Your Top Three Books Of The Year?

Let’s assume that now that the holidays have largely come and gone, folks have received e-readers aplenty. I don’t have data on this, but I’m guessing it’s true — I bet the Kindles were flying out of the Amazon warehouses like the whirring death-blades of Krull. (That’s right. A Krull reference. Suck on that, Internet.)

So. Seems like a good time to, before the new year rises out of the desert sands and opens its jagged maw to swallow us and digest us in a belly thick with temporal juices, revisit the books you read this year.

Your top three reads this year?

Doesn’t have to be books published in 2011.



  • 1. I Am J by Cris Beam
    2. The Genius Wars by Catherine Jinks
    3. Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell

    I lack a fantasy book in that trio, and that makes me sad. (I would never have thought it, but this is a year where a Terry Pratchett book didn’t make it into my top 3.) I need to read more recent releases, too; #2 and #3 are a bit old by now.

  • It seems like everyone I’m coming across has gotten a Kindle. I was surprised. Even more surprised when the people who received/gifted Kindles were writers. Like, “Oh, I guess the printing house ran out of ink and there aren’t books anymore.”

    But my top three reads are Satan Burger (I talk about that book so much that I need to be slapped for it), Robopocalypse (really good sci-fi if you’re into AIs taking over the world and such), and The Night Circus.

  • Oh my. The top three books for this year? Hard to say. After awhile the really good books tend to blur together and you end up not being entirely sure when you read them. Still, I’ll try…

    The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: The opening book in the best youth series since Harry Potter (I hope… haven’t gotten to the next two yet, but I’m really looking forward to them!). Throw twenty-four children in the Thunderdome and you’ve got the general idea. Read it now before the movie hits so you can be all hipster about it.

    The Goblin Corps, by Ari Marmell: Bad never looked so goddamn ugly while being so goddamn hilarious. Picture a gang of fantasy goblinoids straight out of Dungeons and Dragons, thrown together on a suicide mission by their Dark Lord. Add in the fact that they all hate each other’s guts, and enjoy the show.

    Atlas Infernal, by Rob Sanders: You know who the Doctor is, right? And you know what Warhammer 40,000 is, right? Well, maybe not, but imagine a man somewhat similar to the Doctor running around a universe full of daemons, evil sorcerers, sinister alien harlequins, and genetically-enhanced killing machines. If you’re not a Warhammer fan, this book is a great introduction to the setting; and if you are, it’s a great addition to the franchise.

    Right, that’s it. Merry Boxing Day, Happy Kwanzaa, and good reading to you.

  • 1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    2. The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor
    3. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey, aka Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham

  • I read so slowly that I really only have a Top 1…but I have to agree with ‘David Earle’ about Atlas Infernal by Rob Sanders – a 40k book that seemed to touch on everything I love about the universe in an such an eloquent prose (and the harlequins!!!).

    See my website for a 3 part review of the book, and coming soon a Q&A session with the author, Rob Sanders…

    Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

  • 1. Changes by Jim Butcher
    2. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
    3. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

    I know that’s technically five books, but I couldn’t leave the Farseer Trilogy out, and it didn’t seem right to mention just one of the books.

  • I am notoriously bad at reading books when they come out…I tend to discover them years afterward. I blame the fact that I am very, very poor and thus get most of my reading material from the library and/or used bookstore. I’m trying to set aside more money for books every month, but I’m such a cheapskate that it’s really hard.

    I DID read one book this year that I’ve recommended to every single person I know, though, and that’s The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy. Absolutely amazing, one of the saddest and most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. I gave a copy to a friend for Christmas and she read it in one sitting and called me, bawling, to tell me what a wonderful bastard I was for giving it to her.

  • 1. Dead Sea Fruit – Kaaron Warren
    2. Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
    3. Concrete Grove – Gary McMahon

    Insanely good. Warren and McMahon will fuck you up, while Jones will wash all the darkness and the stains from mind-fucking literature [in a totally positive, blasphemous sense] and will patch you up. Brilliant combo.

  • 1. Posses – Gretchen McNeil: Best MC ever, great balance of humor and horror, and just a lush way of filling in description while staying as far from purple as an author can get. A wonderful, wonderful read. Plus, teen girl exorcist is just such a great concept to spring from. One in a long line of great debuts that hit the YA world this year.

    2. The Girl of Fire and Thorns – Rae Carson: Second best MC of the year. A self-rescuing fat princess. Fat! A YA heroine who is fat! Plus, a captivating fantasy, great pacing, and breaks both genre and market conventions. If you’re not squicked by a lot of religion (which might as well be Catholicism, but it fits the setting so I didn’t care) and love fantasy, give it a read. I can’t wait for the sequel. Another awesome debut.

