A Few (well, 90+) of my Favorite Books

It doesn’t take much to convince me to talk about books, so I figured I would jump in to the “one like = one favorite book” meme going around Twitter. I figured I’d get a couple dozen likes and be done with it.

Little did I know, it turns out that my corner of Twitter really wants to know about books. So after 83, umm 86, err 91 recommendations (eventually I’ll either run out of books or likes!), I figured I would collect them all into a single post.

I’ve added a GoodReads link for each book, since they have links to all of the major retail sites, and ISBN info if you want to request it from your local library. (If your local library doesn’t have a book you’re interested in, consider putting in a request that they purchase it. It’s fun and means not only you get to read new books, but other people do too.) If you want to see the original tweets, the embedded tweet at the top of the post is the start of that thread.

Note 1: I set a rule for myself that I wouldn’t repeat authors. Being me, I broke my own rule a couple times. (Seriously, how does one choose between Akata Witch and Zahrah the Windseeker?) Some of the choices for a given author were really, really difficult. However, if I didn’t limit myself, the first half of the list would just be the same five authors over and over again. That’s not interesting for anyone.

Note 2: Each description had to fit into 140 characters. I’ve edited for typos and for clarity, but left the original tweet intact.

Note 3: For comics, I often only listed the writer. This is not because I don’t believe the work of the artists, colorists, editors, etc. have value. This is because of a combination of character limit and for ease of searching for a specific title on retail sites, which don’t often do well with the multiple collaborative format of comics.

Note 4: This is an unordered list. I just added books as I remembered things. In fact, some of my absolute favorite authors are way down the list because I dithered so much on which book I wanted to choose from the author. This is also an incomplete list. No omission should be taken as not enjoying an author. If I missed one of your favorites, please recommend books back to me.

Enjoy! I’ll keep adding books as I update the thread.

1. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden – Russian fairy tale retelling that is way better than a first book has any right being.

2. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – Firefly, but with a range of races, orientations, & genders actually represented.

3. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson – Sci-fi set in a matriarchal arcology in Brazil w/ bisexual lead characters!

4. Serpentine (and its sequel Sacrifice) by Cindy Pon – Chinese fantasy w/ secondary lesbian characters +really great characters all around.

5. Too Like the Lightning – Ada Palmer Holy cats, the world building! The characters! The politics! READ THIS SO I CAN SHOUT ABOUT IT W/ YOU

6. Pretty Deadly – Kelly Sue DeConnick/Emma Rios – Weird west lady revenge saga comic book. GORGEOUS art. I repeatedly costume as the MC.

7. Ink – Sabrina Vourvoulias. Magical Realism/near future SF where all immigrants are marked with tattoos. Hits a little close right now.

8. Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho – This book takes everything usually done wrong about Victorian fantasy worldbuilding and makes it right. (Seriously, Sorcerer to the Crown is Anti-racist, anti-sexist, and interrogates colonialism. And it’s just plain FUN.)

9. Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells. DESERT MOTORCYCLE GANG SPACE WITCHES. (If that doesn’t sell it, I question your priorities.)

10. Parable of the Sower/Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler. Near future SF dystopia w/ a president who wants to “Make America Great Again”

11. Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Cordova. YA about teen brujas. Bisexual lead. Really great, nuanced relationship between the three sisters.

12. The Devil and the Bluebird – Jennifer Mason-Black. Devil at the crossroads retelling. Road trips w/ magic & music & women MCs are my jam.

13. The Governess Affair – Courtney Milan. Historical romance. Fantastic scene involving hair pins. CN: heroine was raped before book began

14. The Fact of a Doorframe – Adrienne Rich. Poetry. Contains my favorite poem, “Planetarium”.

15. Ascension – Jacqueline Koyanagi. Space ship crew, government conspiracies, queer characters of several varieties. It’s getting a sequel! (I can never convince people to read Ascension for some reason, but I absolutely loved it and I’m elated that there will be a second one.)

16. Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, et al’s Hawkeye run Such a fantastic standalone superhero comic. The design throughout is phenomenal.

17. Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, starting with Rosemary and Rue. It’s my favorite urban fantasy by far.

18. The Black Jewels Trilogy – Anne Bishop. The gender essentialism is really obnoxious, but I still love it.

19. The cancelled-too-soon Chelsea Cain Mockingbird run. Because, well…

20. Zahrah the Windseeker – Nnedi Okorafor. A girl journeys through a forbidden jungle to save her friend. The descriptions are pure music

21. Akata Witch – Nnedi Okorafor – Nigerian wizard children join together to learn & fight evil (I couldn’t choose between this and Zahrah!)

