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(Some of my) favorite novels read in 2005

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My pleasure-reading this year has been kinda haphazard. I've read probably a dozen novels (not counting re-reading the Narnia books and The Phantom Tollbooth), at least four of which were by Jennifer Crusie. But I read very little that was new. I never nominate for or vote in the Best Novel category in the Hugos, because it's very rare that I read a book in the year when it's published.

And my reviewing/commenting on what I've read has been even more haphazard, and at the moment I'm unlikely to remember any book that I didn't comment on, unless it happens to be visible from where I'm sitting (as most of the aforementioned dozen are). So I suspect the below list leaves out some books I liked.

I read several books this year that everyone else loved, but that unfortunately didn't do much for me. Alas. Different tastes.

I also read lots of short fiction, but I'm not talking about that at all in this entry.

So with all those disclaimers in mind, here are three of my favorite books that I read in 2005:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. In my review, I said, among other things: "It's excellent, a superb first-person portrayal of a relatively high-functioning autistic kid in the UK; the narrative voice is so compelling that I kept finding myself sliding into it while writing email. [. . .] There were too many good lines in the book for me to begin to track them[. . . .] By page 4, the author had already collected enough author points to carry me through the book."
  • Ring of Swords, by Eleanor Arnason. I didn't comment extensively on this in my journal, but here's a summary of what I did say: "a really rich, excellent, moving, wise book. [. . .] I’ve always liked Eleanor’s Hwarhath stories; this book is as good as the best of them." It also came at the perfect time for me; I happened to pick it up on the way out the door in March, heading for Tacoma, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. As I wrote to Eleanor later: "I found [the] book sane and wise and rich and moving, and it explored a bunch of interesting ideas (with characters I liked a lot), and it let me get away from the real world without providing the cheap thrills and easy answers of escapism. [. . .] As usual, Ursula K. Le Guin got it exactly right when she said the book 'is intellectually, emotionally, and ethically complex and powerful.'" If you're still not convinced, you can read Ruth Berman's review from SH, but be warned that that review contains spoilers.
  • Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie. In my review, I noted that it wasn't my favorite of her books (that's still Welcome to Temptation), and I felt it had some flaws, but I nonetheless found it charming and engaging and funny and sexy and even wise.

I know there's still a few days left in the year, but I'm unlikely to finish any more novels (besides Narnia books) before the end of the year, so I figured this was safe to post now while I was thinking of it.

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Just thought I'd let you know that I just finished reading Ring of Swords. This post of yours came at just the right time in my reading cycle -- it's not that I don't have plenty of other books on my to-read list, but I was casting about for something new to me, and a novel that would be long enough and serious enough to be absorbing. Clearly, it took me a little while to actually find and finish the book; it went quickly at the beginning and end, although I had a little trouble making headway through what was approximately the third quarter of the book (after the negotiations on the space station had been proceeding for awhile). The hwarhath women, actually, enunciated an element in SF that I like above anything else, but have not read enough to see very often -- a culture so unlike what is the assumed norm that it's hard to wrap one's mind around it. This novel definitely had some of that.