A look back at some of last year’s most excellent reads:
10. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff: If you’ve encountered me in the past year, you might have heard me rave about this book. I got to read an advanced copy, and as soon as I was finished, I was desperate for the book to publish so I could talk about it with the rest of the world. It’s chilling and lovely and weird and not like any book I’ve read before. I’ll be Brenna’s fan for life.
9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: I’m hesitant to add this book to this list because I’m sure so many of you have already read it, and also because I had such a complicated with reading this book. I fell hard for the Hunger Games, and harder still for Catching Fire. But I struggled with Mockingjay. I had so many questions about the choices that Collins made. I wanted it to be different. By the time I finished the book, I was satisfied with the way the series ended, but frustrated with a big part of the journey in the third book. Mockingjay goes on my list because it was still an important book for me this year and because it made me think a lot about the expectations readers have at the end of a series.
8. The Glory of Angels by Edward Lucie-Smith: this is an art book that explores artistic depictions of angels across history, religious, and cultures. It’s more a coffee table-stunner than a curl-up-and-read kind of thing, but it is so beautiful and such a great reference that I’m throwing it on the list. I bought it last month in the gift shop of the oldest cathedral in Santa Fe and just know I will be pouring over it when I sit down to write Rapture in a few months. If you’re all about angels, you will surely dig this book.
7. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: Like many of you, I adored Before I Fall and was eagerly awaiting Lauren’s next book. It delivers. It’s unabashed, sharp, and provocative and gives us so much to look forward to in the series. I love how much it reaches for and how elegant the prose it. Plus, Lauren Oliver is just cool. Be sure to check out Delirium when it hits stores next month!
6. True Grit by Charles Portis: Maybe you have seen the amazing Coen brothers movie, but did you know that Charles Portis wrote the killer YA-esque book on which the film is based? I love this book, it’s the first book I read in 2010 and is just one of many hilarious Charles Portis novels. Read them all! Bonus: I think the movie is one of the rare cases where a film adaptation is as good as the book.
5. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg: I love cooking. I love cookbooks and food blogs and grocery stores and farms. When I grow up, I want to be a chef. This book is part memoir/part cookbook and it made me cry at least twenty times. Seriously, I read it while I was touring in the UK and if I showed up at most of my signings with red, puffy eyes it’s because I was reading this book on the way there. (There is a lesson in there somewhere?) It’s beautifully written and (obviously) poignant and full of recipes I can attest are tres delicieux.
4. The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens: This is a pal plug, but I am not just recommending The Emerald Atlas because I happen to like John a lot—his book is a remarkably special one. The first book in the Books of Beginning, the Emerald Atlas is pretty much everything you want out of a series opener: fresh characters, big bold storytelling, humor on every single page. I love sibling stories and I love how brave this book is. I can’t wait to read the rest.
3. Tender Morsels by Margot Lanagan: Like the Replacement, this is another wonderfully peculiar read that dips in an out of worlds so deftly and depicts love with such alarming beauty that I as I was reading it, I made a list of all the friends I wanted to send copies to when I finished. My supercool publicist in the UK (also named Lauren Kate!) recommended this one to me and I’m so grateful. It’s the kind of book you read and rave about.
2. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov: I read this modernist Russian novel as part of some research I was doing for Passion (you’ll soon see why). I wanted to get a concept of the city of Moscow in the first half of the 20th century…but I had no idea how much this book would amaze me. It is brilliant. Imagine a juggler throwing about fifty balls into the air over the course of a novel and catching every single one of them in the final pages of the book. That’s what Bulgacov does with his plotting. So enviable. And so so funny. This is the kind of book I’ll read again and again over the years.
1. His Dark Materials (the entire trilogy) by Philip Pullman: I realize now that I was compelled to write this list mostly so that I could get to this point right here. I just finished listening to The Amber Spyglass on audio book on New Years Day and I must tell you that I haven’t had a reading/listening experience this fulfilling probably since my father read me Matilda before bed when I was a kid. I can’t heap enough praise on these three books to do them justice. I’ll just say I’ve been inspired again and again in my own writing and that if you have not read these books, you must. Or listen to the brilliant audio books if you happen to be lucky enough to be driving across the country with the one you love.