28 December, 2011

Only the Best of 2011 - End of the Year Wrap-Up and Top 10

It's that time of year, I've always wondered why we do best of lists before the year's even over, I mean, there's still time to finish books. I also fully realize the end of a year is a time for reflection and the new year is a time for new beginnings. At least awards for books occur in the following year, they know what they're doing.

Top 5 (2011 Releases)

5. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
4. Shadow's Lure by Jon Sprunk
3. The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer
2. Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

1. Heaven's Needle by Liane Merciel

It's really sad there won't be any more books in the Ithelas series as the publisher has discontinued it. I still say it's worth a read along with the first book, The River Kings' Road.

Honorable Mentions

I could pretty much place these in my top 5, it was THAT hard of a decision.

Low Town by Daniel Polansky
Demon Squad: Resurrection by Tim Marquitz

What's Missing? (I stole this from The Speculative Scotsman)

Well, I decided to take my time with some of the biggies this year, you know, wait until there's a bit more progress in the series before I do my big reread... so A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin and Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

Oh, and remember The Unremembered (that was on purpose)? It was enjoyable, but not quite an end of the year best.

Top 10 (Published any year)

There wasn't really a big chance for the new kids on the block with some of the classics I read this year and I decided not to count the books from The Wheel of Time that I listened to because that's just not fair. I also didn't include any of the novellas that I snuck in the last few weeks.

10. The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer
9. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
8. Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
7. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
6. The Waste Lands and The Drawing of the Three by Steven King (same series, same number, doesn't make sense I know)
5. Heaven's Needle by Liane Merciel
4. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Even got my wife to read it and she's loving it)

1. Songs of the Dying Earth Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

I'll have some posts about goals and how I did this year (sadly not all were met) probably sometime in the new year. Otherwise Happy Holidays and see ya in 2012!


Unknown said...

So, does Heaven's Needle wrap up the series, or did Liane leave things open for more books? I've had River King's Road on my TBR list for a while now, but don't want to invest in a series that won't see an end.

Prince of Thorns and Theft of Swords are definitely on my TBR list as well.

Anonymous said...

Missing Erikson in your list. Epic fail not to mention him after finishing the most epic story ever written.

SQT said...

((Eye roll for Anonymous)) I wouldn't put Erikson on my list either... But I guess it's an "epic fail" if we all don't have identical lists.

I love "Name of the Wind" too. Rothfuss has become one of my must-read authors.

Joshua Lowe said...

I find it really interesting how their are different sides and factions to fantasy depending on things like personal taste and geographical location.

I haven't even heard of, let alone read most of the books you listed in this post (or authors) apart from Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss and Mark Lawrence.

I think a lot of my reads are Australian authors which makes a big difference.

Anonymous said...

I don't want identical lists. This would not give us the great variety in literature or genre literature that we need. Lists usually help to find new good reads. But if some books occur in many lists then this is a sign for quality or ... mainstream.

Of the second list I read 4 of the 10 books including Tigana, The Name of the Wind (plus successor), Stardust, Theft of Swords and not one is even close to Erikson in every which way, although for themselves they are really good books or series (Patrick Rothfuss first and foremost). Gay's Under Heaven is also a very strong candidate not mentioned.

I accept other opinions or tastes but it is one thing to judge something to be good or to be on a personal Top10 (published any year) list. If I think what great books I read, including Dan Simmons with Hyperion, then I really think this list is not really representative ... or even based on the big scheme of what was/is out there since 100 years or more. I repeat: published any year.

Personally I've read many of Gaimans outputs but to me he is highly hyped and overrated. Still his best book ("peronally") is American Gods and not Stardust (the movie was only enjoyable because of a remarkably hilarious performance by Mr. de Niro). The book was ... Gaiman, no more no less.

Another example: if I dislike Chopin I still have to admit that the music he created is good (in every aspect), timeless, will never be forgotten. This is why I think subjective (personal) Top10 lists are not really cool if you don't find the really best "subjects" on them. Do I mean my subjects? Of course I'd wish to see them there. Naturally ;)

And in this case I really miss some fantastic outputs. And I highly doubt that of 100 readers who got through all 10 books of tMotbF by Erikson there are 5 who will judge this not remarkable and extraordinary and would not put the series into there Top5 of all time. Really, there are no books that come even close, at least not in my history of reading fantasy or sci-fi. I admit I'm a huge fan, obviously, so this is also a highly personal opinion ;)

Lists can be frustrating. Discussions about taste are always more frustrating.
Taste and a clean fair judgement are not always one team :)

Maybe I should send out some adjudicators to maintain balance what is out of bounds. Forkrul Assail I'd say :)
Just my few cents.

Hope, this was funny and self-recriminating enough that I dont get any mean answers here, hehe.

Anonymous said...

One addition:
I read each and every kind of fantasy and sci-fi, so I'm not fixed to gritty, pseudo-realistic, military, heroic, urban, steampunk fantasy, space operas, dystopias, hard-sf or whatever. Almost no boundaries except stories with glittering vampires ;)

Ah, one addition again to my all time favourites: Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun. Maybe I have a tendency to complicated stories.

Joshua Lowe said...

Anonymous, all very valid comments but remember also that this list only included books that the poster read this year, I believe. The fact that some amazing books are left out, apart from personal opinion, is that they may not have read them this year (ie including Stardust but not American Gods).

ediFanoB said...

I will post my best of list in the evening of December 30th because I know I will not read five more books on December 31st ;-)
Anyway I can promise you that my lists will look different compared to your lists. The reason is quite simple. We read different books and our lists are based on what we read.
To be honest a best of list gives the reader a good hint what kind of books you like.
Despite that it is a good way to discover all the books one may have missed.

See you in 2012!

Anonymous said...

Ah, thank you Josh for the info. I misapprehended it then. Sorry.

Bryce L. said...

Sorry, I'll put together a better response later. I just got back from a cruise down the Mexican Riviera so I'm a bit warn out and in a food coma. Life's rough I know.

Bryce L. said...

@Bob - Heaven's Needle, sadly doesn't wrap everything up. It's open for more books, but it's also a solid enough conclusion at least for that book. I really hate that they dropped her and I could go on. I may have to post about it some time.

@Anon - Yes, like others have said and you've already realized, this was just my list. I forgot to add TCG to my omissions list though, my bad.

@SQT - Thanks for taking care of things for me while I was gone. :) Yep, I'm the same with Rothfuss. I just want more, no matter how long people are complaining his books are, it's my crack.

Bryce L. said...

@Josh - I always like it when that happens and it really is interesting what each location is exposed to. That's also what's so nice about Book Depository and having a Kindle, we can get copies of those books we don't see as much in our countries. And thanks for looking out for me. :)

@Edi - I'm so glad we read different books, I'm always finding new things from you. I've still been meaning to read The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack.