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Wednesday, 30 December 2020

2020 - Reading Through the Calamity: The Best and Worst (of Times)

 

My latest read - some fantasy!


As we all know, 2020 was a doozy, however I still managed to get a bit of reading done. I'll get right to it: reviewing the year I realise that I awarded no sublime ratings, it obviously just wasn't a year for the very best, however there were quite a few excellent ratings, the best of which was Vernor Vinge's novel A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), which simply burst with ideas and was written to a high standard. Damascus (2019) by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas was superb as well, uncompromising and compelling, it was also the best book club book I read all year, particularly as many book club choices were admirable at best. Querelle of Brest (1947) by Jean Genet was perhaps the most psychologically intense novel I read all year, and also one of the most unusual. It was also a good year for reading non-fiction, with six entering my brain via my book-shaped eyes, the best of which was Slavoj Zizek's The Courage of Hopelessness (2017), although he certainly is an intense man.

In some ways it was an odd year of reading, in which I reached for some books that I might have normally overlooked, such as Communion (1987) by Whitley Strieber, mostly to satisfy a curious reading itch I'd had since I was a teenager; the book was dubious, but I'm pleased that I finally read it. One of the worst books of the year was Space Ark (1981) by Thomas Huschman, which I read because I needed something light, which is was, but it was also far from the best science fiction you could read, unlike Revelation Space (2000) by Alastair Reynolds, which was superb. Two of the worst books were Before the Coffee Gets Cold (2019) by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, which was very stilted, and The Man Who Saw Everything (2019) by Deborah Levy, which was kind of pointless. Both were book club books and both came during a time when Perth was shut down during the beginning of the pandemic - they made for disappointing reads unfortunately. By far the worst book was Simon Goddard's Ziggyology (2013), which garnered a rare rating of reprehensible. I haven't changed my mind about that rating, so sorry to the person who commented, implying that it was all a bit harsh, I still feel just as harsh in fact. 

In any case, onwards toward another year of reading. I will not promise to read more books, as between working full time, a relationship and all the life admin things that have to be done it seems that I can never read more than about twenty four books in a year. Still, I might read more next year because I'll be spending less time reading about the reprehensibility of Trump in the media. I'd like to personally thank all 81 million + Americans who voted him out, you were on the right side of history.

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