Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Favorite Books of 2019

So this is not going to go the way it used to.

Typically, I have a long explanation up front -- see last year for a type specimen -- about how I do this, and why there are twelve books, and then list one top book for each month along with a few other things worth mentioning.

But there are several months in 2019 where I didn't finish a single book: 2019 has been a massive outlier in my reading life (and, I hope, not the new normal). So that style simply won't work.

To be more specific, I only read 44 books in 2019. That's not just down from 2018's record-breaking 433, it's less than a third of the previous low, 2017's 139. I just don't have a regular time or place for reading actual books in my life now, and it shows.

I started typing this thinking that I would end up with a shorter list -- four or five books, maybe -- of recent things I read this year and can recommend. But I also almost completely stopped reading new books as the year went on, instead trying ever-more-powerful re-reads and classics to try to jump-start my reading enthusiasm (current candidate: Catch-22).

So that shorter list would actually be the first three things I read, back in January -- Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology, Charles Stross's The Labyrinth Index, and Steve Erickson's Shadowbahn. And that seems more than a little pointless.

In the end, I do not have a list of favorite books that I read in 2019. In fact, I'd like to forget the way I was reading in 2019, along with a lot of other things about 2019, as quickly as possible.

(Also: in past years I would do another first-of-the-year post linking back to the first and last posts of the prior year. Since I've also been posting vastly less often this year, I'm not going to do that at all.)

I have no idea how 2020 will go. I'm coming to think I need some kind of structure in my reading life, as I did in 2018 (when I had basically the same physical set-up and working life as 2019). And "do this every day" clearly works well for me. But the book-a-day metric tends to push me to often-junky graphic novels and manga, which isn't what I want. So I may need to set a page goal: we'll see.

Anyway. I hope 2019 was less frustrating for you (in this way, at least) than it was for me. And best wishes for a better 2020.

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