2020 in books

This year, as many years before, I had hoped to both increase the amount of books I read and write about what I read here on the blog. The latter has been rather less successful than the former, though not without good reason; after two months of preparing to relocate and near-as-dammit ten months of settling in, I’m starting to feel like I have something close to a routine, but the backlog of notebook scribbles on stuff I’ve read is just too big to handle. So I’m doing a list post, less as a way of performing my readerly habits for public approval (though, OK, there’s a bit of that), and more as a way of declaring bankruptcy on the backlog and starting afresh on writing stuff up as I finish it.

So, yeah: as far as I can tell from my notes, these are the complete books I read this year. Not included: part-reads (so Uncle Karl’s Capital Volume I doesn’t count, despite my having read enough of it to count as a normal book, and nor do isolated chapters of academic and/or theoretical texts read for reading groups), academic papers (which I try to write up in detail when I think they’re particularly useful to my work), or the frankly ridiculous amount of online essays and articles I manage to get through. (Cutting down on the latter might significantly improve on throughput for the former categories, not to mention throughput on work more broadly.)

Re-reads are marked with a *. Publicly-available reviews or write-ups are linked.

fiction:

  • Allen, Nina / The Race
  • Atwood, Margaret / Oryx & Crake [reflections]
  • Brown, Christopher / Rule of Capture
  • Butler, Octavia / Parable of the Sower [reflections]
  • Corey, James S A / Leviathan Wakes
  • Gibson, William / Agency
  • Harrison, M John / The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again
  • Harrison, M John / Settling the World [collection]
  • Hill, M T / The Breach
  • Jemisin, N K / The Fifth Season [reflections]
  • Lessing, Doris / The Story of a Non-Marrying Man & Other Stories [collection]
  • Mankowski, Guy / How I Left the National Grid
  • Mitchell, David / Utopia Avenue
  • Moreno-Garcia, Silvia / Mexican Gothic [review in BSFA Review #12]
  • Neville, Carl / Eminent Domain [review at The Quietus]
  • Okorafor, Nnedi / Binti, the Complete Trilogy
  • Sterling, Bruce / Schismatrix Plus *
  • Tolabi, Wole / Incomplete Solutions [collection]
  • Wolfe, Gene / Starwater Strains [collection] *
  • Womack, Jack / Elvissey

comics / graphics:

  • Carey, Mike (et al.) / Lucifer, Books I—V
  • Ellis, Warren & Howard, Jason / Trees, Book III
  • Delano, Jamie (et al.) / Hellblazer, Books IV—V
  • Liu, Marjory & Takeda, Sana / Monstress, Books I—V
  • Lutes, Jason / Berlin
  • Pomery, Owen D / British Ice
  • Vaughan, Brian K & Staples, Fiona / Saga, Books V—IX

non-fiction:

  • Agamben, Giorgio / State of Exception
  • Berger, John / Hold Everything Dear
  • Berger, John / Landscapes [edited collection]
  • Fisher, Mark / Capitalist Realism *
  • Leeson, Loraine / Art, Process, Change
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich / The Genealogy of Morals *
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich / Twilight of the Idols *
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich / The Antichrist *
  • Rae, Casey / William S Burroughs & the Cult of Rock and Roll
  • Schneider-Mayerson, Matthew & Bellamy, Brent Ryan (eds.) / An Ecotopian Lexicon [review pending in SFRA Review]
  • Tsing, Anna L / The Mushroom at the End of the World

(auto)biography:

  • Lanegan, Mark / Sing Backwards and Weep
  • Salmon, Peter / An Event, Perhaps: A Biography of Jacques Derrida [reflections]

Not too shabby, I guess. My PhD kinda broke me for reading for a little while; during the year of writing the thesis, I just couldn’t really concentrate on anything longer than a few thousand words that had a plot or a serious through-line, and while I had something of a binge on fiction in the aftermath of submission, it was mostly comfort re-reads, and soon gave way to the fidgety anxiety of the precariously employed, which was not conducive to reading for fun, either. It looks like relative security and comfort are good for me… who knew? (Though quite what the minor Nietzsche re-read binge says about me, I do not know, but the thing with ol’ Freddy is that aphoristic style lends itself ably to reading on public transport. Make your own judgement, I guess?)

Going forward, I intend to write up books here as I finish them. We’ll see how that goes, of course, given that the ol’ TBR pile is already growing apace…

… and that’s not including readings requisitioned for work, which live at the office! But I already feel like I’ve unburdened myself of the backlog by doing this list, which was the entire point of the exercise. Reboot time; new years, new habits, etc etc.

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