It’s that time of the year again. On the one hand, it feels like 2020 has just started and like every year, I wonder where all that time went. On the other hand, I could swear 2020 has been going on for at least three years what with all the things that have happened. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, although it’s fairly under control here in Austria by now. We have about 450 cases at the moment, most restrictions have been lifted, and life is slowly returning to something resembling normal.
But I won’t lie. Current events had quite an impact on my reading. Not only because I suddenly hat a lot more time to read books but also because they made me seek out different types of books than I might have otherwise. I’m the kind of person who reads books about pandemics during an actual pandemic (if that’s not your jam, I totally understand. I don’t know why I’m like this.) and the Black Lives Matter protests definitely pushed some of my books by Black authors higher up on the TBR but they also made me read a lot more news, non-fiction, and pieces written by Black people about systemic racism and what’s going in the US right now.
How Much Have You Read
Total books read: 67
By Authors of Color: 17
I’ve been doing pretty well this year although I lost a lot of motivation for my reading challenges. When the world is falling apart, reaching a reading goal doesn’t seem all that important anymore and reading becomes more of a comfort, a self-care ritual. The current protests in support of #BlackLivesMatter also made me reexamine my reading habits and I changed my TBR priorities because of that. I have tons of books by Black authors anyway but now they’re going to get read a little sooner. My reading habits have changed quite a bit since I started this blog (from basically only reading white men and a handful of women to reading mostly women and a lot more Authors of Color) but I can do so much better! During the first half of the year, only about 25% of my books were by Authors of Color. So for the rest of the year, I’m setting myself a little challenge not only to continue reading books by the Black authors I already know and love but to discover at least 10 new ones. That’s how favorites happen, after all.
BEST BOOKS YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020
- N. K. Jemisin – The City We Became
- Frances Hardinge – Deeplight
- Ted Chiang – Exhalation: Stories
- Ursula K. LeGuin – The Tombs of Atuan
- Connie Willis – Doomsday Book
- Joan He – Descendant of the Crane
- Brandon Sanderson – Starsight
The City We Became is now a more timely book than ever. I read it before the protests that are currently happening all over the world and I honestly thought Jemisin painted her racist characters a little too racist. My opinion on that has changed. What I’ve seen in during the last weeks – videos, twitter exchanges, posts on social media sites – show that Jemisin knew exactly what she was writing and her characters are sadly realistic.
Deeplight totally swept me away. It is everything a YA novel should be and I’m still not over how phenomenal those characters were.
Doomsday Book turned me into a sobbing mess and I haven’t stopped thinking about that book since I read it. It is also very fitting for our current times as it’s about the plague as well as an epidemic so you can guess why it hit me so hard.
You can read more about my thoughts in my reviews (linked above).
BEST SEQUELS OF 2020 SO FAR
I’m finally reading the Earthsea Cycle this year! Three books in, The Tombs of Atuan is definitely my favorite. It’s a sneaky book that makes you care about the characters without letting you notice. And suddenly, you’re all emotions.
Sanderson continues to produce thrilling stories set in highly original worlds and this sequel to Skyward delivered just the kind of exciting YA adventure I wanted.
NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT YOU WANT TO
There are many, but these are the ones I’m looking forward to the most:
- Martha Wells – Network Effect
- Tochi Onyebuchi – Riot Baby
- Ilze Hugo – The Down Days
MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF THE SECOND HALF OF 2020
A lot! Here’s a few of them, although my actual wishlist is much longer.
- Susanna Clarke – Piranesi
- Jordan Ifueko – Raybearer
- Julia Ember – Ruinsong
- Brandon Sanderson – Rhythm of War
- Naomi Novik – A Deadly Education
- Nnedi Okorafor – Ikenga
- Romina Garber – Lobizona
- Lauren Beukes – Afterland
- Alaya Dawn Johnson – Trouble the Saints
- Kalynn Bayron – Cinderella is Dead
- Alix E. Harrow – The Once and Future Witches
- Kiersten White – The Guinevere Deception
- Blake Crouch – Recursion
It’s been a long time since I’ve been that bored with a book that sounded so good. The Guinevere Deception has flat characters, almost no plot, a lame climax and the constant feeling that this is just the opening chapter to the real story. I want the real story right now, thank you very much!
I picked up Blake Crouch because BookTube was hyping him like crazy. And while I can’t deny that Recursion was a page turner with a twist in every other chapter, it left no lasting impression. I felt very much like I was reading a science fiction thriller version of a Dan Brown book.
Descendant of the Crane just completely blew me away. I had no particular expectations so I was all the more happy to get a well thought-out story where young characters have to make tough decisions and are faced with difficult situations.
And of course I finally had to try The Witcher, which also exceeded all my expectations. I didn’t think I would get such a character driven story. I expected action and swordfighting and manly Witcher man being manly (which is totally okay) and instead I got something that resonated much more deeply with me. Fairy tales, characters in all shades of grey, and a protagonist who deals as much with ethics as he does with monsters.
FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR (DEBUT OR AUTHOR TO YOU)
She’s not new to me but finally picking up a second book by this author turned Frances Hardinge into a new favorite. Ted Chiang impressed me deeply with his story collection and I will definitely read more by him. Jessica Townsend has potential to become a favorite. I had so much fun with her book Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. And Rivers Solomon continues to impress me. I’ve only read shorter works by them so far but I’m already itching to pick up their novel An Unkindness of Ghosts.
Newest fictional crush
Geralt of Rivia of course.
I’m kidding. I don’t really get fictional crushes anymore but I won’t deny that I imagined Henry Cavill while reading The Witcher. And he is one beautiful man!
Newest favorite character
BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY
Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book.
I mean… it’s a book that deals with time travel where a young historian visits the time of the plague. And there’s also an epidemic going on in the present. So it’s not like I didn’t expect some character deaths to happen. But Willis had me sobbing by the end in a way that I did not see coming.
A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY
Jessica Towsnend – Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
It helped that I read this while on holiday on a beach in Myanmar but I think even rainy, cloudy days could have been brightened by this lovely book. I’m keeping the rest of the series for a time when I need to just feel good.
MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT OR RECEIVED THIS YEAR
Although this book has not technically arrived yet, it is beautiful to me both because first of all, I think it’s really pretty but also because I’ve been looking for a copy for years and finally found one that was in my price range. I did pay 50€ for it, so it was still pretty expensive. But now my Catherynne M. Valente collection is complete and I couldn’t be happier. The book is called Under in the Mere and it is illustrated by James and Jeremy Owen. I can’t wait to see it in person (be faster, post people!).
WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?
So many. Like I mentioned above, my regular reading challenges, including the Retellings Challenge, aren’t a priority anymore. Here’s a selection of what I hope to read this year not already covered in my most anticipated releases:
- Bram Stoker – Dracula
- N. K. Jemisin – The Stone Sky
- Rivers Solomon – An Unkindness of Ghosts
- Octavia E. Butler – Parable of the Sower
- Tade Thompson – The Rosewater Insurrection
- Evan Winter – The Rage of Dragons
- Helen Oyeyemi – White is for Witching
- Emma Newman – Planetfall