During the last month of the year I read:
1. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.
2. Wintersong – S Jae Jones (I blurbed it!)
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.
All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
3. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction – Jeff Vandermeer
This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few.
4. Still Midnight (Alex Morrow #1) – Denise Mina
Armed men invade a family home, shouting for a man nobody’s heard of. As DS Morrow tries to uncover one family’s secrets, she must protect her own.
5. Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
Yearly Total: 100!
That was my goal, and I was bang on target.
My goal this year was to diversify my reading. I specifically tried to read more authors of colour, and I think nearly a third of the books I read were. Could have been better, but it’s a vast improvement on previous years. I also read more queer authors and female writers. Many of the books I read had cats of different backgrounds, abilities, and sexualities. Near the end of the year I decided to try and work in some more books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list, because why not. I read widely across genres and ticked off some books I’ve been meaning to read for years!
I’m setting my goal for 100 books again next year, but teaching and increasing my writing goals means I might not make it. I’ll keep working to read diversely as it’s become a habit now, and I feel my reading experience has only become the richer for it.
Selected recommended reads:
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
Kindred – Octavia Butler
One – Sarah Crossan
Before I Go to Sleep – SJ Watson
The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutowski
Masks and Shadows – Stephanie Burgis
Cam Girl – Elliot Wake
Borderline – Mishell Baker
The Long Way to a Small Angry Plant & A Closed And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
Courtney Milan’s work – she was my go-to comfort read this year. The Countess Conspiracy was my favourite.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
Blame – Simon Mayo
Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
Saga – Brian K. Vaughan
The Seafarer’s Kiss – Julia Ember
An Accident of Stars – Foz Meadows
The Fallen Kingdom – Elizabeth May
Wintersong – S Jae Jones
Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
What are your reading goals this year?