Best Books 2002 (long, because I don't know when to shut up)

hallieod at hallieod at
Sat Jan 4 17:36:26 EST 2003

Happy New Year everyone!  [Several days later]  I was writing this on 
New Year's Day, had to stop to go get bread for lunch, and got a call 
a while later:  "Mom, the keyboard's all wet!"   So the computer has 
been left off ever since to dry things out, and I've been reminding 
myself that maternal patience is *definitely* a virtue.

Melissa [with much snipping mostly of books I haven't read]:

>Once again, I've made my list of favorites and not-so-favorites from the
>reading year 2002.  Everyone is welcome to play along at home, and add
>categories I haven't thought of, or whatever.  My favorite part from last
>year was when people would name the same title in completely different
>categories.  :)  For anyone who's been keeping track (and I do pity you if
>you have nothing better to do)

Oh, it's probably misplaced pity. ;-)

>there are two categories with no winners this
>year, Most Addictive Book and Best Guilty Pleasure.  Bummer.

Yes, every list needs a Best Guilty Pleasure winner.  I don't think 
I've any either, and was definitely in the mood for a good juicy 
guilty pleasure after my 19th Century Novel exam.  (So many wonderful 

>Enough of the boring stuff---
>***Best Book: (tie) _Wheel of the Infinite_ by Martha Wells and _Night
>Watch_ by Terry Pratchett
>I finally picked up Martha Wells' books after she was discussed briefly on
>this list.  I've read three of the four, and while I liked all of them,
>_Wheel of the Infinite_ was by far the most powerful.  I loved the
>characters, I loved the interactions between them, I found the religion
>compelling without being disdainful of religion, and the concepts were
>outstanding.  The romance between the main character and her hunky bodyguard
>was yummy, too.  :)  Great book.

Yay!  I can't even be accused of copy-catting on this, as I said way 
back in August that _Wheel of the Infinite_ was a definite contender 
for my best book. :-)

>I almost didn't read the Sharan Newman series because I had a memory of
>starting the first of these books, _Death Comes as Epiphany_, and hating it.
>When I went back (again on someone's recommendation) I found that while the
>characters in the first scene are as I remember, the scene itself is
>completely different.  These are fun medieval mysteries by someone who does
>a lot of research.  The mystery part is usually secondary to the historical
>fiction/romance part, which is something to keep in mind if you are
>expecting a really strong mystery.  Again, there are seven books in the
>series so far.

Hmm.  I have similar (but vague) memories of reading the first one 
and not liking it much at all (also of half-drowning my copy in the 
bath).  I must check if that really was Sharan Newman.

>_Firesong_ also wins the special award for "Nicest Thing Anyone Did For Me
>This Year" because Hallie went to a lot of trouble to send it to me when it
>wasn't available here.  This is some trilogy.  I genuinely didn't expect the
>denouement he came up with, and while I was a little unhappy about certain
>"fairytale" aspects of the ending, I was overall amazed at this book.  It's
>got a quest structure Homer would have been proud of and a lot of hard
>questions with very hard answers.

Hey, I won an award!  Hopefully this wasn't *the* single nicest thing 
anyone did for you at all - but just the one related to your book 
reading.  Anyway, it wasn't that much trouble - though I'm sure 
Tucsonians are still talking about that crazy woman who was spotted 
walking along the side of Oracle Rd. en route to the PO.  In sandals. 
Duh.  (Most people only walk in malls in Tucson, with good reason.)

>   Good fiction ought not to take (overt)
>sides.  That's why we have pamphlets and earnest young men in dark suits
>knocking on doors.

Heh.  Have you read _The Eyre Affair_ yet?  What you have just 
written wouldn't otherwise have induced sniggers...

Ok, herewith my completely indecisive and muddled sort-of list.  With 
qualifications on even that.

- Best Book: still haven't decided between _Wheel of the Infinite_ 
and Emma Bull's _War for the Oaks_.  Possibly it'd have been easier 
if I hadn't read them so close together.

-Best YA or Children's Book - I can only do this by sub-dividing: 
Best Fantasy YA (that I don't consider a true YA), _The Other Wind_ 
by Ursula Le Guin.  Best Historical, _Three Lives for the Czar_ by 
Stephanie Plowman.

- Best Rediscovery:  Lindsey Davis's Falco series.  I'd read some of 
them from the library a few years ago, and picked one up recently, 
thinking it was probably next after the last one I'd read.  Then 
after that I decided I had to do it in order this time, and got the 
first two.  I really love these - great characters, good historical 
setting, and even that rarity - wonderful covers.

- Funniest Book:  It's a toss-up between the Jasper Fforde books - 
_The Eyre Affair_ and _Lost in a Good Book_ and Debi Gliori's _Pure 
Dead Magic_.  The former are the far more respectable choice, but 
suffered a bit from overly-high expectations, while _Pure Dead Magic_ 
sagged a bit in the middle, but probably gave me the most laughs. 
And then there's the funniest scenes in a book which I don't consider 
funny overall, which goes to _Sky Coyote_ by Kage Baker.

- Most Emotionally Affecting Book (with which I can understand other 
people finding fault): _Falcon_, by Emma Bull.

Most Annoying I-Hope-It's-Not-a-Trend Award: grammatical mistakes in 
children's books.  Two glaring ones in _Spiggot's Quest_, one in _The 
Thief Lord_ (translated from German, so I really wouldn't have 
expected it there) and two in _The Alchemist's Assistant_.  I don't 
know if the publishing houses are just rushing books through to mop 
up on the children's fantasy boom or what.

And finally, (well, finally that I can think of for now) _Northanger 
Abbey_ gets the Most Improved by Studying It award for this year 
(loved it already, though it was never my favourite Austen, love it 
much more now) and _Middlemarch_... I don't know what award it gets. 
But it's definitely a favourite of some kind.  And I'm still planning 
to inflict a F&H/Middlemarch comparison on the list some day, as the 
idea just won't go away, no matter how much I ignore it.


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