I post so rarely that I’m amazed people still read these posts, but thank you and please share what books you are excited for this year.
Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #2) by Tamsyn Muir. I loved the first book, I’ve been struggling to get through this one to be honest.
Babel by R. F. Kuang (also dark academia): going in pretty blind, but hoping for the best.
A Vampire’s Redemption (The Inquisition Trilogy #2) by Casey Wolfe (queer): the first book was great!
The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith: I don’t remember who described this as a morally gray type of character doing the trope of “coming out of retirement” and returning to power, only that protagonist is also a librarian.
Arcanum Unbounded by Bradon Sanderson: a collection of Cosmere stories.
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (queer): I’ve heard so many great things about this debut fantasy set in Cairo with murder mystery and secret societies.
Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara
Closer Baby Closer by Savannah Brown (released in february)
War of the Foxes by Richard Siken
Classics, memoirs and essays
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (classic): I’ve tried getting through this book once already, I love the experience of reading it, but it’s so dense I struggle to get into it (more so than other classics even, idk why?).
The Lonely City: adventures in the art of being alone by Olivia Laing (essay/memoir): I wanted to read this when moving away from university, but it’s like four years later now.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (memoir): I do not know anything about this book, but it appeared on my tbr shelf somehow.
Nonfiction and science
Immun by Anne Spurkland (in norwegian)
Firmament: the hidden science of weather, climate change and air that surrounds us by Simon Clark
The Story of More: how we got to climate change and where to go from here by Hope Jahren
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer: this book keep being referenced in so many science podcasts I listen to!
Friends: Understanding the power of our most important relationships by Robin Dunbar
Personal project / rant
I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, but a type of personal project this year is read or watch more indigenous stories. Probably it would be mostly Sami related, as that’s the indigenous group I have closest knowledge / association with. Last year two separate things were in the national news here around the same time. The first was the question of how far climate change activists were willing to go, in terms of violence against property and/or people. The more I read of the discourse, the more I hated the existential negative parts which never pointed out successful past campaigns (like those fought by indigenous people for their local environment) or had any future strategies in mind. Because I get that climate change has gotten to the point where it is going to be bad anyway, but if you want to be an activist you should have thoughts on how you think it can be better, for your own well-being if nothing else. It hightlighted to me that the values which you base your «ideology» on matters. It’s too easy otherwise to fall into elitism, or the «the world would be better with less people in it» or, you know, eugenics.
Anyway. The other thing in the news a lot was Sami politics where there’s proof non-sami (and right-wing) people were encouraged to meddle in indigenous politics. Mostly to undermine rights and use of land or for financial gain, as far as I understood. And that also often has an enviromental side. It brought up the question of who is Sami «enough» to vote on Sami politics here, but the norwegian government has pretty well-defined requirements. And some fall outside of those, even if they would consider themselves Sami, so that is another debate. But personally I do fill every requirement to be considered part of that registry of Sami people. So I feel like it’s natural that I’ve come to a place where I want to know more.
On the science side, I’m taking atmospheric physics and climate change as a course, which has been great so far.
My reading this year has been about 65% of what it was in 2021. I thought it was a lot less, because I have read less books in total, but number of books is such a weird way to count «reading» in general. Time would be a great, but difficult way to count, amount of pages is at least better I think? I did start out the year getting my heart broken by a book in the worst possible way, by “The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman. I was also so excited for“Book of Night” by Holly Black, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. In so many other ways it has been a great year, with some wonderful books.
The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson was both a book by one of my other favourite authors and one in a series I haven’t pick up in a while. And yet it was great! It was the semi-conclusion I was looking for, Maureen Johnson continues being great at delivering the stories (both in cast of characters, plot and vibes) she sets up.
Brandon Sanderson hasn’t failed me yet either, and the 4th book of the Stormlight Archive “Rhythm of War” was a great, long fantasy book. It’s nice to dive into his expansive worlds, where every aspect seems so well thought out, but there’s a limit to how many Sanderson books I can enjoy in a year before my brain melts.
