2015 is quickly receding into the mist of my horrific memory. Before my thoughts on the books I read in 2015 are gone forever, I thought I would award them some random, made-up awards, just like I did last year. (You can find the full list here and the favorites list here.) First, a few statics.
Number of books read: 166
Average books read per month: 13.75 (January, May, and October were bumper crops and August my slowest reading month)
Books by women/books by men/books by multi-gender teams: 68/79/7
Books read in German: 4
Books re-read: 19
Comics/graphic novels read: 21
Apocalypses read: 36
Now, BEHOLD, the book awards of my heart.
The M. John Harrison Award for Most Memorable/Weirdest Book
Winner: The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley
Harrison’s Viriconium is a shoe-in for this one, so I’ve exempted him by making him the award’s standard. Seven months after reading it, I still can’t get the images of Whiteley’s bizarro sentient mushroom women out of my head.
The Wood Stove Award for Worst Book
Winner: The Immoralist by Andre Gide
Runners up: Lucifer by Alexander Kosoris, Freakangels Vol 1 by Warren Ellis & Paul Duffield
This award is for a book so bad, I wanted to cram it into my wood stove and watch it burn. I am not for burning books ala Nazis, but I do appreciate it when a horrible book still has something as positive and productive in it as heat.
The Wood Stove Award for Most Pretentious Book
Winner: Banksy Myths and Legends Volume 2 collected by Marc Leverton
No comment. What a pretentious mother fucker. I used to enjoy these little Banksy tomes. I’m over it.
The Creepy Stalker Award for Favorite Newly Discovered Author Whose Work I Will Now Obsessively Follow ‘Til the End of Time
Winner: Nnedi Okorafor
The title says it all, though I promise I won’t do any actual stalking. Just the societally approved kind that involves following all the author’s social media and reading all their books.
The Jim Dale Award for Best Audio Book
Winner: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, read by Amanda Palmer
Runner up: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day, read by Felicia Day
Jim Dale is my favorite audio book reader of all time. So it is in his name that I award one audio book with a golden crown of recommendation.
You’ll notice a trend in this year’s winners: it was a good year for memoirs written and read by interesting young(ish) women. Felicia Day’s reading was as delightful as Amanda Palmer’s, but The Art of Asking was the (slightly) better book.
The Jeanette Winterson Award for Gayest Book
Winners: Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks, Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
I remember a very horrible time during high school when the word “gay” was used to mean “stupid.” I remember being taunted and called a lesbian in elementary and middle school as if the word was an insult. (Don’t think anybody in my small, backwoods town had even heard of bisexuality.) *shakes head* So for anybody who still lives back in that prehistoric age of intolerance and ignorance, take note: THIS IS A COMPLIMENT. This is, like, the best award ever. Because representation is fucking awesome and erasure is fucking stupid and gay people exist in the world and have stories you’d enjoy reading and did I mention that erasure is stupid? At any rate, the winners of this award are book(s) that include much QUILTBAGing.
The Jeanette Winterson Award for Most Beautiful Writing
Winner: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
Surprise find from the second-hand book shop disappoints me by having zombies, then makes me fall in love with gorgeous sentences and by keeping most of the zombies off-screen. This book probably also deserves an award for most delightful surprise find.
The Broken Record Award for Most Satisfying Re-Read
Winner: The Raven Boys Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Runner Up: Saga Vol 1-4 by Fiona Staples & Brian K. Vaughn
Of the 166 books I read this year, 19 were re-reads. Anything I am willing to re-read is probably already a favorite, making competition tight on this award. However, The Raven Boys re-reads were the most satisfying. I could sink into those books anytime, which is hilarious because I avoided them for a long time thinking I was going to hate reading about rich snobby private school dudes. Instead I’m dying a quiet death every day that I don’t have the final book in the series in my hands.
As for Saga, I fucking worship Saga. Saga is the comic that showed me that I could actually like comics, for which I also give it the honorary The Series that Saved Comics Award.
The Golden Lingerie Award for Sexiest Sexytimes
Winner: Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
Competition for this award was not fierce. In fact, Rat Queens was the only book I read that I could remember having any sex (that wasn’t rape THE LOUDEST SIGH). Rat Queens was sexy, but might not have won in a year that involved more novels filled with good sex.
The OH FUCK HAND ME THE SHOTGUN Award for Scariest Book
Winners: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes and Bird Box by Josh Malerman
These books haunt me deeply and often.
The John Darnielle Award for Best SFFinal Story Song (2014 & 2015)
Winner: Jed the Humanoid by Grandaddy
Award nominees for this one had to come from the pool of songs I featured on Science Fiction Mix Tape. Grandaddy do story songs well (and they like to write about robots and code), and Jed the Humanoid trumps with its epic and sad story of Jed the humanoid robot and his slow demise into alcoholism and death.
The Casual Journalist’s Award for Best Non-Fiction
Best non-fiction: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tunnel People by Tuen Voeten
I read 22 non-fiction books in 2015, and I can honestly say I enjoyed them all. But these two were especially delicious, the Adichie for the on-point feminism and the Voeten for both interesting stories and a second perspective on the biographies of some of the people I met in the documentary Dark Days.
The Cormac McCarthy Award for Most Fucked Up Man Fiction
Winner: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Jaysus was that book fucked up. In a devastatingly beautiful way, somehow, but fucked up. It is also a pinnacle of man fiction, so it can keep its own damn award.