Happy Sinterklaas! While I’m not particularly attached to any traditions, I grew up celebrating Sinterklaas and Christmas, and December 5th lets me know the end of the year is in sight… which means it must be time to roll out Ariel Bissett‘s End of The Year book tag. And eat chocolate.
Is there a book that you started that you still need to finish by the end of the year?
Dune by Frank Herbert, which I’ve been “actively reading” it for about a month now, but where “active reading” has often looked a lot like playing Stardew Valley instead. I can see why it became a classic, but it isn’t doing an awful lot for me. The first half is wrapped up in the Tragedy of House Atreides (without ever taking the time to convince me I should care about the fate of House Atreides; yes, they’re better than Harkonnens, but that’s a very, very low bar); and while I’m getting more out of the second half (largely because there’s actual worldbuilding amongst the Fremen), I’m longing for a character rather than a plot device as the protagonist.
I appreciate the ground it broke in the genre, but I doubt I’ll ever read the sequels. I am, however, off to see the film for a second time tonight so hats off to the power of brutalist architecture and excellent tailoring.
I started This Is Our Undoing by Lorraine Wilson in the summer, and I loved it. Her prose is a delight. The dystopian world-building and sense of past mistakes being compounded by current circumstances produce a simmering tension. The ever-so-cautious friendships that are respectful of dangerous secrets that they don’t have to react to if they don’t know about. It was all working brilliantly for me. So why haven’t I finished it already? I have a review PDF that is only readable on my iPad, which has been giving me migraines. I might just treat myself to a paper copy for Christmas so I can power through and find out what happens…
Do you have an autumnal book to transition to the end of the year?
Nope. I don’t do the whole seasonal reading thing; it’s pot luck. I’m reading a book set in a desert right now, and I’ve got 2 dystopias and a space opera calling my name. That said, I do plan to read How High We Go In The Dark before year’s end, which is (partially) set in the Arctic so I guess at least it will have snow and ice…
Is there a release you are still waiting for?
There isn’t this year. I haven’t yet compiled my monthly Make Some Room review for December, but I usually have a list of titles I’m already excited about before I start. This month, I don’t even know what’s coming out other than the (slightly delayed) Leviathan Falls (now out) and Bradley Beaulieu as Brendan Bellecourt’s new art deco SF Absynthe (which I only know about because it’s this month’s Goldsboro SFF Fellowship pick). The final volume of The Expanse is both extremely exciting and also probably not going to hit my reading queue until I finish my audio reread – I found some willpower somewhere – and Absynthe does sound really intriguing: a wild Jazz Age of almost magical technological advances, with a dark underbelly about to be exposed.
I’m sure there’s some other really interesting books just around the corner, but I’m going to have to go digging to find them!
Name three books you want to read by the end of the year
I already mentioned This Is Our Undoing by Lorraine Wilson and How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu. But there are a stack of 2021 releases that I haven’t got to yet and am burning to read; the ones likely to hit the top first are Becky Chambers’s latest novella A Psalm For The Wild-Built, Cadwell Turnbull’s they-walk-among-us monster thriller No Gods, No Monsters and Cat Rambo’s ex-military restaurateurs vs space pirates You Sexy Thing.
Is there a book that can still shock you and become your favourite of the year?
There’s a chance – but it would have to outdo the sapphic trifecta, the powerhouse novellas of Premee Mohamed and my beloved A Desolation Called Peace and Murderbot. That’s a helluva big ask. 2021 has been a very good reading year.
Have you already started making reading plans for 2022?
I’ve enjoyed not having plans in 2021. 2022 will see the fifth Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards, the fifth Wyrd and Wonder and the tenth SciFiMonth – which are big milestones in events I’m very passionate about – and I’m not sure I should plan much beyond those, because I’d like to do them all justice and that will take commitment and focus.
That said, I’m also tempted to contribute to Vintage SciFi Month (January) and February She Wrote; and I’m cooking up a plan to pay more attention to short stories. I’ve never actually got started on my two-year-old challenge to read more female-authored backlist and classic SFF and I’d really like to. I haven’t read anywhere near enough of my Goldsboro titles. I still have a sizeable ARC backlog (it hasn’t got worse in 2021, but it hasn’t got smaller either).
We’ll see how I feel by the end of December, but I suspect 2022 will be very ambitious. I just need to figure out how to work that so I can feel I have the freedom to read on a whim.
Fancy joining in? Tag yourself and link back so I can come check out your answers!