Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus
Part feminist rage story, part love story, part parent-child relationship story, part unexpected friends and family story – this book, like the best mixtures, has a little bit of everything, and the sum is greater than its parts. It is filled with memorable characters (both good and vile)—also, who doesn’t love an intelligent dog?—and I love the belief Zott has in people and their ability to be more and do more than what a restrictive culture has decided is possible. I laughed and cried, and I was angry and vindicated and humbled.
Always Coming Home – Ursula K. Le Guin
I know, I know, another Sophie Top 5, another Ursula K. Le Guin book. But I can’t help it that this woman speaks to me on such a molecular level, okay? Always Coming Home reads like an anthropologist’s notebook, full of folklore and history and traditions and personal observations and descriptions of tools and habitats. But it’s set in Earth’s future, and echoes of our current lives can be felt throughout. Reading this was an extraordinary experience. I hope our future selves have much in common with these imagined folks.
Witch King – Martha Wells
If you love entertaining characters who are *very* comfortable with their powers (magical or otherwise) from the get-go, superior world-building, and dual timelines telling the story of an oppressed region’s rebellion only to find itself in peril again, then this is your book. The bad guys are suitably evil and powerful, the good guys have great banter and empathy. The only snag for me was the ending—it ends at a proper moment, but surely there’s a whole last act out there still waiting to be written? Please?
Translation State – Ann Leckie
I’ve loved all of Ann Leckie’s books, and this one is another fantastic addition to her Radch world. You can certainly read it by itself, but there are some outstanding roles put aside for characters from her earlier books that absolutely doubled my enjoyment. If you’ve never read anything by Leckie, you’ll enjoy this title if you love properly weird aliens, musings on what makes us worthy, found families, literal space bending, denialist fanatics intent on blowing things up and soap operas that teach you a thing or two. Oh, and a bit of body horror.
Honorable mentions new-to-me books:
A Snake Falls to Earth – Darcy Little Badger (warm First Nations YA story with great book design)
Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan (quiet and powerful)
The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim (cozy classic)
Too Like the Lightning – Ada Palmer (philosophical science fiction set on future Earth that teaches you a lot about Enlightenment philosophy).
The Machineries of Empire books – Yoon Ha Lee (starts with Ninefox Gambit)
Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
This Is How You Lose the Time-War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone.