I read 41 books this year, 16 were non-fiction, 25 were fiction. There were so many I enjoyed, but these were my favorites.
Words of Radiance (Stormlight #2) – Brandon Sanderson
It is no exaggeration to say that the Stormlight Archive is one of the biggest things happening in Epic Fantasy right now. If you like thick doorstopper tomes, you really cannot beat this series. The plot and world building are incredible, and the world of Roshar is populated by complex and fascinating characters. I can’t recommend this series enough, and things just get better and better as the story goes on.
Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
This contemporary fantasy combines two things I never knew I wanted: Yale secret societies and dark magic. Combine that with a badass heroine with a complicated past, in the vein of Lizbeth Salander or Jessica Jones, and you have one of the best new books of the year. Don’t believe me? It was the Goodreads Choice Winner for Fantasy, and it deserved it. Looking forward to more in this series.
The Crimson Queen – Alec Hutson
Hutson combines the boy-from-a-village-who-goes-on-a-journey trope, and takes it in some fantastic new directions, which makes it feel familiar yet very fresh. Combine that with rich language, a vivid setting, a mysterious sorceress, and a delightfully devious goddess, and you have the beginning of an outstanding trilogy. And the audiobook is excellent too.
Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Unsouled – Will Wight
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer
Educated – Tara Westover
Westover’s story of growing up in a radical fundamentalist home in rural Idaho was the biggest surprise of the year for me. I read it in three days. Which is very fast for me during the school year. I couldn’t put it down. She is a remarkable person and writer, and she has an incredible story to tell. My only complaint is that the cover does not do it justice. It looks like a teacher book, but it is about family, survival, radical beliefs, and the power of learning to think for yourself. This is my Book of the Year.
The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell
In the realms of mythology and religion, few people had more impact in the 20th century than Joseph Campbell. This book is essentially an uncut transcript of the Bill Moyers’ interview that aired on PBS in the 80s. It is incredibly deep and fascinating, as Campbell and Moyers discuss the big common ideas shared by humanity over the millennia. The PBS special is great viewing, but there is even more to digest in book form.
The Push – Tommy Caldwell
Arguably the best big wall rock climber in the world, Caldwell recounts his career up through his historic ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan, which had been previously thought to be unclimbable. Caldwell is one of the hardest working athletes out there, but he also has much to say about life, love, family, and navigating the boundaries between risk and adventure.
Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
Alone on the Wall – Alex Honnold
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson
No Impact Man – Colin Beavan