    3. Old Man’s War – John Scalzi: I devoured this book. It was damn near the perfect read.

    4. (’cause I roll like that …) I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President – Josh Lieb: I hope y’all don’t overlook Middle Grade, because you might miss this one if you do! Plot is just as the title says. It will be the most darkly hilarious things you’ve read, I promise. Boxcar Children this ain’t.

  • Changes, by Jim Butcher: He really knocked it out of the park with this one.

    Word Work, by Bruce Holland Rogers: It finally got me to start taking my writing seriously.

    Quarter Share, by Nathan Lowell: I can’t say the story is all that exciting, but the setting rekindled my inner-8-year-old’s desire to live on a spaceship. Book 1 of 6.

  • My top three:
    1. Clown Girl/Monica Drake
    2. Jellicoe Road/Melina Marchetta
    3. German For Travelers/Norah Labiner

    I’d really love to add a self-pubbed book to the list for next year. I’m dying to find a self-pubbed author to flog endlessly and to the annoyance of all my friends because I love their work so much.

  • This is hard. But I don’t want the hose. (Secretly, I do kinda want the hose.) My longlist is here:, but if I had to pick just three, I would probably say:

    Fall For Anything, by Courtney Summers
    The Near Witch, by Victoria Schwab
    Dove Season, by Johnny Shaw

    But ask me again in five minutes and three different books from that long list might be there. This is hard. I demand the hose.

  • Hm…there are a few days left in the year, but I’ll take a chance here and say…

    The Best of Joe R. Lansdale. The guy takes you all the way to the bottom, and you’re grateful for having him take you a little way back up.

    The Orphan’s Tales, Cat Valente. An Arabian Nights for cross-mythic fantasy, so interwoven it puts the original to shame. (2 vols, In the Night Garden; Cities of Coin and Spice.)

    Drood, Dan Simmons. The ultimate mind@#$%, with Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens.

    I also reread a lot of Dorothy Sayers this year, and it was lovely.

  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    …just off the top of my head of some books I really sunk my teeth into this year.

  • Oh man, so hard to only pick three:

    1. Jo Walton, Among Others
    2. tie: Mira Grant, Deadline, James S.A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes
    3. Christopher Moore, Sacre Bleu

    And because my job lets me live in the book-future, I am halfway through Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312. It is already a strong contender for best book of 2012.

  • 1. The War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull
    2. Sinful Magic, by Jennifer Lyon
    3. No Rest for the Dead, A Novel – edited by Andrew and Lamia Gulli and written round-robin by some of the biggest names in thriller/mystery fiction.

    One old, one new, one experimental.

  • All Black Library stuff.

    1. The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell
    2. Nocturne by Nick Kyme
    3. Bloodborn by Nathan Long

    No particular order though. There just have been far too many amazing books released this year.

  • Thanks for the great recommendations, everyone. Here are my three picks:

    1. Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban
    2. Gurlesque: the new grrly, grotesque, burlesque poetics, edited by Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg (it’s a wild and crazy poetry anthology, though the title makes it sound like a literature textbook)
    3. The Complete Hothead Paisan, by Diane DiMassa (trigger warning: radical feminist wielding sharp objects)

  • 1 – Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, fiction or non-fiction never sure which but it’s awesome and really shows another side of India.
    2 – Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang, a look at globalization free trade and Neo-liberal economic policy.
    3 – The Girl who Played Go by Shan Sa, set during Japan’s invasion of Manchuria concerning two people who fall in love over a single game of go.

    No fantasy or sci-but I do love reading them and am always looking for new things to read.

  • 1. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. Listened to it on the way to LA. Absolutely brilliant. Couldn’t change to music or change it to anything else.
    2. Old Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Rock solid fantasy novel, fascinating world-building and rock solid characterization.
    3. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. Changes was good, but I think Ghost Story was better. After showing Harry at his most powerful, it showed how he might prevail when he’s in a situation where he can’t affect the world directly. Given Urban Fantasy’s notorious power creep problem, it makes for a great yarn.

    Runner up:

    Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett. Why are you not reading these novels? WHY?

  • 1. “The Third Reich” by Roberto Bolaño
    2. “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle ” by Haruki Murakami
    3. “Next” by James Hynes

    I discovered Hynes this year and I think his voice is one of the strongest writing slipstream/literary fiction. He deals with horror in a strangely disaffected way that slowly sucks the breath out of you. I dare you not to feel vertigo at the end of “Next.”

  • 1. The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel. (non-fiction) Great book for anyone who delays doing anything. Particularly apt for many writers.

    2. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (non-fiction) I’d heard this book mentioned for YEARS and neglected it fearing it would be as complicated to read as the author’s name! Instead, it is a delightful, accessible book with great advice on creativity.

    3. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. (novel.) This delightful comedy of manners is set in small town England. I found it enthralling, funny and very sophisticated. Many of my friends have loved it to. Hard to believe it’s a first novel!

  • Just three? Oh my.

    1. My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland.
    2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    3. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    But I could easily get up to ten – I haven’t even mentioned The Five by Robert McCammon, Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs, or Version 43 by Philip Palmer. It’s been a great year for fiction!

