OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Maybe you have a brand new ebook reader … maybe you're sick of eating and just want to read for a bit … maybe you want some distraction so you don't murder your family 🙂 …
We're all book lovers, and I am a book fiend, devouring several every week. Here are some of my most memorable reads from 2013 that you might like to enrich your reading holiday with.
For creative entrepreneurs
Street smarts: adventures on the road and in the markets – Jim Rogers.
I firmly believe that we're all going to be looking at the rising new economies in the next 5 years. The digital market is mature in the US and UK, but there's so much opportunity in the rest of the world. This book is a fascinating insight into China and Africa, as well as some of the reasons why the US and Europe are struggling. Read this with an open mind, because it's not comfortable reading. But it sticks with me as the book that's made me amazingly excited about the future of the global markets.
Choose yourself – James Altucher.
With chapters on what's really important, how to generate ideas, how to be less mediocre, why you have to choose yourself in this economy and incredibly personal lessons from James' life, this book will kick your ass and make you think. It's also self-published and really made the top business bloggers stop and think about their own publishing choices, because James is so influential and well connected.
The Icarus Deception: How high will you fly? – Seth Godin
On my wall is a sign that I made after I read this book: “Have you made art today?” I look at it everyday and it challenges me. There's also a cut-out from the book, “Fly closer to the sun.' You can read my blog post on what I learned from the book here. This book was the result of a Kickstarter that I helped fund.
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction – Jeff Vandermeer. A writing book with a difference, this is definitely best read in print. It's gloriously weird and creative in design as well as packed with great info on being a writer and creativity in general. I am savoring every page with its little, strange drawings and funny creatures.
Fiction for dark little souls like me, who like to dwell on the shadow side … even at Christmas!
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn. Camille is a reporter, sent back to her home town after years away to investigate the murders of two little girls, whose teeth have been pulled out. She stays at her family home, where memories of her own dead sister begin to haunt her and her strange family start to send her a little crazy. Camille is a complex character, sympathetic in some ways, with her scarred body, but also on the edge enough to make you want more. I thought this book was so much better than Gone Girl, which I enjoyed, but this one has depth of character, and a great twist.
Macbeth – David Hewson & AJ Hartley. Seriously amazing. I couldn't put this down. A brilliant piece of evocative writing. The first scene with the witches on the heath is stunning. It's both resonant of the best of Shakespeare but also original. A masterful retelling, and enjoyable whether you know the play or not.
Doctor Sleep – Stephen King. Little Danny from ‘The Shining' is now Dan, recovered alcoholic, still haunted by his mistakes. When a young girl, Abra, contacts him, he discovers that evil still stalks those with the shining and he must rise to the challenge, defending those he loves and finding a new purpose. I found the True Knot to be brilliantly scary, and as usual, King makes you look over your shoulder at the ‘normal' looking older folks in the caravans all over the country …
I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes. Incredible character development for both Pilgrim & the Saracen who is a multi faceted, nuanced bad guy we can sympathize with even as he plots oblivion for the West. Told in a strange way with almost flashbacks as the plot moves forward in first person. Very clever.
The Blood Gospel – James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell. This is Rollins & Cantrell on the edge of blasphemy and I loved the book, devouring it in two sittings. Opening with a glimpse into the heart of Masada, Israel, a dark tomb is revealed. As it is destroyed in an earthquake, three survivors escape to face a demonic creature, before a priesthood come to spirit them away on a mission to save mankind. Packed full of fast-paced action, vampires and corrupted creatures, religious themes and emotional resonance.
World War Z: An oral history of the Zombie War – Max Brooks. I must confess that I've never read a zombie book before, and the whole genre has never interested me. But I downloaded a sample and I couldn't put this book down. It is a seriously compelling story written in an original way, as individual survivor's stories of the Zombie war as noted by a historian. There are so many voices and dialects, perspectives from different countries and world-views. That's what makes it stand out. Recommended if you like a thriller story with a post-apocalyptic flavor. Much better than the movie!
For more thriller recommendations, check out '26 thrillers for a winter's night‘.
Oh yes, you could also try one of my books! …
Desecration, a dark crime novel
Death isn't always the end.
LONDON. When the body of a young heiress is found within the Royal College of Surgeons, Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke is assigned to the case. An antique ivory figurine found beside the body is the only lead and she enlists Blake Daniel, a reluctant clairvoyant, to help her discover the message it holds.
When personal tragedy strikes, Jamie finds her own life entwining with the morbid fascinations of the anatomists, and she must race against time to stop them claiming another victim.
As Jamie and Blake delve into a macabre world of grave robbery, body modification, and the genetic engineering of monsters, they must fight to keep their sanity, and their lives.
Find all my fiction at www.JFPenn.com
If you'd like more recommendations for reading throughout the year …
You can follow my reviews on Goodreads here.
OK, your turn. What are the books you'd recommend people getting with their Christmas entertainment money? Please do leave a comment below as I LOVE shopping based on your recommendations. They should be books that have stuck in your mind for a reason.
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Spiral decoration by Bruce Denis
Thanks for the recommendations, Joanna. I have a few for you as well. In no particular order:
-Angelfall and World After, both by Susan Ee. These two books are in a series called Penryn and the End of Days and they are EXCELLENT. They’re technically categorized as young adult. Even though I love the young adult genre, I do feel that it often has shortcomings (lower quality writing, poor character development, simplified plot, etc.). These books are nothing like that. Susan Ee has a very unique idea (without giving anything away, it’s a post-apocalyptic story set after angels descend upon the earth and wreak havoc) and her character development is phenomenal.
-The Jet series by Russell Blake. A series of five books (so far) about a Mossad agent. I love spy thrillers, so discovering this series made me very happy.
-The Fear Index by Robert Harris. This is a financial thriller and even though finance can be very boring, Harris makes it quite exciting.
-The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry. It’s about the Romanovs and Russia. Enough said. 🙂
I am currently reading The Romanovs: The Final Chapter by Robert K. Massie. I have not yet finished it, but so far it is excellent. It’s nonfiction and is about the attempt to solve the mystery of what happened to the Russian royal family after the Bolsheviks seized power. (The Bolsheviks ordered the family’s execution and covered it up. During the Soviet era, no one could research what had happened, so after the Soviet Union fell, historians and scientists started to research what happened.)
Dan Erickson says
I don’t know where you find time to read. I’ve always been an avid reader, but since putting more time into writing and blogging my reading has suffered. I’m a full-time college teacher and a single dad. But it’s my winter break and I am currently reading two writing classics I should have read years ago: Bird by Bird and On Writing.
Michael Kelberer says
My best two recommendations for writers I (like Dan) am rereading again for inspiration for 2014:
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
ML Awanohara says
Thanks for these recommendations, Joanna. We compiled something similar for The Displaced Nation, where we’ve featured you and your works in the past (back in your expat days!): Holiday Special: 2013 Books by, for and about expats. As you can see, there are several, eg, Alexander McNabb, now writing in the thriller and mystery genres. Cheers, and all the best for self-pubbing writers in 2014!
I’ve recently added a few novels to my List: James McBride, The Good Lord Bird about the only black survivor of John Brown’s Harper’s Ferry Raid; The Dinosaur Feather, S.J.Gazan, which is a crime thriller that has to do with dinosaur & avian research. It won Danish Crime Novel of the Year.
It’s getting harder and harder to read these days, this coming from someone who was born with a book in her hand. I blame the computer.