This summer, where I hoped to increase my reading time, I read most of my way through multiple books only to find out they were just badly written. I think both “Other People’s Clothes” by Calla Henkel, “Boyfriend Material” Alexis Hall and “The Maidens“ by Alex Michaelides fell under that umbrella. I really wanted to like “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but it wasn’t quite for me.
The most surprising read this year was a book I picked up in swedish, a language I do not speak, but I can with much effort read as I’m norwegian. In english it’s called “If Cats Disappeared from the World” by Genki Kawamura, originally written in japanese.
I also read two other books that didn’t quite fit with the rest; “The Art of Heikala” which is the artist Heikala about her own process and a book filled with her colourful, great work, and the graphic novel “Mooncakes” by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. Would recommend both!
I listened to “I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy, which I almost don’t want to admit because it was such a chilling read in the way that it felt illegally close to reading someone’s journal of abuse. Of course it’s retold with the perspective of a now-adult, still multiple times I had to stop and remind myself that the author herself decided to share this information. It personally made me reframe how I think of child actors, from the best to the worst cases.
I also listened to “Permanent Record” by Edward Snowden. And it was enlightening, to the point where it made me dislike his personality more and still appreciate the work he’s done and what he tries to achieve in giving out information.
Physical books I’ve bought:
I bought a lot of interesting books this year, I just didn’t get to them. I’m halfway through both a lovely copy of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I think it’s the second time I’ve gotten this far, because it’s such a great, but dense book. And I’ve just finished “Harrow the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir.
I’ve both bought and read some good poetry; “Look” by Solmaz Sharif and “So Far So Good” by Ursula K. Le Guin (which were the final poems of her life). I started reading “What Is This Thing Called Love” by Kim Addonizio and while I’ve liked and appreciated the pure honesty of other poems of hers, this one became just a bit too gritty for me. Somehow drunkenness in combination with her descriptions of love became too much so I just decided this one wasn’t for me at all.
I also got “Babel by R. F. Kuang” and it will be one of the books I’m most excited to read in 2023.
Kindle books I’ve bought and will hopefully read soon:
“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom (memoir)
“A Master of Djinn” by P. Djèlí Clark (fantasy, steampunk, queer)
“Hench” by Natalie Zina Walschots (fantasy, queer)
“Friends: Understanding the power of our most impor tant relationships” by Robin Dunbar (nonfiction)
“The Library of the Unwritten” by A. J. Hackwith (fantasy, queer)
I’ve yet to make a list of books to read this year, mostly because some of these books I’ve been wanting to pick up since 2020.
Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #2) by Tamsyn Muir: fantasy book with necromancers in space, the first book was an experience. I tried to read this once, but the writing style is very peculiar compared to the first book, so someone recommended I listened to the audiobook instead.
We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled – Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman: I don’t remember where I saw this book first, I hope it’s as good as the reviews seems to say in that it’s accurate about giving space to the “voices from syria”. It’s always difficult to know before you pick up a book, which is why more so than other books I make sure to read non-fiction on my TBR before sharing it.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden: I’ve already read half of it some time ago, it’s a memoir in how it showcases a lot of Snowden’s life and what built up to him being a whistleblower for the NSA spying on its own citizens through mass surveillance. I did not expect how much he points out the different government structures and the tools the US government had at their disposal already before 2013. I think the backstory part is less interesting to me than Snowden’s thoughts and reflections, but it’s still bound to be worth listening to.
The only way I get myself to read classics is to buy a nice physical copy and then stare at it for months until I might want to, and then more often than not be very happy I did read it.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf: I’ve already started reading this and stopped, because I needed to pay more attention than I could right then.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: I did read this once, I can’t remember much except it starting my Mary Shelley fascination and loving the writing style, but I got this stylish physical copy so I’m going back to it.
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus: who does not want to read Camus’ philosophy? (But at the same time never feels quite up for the “meditations on suicide”)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: each time I pick up this book I get two chapters in, puts it down for too long, and have to reread at least one chapter. One would think that you could finish a book that way, but yet I never seem to get through it. It is nice when I do read it though.
