My Reading List for 2021

c. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

So, one month into the new year, and I’m already starting to adhere to some of my resolutions (gasp! shock! wordless disbelief!) I’ve started exercising a little more, I’ve been focusing more on keeping my apartment clean, and I’ve been doing hobbying on a little more regular a basis. And while I have yet to start writing a little more regularly (despite having ample time to do so, especially now that Toronto is in yet another lockdown– blame a combination of writer’s block, laziness and mental fatigue for that), I have resolved to get more reading done. After all, I have a mostly-unfinished book shelf to get through, not to mention a few audiobooks and e-books aside, and now that my main time for reading is unavailable (ie reading on the subway on my way to work), I’m finding I actually have to dedicate time to get more reading done. You know, when I’m not being distracted by the horrible internet.

With that in mind, here are some of the things on my bookshelf that I hope to read this year:

Authority and Acceptance (Jeff VanDerMeer)- the titular movie of the same name prompted me to read Jeff VanDerMeer’s Annihilation, and I loved it: it’s combination of unsettling imagery, unreliable narration, weird, altered landscapes created an atmosphere of slow, mounting dread that pulled me in. It is for this reason that I pretty much have to read the other two books in the “Southern Reach trilogy” at this point, just to see where this exercise in cosmic horror goes.

The Fifth Season (N.K. Jemisen)- I have heard interesting things about N.K. Jemisen’s “Broken Earth,” series, and funnily enough, I ended up getting her first book, The Fifth Season, for my birthday. As several of my friends have recommended Jemisen’s work to me, I am definitely going to give The Fifth Season (and then potentially the two books that follow it) a fair read.

Consider Phlebas (Iain M. Banks)- The late Iain Banks is an author whose works I encountered briefly, having read a considerable portion of Matter several years ago. As Consider Phlebas is the first book of his “Culture” series, I’m intrigued enough to give it a go– with Matter I found I really enjoyed Banks’ narration, and his playful dalliance between science fiction and swords-and-shields fantasy. I’m definitely curious about what Consider Phlebas has behind its covers.

Kraken and Embassytown (China Mieville)- China Mieville is without a doubt one of my favourite authors: his Perdido Street Station remains one of the most wonderfully weird and conceptually deranged steampunk novels I have ever read, and he somehow managed to write Railsea using a strange post-apocalyptic dialect of English without it being aggravating or hard to follow (that fact that it was a post-apocalyptic version of Moby Dick featuring steam trains and giant molerats made it even weirder). While I have no idea at this time what I’m getting into with Kraken or Embassytown, with China Mieville I know it’s going to be weird as hell, and just as enjoyable.

New York 2140 and The Years of Rice and Salt (Kim Stanley Robinson)- admittedly, novels about ecological disasters, disease and famine may not be the best things give me peace of mind in the middle of a global pandemic; however, I have heard good recommendations about Kim Stanley Robinson. In particular, his subject matter and writing style have both been compared favourably to Paolo Bacigalupi, whose The Water Knife and The Wind-Up Girl I both enjoyed, and who presented an interesting view of what a world dramatically affected by climate change would do to human society.

The Boy on the Bridge (M.R. Carey)- apparently a follow up/sequel/side story to Carey’s more well known title, The Girl With All The Gifts, a book which I thoroughly enjoyed even before its equally good movie version came out. I’m curious if The Boy on the Bridge will take place in the same universe, with most of the world ravaged by a Last of Us-esque fungal zombie infection, or it it will be just as uncompromisingly brutal and painfully beautiful as its predecessor.

Ravenor Rogue (Dan Abnett)- Somehow, to my complete and utter surprise, I just realized that (1) I have the conclusion to Dan Abnett’s Ravenor trilogy sitting on my bookshelf, and (2) I somehow haven’t read it yet. I’m going to have to rectify this as soon as possible (and then afterwards, maybe move on to Pariah).

The Lost (Dan Abnett)- again, somehow I have had this sitting on my shelf for a while untouched, despite the fact that I frickin’ love Dan Abnett’s “Gaunt’s Ghosts” series. Given that the last book in the series that I read was The Guns of Tanith, there are a lot of cliff-hangery questions that I want answered.

A crapload of Warhammer 40,000 audiobooks- What can I say, they were on sale through Humble Bundle and I took advantage. This way, I can at least get caught up on the tales of the Horus Heresy even while at work.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor do I expect to get through everything by the end of the year (especially since there are also a number of shows I want to watch, games I need to get through on Steam, painting projects I need to finish, etc…my time is not very easy to divide). However, nonetheless, these are all books that I either want to finish at some point, or at the very least get started on so that I can give them all a fair shake. Either way, I’m hoping that this is yet another thing that can keep my mind a little more active as I patiently wait for vaccines to be rolled out.

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