22. Packing for Mars – Mary Roach. This is the best book on human factors in space exploration that I’ve read. Really excellent.

23. H is for Hawk – Helen McDonald – Nonfiction about training hawks and dealing with grief. It will rip your heart out. In a good way.

24. All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders. Witches, mad scientists, love, and the end of the world. This book delights me.

25. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel. After a flu devastates the world, a traveling Shakespeare co makes its way through the new world

26. The Age of Ice – J.M. Sidorova – Follows a man who is immune to the cold through the 18th and 19th c. in Russia. Written by a biologist!

27. Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian (and all the books that follow). I’m a sucker for ocean adventures, and I love Maturin so much.

28. Certain Dark Things – Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Mexico City urban fantasy. With Aztec vampires!

29. March – Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin – Graphic novel memoir of the civil rights movement. The art and narrative are perfect for each other.

30 Phonogram – Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson. I *just* read this, so it’ still percolating. But I loved it on 1st & 2nd reading. Yes, I read Phonogram twice back to back. I do this sometimes if I really like a book. See also: The Bear and the Nightingale, Pretty Deadly

31. Monstress, Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda. Steampunk (silkpunk?)-ish woman-centric fantasy. AMAZING art. I get lost in the art every time.

32. The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin. My only comment is this: WHEN IS THE THIRD BOOK COMING OUT. I NEED IT SO MUCH.

33. The Ballad of Black Tom – Victor LaValle – Wherein Lovecraftian horrors don’t hold a candle to the horror of police violence. (Ranking my favorite SFF novellas from 2016 was pure hell. There were so many great ones out last year. )

34. Runtime – SB Divya. A book about augmented humans racing that bypasses nature vs progress tropes in favor of something more interesting

35. Uprooted – Naomi Novik. Girl is sacrificed to a Dragon, but not really. (I really, really like fairytale-ish fantasy.)

36. Contact – Carl Sagan. I still want to be Ellie Arroway when I grow up.

37. Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee. It’s military SF, where reality is based on math. It’s really different and masterfully done.

38. Forgive Me My Salt – Brenna Twohy. Poetry focusing on being a woman and the scars of relationships. CN: abuse descriptions

39. So Long Been Dreaming, Post-Colonial Science Fiction. Every story in this anthology is rock solid. There isn’t a single skippable one.

40. What is Not Yours is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi. Oyeyemi rips my heart out with these short stories in ways that left me breathless.

41. Santa Olivia – Jacqueline Carey – Genetically enhanced girl boxer in a walled Mexican town fights to win the right to leave. Lesbian MC!

42. Secret Loves of Geek Girls – Comic anthology where a variety of women creators write/illustrate short stories about love.

43. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot. Non-fiction about the woman whose cells form one of the major cell lines in science. (I had the book name wrong in the original tweet.)

44. Afar – Leila del Duca and Kit Seaton. Comic starring a queer WoC who has the power to travel through dreams and her brother.

45. Southern Reach trilogy (first book: Annihilation) – Jeff VanderMeer. So weird. So good. Being made into a movie with a phenomenal cast.

46. Falling in Love with Hominids – Nalo Hopkinson. I love Hopkinson’s novels, but these short stories are never far from my mind.

47. All Systems Red – Martha Wells. A murderbot never quite gets around to murdering because it’s distracted by media and saving its humans.

48. Updraft – Fran Wilde. Fascinating world building, and really neat main and secondary characters. Looking forward to the third book.

49. Princeless – Jeremy Whitley. YA comic about a princess who rescues herself. (His Unstoppable Wasp is lovely as well.)

50. Heathen – Natasha Alterici. Glorious comic about lesbian vikings, goddesses, and talking horses. Plus great art.

51. Shadowshaper – Daniel José Older. YA urban fantasy w/ a great cast of teens, where making art is magic.

52. Everfair – Nisi Shawl. Epic steampunk AU about a socialist anti-colonial settlement in the Belgian Congo.

53. Juliet Takes a Breath – Gabby Rivera. YA novel about meeting heroes and growing up. WoC lesbian MC with a variety of LGBTQIA characters.

54. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – Ryan North and Erika Henderson. Look, I had to list this. It was necessary.

55. The Earth Moved – Amy Stewart. Non-fiction book about earthworms. Yes, you want to read it and learn all about earthworms too!

56.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou. I listened to the audiobook read by Angelou. Hearing it in her voice was incomparable.

57. The Ghost Bride – Yangsze Choo. Chinese ghost story with absolutely marvelous world building in the afterlife world.

58. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit. All of her writing is great, but this collection of essays tops my list.

