Book recs for 2014

A coworker of mine is trying to write his first novel. Knowing that I edit, he’s asked me for advice. I’ve told him what I’ve learned from the writing community, from professional writers of books and comics, from fanfic, from editing. Keep writing. Finish. Throw out the parts that don’t work. Your first book will likely suck, that’s okay. Re-write. Find beta readers you can trust. Think about what they say. Re-write. Kill your darlings. Write. Finish. Re-write.

To my slight surprise, he’s been doing it.

This weekend, he mentioned he was going to re-read some of his favorite novels to see how writers do things. He named the novels, and I winced. I wrote out the list of books I thought he SHOULD be reading, books written with great skill, demonstrations of great writing.

And then I thought, that’s my Best Of List for 2014.

Bravo, by Greg Rucka

City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

I was going to rec Steles of the Sky, by Elizabeth Bear, but that’s the third book in a trilogy, so I rec’d Range of Ghosts instead.

I rec’d Paul Cornell’s London Falling and Severed Streets.

And I rec’d the work of Mira Grant, especially Parasite and Symbiote.

These works are all wildly different from each other. Imaginative. Easy to get into and easy to read. (The older and possibly wiser I get, the more value I place on the readability of a novel. I … tire … of difficult prose. There’s a skill to clean prose that I admire comprehensively.)

These books — these books are good.

I recommend them. Wholeheartedly.

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