Yes, we’re all getting a bit tired of “best of” lists, I’m sure, but I did want to muse a bit on the best books I read last year. Of those I read, I gave only five the coveted five-star rating. I generally use Goodreads’ criteria for ratings, which are as follows: 1-star: didn’t like it, 2-star: it was okay, 3-star: liked it, 4-star: really liked it, and 5-star: it was amazing.
So to get five stars from me, a book has to be “amazing”, which I interpret as I-loved-it, I-couldn’t-put-it-down, I-wish-I’d-written-this, I-would-hardly-change-a-thing.
Note that I say I would hardly change a thing, not that I wouldn’t change *anything.* Because that would mean the book was perfect, and I think that’s really too high a standard. Is there such a thing as a perfect book? I suppose that would be a good topic for some other days’ musings…
But on to last year’s 5-star reads. In the order I read them, they were:
1. Feed by Mira Grant
2. Blackout by Mira Grant
3. Deadline by Mira Grant
4. Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
5. The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini
So yes, three of these books, the ones by Mira Grant, were a trilogy. It’s a pretty good feat to have all three books in a series be equally good, and at first I didn’t think it would be the case. The author did something at the end of the the first book that almost ruined it for me, and I initially gave the book only 4-stars. I had loved it up to that point, but I didn’t think I could forgive the author for something that I did not think was necessary. However, I was so hooked that I had to go on reading, and after the second book, I was moved to go back and revise the first book’s rating up to five stars. These are zombie apocalypse books and not for the faint of heart, but man, they were *good.*
Abaddon’s Gate was the third book in a trilogy as well, and I also gave all three of these books five stars, although the first two I read in 2012. Space opera as space opera should be, I believe I said in one of the reviews. I’m not much of one for writing a synopsis of the book in my reviews–as a writer, synopses are painful things, reserved for my own books and only when necessary–so I will just say that the scope of the story was huge and engrossing and warranted the long length of the novels completely. Despite their size I devoured them.
The last five-star book of the year is bittersweet for me to talk about, because it was such fun to read and I enjoyed it so much…and then had to somehow reconcile those feelings with news of the author’s death in December. I continue to be saddened by the juxtaposition of his writings and the terrible state of mind he must have suffered. So the five stars are a bit tarnished by that sadness, but it was still a wonderful book.
I read sixty-three books in 2013, a feat which was really only made possible by the number of audiobooks I enjoyed, and one which I am not complacently expecting to meet this year. I’ve set my Goodreads challenge for 55 books, and if I surpass that, of course I will be pleased. There were a number of years when I read less because I was writing more, but I’m glad that trend has turned around. Reading helps me, as a writer, “fill up the tank,” and I think it’s one of the single most effective ways a writer can improve his or her own writing.