As of yesterday, I have officially read as many books this year as I did in the entirety of last year. Or in other words, having finished reading thirty five books by the end of May, I am well on my way (and ahead of pace!) for my overly ambitious goal of seventy five by the end of the year. Assuming I don’t get completely derailed when I go through a big move in a month or two. Heh.
On a definitely related note… I’m currently in awe of Connie Willis’s ability to plot out stories. And by “in awe” I mean “feeling marginally inadequate because wow she’s good”. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that her WWII time travel story Blackout/All Clear is flawless, it’s easily one of the best things I’ve read this year and a display of formidable skill. A very slow burn story, but once it gets going, boy does it. And the way she weaves a thousand different plot threads, themes, and references into a sudden and cohesive whole that appears out of nowhere and goes straight for your emotions…
…let’s just say I’m still recovering.
And trying to figure out how I can get that good. Or. You know. Anywhere close to it.
The answer, as much as there is one, is to keep writing and to keep reading. So I guess I should get on that. This next Tanner and Miranda scene that’s causing me so much trouble isn’t going to write itself, after all!
In the meantime, what about you guys? Read any good books lately?
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a difficult year for a lot of us, which often makes it easier to dwell on the bad than the good. And while ignoring the things that made it hard is ultimately unhealthy and unhelpful, ignoring the bright spots is hardly any better. But instead of looking back at all the things I can’t wait to get rid of and forget, I’d like to take a couple minutes to remember some of the things I enjoyed this year. Particularly, as this is a shamelessly nerdy and story-obsessed blog, I’d like to share a few of the books, TV shows, etc. that I enjoyed the most.
So! In no particular order, here are some of my favorites from 2020.
Favorite game: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Yes, I’m aware that Black Flag has been out for years. And yes, this is the first time I’ve played it. I’ve wanted to play it since I first found out about it, but this year was the first time I got the chance. And I loved it just as much as I thought I would. I mean, really. What’s not to love about sailing all around the Caribbean with your own ship, firing epic broadsides at any who get in your way? And then running like heck when, inevitably, you tick off the pirate hunters and they come after you with MUCH BIGGER SHIPS. Blame it on years of roleplaying as a wildcat pirate on a Redwall fansite or whatever else. This game was just as much fun as I hoped, and probably even more.
Favorite book (first-time read): Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
I was introduced to the Oxford Time Travel books several years ago via the utterly fantastic and hysterically funny To Say Nothing of the Dog, which I can and do heartily recommend. Set alternately during the Black Death and the near future, Doomsday Book is just as well written, but has a very different and understandably grimmer tone. That being said, Willis does a fantastic job of balancing that sometimes difficult subject matter with some wonderful humor, and this is easily one of the best books I’ve read in some time. This is definitely one for the re-read stack.
Favorite book (re-read): Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers
The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers have always been some of my favorites, in part because of growing up watching various TV adaptations, particularly the BBC version with Edward Petherbridge, but it’s been several years since I’ve read them. And they’re even better than I remembered, probably in part because I’ve matured enough to have a greater appreciation for their brilliance. My choice for favorite re-read was between Have His Carcase and Murder Must Advertise, but ultimately Carcase won out because it was the one with both Lord Peter and Harriet Vane, and the banter and the back-and-forth between the two is unmatched.
The Many Deaths of the Black Company – Glen Cook
The Temeraire series – Naomi Novik
The Country Clubs Murders (series) – Julie Mulhern
The Honor Harrington series – David Weber
Favorite TV show (new): The Mandalorian
I mean, really… was it even a question? Baby Yoda, Western-feel, Star Wars at its best. I’m wary of over-hyping things to their detriment, but for me, Mandalorian absolutely lives up to the hype.
Honorable Mention: The Witcher
Okay. So maybe it was a question. Deadpan monster slayer Geralt of Rivia can give even Mando a run for his money.
Favorite TV show (re-watch): Fringe
Ah, Fringe. One of my favorite shows ever, thanks to the characters and the fantastic actors who portray them. Peter and Olivia forever. (For more thoughtful discussion of why I like the series so much, check out this post from earlier this year!)
What about you all? What were your favorite books, movies, and shows from this year? Any I missed?