My Favorite Reads This Year
We're all on the lookout for (great) new books. Shepherd.com has put together a really cool (searchable) list with the favorite books (this year) of 884 authors. Mine is here. (Or you can just keep reading.)
The best book I read this year was non-fiction.
As a writer I’m always looking for the silver bullet - the craft book that will give me the secret to leveling up my fiction. But once you’ve read dozens of them, they all start to sound the same. Examples: Writing the Breakout Novel did not fulfill its titular promise. Steering the Craft steered itself to my DNF shelf.
Then. This year I discovered Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. It’s easy to read and accessible to beginning writers. The author is funny and frank. The book is even more helpful than the original by Blake Snyder (for screenwriters) and provides specific, brilliant steps in
creating a tight, compelling plot (which has everything to do with the changes inside the MC.)
I highly recommend the audio. I’m in the middle of Story Genius by Lisa Cronin which corroborates and builds on the principles in Brody’s book. Save the Cat Writes a Novel is a must-read for fiction writers.
(Other fantastic craft books are “Story” by Robert McKee and Renni Browne’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.) Sorry, I know I’m supposed to be gushing about my favorite, but as a writer I would have loved to find these gems earlier.
I’m currently on the 3rd book in the He Who Fights Monsters series.
The story is completely unconventional yet strangely engrossing. It feels like a Dungeons & Dragon game with a phenomenal Dungeon Master. The audio narrator is incredible, although there are a ton of stats listed, and having them all read every time gets seriously tedious.
The combat scenes are unique enough to be engaging and the social intrigue (and fun powers) balance it all out. The level of detail in the world-building and magic system feels like Name of the Wind. (My favorite book of all time.)
I highly recommend He Who Fights Monsters to high fantasy lovers and players of role-playing tabletop games. Be warned: It’s not quite as accessible to the less-nerdy.
Girl of Fire and Thorns was a reread for me.
(Before I ventured onto the next 2 in the series.)
The story has great characters, great plot, and is very well written. Best of all, the MC was deeply religious without being portrayed as deluded or fanatic. It also features a heavy-weight protagonist (before they were trendy.) There is a little romance element but not cliche and refreshingly unsappy.