerfully made. The language is beautiful, the emotional resonance strong and perfectly depicted. I love the underlying politics – the little jabs at topics popped in through the text. In awe.

Tom Lloyd, author of The God Tattoo and the novels of the Twilight Reign.

My best read of the year was Osama by Lavie Tidhar. I know what you’re thinking, a weird literary/SF novel (sort of) about one of the more hated men in recent history, that’s a hard sell. It could have been one of the more awful self-published novels of the year instead, but it’s masterfully done. The prose is beautiful – it reminded me of Paul Auster’s works with plot in the place of narcissism, while the subject matter is sensitively and intelligently handled – there’s no agenda being pushed, just questions being posed. It’s different, it’s interesting, it’s enjoyable – go read it.

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