Fantasy & Other Nonfiction
The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith: I once saw this recommended with the trope of the morally-gray “retired” character who’s pulled back into action. It might be true considering it’s an epic fantasy with a protagonist who is Head Librarian of a library, which is also a neutral space in Hell. It has a pansexual main character, yet I did not get the impression it’s a big part of the story.
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark: I’m really excited to read this urban fantasy set in Cairo in Egypt with djinns which features two brilliant female protagonists who tries to uncover the murder of a secret brotherhood. It has queer romance, thieves and steampunk elements.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides: a dark academia type of book with both a secret society for women, a therapist who is trying to solve a murder at her old university and a suspicious professor of Greek Tragedy.
The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4) by Maureen Johnson: the amateur detective protagonist of the story has moved on from the several deaths on her boarding school into the real world, more specifically called in to investigate unsolved cases in a camp area. Along with her friends of course, who all got into the boarding school because of their various skills.
Book of Night by Holly Black: I’ve just committed myself to read Holly Black’s books until they’re no longer interesting anymore. This one is supposed to be an adult debut with a dark fantasy of “shadowy thieves and secret societies”. I’m just hoping it does not make the same grave mistakes “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo did as it was her first “adult” novel, but turned out to be simply violent for the spectacle.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: a supernatural story set in the 1950s featuring love, enormous wealth, debutante balls and gothic mysteries.
Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett: it’s about a lonely college freshman seduced into joining an exclusive cult, a trip to Italy, trying to escape and a mysterious death.
Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel: the protagonist and her friend is studying abroad in Berlin, looking for vibrant adventures and starts partying, featuring a bit of murder.
The Story of More by Hope Jahren– How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here: The author is a geobiologist researcher who has already proven her ability to communicate science in “Lab Girl”. At first sight it seems like a solution-focused climate change book with a lot of science to explain every step behind it.
Firmament – The Hidden Science of Weather, Climate Change and the Air That Surrounds Us by Simon Clark: Simon Clark is another scientist who has proven he can communicate science well, as someone who has yet to take a atmospheric physics course I’m excited to get a primer on it.
I don’t find there’s that much to say about poetry collections before reading it, even if you know of the poet there’s no certainty they do not bring something totally different this time, but I’m very excited to get to all of them.
Here’s part one of book releases I’ve been looking forward to in 2022.
Extasia by Claire Legrand
Releasedate: 22. February 2022
Why I want to read it: the author also wrote “Sawkill Girls” which I liked, and it’s a YA horror with a religious cult, overthrowing patriarchy and sapphic protagonists.
Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong
Releasedate: 5. April 2022
Why I want to read it: Vuong’s other poetry collection was stunning and real, with big themes like grief and war, but drawing from very personal experiences
Inheritance: a visual poem by Elizabeth Acevedo
Releasedate: 3. May 2022
Why I want to read it: I love Acevedo’s poetry and way to tell stories already. Never know quite what to expect in terms of format, which is great.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
Releasedate: 3. May 2022
Why I want to read it: sapphic romances, especially by authors I already know can write well, are always worth a shot
Book of Night by Holly Black
Releasedate: 3. May 2022
Why I want to read it: a more adult, dark fantasy with thieves, secret societies, magic with consequences and murders. I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad book from Holly Black.
Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
Releasedate: 10. May 2022
Why I want to read it: an unusual book for me to pick up, but a lot of people seem to like this 30s Hollywood story with a Chinese American protagonist who has to navigate dark rituals and folklore in what seems to be somewhat of a fantasy book with sapphics.
What Is This Thing Called Love by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
Mortal Trash by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
Bukowski in a Sundress: confessions from a writing life by Kim Addonizio (memoir, essays)
Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford (memoir, true crime): about experiencing sexual abuse on an elite boarding school
frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss (poetry)
The Book of Love: poems of ectasy and longing by Rumi (poetry, classics, philosophy)
Tales of Norse Mythology by Hélène A. Guerber (mythology)
The Anthropocene Reviewed: essays on a human-centered planet by John Green (nonfiction, essays)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (classics, humor, journalism)
Three things on my mind:
So much has happened lately, most of them really nice. I got through my exams with better marks than I could’ve wished for despite lots of roadblocks, spent some time alone waiting for my 2nd covid-19 vaccine. Managed to get it and finally spend time with friends and family, some I haven’t met in two years now.
