Books for Christmas

And so this is Christmas.  I’ve spent most of 2008 either reading short fiction, working on anthologies, or doing Locus stuff.  I’d meant to read a lot of novels, and I started quite a few that I found surprisingly easy to drop at the 100-page mark (I’m not sure if this says more about my year or the books, but there you go).

Anyhow, here are four books that I’ve read, that I’ve loved and that I would unhesitatingly recommend to you as possible gifts for the ones you love:

  1. The Knights of the Cornerstone, James Blaylock (Ace)It has been more than ten years since James Blaylock, one of my very, very favorite writers has given us a new novel, and this one is a peach. It’s a dark contemporary fantasy that features a typical Blaylockian reluctant hero faced with much weird magical stuff. I couldn’t ask any more.
  2. Little Brother, Cory Doctorow (Tor)
    This is the book where Cory found his voice.   The first three novels are good (and each one is an improvement from the last), but this is where he really managed to write SF for the 21st Century, and really showed how YA SF should be done. It’s got infodumps and backstory and all kinds of stuff that should drown his tale, but they don’t.  I figure they’ll be reading this one in thirty years.  Definitely read it now, though.
  3. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury)
    The reason I love Neil Gaiman’s prose is that his writing voice is warm, welcoming and intimate. He brings you into the story, makes you feel a co-conspirator in its telling, which is a remarkable gift. The Graveyard Book is Kipling’s Jungle Book recast as the story of a young boy growing up in a graveyard.  It’s enchanting and left me wanting to re-read Coraline just so I can see which I love more.
  4. Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin; Knopf)
    I love Margo Lanagan’s stories, but this is the first novel of hers that I’ve read.  I’d wondered if she could bring the power of her short fiction to something at novel length and this dark, weird recasting of the Brother’s Grimm resoundingly proves that she can.  I don’t know if it’s the best novel of the year, but it’s so darned close it doesn’t make much difference.

And there you have it. Four treats for Christmas.  Please buy books for the ones you love. If you can, buy local from a favorite bookstore. Great local book stores are a gift in themselves, and we need to support them. My local is Planet Books, which is wonderful and I recommend it unhesitatingly and frequently.  My favorite mail order book supplier is Justin Ackroyd’s Slow Glass Books. Either would be a good place to get any of these books.  Of course, I’ve linked here to Amazon so you can check them out, and Amazon is a fine place to buy, but I’ll always feel that your local is the place to start if you can.

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