I managed to read 31 "books" in 2020. I'm happy with that. I thought the
Pandemic would prevent me reaching my goal (30), since I did most of my reading
on the commute to the Newcastle office, pre-pandemic. Somehow I've managed to compensate.
I started setting a goal for books read per year in 2012 when I started to use
. Doing so started to influence the type of reading I do (which is
I stopped my Interzone subscription
although I resumed it again sometime afterwards). Once I realised that I've
been a bit more careful to ensure setting a goal was a worthwhile thing to do
and not just another source of stress in my life.
Two books I read were published in 2020. The first was Robert Galbraith's
(a.k.a. J K Rowling's)
, the fifth (and largest) in the series
of crime novels featuring Cormoran Strike (and the equally important Robin
Ellacott). Nowadays Rowling is a controversial figure, but I'm not writing
about that today, or the book itself, in much detail: briefly, it exceeded
expectations, and my wife and I really enjoyed it.
The other was Susanna Clarke's
: an utterly fantastic modern-fantasy
story, quite short, completely different to her successful debut novel
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
. I really loved
this book, partly because it appeals to my love of fantasy geography, but also
because it is very well put together, with a strong sense of the value of
A couple of the other books I read were quite Pandemic-appropriate. I tore
through Josh Malerman's
, a fast-paced post-apocalyptic style
horror/suspense story. The appeal was mostly in the construction and delivery:
the story itself was strong enough to support the book at the length that it
is, but I don't really feel it could have lasted much longer, and so I've no
idea how the new sequel (
) will work.
The other was
by Emily St. John Mandel. This was a story about
a group of travelling musicians in a post-apocalyptic (post-pandemic) North
America. A cast of characters all revolve around their relationship (or six
degrees of separation) to an actor who died just prior to the Pandemic. The
world-building in this book was really strong, and I felt sufficiently invested
in the characters that I would love to read more about them in another book.
that (although I'm largely just guessing here), in common
, the setting was there to support the novel and the ideas that
the author wanted to get across, and so I (sadly) doubt she will return to it.
Finally I read a lot of short fiction. I'll write more about that in a separate