We’re counting down the final hours of 2015, so I thought I’d wrap up the year with a few top 5 lists of my personal favorites. Today we’ll begin with the best books I read this year. I probably chewed through about 20 novels in their entirety and 15 or so others part of the way through (if I get bored, I don’t force myself to finish). Lots of great fantasy titles in particular this year and a couple I struggled with leaving off this list (Providence of Fire, the Autumn Republic). But these are the standouts for me.
Naomi Novik’s tale of a woman who is forced into servitude to a grumpy wizard was a shockingly strong and imaginative start of a new series. Every chapter was interesting and there was so much plot and imagination at play at times that it felt like this was two or three books crammed into one. I have to say that the antagonist, the Wood, was one of the creepiest evil entities that I’ve read in fantasy lit. So well done.
2. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
I’ve been building up my church library with titles useful for personal edification and sermon research, and I grabbed a few hermeneutical books while I was on a kick to brush up on my basics. I absolutely loved this title, as it broke the Bible down into literary sections and clearly explained some of the key differences to understanding how each type of book was written and should be read. I picked up its sequel (How to Read the Bible Book by Book) for a more extensive look.
3. Knight’s Shadow
I loved the Traitor’s Blade, the first of the Greatcoats series. That said, the sequel blew the first out of the water with a truly explosive and wild ride of these fantasy “four musketeers” as they try to fulfill a dead king’s desire to save a realm via a plan bigger than any of them. There were moments so awesome in this book that I actually cheered out loud. I love me some Greatcoats, I really do.
4. The Fifth Season
There are a lot of post-apocalyptic books out there, but this is the first such title that I’ve read that was primarily fantasy and set in a world that had suffered multiple devastating apocalypses — so many that the culture revolves around preparing for and surviving them. It was gripping and dark and moving, and it was also over too soon. Need the next book, please!
5. Saint Odd
The Odd Thomas series came to a close this past January, which definitely made me sad. I’ve loved these strange books and their cheery narrator who can see the dead and constantly thwart the really bad people of this world. While the ending wasn’t quite as epic as I had hoped, it did bring things to a full circle and provide a nice resolution. Stormy and Odd forever!