My Top Books of 2023
As usual, I have not listed them in a countdown format, but have chosen to list them in chronological order based on when I read them this year.
Melody's Top Thirteen Books of 2023:
As a martial artist, I’m almost forced to admire Bruce Lee to some extent. However, despite being only a few steps removed from training with him, I haven’t really learned much about him, so I decided to pick up this book. I listened to the audio as read by his daughter, Shannon. Shannon lost her father when she was four years old, but his legacy impacted her entire life and this book is a tribute to her father and his philosophical teachings, the key one of course is to “be water”. Water flows and adapts to whatever shape it needs to be - cup, bowl, river. Using this as a philosophy means learning to adapt to life and situations, not only as a martial artist, but as a person. Since reading this book, I have worked to incorporate this into my life with mixed results. Instead of raging against difficulties, I work to adapt to the situations and navigate through them.
The book itself is, admittedly, a little dull in parts and Shannon spends a lot of time discussing her personal life along with her father’s teachings, but I included it because of all the books I read this year, it’s impacted me the most. It also underlined the tragedy of Bruce Lee dying so young for me and I wonder what more he could have brought to the world had he lived past his 30s.
Review at The Horror Tree.
Addie Larue, while chafing at an arranged marriage, prays to a dark god for escape. A foolish young girl, she makes a terrible deal, but instead of surrendering to death and despair, she makes the most of what she has and learns to love life. Yearning for ultimate freedom, what she ended up with is nothing. Once she leaves someone’s sight, they forget her. This forces her to exist in the margins of humanity, until one day, someone DOES remember her, and that changes everything. Addie is a brave, complex, resourceful character and yes, she is foolish and naive at first, but she grows and adapts (like water) to her pseudo-life and proves to be quite clever in the end.
my full review on The Horror Tree (and my interview with the author), but I will just say again that this was a delight to read. It’s dark, full of mythology and people summoning things they shouldn’t. I just enjoyed it. It’s Scott Leeds’ debut, and it immediately put him on my “to watch for” list.
A bit of a cheat, perhaps, in that it’s 3 books in one, but this is my list. Before Tchaikovsky, I wasn’t into bog, epic, sweeping sci-fi. I read The Martian, and the Spin trilogy by Robert Charles Wilson, but the type of hard sci-fi in this trilogy is not usually my taste. I first came to Tchaikovsky’s work through his Children of Time series (Reviews here: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3) and when this trilogy came out, I eagerly grabbed it. If you are into epic sci-fi or are willing to be converted, check these out. Full reviews are here: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3.
A number of the books on my list this year are emotional and full of grief. This one is the most grief-heavy. A couple have lost their daughter through stillbirth and their pain is strong. The book is hard to read and probably very triggering if you’ve lost a child of your own (I am childless by choice, but can appreciate loss). The story is dark, heavy, and beautifully written. Full Review Here.
Not every book on my list is heavy and heart breaking. Water Outlaws is a fun action-adventure martial arts fantasy romp, although it, too, has some dark elements. You can find my full review on The Horror Tree.
Full review on The Horror Tree.
I don’t typically read memoirs/biographies, but then Matthew Perry tragically died and I picked this one up. It was very eye-opening about his life, the nature of addiction, and life. I listened to the audio, read by Matthew himself, which made it even more impactful. I can’t recommend it enough.
I know I wasn’t going to rate these, but this one might be my favourite all year. As soon as I was done, I wanted to pick it right back up again and keep reading. Piranesi is a man trapped in a labyrinth that erodes your memory and identity. Reading this story is an experience that I definitely recommend. It’s clever, whimsical, hopeful and sad.