Friday, January 03, 2020

A new year, a new reading challenge

Last year, I pledged to read sixty books in Goodreads’ yearly reading challenge, but ended up reading sixty-five. I had compiled a list of sixty-nine books, but in the end I read only twenty books from it. It wasn’t that I had selected uninteresting books to my list, but there were so many new books that I discovered and absolutely had to read right away, that the list ended up to be completely different.


Not everything I chose to read was to my liking. There were a number of books, by my favourite authors even, that I began to read and then didn’t finish. Some because they were disappointingly boring, others because a new book that I absolutely had to read pushed them aside, never to be picked up again. I discovered a couple of new series that I binged, like The Others by Anne Bishop and The Winston Brothers by Penny Reid, and new authors, like Susan Ee and Robyn Bennis, both of which I hope to read in coming years.


Twenty-nine authors, many with multiple books, were women, and only five were men, although I began a couple of books written by men that I then didn’t finish. Only nine authors were other than white westerners, so I clearly have some improving to do on that front.


My favourite books of the year were A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, a Beauty and the Beast retelling that completely changed my mind about retellings; The Guns Above by Robin Bennis, a steampunk military saga that kept me captivated despite being basically a long description of a military campaign; Written in Red by Anne Bishop that sent me on a binge of a brilliant urban fantasy series that was unlike most series out there; The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black that finished her brilliant The Folk of the Air trilogy; and Unnatural Magic by C. M. Waggoner, a unique take on trolls, magic, and gender relations and norms. On top of that came the perennial favourites, Nalini Singh and J. R. Ward with several books each.


This year, I pledged to read sixty-five books. Since I had slight trouble finishing the challenge last year, I’m not entirely hopeful that I’ll manage to read that many books, but it won’t be for lack of trying. I’ve compiled a list of eighty-one booksso far—so I have plenty to choose from.


Some books, mostly those I already own, were moved from the previous list—or even the one before that—to this year’s list. There are books belonging to series that I want to finish. Then there are a number of books that will be published this year.

One that I’m definitely looking forward to reading is A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer, a follow-up to her brilliant book that comes out next week. City of Stone and Silence is the next book in Django Wexler’s unique Wells of Sorcery series. There will be a new Peter Grant book, a new series from Darynda Jones, and also a new, long-awaited Dresden Files book, not to mention several books from Nalini Singh and J. R. Ward that will keep me occupied. On top of that I added new authors to me that I hope I’ll finally have time to read this year, Elizabeth Bear and Tamsyn Muir among them.


The year began with The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, a brilliant fantasy debut set in a world much like ancient China. I already have the second book in the trilogy, The Dragon Republic, waiting, and the last book, The Burning God, will be published at the end of the year. Although it tells a story of a young woman who discoveres she has powers unlike anyone else and will likely turn out to be the chosen one, the culture is so unique and Rin so unlike western heros that it makes the story feel new. A perfect start for my reading year.


How about you, what will you be reading this year?

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