This spring exam season was the first time I sat down and was like “I can actually do this” because I do love what I’m studying (physics). I just don’t love the whole regiment I have to uphold to try to get a working, cooperative brain and focus. Like basically I have to schedule when I do certain activities as I know I’ll have pain afterwards, mainly eating, and it was tricky to figure out the most efficient times. I have crohn’s disease among other things, and it’s fairly active still, but we’re working on it.
So I’ve done a lot in my daily life this summer, but I’ve read so little. Mostly poetry. And I have been very happy, for the most part. I’ve watched a lot – a lot – of movies, because that’s a social thing to do. I can’t get through a movie or tv series without skipping some parts if I’m on my own, so I really only get the chance to enjoy them under supervision of other people. I did watch cats, the movie. And would wholeheartedly recommend against it.My body was having physical reactions to not being able to keep up with the godawful CGI/human cat faces, the inconsistency of them making it only more fucked up. Glad I did it with someone beside me, it was hilarious to suffer together. Better movies I watched for the first time was The Matrix (I laughed at every matrix I calculated with for the rest of the week), The Martian, Gravity and My Neighbor Totoro. All great films, of which Totoro is definitely the supreme winner.
I’ve been reading a lot of love poems lately. I opened Felicity by Mary Oliver to the part of Love, and the first thing I met was Rumi’s writing that she included. There was no less of a sign of wisdom to not let fear guide you in anything, let alone emotions of importance like love.
Someone who does not run toward the allure of love walks a road where nothing lives.
Shame is an ocean I swim acrossby Mary Lambert: contains very powerful stories by someone who is a musician as well, the writing flows very well. Talks about sexual assault, mental health and fame. Very good phrasing and descriptions of situations I can relate to as well, not that that’s a requirement. The excellence of titles like “It is time to eat something other than pizza and tequila” mixes well with the somber topics. Four out of five stars. Definitely check the trigger warnings.
Tell me by Kim Addonizio: it took me some time to both understand the poet and the work, but it grew on me the second and third time I read it. Each poem is very hit or miss for me in how interesting I find it but overall obvious that Addonizio is a good writer. It’s feministic in how it shows someone moving unrelentless through the world, while not shying away from gritty parts. Just that level of honesty Addonizio brings creates such a depth that I can’t blame her too hard when she finds it lacking in her poetry students. Very little pretentiousness to find here, very much confessional and communicating directly to the reader. Four out of five stars, I think I’ll take a dive into her other work soon.
Why I wake early by Mary Oliver: I continue to find a lot of comfort and beautiful parts in Mary Oliver’s writing, even if this one wasn’t a personal favourite. In general, her poems are all about understanding humans through nature (as in the actual spending time in nature), in various ways. Usually with a bit more variety than here. Fav. poems is “The Arrowhead”; “The Snow Cricket” and “Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?”. Three our of five stars.
Give at least one recommendation for each of the prompts below
If you don’t have a recommendation, talk about a book you want to read
Tag your friends
A book about friendship
I always look for books about friendship, but somehow all the recommendations I have is heist related? That’s without including all the YA books with too-young characters having to bond because there’s no adults around, of course. Honestly I prefer found-family or platonic relationships to romantic ones in general in books.
But I think of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt as a story about friendship, as much as it has lonely elements as well. I guess also “The Secret History”. I need more not-gloomy-murder recommendations, is what I’m figuring out.
A translated book
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. For once I’m standing by my first language and choosing a norwegian book. I know this book that’s a mix of children’s and philosophy is really well-known, but it’s kind of strange trying to get if people know of it elsewhere in the world. I grew up with the author’s book, but I really want to reread this and see how (or if) different I would understand it now. It’s philosophy made so accessible, even for someone who is forced to take a university philosophy course right now and hating it.
