Posts Tagged top ten list

Best books of 2011 – Summer Report

Now that it’s officially Autumn, I’d like to re-cap which have been the best books I have read this summer – from June through September. There were some re-reads, but that’s OK by me.  In addition, here’s my list of best books from January to May 2011… and this is my ‘best’ list from 2010.

Five star books

Five stars is my strongest recommendation for a book.  I would tell you in conversation that this book is ‘amazing and excellent’.  Depending on how much coffee I’ve had recently, I may interrupt other topics just to tell you how good this book is.  So, to get five stars, it has to be in the top one percent of books that I’ve ever read… I don’t mean strictly numerically-speaking, just that’s how it seems to have worked out over the past year of reading new books. Here they are…

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Best books of 2011 – Spring

These are the two best books that I read for the first time in 2011. There have been lots of four-star books this year – I recommend those too.

I don’t focus on reading brand-new books. So, you’ll be able to find these at most libraries with no trouble!

Let’s see, then… which are the best of the rest?  I will cluster them by genre for you – I gave these four stars, and I read them in 2011.

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Excellent aliens

Aliens:  an author can invent an alien culture so vivid and believable that you re-think what is normal in the world.  Or, the invention just has a particular quirk that is special and noteworthy.

Here are my favorite examples.

Well-known aliens

Sometimes we’re treated to a view of life from inside the aliens’ point of view.

  • C.J. Cherryh’s Atevi in the Foreigner universe have a culture of assassins, finesse, and numerical felicity.
  • Vernor Vinge wrote a pair of novels loosely linked across millenia (longer). Each book features parallel story lines, at least one taking place amongst the resident aliens.
  • David Brin’s Thennanin – in the Uplift War books.

Aliens – first contact or not-well understood

  • C.J. Cherryh’s Hisa in Downbelow Station, etc. I love the phrase “You make warm we eyes” – the way they speak is great.
  • Elizabeth Moon natives  in Remnant Population – right-foot drumming vs left-foot drumming as a way of reaching consensus.
  • Janet Kagan – natives in Hellspark – I recommend you look up a copy of  this 1988 book – there used copies out there. No, you cannot buy my copy. The natives communicate by rippling feathers.  I am sad that there will never be a sequel to this.
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch – Disty – – Retrieval Artist novels.  I can’t think of another series that explores the concepts of alien law and justice like this.
  • David Brin’s Episiarch in Startide Rising and The Uplift War, and probably other novels in that universe.  Can create rips in the fabric of space-time because it can disbelieve so strongly in its current situation: “The Episiarch, in its outraged rejection of What Is, had created the passage for its Tandu masters. The opening was held by the adamant power of its ego – by its refusal to concede anything at all to Reality.”  …  I’ve been on a project or two managed that way…

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Best new-reads in 2010

These are the best books I read for the first time in 2010. The genres are Fantasy and Science Fiction, because that’s what I usually read. I strongly recommend all of these books.  I’ll happily read these multiple times – either for sheer enjoyment, or to find further depths in the writing, or both.

These first few are in the top one-percent of books that I have EVER read.

  • The City & The City – so richly detailed, it’s fascinating.  I read it in 2010, posted the review later 😛
  • The Speed of Dark – an amazing book with an autistic protagonist. It makes you think, but it is not depressing
  • Voyages by Starlighta collection of short stories which are that much more amazing when put together. What a variety of voices!
Four point five stars: these are merely excellent.
  • Not Wanted on the Voyage – literature, and Canadian. Reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • Remnant Population – fun and very, very good.  Always nice to hit that combination.
  • Before they are Hanged – Think of this as The Belgariad re-interpreted by Hannibal Lechter. Warning: this is book 2: the first book in this trilogy, The Blade Itself, was only 4 stars so it’s not on this list.  But you definitely should read the first book first – it will get you used to the point-of-view whiplash.
  • The Last Argument of Kings – Closing book of the First Law trilogy. This dark fantasy takes an ironic delight in turning the genre conventions upside down.

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