your 2019 in reading


The Exchange

Hello fellow Paizonians!
As has been my modest, home-grown tradition this last past half decade or so, I'd like to share an overall view of the year I've just had in reading. Some basic statistics, some top lists (because resisting the urge to list things is basically a failure of the Turing test, as far as I'm concerned) and some reflections on the overall trend of things this past year.
I'd love to hear about the year that all you people had, too!

Lord Snow's year in reading, 2019 edition:

Perhaps the most remarkable fact about this year has not to do with any of the books that I've read, but with the one I didn't - Dresden Files #12. For half a decade I've been reading two of these each year, slowly working my way through an impressive backlog of tomes, and slowly falling in love with Dresden and his friends and family. However, being so close to the last released book and knowing that the wait for the finishing act of the series might last many years, I've decided to take my time and slow down a bit. It was still my intention to read one book this year, but somehow by the time December descended on me, I realized I'm just not going to be able to cram it into the remaining time I had.

Other than this single glaring omission, I've had a pretty good year. I'm a slow reader, and having set a Goodreads challenge to the number of 22 books, managed to motivate myself to put in some extra reading hours (beyond the usual accumulated 60 minutes a day of surviving public transport by sinking into a book).

With no further preamble, I present to your questing eyes - some stats!

Number of books read: 22
Books by genre: 13 fantasy, 5 science fiction, 2 urban fantasy , 1 horror, 1 non fiction
Author diversity: 20 authors, of which 6 I've never read in any previous year
% self published: 1/22

Bottom three books:
3) The Ninefox Gambit - I like weird SF, and some elements in this book were rather astounding, but in the bottom line I found it hard to understand what exactly is going on and, much more damning, found it hard to care. I just don't feel any urge to pick up a sequel.
2) Veil of the Betrayer - a self published debut... and very noticeably so. The writing is almost amateurish, on every level - from sentence structure and word choice to pacing and plotting, this novel simply isn't quite up to the standards I expect from authors I enjpy. There's some good stuff - this book has some intense fight scenes - but generally, this one let me down.
1) Dracula - perhaps it has been too long since this book fed on the blood of some young London lady, because it is not wearing its age well at all. Almost comically sexist by modern standards, full of flat characters and bad dialog, this book has probably sparked such a cultural phenomenon based mostly on the premise and on the resonance of a few standout set pieces. Reading it was dull and frustrating experience.

Top Five Books:
5) Bauchelain and Korbal Broach: I've read 5 books and one collection of three novellas in the Malazan Book of the Fallen saga, and decided to quit the series. It had some good things going for it, but in the bottom line it was mostly noise. The positive stnadout for me was this collection of novellas - some of the most deranged, absurd, and repulsive stuff I've ever read, and in such a unique and quirky way. These stories are just unlike anything else I've read, and I love them for it, even if I would never inflict them upon another, possibly saner, person.
4) Persepolis Rising: After a year of haitus I'm back with The Expanse, and this book is a very good rebound from the previous one, which I considered to be the weakest of the series. This one is vintage Expanse - it breaks completely new grounds in the story and setting while following the same throughline of theme that ties the series together. I don't wish to spoil anything from it, but suffice it to say that this book changes everything in the series, and was a great read.
3) The Selfish Gene: This book expanded my mind and gave me a whole new way to examine my world, all while being written with aplomb (and narrated equally well by Mr. Dwakins himself in the audible version). It is fascinating, well structured and very convincing. Not reading this book is like intentionally tying a scarfy around the eyes - I think everybody should read it, and get an appreciation of just how wonderfully complex yet ultimately comprehensible life is.
2) Merchanter's Luck: If a Han Solo type character were real, he'd be a pretty damaged guy. A charismatic yet lonesome smuggler who keeps barely scrapping by, and who learned to fear and mistrust good fortune and human company. This story captures this character so well as to be called perfect, as far as I'm concerned. Such a short book, and so packed with feeling and sympathy... it was a beautiful, heartbreaking thing.
1) Best Served Cold: Bloody, brilliant, hilarious, shocking... this book is just incredible. Only a real master of the craft is capable of creating anything like this, and it is quite possibly my favorite book in the decade. Not for the feint of heart, but I feel like this could be a good stand alone entrypoint to the first law universe and to Abercrombie's writing, if one is willing to treat the original trilogy as prequels. Sharp as a Tarantino film, polished as a Janny Wurts book, funny and well structured like a Sanderson epic. Just... simply, a 100% perfect execution of what this kind of book can be.

Wow, you read a lot of books in 2019.
And this forum needs such a thread about reading in 2022. It's summer already, and for example, I had a chance to finish four books. All of them are educational, but still!!

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