In retrospect, I think we can all agree that 2020 was a shitty, shitty year. Personally I started it in a drafty overpriced studio with terrible heating, finances sucked, I had to move out in February, plus I had to have (minor) surgery and spent some weeks recovering… Then lockdown started and my office job because very, very boring (but I’m one of the lucky people who still had a job so… can’t really complain here.)
I had something of a burnout during the summer because pandemic + abusive manager at work + a lot of other things going on, but I managed to turn this around with a new job and some decent things happening in the past month or though.
But through all that, and through the pandemic, one thing that’s kept me sane has been reading. I’ve read more this year than… Probably any year, really. There’s still a few days but I’m at 123 books read this year, and I think that’s a neat number. Mostly, it’s because I discovered that with my limited attention brought on by *gestures at the world* and bad mental health, I could now actually focus on audiobooks instead of needing to do 3 things at once. And the library app had a lot of cool audiobooks. The library’s been another great help – when they were open, but also when they weren’t, with online ebook and audiobook resources. I’ve listened to classics like Picnic at Hanging Rock or Little Women that I’d ignored so far. I’ve read a lot of amazing novels, and comic books.
I did #OcTBR in October, with the challenge of reading 30 books in 30 days, and got most of the shorter comicbooks and nonfiction off my list. Today, there’s 514 books on my TBR, so I won’t be lacking reading material for next year…
Oh, and I started this blog 🙂 but that was only recently so I didn’t have time to cross-post all my reviews. I just want to take the time to highlight some of my favourite reads of 2020! It’s a long list.
- Seanan McGuire: I want to highlight books, but really when it comes to Seanan, I absolutely loved every single one I read. I’ve continued the October Daye series, which is still so much fun even some 13 books in, and read more of the Wayward Children series which keeps blowing my mind by its complexity and joyful representation. 10/10 I’ll read any book of hers I can get my hands on.
- The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’m a space junkie. I absolutely adored the Hidden Figures movie and this is that but with a side of science fiction/alternate history. It’s also really good to see Jewish characters centre stage, and that was weaved very well into the story. I need to read the next one!
- Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett. I read it. I read it again with my Shakespeare book club (I’m a nerd, I know). It’s absolutely brilliant, it questions the colonialism and sexism inherent to The Tempest, it’s got magic, and f/f romance, and ghosts, and kickass young ladies. What more could you want?
- All Systems Red (murderbot diaries) by Martha Wells. The main reason I’ve not read the whole series yet is that it’s really hard to get your hands on books 2 and 3 in paper… I want to know more about the sarcastic murder robot!
- The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, by Olivia Waite. This book converted me into a romance reader. I just enjoyed every page of it, it’s beautifully crafted, it’s got astronomy and writing and embroidery and a great, complex f/f relationship, and I got book 2 as soon as I could find it. I’m currently savouring it very slowly to make it last. If I had to recommend one book out of all I read this year, this would be it.
- Becky Chambers. Again, I read Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Closed and Common Orbit but really I will read anything by Becky Chambers I can get my hands on. She hasn’t got nearly any books out there and I’m excited to see what’s coming out in 2021. If I had to describe them, I’d say space operas with a heart. It’s all about the found families, and I really dig it.
- The Luminous Dead, by Caitlin Starling. I don’t normally read horror but this book had me at the edge of my seat the whole time. I couldn’t put it down. It’s pretty claustrophobic, so fair warning, but it was just a little jewel and I wish I could read it again without knowing what’s going to happen. It got me really curious about spelunking too.
- Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn. What if the French revolution… with magic? It’s basically the Scarlet Pimpernel without the pro-monarchy bs, it’s a well-balanced narrative on the Terror and how both nobles and revolutionaries were hurt, and all the people who really did not deserve what they got. It’s also got magic, and love, and queer women running around in pants saving
the worldtheir friends. Can’t wait for the next one!
- The Invisible Library series, Genevieve Cogman. I read all the ones the library could get me and then promptly bought the next 3 at once… This is like the childhood dream come true for me, a magic library with all the books in the world(s). With added dragons, and fairies, and the possibility to make things happen with a word. They’re also more or less mystery books. There’s a lot going on in these, and they’re quick fun reads that always make my day.
- This is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Oh. My. God. This is one book that really deserved the hype around it. There was not NEARLY ENOUGH hype around it. It’s an absolutely brilliant, poetic, timey-whimey romance goodness.
- Bitch Planet comics. I don’t… really know how to explain this one but it’s basically a futuristic patriarchal society that upholds some weird 80s gender bs, and women and gender non conforming and trans people go and just… kick the patriarchy’s ass. It comes with a trigger warnings attached but woah. absolutely brilliant.
- Verona Comics, Jennifer Dugan. My other Shakespeare adaptation highlight of the year, absolutely brilliant. Full review here!
- Big Black Stand at Attica, by Jared Reinmuth and Frank “Big Black” Smith. I’ve read quite a few Black comics, and books around the Black rights movement, but this one is just burned in my mind. It’s about the Attica Prison riot, an absolutely horrendous event for which there was no real justice. (TW: police violence, torture, murders)
- Queen of Coin and Whispers, by Helen Corcoran. Look, my life doesn’t have nearly enough f/f fantasy in it. I’m not sure what I loved most, the political intrigues or the pining. Who am I kidding, it’s the pining. Full review here!
- last but not least, Drowned Country by Emily Tesh. Great sequel to Silver in the Wood, and another writer added to my list of “will buy anything she writes”. Full review here!
There were so many more great books I read this year, but I tried to keep this list “short”. If you’ve read this far, I wish you a great end of year, and wish we all have a better year ahead!