It's all subjective, of course. But I just had my best 2-book reading run in several years.

First was Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. It's pre- and post-apocalyptic (peri-apocalyptic?), but closer to George Rippey Stewart's 1949 novel Earth Abides than to a lot of the fantasy/sci-fi PA stuff. (It did mention The Passage, though.) This novel didn't have the usual overarching linear narrative, but was scenes from related lives, it was fun to untangle. This would have been a serious contender for my favorite book of the year if not for the one that followed.

The Martian, by Andy Weir, was just amazing, and unlike anything I've ever read. This one is hard sci-fi, technical yet approachable, and I absolutely loved it. I think its audience is not as wide as Station Eleven, due to the technical nature โ€” in fact some idiot on Amazon posted that she "certainly wouldn't recommend it to a woman" (UGH). But I loved all aspects โ€” plot, character, setting, rhythm, style, etc. It's also funny. It's gonna be hard to pick a next book, after this one! Has anybody read these?