It’s a new year, and I read some new books.
I didn’t read anywhere near as much as last year, since I got much busier in other ways, but nonetheless I enjoyed what I did read. There were numerous stretches of over a month where I didn’t read at all, and where I used to read for at least an hour before bed, I found myself falling asleep within just a few pages.
One thing I noticed is that I have a much easier time keeping up momentum when chapters are short; series like Bobiverse are great for this. When I see that a chapter is over 30 pages long, my stomach sinks a little and I usually have a pretty low chance of reading the whole chapter before falling asleep or getting distracted by something else. Damn millenials and their short attention spans.
Pierce Brown: Red Rising#
It’s like The Hunger Games, but a bit more adult, and with a more promising plot that I think will develop really nicely through the subsequent books in the series. It’s quite gripping, although the protagonist strikes me as a bit of a Mary Sue. I would like to continue this series, but I don’t know if I’ll ever want to read the next one more than I want to read some other book.
N.K. Jemisin: The Fifth Season & The Obelisk Gate#
A post-apocalyptic fantasy series with some pretty clear parallels to post-climate-disaster Earth. I especially liked the worldbuilding in these books; the pace at which details about the setting were revealed was perfect. I didn’t know a whole lot going into the story, and so it was cool to be constantly recalibrating my expectations as it became more and more fantasy. There’s also a big reveal that took me totally by surprise and brought things together really nicely. One book remains in the trilogy, which I will almost definitely read this year.
Patrick Rothfuss: The Name of the Wind#
Some nice epic fantasy that really pulls you in and makes you want to curl up and ignore all your real-world commitments for a few days. I read this early last year and don’t quite remember many of the plot points or themes but I just remember really enjoying this book. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, this year (despite the chances of the series ever being finished looking pretty slim).
William Gibson: Neuromancer#
To be totally honest, I have absolutely no idea what happened in this book. I started it right before I adopted Argo and read very intermittently over the next three months. I could never really tell whether something was happening in the real world or the digital world, or even who the characters were and what they were trying to do, much less what the themes were. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday, since it’s considered such a foundational piece of the cyberpunk genre.
Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian#
Oh boy. I’ve wanted to read this book since high school, and I’m glad I waited until now; it would have crushed me. In a word, it’s… bleak. I might call it an anti-Western, where the cowboy protagonists aren’t necessarily the good guys. Frankly, I don’t even know if I was super into the story, or if I understood all the themes and metaphors, but Judge Holden is undisputedly one of the most interesting and terrifying villains ever written. Months after finishing the book, one of his lines still lingers in my head:
Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.
Dan Simmons: Hyperion & The Fall of Hyperion#
Hyperion is definitely my favourite book that I read this year. While it itself is a science fiction novel, it follows a sort of anthology format where each character tells their own origin story from their own perspective, adding elements of horror, fantasy, adventure, noir, and more. It’s totally character-driven, while keeping the mystery of the main plot, and the Shrike especially, dangling in front of the reader.
While the sequel doesn’t quite match up to the original work, it’s great in its own right. There are still two more novels in the series, but The Fall of Hyperion acts as a good stopping point and many say that the latter half of the series isn’t nearly as good as the former. That being said, I’ll probably still check out Endymion at some point.
Frank Herbert: Children of Dune#
The Duniverse is still weird and intriguing. I don’t really have much to say that I didn’t write in my thoughts on the first two books, though. A lot of people say that after this, the series ceases to be good (coincidentally at the halfway point just like The Hyperion Cantos), but I am definitely still going to give God Emperor of Dune a try solely to read more about Leto II in his rather… interesting condition.
Dennis E. Taylor: For We Are Many#
Bobiverse continues to be awesome! I’m a big fan of the “what is humanity?” sci-fi trope, and this one nails it, just like The Murderbot Diaries. It’s lighthearted and nerdy and fun and the chapters are so short that I get stuck in loops of “just one more” until I’ve basically read the entire book. I’m actually in the middle of the third book in the series, All These Worlds, right now and might just jump right into the fourth when I’m done. I really can’t recommend this series enough to anyone interested in science fiction.
That’s it! Just ten books. With the exception of Blood Meridian, I stayed true to character with just sci-fi and fantasy. In 2023 I don’t really care to match my 2021 intensity, but I would like to get back into a better reading routine, which will hopefully involve watching less TV in the evenings.
I’d like to take this opportunity to formally congratulate my mother for crushing me in our informal reading competition with a whopping 44 books. That’s still less than I read in 2021, but I’ll allow her the satisfaction this year.