Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Top 10 Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2014

Given I have to read about 30 to 36 books from my TBR pile before I start getting new books, this list may seem to be somewhat overambitious. But here's a list of 2014 books I plan to read, either this year or next year.

1. The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman: This is the third and final (?) novel in his Magicians series, which some wag characterized as "Harry Potter says (12-letter expletive)." Both my daughter and I enjoy this series, which brings great emotional depth to tropes familiar to fantasy fans. It will be interesting to find out how the main character, banished from the magic kingdom, gets to come back, and we'll see if a wonderful character from the first book will, in some fashion, reappear.

2. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness: I read the first two in the All Souls trilogy -- A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. Harkness, a history professor, lacks some of the polish of more experienced fantasy writers (her prose is a little to pedestrian), and she can get bogged down in the ripped-bodice-romance side of the plot involving a history professor-witch (of course) and her vampire lover. Otherwise, this saga is enthralling, both for the period detail (time travel in book two) and the complicated, intriguing secret-history plot involving races of witches, vampires, daemons and humans.

3. Lila by Marilynne Robinson: This novel is another follow-up to the Iowa community she wrote about in Gilead and Home. Gilead was a beautiful novel, but I haven't read Home yet. So I believe I should read Home before I read Lila. Also maybe Housekeeping.

4. The Gospel of Loki: I found this one one somebody's Waiting on Wednesday entry. Joanne Harris (Chocolat) relates the rise and fall of the Norse gods through the trickster Loki. Apparently, Loki gets the last laugh here, and the novel could be a lot of fun.

5. Raising Steam: Terry Pratchett's latest involves Moist von Lipwig, the hero of the Discworld novels Going Postal (one of my favorites) and Making Money, as well as some goblins and the invention of the steam engine. Well. Sometimes his books are more fun to listen to (narrated by the great Stephen Briggs) than to read, so we'll see if the library stocks the audio version.

6. Love and Treasure: Ayelet Waldman's novel concerns the Nazi looting of art treasures, the Holocaust, historical romance and other stuff. And why not?

7. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman -- I've never read anything by Hoffman, but this novel seems like a place to start. It's about a sideshow in Coney Island and about the owner's daughter, a strong swimmer who plays a mermaid. I liked The Tiger's Wife and The Night Circus, and this novel seems to be in the same kind of genre.

8. Updike: Adam Begley's biography is getting a lot of buzz among Updike aficionados. It's hard to imagine what more he can add to the voluminous writing Updike did about himself, but I'm willing to take a look. I visited Updike's childhood home in Shillington, Pa., last year; it's being renovated, but I did walk some of the streets where he grew up. Very hilly.

9. A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee's Guide to Saving the World: Competing pizza franchises rule the world? Rachel Cantor's novel sound like a fun read -- a real slice of life. Ha ha.

10. The Confabulist: A novel about Harry Houdini's life and death. Steven Galloway expands the genre of novels about magicians, and I'm ready to be taken in. 

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