59 Lumberjanes – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen. Summer camp hijinx w/ the most adorable group of queer girls. I <3 all of them

60. Octavia’s Brood – Edited by Adrienne Maree Brown, and Walidah Imarisha. Exceptional short fiction anthology focused on social justice themes and Octavia Butler’s work.

61. DC Bombshells – Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage. Want DC, but without the brooding? This is superheroines saving the day in WWII!

62. Cordelia’s Honor – Lois McMaster Bujold. This was the first Military SF that I read with a woman MC, and Cordelia is still one of my favs.

63. Ash – Malinda Lo. A Cinderella story with a bi main character and a really great love interest.

64. Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie. Not sure there’s much I can say that hasn’t already been said. Top notch world building and AI chars.

65. Clean Sweep – Ilona Andrews. This is pure fluff paranormal romance. Pure and utter fluff.

66. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen. Yeah, I know. It’s a cliché favorite book for a reason.

67. Passing – Nella Larsen. The Great Gatsby, if the characters were actually interesting. Deals w. race in the guilded age.

68. Annals of the Former World – John McPhee. A 716 page journey through the geology of North America that I couldn’t put down.

69. Dinosaur in a Haystack – Stephen Jay Gould. It’s really hard to pick a specific collection of Gould essays to highlight. I love them all.

70. Love is Love – Comics anthology in memory of those who were killed at Pulse. I’ll admit I was bawling by the fifth page.

71. Wintersong – S. Jae Jones. Labyrinth, if the MC were allowed to reckon w/ sexuality. Goblin Kings & kidnapped sisters & magic and music!

72. Jem and the Holograms vol 1. Showtime – Kelly Tompson and Sophie Campbell. This is everything I ever wanted from a Jem reboot.

73. Kim & Kim – Magdalene Visaggio. Space bounty hunters. Interdimensional bounty hunters! Trans and queer girl leads. Fantastic aesthetic.

74. The House of Shattered Wings – Aliette de Bodard. A mystery/dark fantsy book set in a Post-WWII Paris inhabited by fallen angels.

75. Soulless – Gail Carriger. I couldn’t decide which book to pick, so I picked the first. Steampunk that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

76. The Star-Touched Queen Roshani Chokshi – The sidekick in this fantasy book is a sarcastic flesh-eating demon horse.

77. Ms. Marvel vol 1. No Normal – G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is the best teen superhero out there. Fight me (No one is going to fight me)

78. Sabriel – Garth Nix. Probably my favorite “traditional” fantasy book. I love all of the characters and the world so much.

79 The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust – Heather Pringle. Great primer on how any academic field can be twisted by politics.

80. A Dead Djinn in Cairo – P. Djeli Clark. A magical murder mystery in early 20th C. Cairo. I really need Clark to write more long-form!

81. Hurricane Heels – Isabel Yap. What happens when magical girls grow up and tired of saving the world?

82. Black Panther: World of Wakanda – Roxane Gay. I <3 Ayo and Aneka.

83. Black Panther – Ta Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. I couldn’t exactly rec World of Wakanda without reccing this one as well!

84. The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander. A must-read on the history of the prison industrial complex & how it’s weaponized against black ppl.

85. The Canon – Natalie Angier. A fun basic introduction to a whole bunch of fields of science. (The rest of Angier’s writing is great too!)

87. Birds of Prey – Gail Simone. I couldn’t decide which of hers to add, but starting with Birds of Prey never hurts. Her Babs is everything. (I love comics focused around women’s relationships with each other. Strong female characters, whatever. Give me strong female friendship.)

88. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat – Kate Leth and Brittney Williams. Patsy and her superhero temp agency are the BEST.

89. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman. This is a fundamentally gentle book about growing up that doesn’t shy away from darkness/hard topics.

90. Breaking the Chains of Gravity – Amy Shira Teitel. Reading the early history of the US space program, I’m astonished that any of these dudes survived.

91. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers – Alyssa Wong. Every time I read something by Wong, it just makes me want to read more by her.

92. When the Moon was Ours – Anne Marie McLemore YA Magical realism fairy tale w/ a trans boy MC. Slow start but ends absolutely beautifully

93. River of Teeth – Sarah Gailey – AU western where hippos have taken over the Mississippi river and must be wrangled by hippo cowboys.

94. Motor Crush – Fletcher, Stewart, Tarr. Motorcycle riding badass lady caught up in the racing underworld. Fantastic aesthetic and colors.


Seelix, aka Emily, is a Science Communicator, Forensic Anthropologist, Costumer and QA Analyst, sometimes, but not usually, all at once. Emily can usually be found lurking in dark corners of the internet as Seelix on Twitter, on Google+ and even occasionally at her blog This View of Life.

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