Jan 04 2018

Taking Stock of 2017

This was a good year for reading. No household relocations, no major changes on the job front, no international incidents. That adds up to a longer list of books (somewhat eclectically defined) read than any year since I began keeping these lists.

Voting for the Hugo award drove a lot of my reading in the middle of the year. It definitely increased the amount of what I read, and this list does not include all the works in various categories — fanzine, graphic story — that I read as part of making my choices. My choices were interestingly at odds with other voters. I would have given the award to N.K. Jemisin for her short story, rather than for The Obelisk Gate. The novella I liked best placed fifth in voting, while the novelette I liked best was the one that won. The other voters shared my enthusiasm for Words Are My Matter by Ursula K. Le Guin. All in all, being a Hugo voter was a rewarding experience, quite apart from the great joy that was the Worldcon itself. I hope to do it again in 2019 for Dublin, an Irish Worldcon.

Hugo reading was just part of a good year for authors who are new to me, although it brought several to my attention: Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, Kai Ashante Wilson, Kij Johnson, Victor LaValle. Beyond the Hugo finalists, authors whose work was new to me and left me wanting more include Ben H. Winters and Andrey Platonov.

Communist legacies turned up in a fair amount of this year’s reading, architecturally with Landscapes of Communism and Soviet Bus Stops, directly with Lenin on the Train, Conversations with Stalin, The Last Man in Russia and Revolutionary Russia, fictionally in The Foundation Pit, and as part of the big picture in Postwar, The Ottoman Endgame, and Germany: Memories of a Nation.

This year past, I read four books in German, eight graphic works, ten Discworld books, one Shakespeare play, and three books in translation (one from Russian, one from Polish, and one from Serbo-Croatian). I am fairly certain that I read I, Robot many years ago, so I re-read one book in 2017. (ETA: Whoops, I have read Macbeth numerous times. I just overlooked it in the list when I put this overview together. So that makes two.)

The non-fiction book I am most likely to read again is We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The non-fiction book with the most passages flagged for the review I am still working on is What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton, even if it is missing two words from its title. The fiction that has stayed with me the most includes Underground Airlines, The Foundation Pit, and A Taste of Honey. At least two of those three are about terribly repressive societies. Sign of the times?

Best book expressing a view about brass instruments goes to A Devil to Play by Jasper Rees. Best cover belongs to Lenin on the Train. Best scene whose outcome you already know is the one with the crossbow and the apple in Wilhelm Tell. Best geeking out on an obscure topic has to be China Among Equals. Best book with the word “fifth” in the title was The Fifth Elephant, although the best Discworld book was The Truth, even though the best single scene in a Discworld book was very likely the opening of Carpe Jugulum, with Granny Weatherwax called in to assist a midwife at an emergency birth.

Full list, roughly in order read, is under the fold with links to my reviews and other writing about the authors here at Frumious.

Landscapes of Communism by Owen Hatherley
Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Wallensteins Lager/Die Piccolomini by Friedrich Schiller
Jingo by Terry Pratchett
Sandman: Dream Country written by Neil Gaiman
Wallensteins Tod by Friedrich Schiller
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Postwar by Tony Judt
Sandman: Season of Mists written by Neil Gaiman
The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
Istanbul by Thomas F. Madden
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig
Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
The Foundation Pit by Andrey Platonov
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin
Militärmusik by Wladimir Kaminer
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Traveler of Worlds by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
Sonnets from the Crimea by Adam Mickiewicz
Ms Marvel: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson
The Ottoman Endgame by Sean McMeekin
The Truth by Terry Pratchett
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
This Census Taker by China Miéville
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
Ms Marvel: Generation Why written by G. Willow Wilson
Ms Marvel: Crushed written by G. Willow Wilson
Revolutionary Russia 1891-1991 by Orlando Figes
China Among Equals edited by Morris Rossabi
Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling
A Devil to Play by Jasper Rees
The Gates of Europe by Serhii Plokhy
Sandman: A Game of You written by Neil Gaiman
The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross
Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson
One Summer by Bill Bryson
A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carré
The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Last Man in Russia by Oliver Bullough
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne M. Valente
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson
Conversations with Stalin by Milovan Djilas
Wilhelm Tell by Friedrich Schiller
Ganymede by Cherie Priest
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Ms Marvel: Last Days written by G. Willow Wilson
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith
Black Light by Elizabeth Hand
Mission Child by Maureen F. McHugh
China: A History by Harold M. Tanner

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