Writer Tamago’s Top 15 Books, Stories, or Comics for 2011

This year, I’ll be doing three lists at the end of the year–one on film, one on books, and a special one on writing instruction books. Remember the criteria is totally random. To be eligible, I have to had read the book, short story or comic this year. This list has nothing to do with when the work came out. However, it might help you inform your reading. If you’re interested, just click below.

A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis. Also known as Kat, Incorrigible in the States. One of the freshest children’s books I’ve read in years. Kat has a terrific dynamic, her family is interesting, and this is a funny book. I am really looking forward to purchasing number two later this year. The book is a debut, and is superlative.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I believe the hype. You should too. The first book is engaging and makes you think. I find the balance between romance and action just about right. And who couldn’t love Peeta? Only a cold, heartless worm!

The Wanting Game by George Galuschak. I had the good fortune to read this short story at last year’s Las Vegas retreat with some friends, and recently it has been sold to Ideomancer. This story is a real stretch for George, who usually writes horror. He captures Gaiman-esque mythic tones. Proud of you, George!

Half-World by Hiromi Goto. Hiromi Goto sounds like no other author out there. She writes a sympathetic yet imperfect heroine who you root for all the way. It feels like you view her stories through gauze, making them more ethereal and pitch perfect.

Feed by Mira Grant. Anyone who’s been reading my journal for a long time knows how I feel about zombies, and yet here’s a zombie novel on my list. It also happens to be a very smart novel about disease and the implications of the Internet. If you want to read a smart story this year, check this one out.

The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hey. Also if you want to read a smart story this year. This is a coming of age tale. A young girl goes to work in a New York bookstore and things…happen. Poignant, bittersweet, and innocent.

The New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopkinson. Literary meets fantasy and is superb. Hopkinson never writes the same book twice. This book is a unique story about a woman’s menopause. The character is unlikable, but the writing so compelling I’m in for the book. By the end, both I and the character had traveled.

Fudoki by Kij Johnson. Another beautiful book about Japan, this one the journeys of a transformed cat. Kij Johnson’s writing takes my breath away.

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress. What if there were people who didn’t sleep? What if genetic modification were common place? This could be a dry SF novel, but no one does characterizations better than Nancy Kress, I am now convinced. Her characters live and breath. I cannot praise the skill of the writing in this book enough.

Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter. The layers in this book really got me. Interesting characters based in Shakespeare, with loads of other mythology thrown in. It was a mythic read.

Hellboy Volume 9: The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola. I read a lot of Mike Mignola this year, but this one was my favorite. Hellboy spends a lot of time trying to figure out who he is and what he’s about. He’s a surprisingly complicated character for a guy named Hellboy, and he’s got a great support cast as well.

The City Not Long After by Pat Murphy. This is the hippie child of my reading this year, but there’s something special about this book that resounds with the artist in me. It’s a book about war, peace, and art, and although short, the insight is impactual.

Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. Oh come on! This is pulp fiction! But it’s so different than what you might find these days. The good guys are rigged to win, and there’s still drama, but it’s nice to see the good guys rigged to win. The Fuzzies are cute and intelligent, and the minor protagonist is an old grizzled fellow, playing against current lead type. It is old SF at its best, and I’m glad book group gave me a chance to read it.

Vintage Hairstyling by Lauren Rennells. Not fiction, but a beautiful book about the art of hairstyling of days gone by. It’s a how to, and it’s also a gallery.

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. A happy uplifting book about a girl who decides to time travel to the Middle Ages and accidentally ends up in the plague times. Ah, the glamor of time travel! The Oxford time traveling team trying to track her down is full of interesting and quirky characters. It feels very British to me. Well done.


Next up: Cinema and Television!

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “Writer Tamago’s Top 15 Books, Stories, or Comics for 2011”

  1. I love your list, though I must say, “Happy and uplifiting”? The Doomsday Book? Did we read the same novel? I love the book–it’s amazing in both the story and craft–but I find it gritty, in may places desperate, and often rather hard going, though it certainly has humor and the ending is excellent. Now… TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG… *that’s* hilarious.

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