Most of the standout reads for me have been older books. I think it is important to go back in time to see what books have stood the test of time. There is one exception: The Last Good Man by Linda Nakata. It’s set in the near future when artificial intelligence has become sophisticated and prevalent in almost every walk of life, including being a soldier.
The next most contemporary one is Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by the fabulous Canadian actor R. H. Thomson. It’s Atwood’s retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and she has set it in a jail with inmates acting out the play. Even if you are not a fan of Atwood or of Shakespeare I would recommend it.
Others this year include: As for Me and My House by Sinclair Ross (a depression-era story from Saskatchewan), Pilgrim by Timothy Findlay (his exploration of Jungian psychology), Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb (life for Muslim women in Ethiopia and then Britain), Silk by Alessandro Baricco (story about a Frenchman who goes to Japan to buy silk worms and falls in love), League of Dragons by Naomi Novik (the conclusion of her terrific series about dragons in the time of the Napoleonic Wars), Farthing by Jo Walton (alternative history set in a Britain that made peace with Hitler after Dunkirk), and The Bone People by Keri Hulme (Booker Prize winner from 1985 about three people in New Zealand who become a unit after experiencing suffering and loneliness).