Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a book-related prompt for book bloggers to answer. This week is Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015.
10. L. Frank Baum
The story of The Wizard of Oz is one that everyone knows, even if they haven’t read the book. When Brain Soup Goes Gilmore assigned it as one of the book club reads, I was excited to finally have a reason to sit down and read it. There are enough differences between the original tale and the famous film to make the story feel fresh and new to me. Baum says that he intended to created a modern fairy tale:
[…] for the time has come for a series of newer “wonder tales” in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.
I honestly think Baum succeeded. His tale is in turns comic, charming and witty.
I read The Little Prince for the first time this year, and I loved it. It’s an odd little story, characterised by a sense of isolation from other people (and the world in general) and loneliness. While it is a book aimed at children, it is layered and complex, and I have a feeling that it is one of those books where you will find something new upon each reread.
8. Susann Cokal
The Kingdom of Little Wounds was unlike anything else I had read this year. It was fascinating, compelling, well-researched and well-written. It was NA fantasy, but the language was something you’d expect to find in 19th century Brit lit. I could not put it down, in a weird train-wreck kind of way. Gruesome and gory, but riveting. I loved it, and I hope Cokal has another book in the works soon!
7. Sabaa Tahir
Tahir released her debut novel this year, but it was so good that I had to include her on this list! I was literally thinking about her book for weeks after I finished it and when I was reading it, it managed to elicit strong reactions from me. Tahir’s work is a welcome edition to the world of YA fantasy, and she knew how to raise the stakes for her characters and actually make the reader become emotionally involved in the arc of the story. I cannot wait for the second installment.
6. Stephanie Oakes
Oakes released her debut novel, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, in July and it was absolutely phenomenal. It got very little hype on GoodReads – I stumbled across it while browsing in QBD one day – and I think it deserved so much more love than it got. It was intelligently written, had three-dimensional characters, and made me put Oakes on my auto-buy authors list.
5. Catherynne M. Valente
I’m not overly familiar with Russian/Slavic folklore – on which this book is based – but I am fascinated with folklore, so I picked it up anyway. I had seen so many good things about Valente’s novel Deathless on GoodReads that I was convinced that it couldn’t be as good as everyone was telling me it was. I was wrong. This book consumed my life. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. A companion to Deathless is apparently being released next year – needless to say, I am incredibly excited for it and it’s already on my wishlist.
4. Isabel Allende
The books I read are almost exclusively written by Australian, English, and North American authors, so I was excited when The House of the Spirits was chosen as the May read for Brain Soup Goes Gilmore. I was surprised how much I loved The House of the Spirits, because the first third or so dragged so much I was seriously considering DNF’ing it. I’m glad I kept with it, because it turned out to be one of my favourite reads of 2015, and I cannot wait to read more of Allende’s work. I was fascinated by the politics of the gender and the gender dynamics, I loved the South American setting, and I loved Allende’s ability to take a number of elements and subtly weave them into a beautiful story.
3. Becky Albertalli
Albertalli’s debut novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was such a heart-warming, fun read. I loved everything about it – the diversity of the characters (not just queer characters, but also PoC), the fluffiness factor, the way it managed to capture the feeling of being a teenager and going through all of these changes and not really sure how to deal with that. It made me laugh out loud, it made me cry… it was definitely one of my favourite reads of 2015. Not only that, but it was one of the first books that was hailed as being ‘in the vein of John Green and Rainbow Rowell’ and was actually similar in tone/style to their work (but you shouldn’t read it just because of that. You should read it because it is a wonderful read).
2. Frances Hodgson Burnett
Burnett is an author whose works I’d heard of but never read. I bought the Penguin in Bloom Edition of A Little Princess last year, and finally got around to reading it earlier in the year. It was exactly the kind of story I would’ve loved as a child – my mother made sure that my childhood was filled with Jo March and Anne Shirley – and I only regret that I hadn’t read it earlier. I also read Hodgson’s The Secret Garden after become enamored with The Misselthwaite Archives, a modernisation of The Secret Garden.
1. Emily Dickinson
I am not a poetry person. Whenever we were assigned poetry for our unit of study in English during high school, I knew that I would spend the entire term struggling. However, this year I was committed to trying genres and authors outside of my normal reading habits, so I thought I’d try reading some poetry instead of prose. Like Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath, Dickinson is one of those authors who you’ve always heard of, to the point where they’ve become almost mythic; so I decided to start with her work. I loved it. I only read a collection of her most popular poems, but I’m planning on getting her complete works in the near future.