December reading wrap-up

Happy new year. Here’s to this year being better than the last.

If you’re curious about what I’d read in 2020, Goodreads compiles the data in its Year in Books page. Nothing terribly impressive there; I’m not a very fast reader. Some of them are audiobooks, which totally count, and there’s only one comic. Strange. I kept thinking I should check out more of those from the library and never got to it.

My favourite book of the year is A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. (I’m excluding the Dorothy Dunnett rereads.) Space opera with a political bent as well as a smattering of alien literature—what’s not to love?

Books finished in December:

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  • Abaddon’s Gate by James SA Corey
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my love affair with the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

So. My favourite book series is the Lymond Chronicles, written by the incomparable Dorothy Dunnett. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s historical fiction, following the life of one fictional Scottish nobleman named Francis Crawford of Lymond (Lymond to you and me, Mr Crawford to irritated young girls trying to save him from himself, Francis to his very few friends) over the span of a decade or so. Here’s the thing: historical fiction is a genre I tend to avoid, but Dorothy Dunnett is just that good.   

My love for the series started quite accidentally. I was browsing in an old bookshop sometime in 2008 when I found myself eyeing a copy of The Game of Kings, the first book in the series, thinking that the title sounded familiar. Upon reading the blurb I realised it wasn’t what I expected at all—it was about a minor nobleman turned outlaw in 1547 Edinburgh who was trying to trace three men. I considered it for a while. On the one hand, if the title stuck to mind it probably was because someone had recommended it. On the other hand, I didn’t even read much historical fiction (my primary genre of choice had always been science fiction and fantasy), and knew nothing at all about sixteenth-century Scotland.

It was on sale. The cover had a castle and horses. Maybe it’ll have interesting sword fights, I thought, so I picked up the book, paid for it, and took it home with me.

Thus began my love affair with the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.

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November reading wrap-up

Four books finished in November:

  • Caliban’s War by James S A Corey
  • The Next Together by Lauren James
  • The Masnavi, Book One by Rumi (translated by Jawid Mojaddedi)
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Caliban’s War by James S A Corey

The second book in The Expanse series. I enjoyed this very much, but it won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the first book, Leviathan Wakes. Basically: humanity has colonised the solar system, and tensions between Earth, Mars and the outer planets are high. A lot of things are going on! The technology is believable, the cultural and physical shifts that happened as humans spread out into space are intriguing, and the characters are mostly likeable. And that’s just the first book.

I like the new characters that were introduced here (Avasarala! Bobbie! Prax! Okay, so I like all the POV characters) and the story is still fast-paced and exciting, building on what happened in Leviathan Wakes

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