A diverse romance
I’m so bad at reading pure romance books without stopping half-way through. I just finished Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and while it felt very middle-school and not young adult, it’s the queer romance between a Latino trans boy and a gay boy that I would’ve loved growing up.
A fast-paced book
I rarely remember the pace of a book unless it was horrible one way or another?? I think the sequel A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green had a fast pace in that the set-up of the first book (with strange giant robots that might be alien) needed a lot to tie up and it all managed to happen in this book, through multiple points of view and a group of friends collaborating by working on each of their part of the bigger problem.
A nonfiction (not memoir)
Naty’s Bookshelf mentioned The End of Everything by Katie Mack which I just read and very much agree with her take! It was such an experience reading, written with so much passion about astrophysics and the existential questions. In that way it does have a lot of perspective and personality from Mack and even though I am in university for physics, you don’t need any background to enjoy reading it. She goes briefly through the smaller things you need to follow the theories of how the world will end and what that means.
An underrated memoir
A truly underrated one is “A Woman in the Polar Night” by Christiane Ritter about a german upper-class (or at least comfortable) woman who in 1934 travels to the Arctic to spend a year there. It goes very quickly from “ah, a relaxing, but challenging trip” to “boredom and life & death”. Her writing is stunning as well and really delves into aspects of life that I’ve never had described to me this way, but rings as clear as the snow surrounding her for miles and miles.
A book with fewer than 10.000 ratings on Goodreads
Somehow the first I thought of was (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn, which was one of those books that was on my TBR for FIVE LONG YEARS with no idea of what it was about. It had such a powerful story of facing reality and dealing with it or continuing making the easy decision of running from it. As a story it’s also on the line between fantasy, magical realism and dystopia in a way I haven’t seen before, set in a “paradise” where no one ever get sick or seem to die. It’s currently at 2171 ratings.
A book with a LGTBQ+ protagonist
I just bought City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault in physical form as I loved it so much and wanted to reread it before reading the rest of this high fantasy series. It has several asexual characters, including the main character (who is also aromantic) and is written by an asexual and aromantic author. All the characters are queer; bisexual, demi, pan, poly, gender fluid, agender, as well as asexual and aromantic is all represented in an overall badass magical city. Really, this book should be underneath the ‘friends’ recommendation as well as I might have a big weakness for main characters who observes everything all the time as a thief or assassin, but also cares deeply for their friends. And the plot builds so naturally on the personalities and choices made by these characters, and the way their lives intertwines by living in the same city. This book just gave me a lovely, fun and exciting experience reading it with characters I squeal over, but also feel comforted by. Without sacrificing any of the heavyness or high fantasy elements usual to the genre.
A book by a trans or non-binary author
I’ve got so many books I want to read that fits here, so these are on my TBR (and hopefully I can get to them after exams):
Freshwater, Pet or basically any other book by Akwaeke Emezi. I’m really interested in how Freshwater protrays mental illness , identity and the protagonist develops separate selves within her as she moves from Nigeria to America for college. But it all in this magical realism/fantasy type of story. Pet is also magical realism/fantasy for somewhat of a younger audience centered around a black, transgender girl who meets a monster and all the adults around her are in denial of their existence.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo also has a transgender girl main character who deals with being new in high school and everything that comes with. Relationships, mental illness, conflicts around gender – it seems like a really honest book.
A book with more than 500 pages
The longest book I’ve read and enjoyed is apparently now the popular fanfic All The Young Dudes by MsKingBean89 with its 527k words. And while I do recommend it for all its glorious scenarios as the whole fanfic follows the Harry Potter Marauders through Hogwarts and until the end, giving you everything queer J. K. FUcking Rowling would never – don’t start reading it without having the next few days completely free. The platonic relationships and the different twist on Remus’ character and life all wrecked me.
Besides that, it’s The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson which is one of my favourite fantasy books of all time and also 1283 pages long. It’s a struggle of wanting to write reviews for all my fav books, but then also having too much to say about them and never getting to it. It’s just the best, although I always recommend Mistborn by Sanderson if you’re looking for an easier way into his work and not to dive into this epic fantasy chaos of greatness as it has as much of same brilliant elements in an easier to digest format and size.
