Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! There are a few different options for this week’s prompt: “top ten books I enjoyed recently that weren’t my typical genre/type of book,” “top ten books I enjoyed recently that were out of my comfort zone,” et cetera.
However, I’ve decided to – surprise, surprise! – cheat a little bit by bending the prompt into “top ten books that I surprised myself by reading last year.” Some of these books were out of my comfort zone, while others were merely books that I rarely pick up. Also, I enjoyed some of these books, but loathed others.
1. Carrie by Stephen King
I read Misery in late 2013 and loved it, but I didn’t expect to read another Stephen King book so soon… and as it is, I waited several years to read this one anyway. I can count the number of horror stories I’ve read on one hand, so I honestly wasn’t sure if I would even enjoy another one of his books, but it was definitely worth reading. I was even more impressed because Carrie was his first novel!
2. Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
On one hand, this graphic novel series has everything I look for in a story: Fantasy, monsters, kickass female characters, queer women, et cetera. On the other hand? It’s a lot more violent than what I’m used to reading, and there were a bunch of sex scenes that I totally wasn’t expecting.
I’m also surprised that I liked this as much as I did because the author is a guy, and… well, let’s be honest, a lot of male authors absolutely suck at writing realistic female characters, and straight dudes in particular are horrible when it comes to writing queer female characters. This guy won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book, however, and it surprises even me to say that I think he actually deserved it.
I rarely read self-help books! I read, like, maybe one per year? Or not any during some years? So, yeah. I’m surprised that I read this. It was mostly helpful, but there was definitely some advice that seemed all too basic and common-sense to include when they could’ve devoted those pages to other subjects.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller
I actually DIDN’T like this graphic novel, but I’m including it here because I liked – no, I loved – the movie even though I didn’t think I would, and that is what led me to pick up this book. I have mixed feelings about this book: I did like the prequel-ish nature of the stories contained here, because I felt that they helped me to understand the characters better, but there were gratuitous rape scenes that the movie skillfully avoided.
They were clearly just there for shock value in the graphic novel, and I really didn’t like it. That’s lazy, lousy storytelling, and I wish that the same amount of care that went into making the movie were present here, because this book could’ve been so much better.
5. Batman: Joker’s Asylum by Jason Aaron
I haven’t read very many stories from DC Comics, and I knew barely anything about some of the villains in this collection of stories. But I enjoyed this! It was a nice introduction to characters such as the Penguin, the Scarecrow, and Poison Ivy.
6. All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang
I think the author was trying to parody the entitled, condescending attitude that so many straight white guys who are wannabe writers embody? But it just didn’t work very well. The story was, to put it bluntly, boring, and her use of language didn’t stand out to me AT ALL.
There was passage after passage where it was just so obvious that the main character had no idea how to write female characters OR how to interact with actual women, so instead he just blamed them for all his problems. Again, I realize she could’ve been trying to say something here, but he never even reflected upon this, and neither did any of the supporting characters.
I wanted to DNF this book, but I had to read it for school… ugh.
7. Star Wars: Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka
I HAD NO IDEA THAT I WAS THIS MUCH OF A NERD. I mean, oh my god. I read a Star Wars comic book?! I feel like I’ve leveled up and should receive some sort of awesome, glittery nerd badge. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series!
8. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
This book is right up my alley. Feminism! Intersectionality! Passionate essays about human rights! Yay! So why is it on this list? Well, because I’m surprised that I waited so long to read it, quite frankly. It was published in 2014, but I didn’t read it until 2015. WHAT CAN I SAY?! I PROCRASTINATE, PEOPLES. I DOOOO. IT’S HORRIBLE AND I WISH I COULD STOP BUT I CAN’T.
9. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Again, this book is so ME: Vintage lesbians?! YESSSS. However, I’d never even heard of it until late last year, and now it’s one of my obsessions. If you’d told me that it would become one of my new favorite things in 2016, I would have laughed at you.
10. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
This book surprised me because there just aren’t very many books with intersex protagonists out there, and I honestly didn’t think I’d find a YA one!
Now it’s YOUR turn: Tell me all about the books you surprised yourself by reading, either last year or more recently! And why/how did they surprise you?!