  • I hope I don’t get yelled at, but I actually like Dan Brown. I enjoyed the Lost Symbol. I also enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.

    Since I don’t have Facebook and don’t Twitter, I have to thank you on your blog for directing me to the great free stuff.

    I have a Kindle Fire now, so I picked up your Double Dead and Eisler’s The Detachment. I think my husband wonders why I don’t buy romances (not many anyway) like a normal woman. He plays with the Kindle with raised eyebrows, lol.

  • Just Three? Inconceivable! You slay me, Mr. Wendig, with your demands that are difficult to abide. I’m separating by fiction and non-fiction.

    1. Starve Better by Nick Mamatas
    2. Confessions of a Freelance PenMonkey by Bearded Penmonkey Extraordinaire.
    3. My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman

    1. Sugar In My Bowl (short story collection) edited by Erica Jong
    2. Changes by Jim Butcher
    3. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Book 1) by N.K. Jemisin

    Just what came to mind right away (but I know there were so, so many others.

  • A lot of books I read this year failed to meet my expectations, or were just ‘ok’. But I can think of three that I found to be good. I would have to say Fables vol 1 Legends in Exile, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and Bill Bryson’s At Home (which is chock full of random historic details that my trivia brain loves).

  • I have to agree with Mr. Regan up there that Jim Butcher’s “Ghost Story” has to be in the top three for this year.

    My other two picks:
    “Cryoburn” by Lois McMaster Bujold, and
    “It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences” by June Casagrande (non-fiction) a wonderful guide to making the best of every sentence you’ve written.

  • Money Shot — Christa Faust
    The Girl Who Circumvented the World in a Ship of Her Own Making — Cat Valente
    Tie: My Life As a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland, Leviathan Wakes — James S. A. Corey

  • 1) Murder in Mykenos by Jeffrey Sieger. First book in the Inspector Kaldis series. Sieger, born in the US, left a lucrative law practice to move to Greece and write murder mysteries. Excellent character development and commentary on modern Greek society.

    2) The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey. Sakey excels in modern noir stories involving average people. This one had more switchbacks than a Grand Canyon mule trail.

    3) Hell and Gone by Duane Swierczynnski. Impossible to describe other than to say it was one helluva fun read that left me counting down the days to the release of the second installment in the series.

  • Alastair Reynolds’s House of Suns
    Amanda Downum’s The Bone Palace
    Nagi Yorihiro’s Claymore series. Yeah, the whole thing, especially after the Battle of the North when the Seven Ghosts take the center stage.

    Honorable mention: A Storm of Swords, which seriously tore apart what I liked about the first two books of the series and induced disgust

  • It was a really good year for fiction reading for me, so top three is pretty hotly contested. None of these are 2011 books – I’m usually at least a year, and often several years, behind.

    1) A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin. The whole ASOIAF series is great, but book 3 was far and away my favorite.

    2) The Sooterkin, by Tom Gilling. Very cool characters and setting, and just overall incredibly enjoyable book.

    3) Cat’s Cradle (re-read) by Kurt Vonnegut. I hadn’t realized how many years it had been since I read this, until I picked up my girlfriend’s copy and was halfway through before I knew what had happened. Probably top five all time for me, and better every time I read it.

  • 1. Hammered by Kevin Hearne
    2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
    3. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    Why did i choose those? Well. Because. Read them and then you’ll know, too. Except for Hammered – that’s the third book in the series. You would probably benefit by reading Hounded first. 🙂

  • 1: The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

    2: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

    3: Beloved, Toni Morrison.

    Technically though 1984 is the best book I read this year, but the thing is that I read it most years and it is very much the best book I’ve ever read. So I don’t include it.
    Honorable mentions: The Road (Mr. MacCarthy) The Handmaid’s Tale (Mrs. Atwood) and The Outlaw Album (Mr. Woodrell).

  • 1. The Outlaw Album, Daniel Woodrell
    2. Los Angeles Stories, Ry Cooder
    3. The Great Leader, Jim Harrison

    Those are top-of-mind from a stack of a whole bunch more good books. Re-read some favorites also, like Eyeless in Gaza by Aldous Huxley and The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.

    Good books are Kona coffee, man.

  • 1. The Reapers Are The Angels, Alden Bell (out of 5 stars, this one goes to 11)

    2. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett, (a pharmeceutical Heart of Darkness)

    3. The Terror, Dan Simmons, (only read in the winter months)

  • 1. The ‘hillbilly noir’ books of Daniel Woodrell, William Gay and Donald Ray Pollock.
    2. The Shipping News (E. Annie Proulx)
    3. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (David Mitchell)

    These would especially be recommended for anyone wanting to be a better writer. Also include White Tiger and Between Assassinations (both by Aravind Adiga) and Life of Pi (Yann Martel).

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