A short story collection
Both The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu are supreme. Just the paper menagerie collection has stories about “The bookmaking habit of select species”, an AI utopia that you might actually want to live in, hujing; beings who are both fox and human, chinese calligraphy and deadly fear of communism / plain racism, being chinese in america, simulacrums; illusions of people stuck in time, aliens, Guan Yu the chinese god of war visiting America (American Gods vibes from that one, it was awesome). Also immense sacrifices and a few stories that willl make you sob inclung about unit 731 and the biological warfare and experimentation in China during WW2.
A book you want everyone to read
In general, the books that had the most impact on me heavily depends on the situation and context in which I read it. Not to mention my on-going struggle of finding a general recommendations list for people in my real life who ask. Because it’s always so much better to tailor them to their interest and like level of understanding of any given genre. For example the already mentioned A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter I find myself automatically recommending, but I get that it will be a slow-paced and quite boring book if it doesn’t match with the person.
So I think the best answer is the poetry collection BRANCHES and the new release Grocery List Poems (when it comes out in june, I’ve yet to read it) by Rhiannon McGavin! The writing is easy to follow for those who “aren’t (yet) into poetry”, but I also think McGavin always brings really interesting takes and beautiful writing. She started out as a spoken word poet so a lot of her work is on youtube. I’ve followed her for years, but in general I find that among the younger poets those who already stands out in how clearly they follow their own, more unique path is the ones that grows the most. Of course, easiest way to get into poetry is to start out with someone that speaks about things you are interested in, which sounds obvious, but sometimes needs a reminder.
Yesika Salgado (with the collections Corazón, Tesoro and Hermosa) is another great recommendation for a poet to ‘start with’, but also in general really fantastic. I’ve been rereading the poetry collections and wanted to do a short post on them, but it’s taken a while because each is so powerful and filled with messages connected to its theme that I need to like take a breath in between them. I think my favourite is Tesoro as it’s about family, the women in Salgado’s life and survival.
So, I’ve started buying more physical books (in comparison to none) and then I never do book hauls, so here they all are gathered up. Honestly, a few of these books are from a year ago, but too nice-looking to not include.
Astrobiology: a very short introduction by David C. Catling
Kant: a very short introduction by Roger Scruton
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
Robin Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (penguin english library edition)
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (penguin vintage classics)
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart (bught used, panther granada publishing edition from 1978)
how to: absurd scientific advice for common real-world problems by randall munroe
A Separate Peace by John Knowles (simon and schuester edition)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher`s Stone (scottish edition)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (slytherin edition)
Dune by Frank Herbert (penguin edition)
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
War on Peace by Ronan Farrow
The Iliad by Homer (penguin classics edition)
Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (david fickling edition)
Maya by Josten Gaarder (found for free)
The Library Book Haul (aka books I promised to return a month ago, but have not read yet)
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Story of More by Hope Jahren
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
The City We Became by N. K. Jemish
The Notebook Haul (mostly gifts)
Floral (green) notebook from Paperblank (called poetry in bloom)
Flowers (dark) notebook from Paperchase
Edinburgh illustration notebook by Libby Walker
New book posts:
Other books I’ve been reading:
Currently reading Winter Hours by Mary Oliver (poetry/prose/essays)
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
World Without Fish by (graphic novel, nonfiction, enviromental science) by Mark Kurlansky
Added to TBR:
A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Frank Wilczek (science)
Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek (science)
The Queen`s Gambit by Walter Tevis (chess, fiction)
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (fantasy, superheros, lgbt; bi mc, nonbinary)
The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2) by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters (contemporary YA, lgbt; m/m)
Tell Me by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
Bound by Claire Schwartz (poetry)
Hours Inside Out by Isabella Presiz (poetry)
Three things on my mind:
About physical books; it’s funny how much taking photos of books is would boost my book posts more than anything. My short review of graffiti by Savannah Brown is a perfect example, it gets too many views each day solely from google image searches. I’m using the library more this year and in general have bought more physical books, so I hope to also take more photos, because I do love that aspect as well. I definitely did a lot when living at home, to the point where we would rarely get good natural light in winter and it annoyed me because book photos were worse, hahha. Physical books are just more expensive and less convenient. You’re talking about the girl who at the age of 10 years old chose to learn books in english instead of the translated norwegian copies because they cost so much. But I do prefer having physical copies of science and poetry books a lot over digital ones, because it’s so much easier to refer to and really sit down and take time with reading the book. I would love to have a copy of all my favourite books on hand in case friends are looking for recommendations, but I just don’t have the money for all the fantasy series that would include, as the student I am.
