The OF Blog: Books that will not appear on my Best of 2011 overall list

Friday, December 16, 2011

Books that will not appear on my Best of 2011 overall list

Different people have different tastes.  If you hope to read a bunch of epic fantasies on my Best of 2011 overall list, you will be sorely disappointed.  I found this past year's crop to be rather disappointing as a whole, despite a very good middle volume from Scott Bakker (I see to like his middle volumes the best; hope that doesn't bode ill for his next book) and series closer by David Anthony Durham.  So with that in mind, here are 12 of the books that will not make a Top 20/25 (maybe even a Top 50) list from me and brief reasons why they will not be considered for even a longlist:

Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes (it was a dull and tedious read replete of the same old tired clichés that I've seen executed better by other authors; happened to be my least favorite work by him)

Daniel Abraham, The Dragon's Path (a bit light for a new series opener, although there is hope for the sequels to be stronger, as in his previous series)

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (novellas that should be too slight for major literary prizes are not making my shortlist of best fiction)

Gail Carriger, Heartless (good addition to the series, but at times the conceit was tedious to read)

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One (I grew up a jock in the late 80s and early 90s, so seeing this sort of setting glorified puzzles me, as the story is more suitable for a popcorn summer blockbuster flick than for any sort of weighty novel)

Steven Erikson, The Crippled God (better than the previous volume, of which this forms the latter half of the final sequence, but a bit too uneven for me to consider it for the overall best)

Maeve Gilmore and Mervyn Peake, Titus Awakes (Frankensteinish post-mortem revivals don't make for the best novels)

George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons (parts of it were wonderful, but much of it was dull)

China Miéville, Embassytown (the language conceit was overplayed in some quarters; the execution was lacking in the middle third to half of the novel)

A.D. Miller, Snowdrops (how this tepid suckfest of a novel made it on the Booker Prize shortlist still baffles me)

Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear (I've had the book for nine months now and still can't muster the enthusiasm to read it, so it certainly won't appear on the list)

Brandon Sanderson, The Alloy of Law (It was light-adventurish enough to divert, but not solid enough to linger in my memory)





6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I recall your The Crippled God review being rather positive, so it's kind of weird to see that one on a "books that sucked too much..." list alongside others you clearly didn't like during the initial review. And the inclusion of a book you haven't read at all strikes me as kind of close to baiting (and I say this as someone who's never read and has no desire to read Rothfuss).

Other than that I agree with the Martin appraisal and even though I haven't read that particular Abercrombie book I could easily apply your thoughts to his other books I have read. Still haven't read the "new" Peake and Embassytown, so it's a bit disheartening to see those there as well, but I'll still give them a shot eventually.

- Zach

Liviu said...

Larry you are way too defensive about your choices as in the earlier post.

While I agree and disagree with some of your comments, I strongly believe that you do not need to justify yourself why a book or another is not on your "top list".

For example i just do not like how Erikson writes - jerky, no flow, D&D stuff - or I found Ready Player One just something I have no connection with, or Gail Carriger is just average UF and I fast read her first book, gave it one star on Amazon and Goodreads and forgot the series.

I also utterly agree with you on Snowdrops, though as i said on FBC, let's not forget that the chairman of the Booker jury was a former MI 5 bigwig and that book may have been just a nostalgia trip for the "good old days of the Cold war" despite its post-soviet setting.

The Rothfuss book was a major let down for me also, a college novel in fantasy guise

I liked The Heroes but it's not a top book for me either because it is limited; now a war novel won the Goncourt for example but I found it limited too

I loved Sense of an Ending though and ADWD is still my top fantasy of 2011, while Dragon Path and Embassytown made my top 25, but I still ranked 1Q84 and Parallel Stories as my top 2011 novels with the hard sf masterpiece - at least if you like your equations - Clockwork Rocket third just before ADWD...

Mad Hatter Review said...

Larry I understand your development over the last couple years veering away from big genre books, but this just seems like a big rub in the face and made for no good reason except to show how you feel your reading is superior to other peoples. I get you want to elevate other literature, but I don't see why it has to be at the cost of what other people like. You've made it clear that many books other people would put on a best of list this year won't make it on to yours, but I just don't see the need for this post unless all you want is for people to attack or stop reading you. The latter of which would be a big loss by my estimation. You're challenging all enough on your own.

Larry said...

I think y'all are reading a bit too much into this. Last night, I wrote down the 2011 releases that I have read to date (with another 4-5 possibilities before the 25th, when I usually shut down new reading to write the year-end posts).

I had 113 titles on that list.

I immediately starred 17 on that list and put question marks by another 16. Some of the ones I questioned are being lauded as some of the best books to be released in years in certain quarters, so what this means is that I have a larger than normal list of very good fiction from which to cull it further to 20/25.

Anything that was uneven to me was left out. Since I usually get queries as to why X, Y, or Z didn't make such a list, I thought I'd note why that's the case. It's not being overly defensive, but rather just noting what happened. In April, I thought Erikson would make it. After reading a slew of excellent debuts during the summer months, he wasn't.

It is interesting to see the reactions, though. Maybe more care about my choices than I thought. I can say there will be a mixture of bestselling and "obscure" books on my list; several were up for the major awards this year and I agreed with the judges' choices.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough on the "y'all are reading too much into this." I wasn't trying to call you out in a confrontational manner or anything, I was just honestly confused about the point of this post, and whether it actually was supposed to be a negative list, or if some of the titles would still make an honorable mention type thing.

- Zach

Larry said...

Oh, I didn't take your post that way, Zach; I was just trying to be preemptive in case others interpreted it in a way that was much more negative than what I intended. I hope the explanation helped a bit.

Should be interesting to see the reaction to the longlist when I put it up in a few days. I do have to finish the new Murakami, Nádas, Valente, and hopefully the Sayles first before making final determinations. Might just list 33-50 titles that could compromise a Top 25 and an honorable 25 at the end, perhaps? There will be more non-fiction on the list this year, I promise.

 
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