If you need some book recommendations, here’s everything I rated 5 stars on Goodreads last year – in the order I read them.
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
Quite literally the diary of a bookseller – the owner of a second hand book shop in Scotland’s book town Wigtown. He’s also delightfully grumpy with the endless streams of idiotic comments from visitors, his unmanageable staff members and the increasing problems caused by Amazon. It’s very funny but you also get to follow along on book-buying trips and get a first hand account of the book festival organisation. Highly recommended for anyone who loves books or has ever had to work in a shop.
11/22/63 by Stephen King
I loved the TV series and had heard the book was longer and more detailed (always a bonus for me!) and picked it up cheaply. I’ve never really read Stephen King before as I’m not a horror fan, and I was a little surprised at how good a writer he is.
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Teenage girl starts a feminist resistance in her school inspired by her mum’s Riot Grrrl zines and Bikini Kill? Hell yes! This was great and smart with lots of different female characters. There were so many points when I thought it was heading to some cliche girl betrayal plotline and it never happened so double hurray for that.
I’m Not with the Band: A Writer’s Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson
I enjoyed this so much! Unlike other Smash Hits journo memoirs, Sylvia spends a lot of the book reminiscing about all the larks they had and it’s rarely short of hilarious. She made me chortle my way though her recounting of an interview with U2 of all people.
Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011 by Lizzy Goodman
Excellent oral history of the New York music scene around The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol etc. I wasn’t really into any of these bands but it was the period when I was traveling around writing about music and running a music website so it was all super-nostalgic for me. I also hung out with The Strokes a couple of times on their first tour so it was cool to read about all the craziness surrounding that time.
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
I loved this alternate history where a meteorite forces Earth to start the space program in the 1950s in order to save humanity. This means the black and/or female mathematicians and pilots have a bigger role and it turns into a fight to get more diverse astronauts included
Unscripted by Claire Handscombe
I donated to the crowdfunding for publication (I know Claire from the List App) and was a little apprehensive reading it – as I find it hard not to be honest – but I really loved it. It’s so nice to read a romance novel that takes itself seriously – it’s full of intelligent characters that manage to sidestep all the usual cliches with a minimum of misunderstandings. From the description and first few chapters, I thought I knew how the story would go but I was constantly surprised by the plot.
COMICS & ZINES
The GaMERCaT: Volume 1 by Samantha Whitten
I don’t back many Kickstarters but I can’t resist a comic, especially one as good as thegamercat, and I read the whole thing in one sitting. If you like videogames and cats you should get this. (PS. volume 2 is coming out imminently)
Pirate Fun: The First Trial by by Colin Bell and Neil Slorance
I loved Dungeon Fun and Fun & Games fit right into pirate life. The jokes are excellent.
Good Company: The Community Issue by Grace Bonney
This is everything I wanted In The Company of Women to be. I still haven’t finished that book but I read half of this in one sitting and the rest on a trip. Every article is really interesting and raises ideas and experiences that I hadn’t thought about before.
Modern Slorance: The Finland Issue by Neil Slorance
Always great to see a new issue of Neil’s personal comics. This one is especially nice as it’s all in full colour watercolours. It’s about his recent art residency in Finland with the usual mix of travel, food, nature, space, romance and humour.
Runaways, Vol. 2: Best Friends Forever by Rainbow Rowell & Kris Anka
The first volume was a necessary introduction for us newbies but now things are really getting going and I love everyone. The art is so good too – I might have to buy the print collections.
Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 3 by Charles Soule & Giuseppe Camuncoli
This issue has some excellent art – and Darth Vader fighting a giant squid underwateR, which isn’t something I knew I needed in my life.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
This has been on my wish list for ages and yet I had forgotten (or never knew) anything about the characters or story. I was very happy to discover it involves a teenage girl shapeshifter becoming sidekick to an evil scientist who is just doing his best and a whole lot of great dialogue and character work. Please go read it!
What were your favourite books this year? You can friend me on Goodreads if you want more recs.