I started writing a short thing about how I’ve been thinking about gender for a while, as I did put off an imminent gender crisis during the first season of covid-19 lockdown. But then it turned into its own whole thing, and I think it will just be a post on its own because it fits nowhere else. Not that it has any conclusion, it’s more of an on-going discussion with myself.
I’ve listened to & loved the podcast Reply All from Gimlet Media for years. To the point that when company after company was revealed to have racist practices and similiar recently, I actually thought about if these (until now seemingly empathic) white guys behind Gimlet Media would disappoint me to. But instead they’ve hired and otherwise given platform to producers of color with a purpose to cover a more diverse range of topics. And it’s really brought things to my feed that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, I think. A very recent addition to this is a series on the Bon Apetit test kitchenwhich had a “online reckoning” last summer with being exposed for being racist. Told by reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni, she goes hard in the first episode by calling a huge number of past and current employees over a period of twenty years and highlights the many people of color that has quit already way back because they were devalued in different ways because of the color of their skin and them not coming from the same background or looking the same as every other white person in the kitchen. She does an expert job by pointing out other possible causes for situation as well, many of these people struggled at the time to understand it themselves, but overall it shows a pattern. Especially in comparison to the newest known scandals that made so many very-much-loved-by-the-audience cast members quit. Absolutely worth listening to, I’m sure the next episodes are going to be great as well.
Resistanceis another new podcast by Gimlet Media hosted by Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. all about the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement. The third episode “Shake the Room” was the first I listened to, and the story of how american police targeted protesters months later, and this example of how they showed up at the house of the Warriors in the Garden protestor Derrick Ingram in particular, really shook me to my core in its injustice and the potential and threat of violence.
Here’s the thing – I thought I could, and would actually have to, celebrate my birthday with those of my fifteen roommates who are home. We were asked not to go back to our university cities right now unless necessary because of a major corona outbreak there, but for many that message came too late as the semester is starting up. Personally I was supposed to have a hospital appointment that could not be moved, so I would have to travel there. Turns out, when you have a possible allergic reaction to the kind of medicines I am on and an ambulance has to treat you, it’s suddenly (and thankfully) possible to postpone hospital appointments for two weeks more. I’m good enough right now that I could probably go, but I would have to be much more in and out of the hospital to take tests, and that increases the corona risk so much more than if I was in total lockdown with my friends. Well roommates, but we’re pretty much all friends. Which leads me to do all that here and instead celebrating my birthday alone, but with my lovely mom.
In a few more days I will know how badly my start of the year will look like and I’m not looking forward to it. Sometimes there’s only bad alternatives, and there’s nothing you can do except accept that. Ah, I’ve always told myself and those around me that when physics & math are my biggest problems, my life is good. I’m truly excited for that too be the case again. I had a reminder of that when someone (kindly) asked me if it wasn’t better to take a reduced course-work this year, and the pure rage I felt at having the one good thing taken away from me right now. Of course, at a point I will admit defeat, but that’s not one week in.
I was supposed to do the regular yearly 2020 TBR Update, but then I had to leave a lot of half-finished books behind for winter vacation (the downsides of switching over to physical copies again) and tbh I’ve not had enough energy to read. So I’ll extend that into 2021 and make the post whenever I feel I have caught up a bit, which is probably halfway into the year, let’s be real.
