I’m only reading….

January 29th, 2018Posted by Nancy

I did read a bit last year. Ok, I read a LOT last year, but a good chunk of it was for my duties on the Sunburst Award jury.  Much of that reading was pleasurable (if you need something new, just check out the winners and finalists) but it was still a massive number of words to churn through between January and June.

As for the rest of my reading, the majority is done on my Kobo, with books I borrow from the very fine Toronto Public Library system (the largest neighbourhood-based library system in the world, according to Wikipedia).  I maintain a dislike of actually BUYING books for Kobo, because I fear that technological obsolesence will render them inaccessible, but I did spring for about 20 titles this year.  And I do continue to read actual, physical books on a regular basis.  My estimates for consumption for 2017 are:

Library digital books – 65  (thanks to the handy download folder on my computer)

Purchased digital books – 22

Physical books – 15 to 20

What stands out?

Novellas.  I love the easy availability of these longer works that ebooks allow.  I caught up on some award-nominated works this year and can recommend them all:

Binti – Nnedi Okorafor

The Ballad of Black tom – Victor LaValle

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps – Kai Ashante Wilson

October – Michael Rowe

The Dream-Quest of Villitt Boe – Kij Johnson

Non-Fiction. I keep vowing to add more of this to my reading. Fortunately, there are no shortage of interesting suggestions from Lapham’s Quarterly and the related podcast The World in Time to keep me busy.

Chernobyl Prayer – Sveltana Alexievich. Heartbreaking, thoughtful, vivid and often poetic eyewitness stories about the 1986 disaster and its impact on the people around it.

Millennium – Ian Mortimer.  A survey of the key social and technological changes of the last 1,000 years

Between the World and Me – Ta-nehisi Coates’ letter to his son about the history and legacy of slavery and racism in the U.S.

The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Heidt. My attempt to understand why people would want to be conservatives.  I’m still not one.

Aloha Wanderwell: The Border-Smashing, Record-Setting Life of the World’s Youngest Explorer – Christian Fink-Jensen.  Aliases, escapes, sex, driving, mysterious deaths – this story has it all. Somebody make a movie of her life.

Novels.  For some reason, my reading this year seemed to bend towards the dark and foreboding.

Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson.   An often grim look at the unlikeliness of being able to colonize other planets to escape our own mess.

Bright Black Air – David Vann.   This retelling of the story of Jason and Medea is a like an incantation.  Strange, disturbing, and beautiful.

The Carhullan Army – Sarah Hall.   Tough, bloody-minded, dystopic fiction set in the brooding hills of the Lake District.

Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders.  Weird, audacious, and compelling. Told by the ghosts who hover around Lincoln as he grieves for his son.

The Water Knife – Paolo Bacigalupi.  Water wars engulf the Western States.

And then I started 2018 with The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson.

Somebody recommend something more cheerful to me, soon.





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