Dec 28, 2023 | Favorites

I read a lot. I listen to audiobooks while biking out and I read before bed every night. I never ride the train without a paperback tucked away in one of my pockets (which sometimes leads to the heartbreak of books getting lost). The only books I exclude from this list are the ones I typically review on this blog. They’ve had enough face time. This one is for the more contemporary novels and comics I read.

Follow me on GoodReads (and like my reviews, cause that gets me traffic on here).


10. A Wind of Knives
by Ed Kurtz.

This is a tiny book that packs a gut punch. It also has one of my favorite titles ever. I was recommended the book by Zyn E. Rocklyn, and was immediately sold on the queer revenge story laid out in the premise. There was an unrelenting brutality to it that made the sweetness of its quieter moments all the more poetic. It showed me an unforgiving world but left the barest glimmer of hope. I’m looking forward to reading more stuff by Ed Kurtz.


9. The Only Good Indians
by Stephen Graham Jones.

It took me a while to get used to the narrative voice, but once I did I enjoyed it. I think the basketball bit was a tad confusing and drawn out, but otherwise, this book is pretty sparse and got to the meat of things quickly. There were some wildly unnerving moments in this book. Truly unique in both its style and characters. I think I’m gonna have to check out more of Jones’ work, too.


8. The Emperor’s Soul
by Brandon Sanderson.

My sister recommended this one to me. I’ve been meaning to read Sanderson for ages and I’m glad I finally did. This is a masterclass in worldbuilding, giving me just enough to keep me engrossed but never over-explaining the mysteries. I also love having a scheming narrator to root for. If you’re looking for a quick read with some cool magic and strong characters, there are very few books that can meet all of those criteria. This book is one of them.


7. Liebestrasse
by Greg Lockard, Tim Fish,
Hector Barros, & Lucas Gattoni

Beautifully written and moving. A perfect example of how comics and poetry have lots of ground to overlap. The characters were crackling with life. We have all been exposed to countless works during this period, but queer stories are rarely a part of them.


6. Leviathan Falls
by James S.A. Corey.

I can’t give this series enough praise. I ended up burning through all 9 audiobooks over a few months. I watched the series first and wanted to see how the books ended things. Jefferson Mays is a fantastic narrator; I particularly love his ability to nail the accents and give a distinct voice to each character. The science in these books is just really fucking cool, both the known and theoretical stuff. I just can’t think of a better way to put it. The human-focused narrative never disappointed me. I think the authors nailed the ending. This was an all-around win for me.


5. Tiny Beautiful Things
by Cheryl Strayed.

Incredibly powerful and practical. “The obliterated place” blew me away. It took me a while to get through but that just allowed me to savor it. Highly recommend reading this to anyone who feels stuck or at a crossroads.


4. Ronan and the Endless Sea of Stars
by Rick Louis & Lara Antal.

This book is really beautiful. Yes, it’s sad, but it’s not the heavy story I was expecting. It wasn’t trying to land an emotional gut punch with its take on grief. It’s remarkable more for its honesty about a surreal experience, and its celebration of a brief but extraordinary life. This is a special one for anyone interested in a story that grapples with the depths of the human experience.


3. Camp Damascus
by Chuck Tingle

I realized as soon as I finished the first chapter that this book was going to do some weird shit that I couldn’t anticipate. As a queer person, this is quite possibly the most horrifying concept I’ve come across in a book. It felt like a new genre of Body and Soul horror. Some aspects made my skin crawl. Other parts made my soul ache and filled me with rage. The way the narrative unfolds is equal parts heartbreaking, infuriating, and hopeful. Chuck Tingle does not pull any punches and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m going to be thinking about this one for a long time.


2. The Fifth Season
by N.K. Jemisin.

I’m realizing I have an inner earth science geek despite almost failing geology in college. This book felt a little like a cool geological theory with a side of unique magic. I like magic systems that feel rooted in science. The whole world is fascinating. The characters were all top-notch and engaging. The book lives up to its considerable hype. I’m excited to read the rest. of the trilogy.


1. All Systems Red
by Martha Wells.

This was recommended by my friends Naomi and Brad (thank you both). Murderbot is such a fantastic character that I almost get mad for not coming up with it first. Yes, that says more about my own ego than anything else, but it’s not something I encounter often. Martha Wells did something simple and brilliant here. I did the series as audiobooks but I’m halfway tempted to go back and read them for myself so that I can savor them more. The perspective, the humor, and the mess that is sentience all work together perfectly. I will keep on reading as long as there are new books. I will probably read them as soon as they come out. I couldn’t love or recommend this series more.



Honorable Mentions:

I still might his my Goodreads reading challenge goal of 100 books. I stand at 96 as of my posting this. This is less of a brag than to say there are a lot of great books that didn’t make the list above. The reasoning behind what books make the cut is often purely emotional and not necessarily a reflection of quality.



by Rachel Maddow.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism
by Grady Hendrix.
Daredevil: Born Again
Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli.
The Fireman
by Joe Hill.
A House with Good Bones
T. Kingfisher.
by John Scalzi.


Kick-Ass Ongoing Series:

Here is a little section for the ongoing (usually comic book) series that might otherwise take a place in the top ten every calendar year.



Letters for Lucardo
by:  Otava Heikkilä.
by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda.
by: Brian K Vaughn & Fiona Staples.
by: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo
Danny Miki, & FCO Plasencia.



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  1. Devin Whitlock

    The Fifth Season was so good! One of the most original fantasy novels I’ve ever read, it made me an instant fan of N. K. Jemisin. I’m probably going to read Camp Damascus someday, but I know I’ll loose sleep because of it. Lol

    • Daniel Stalter

      NK Jemisin is great, and I’m glad she’s seeing a ton of success with that trilogy. I can’t wait to finish it up this coming year.

      And yeah, Camp Damascus is quite unsettling. It’s so worth it, though.