Other books I’ve been reading:
Rereading Corazón and reading Tesoro by Yesika Salgado (poetry)
Shame is an ocean I swim across by Mary Lambert (poetry)
Added to TBR:
In the event this doesn’t fall apart by Shannon Lee Barry (poetry)
2020; the year of a pandemic, of my health declining (unrelated), of spending more time with family (if you want it or not) and not to forget – thinking you will read more, but ending up scrolling through tiktok for hours instead. Ah, how much I love the dark academia aesthetic when I’m forced to be separated from my beloved reading places / libraries.
Also, you know the feeling when you were going to write reviews of all of these books, but reviews of favourites is definitely the hardest because you want to get them right and then you will be too far into the year – ah maybe just me, but the ones that is reviewed will be linked.
Best sci-fi/urban fantasy mix: Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang and the rest of the series! Because of its exceptionally morally gray / villain vibes protagonist and math superpowers.
Best non-fiction (and audiobook): Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow for the great coverage of the Weinstein sexual abuse cases as the journalist who first exposed them and going in-depth about the women affected and the way it was covered up by major news oulets like NBC who later turned out had Matt Lauer’s sexual assault allegations of their bloody hands.
Best graphic novels / comics: Deadly Class by Remender, Craig, Loughridge for just being the most-fucked up thing I’ve read ever formatted as boarding school teenage villains in training.
Best classic: A Separate Peace by John Knowles – is it a classic? It’s very popular and written in 1959, that counts. A coming-of-age novel set right before a war with all of its moral dilemmas, with an exceptional friendship that seems pretty full of gay yearning to me, but it’s not canon.
Best sequel & sci-fi: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green which is the sequel to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and the sequel so much lived up to my expectations that I cried. About fame, about aliens, espionage, friends- what more do you need? Queer characters. It’s all there. It’s so well done from the one person who’s got the intersection of experience enough (science, social media, business, all the other things) to make it feel a bit too real.
Best poetry:Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong because it’s just amazing. So vivid, so much looking into violence and the family dynamics of being Vietnamese immigrants.
Best romance:Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston for its fun royal/presidental gay romance. I’ve seen a couple of these stories around, but I think this one with its humor as well as real elements is a good top contender. Cute enemies to lovers trope.
Couldn’t get it out of my brain: Wilder Girls by Rory Power for displaying itself as a YA book with some girlpower, but otherwise normal then turning out to be pure horror and abuses of power and fairytale island forest vibes. It stuck around because it has symbolism to girls going through teenage years and puberty, but it was such a good fantasy/sci-fi plot as well. And queer yearning and girls.
Most surprising find: A Woman in the Polar Night is exactly what it tells you it is, but I wouldn’t have found it hadn’t I physically stumbled over it. I did not expect reading about a german woman of the 1930s going to the Arctic and then writing a memoir about it to be such a life-changing experience and at the same time describe certain things I’ve been trying to for years so perfectly.
And then I came to the major & sad realization I didn’t read any straight-up excellent high fantasy this year, or really (only) fantasy at all. That’s usually my biggest genre. I had a lot on my TBR, but most of the year something about my mental state was not ready for the commitment of the brilliant extensive world of any Philip Pullman or Brandon Sanderson book, and otherwise I did not have time. 2021 is the time!
I read the very popular harry potter marauder’s fanficAll the Young Dudes by MsKingBean89 as the last part of this year was spent thinking too much of Harry Potter again. The fanfic follows the marauder’s through their entire Hogwarts years and then into the uncoming war, getting more queer as they grow up. The writing progresses so much as well, which makes sense thinking about how much time this must have taken to write. I got very much into Harry Potter this year, despite hating Rowling, because a close friend of mine read it for the first time and found a lot of comfort in these characters as the pandemic was messing up everyone’s lives. Warning; It’s 520k words (around 1700 pages?) and I read it in two or three days, it was rough to put it down.
I also discovered the absolutely great horror podcast The Magnus Archives this year and it tells such a extensive story, with all of its great cast of character, creepy creatures and meta-storytelling.