Read in 2016

A slow-ish year this time, with my usual rush in January-March (more than half of the list) followed by a big ebb around mid-year. In the last few months all I’ve managed is starting a few chapters of one novel – at least my consistent audiobook progress keeps things moving a little. I blame my starting to play World of Warcraft again in August. I think I’m over it now.

New year’s resolutions: Read regularly, and update this blog more often.

Books

The Fifth Season – N. K. Jemisin
Radiance – Catherynne M. Valente
Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
Persona – Genevieve Valentine
Black Wolves – Kate Elliott
Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho
Archivist Wasp – Nicole Kornher-Stace
Testament – Hal Duncan
Signal to Noise – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Zoe’s Tale – John Scalzi
Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
The Sundial – Shirley Jackson
All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders
City of Blades – Robert Jackson Bennett
The Obelisk Gate – N. K. Jemisin

Audiobooks

Raising Steam – Terry Pratchett
The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
High Rise – J G Ballard
Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman
The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman
The Geek Feminist Revolution – Kameron Hurley
Sabriel – Garth Nix
Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr – Garth Nix
Abhorsen – Garth Nix
Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen – Garth Nix
Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

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Read in 2015 – Books

Though it won’t look it on the list below, this was a slow reading year for me. I got off to a good start with my Hugo reading at the beginning of the year, but I think I read less than a book a month for the last 6 months or so. Propping up that end of the list is my dive into Discworld audiobooks, which I listened to one my walk to and from work every day – I’ve made it from the 15th to the 39th novel in that series. I only actually sat down and read 19 books in prose form; I only read 2 books that were not newly released in 2014 or 2015.

There is a hell of a lot of good stuff in my short list for 2015, though. My favorite reads of the year were The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, The Goblin Emperor, The Grace of Kings, and Ancillary Mercy.

The Girl with All the Gifts – M R Carey
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club – Genevieve Valentine
Love is the Drug – Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
Men At Arms – Terry Pratchett
The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu
Soul Music – Terry Pratchett
Interesting Times – Terry Pratchett
A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab
The Girl in the Road – Monica Byrne
Maskerade – Terry Pratchett
Feet of Clay – Terry Pratchett
Get in Trouble – Kelly Link
The Hogfather – Terry Pratchett
Jingo – Terry Pratchett
The Familiar volume 1 – Mark Z Danielewski
The Last Continent – Terry Pratchett
The Last Colony – John Scalzi
Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett
The Grace of Kings – Ken Liu
The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett
The Truth – Terry Pratchett
Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett
The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett
The Lives of Tao – Wesley Chu
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett
Night Watch – Terry Pratchett
The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett
Uprooted – Naomi Novik
Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps – Kai Ashante Wilson
A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett
Going Postal – Terry Pratchett
Empire Ascendant – Kameron Hurley
Ancillary Mercy – Ann Leckie
Thud! – Terry Pratchett
Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett
Making Money – Terry Pratchett
Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett
Karen Memory – Elizabeth Bear
Seveneves – Neal Stephenson
I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
Snuff – Terry Pratchett

Listening to the Discworld

For the last few months, I’ve been listening to Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels on audiobook. I’d read a lot of the books when I was in school, and always meant to get back to it sometime. I guess Pratchett’s death finally prompted me to do it.

I started where I had left off almost 15 years ago, downloading Men at Arms, the 15th Discworld novel. I can hardly remember what happened in the earlier books now, but it was easy enough to pick it up here. Men at Arms was excellent; almost 10 books further down, it’s still one of the best I’ve listened to. The City Watch books seem to stand uniformly above the others – there’s something about coming back to these characters, the city of Ankh-Morpork, and the kind of stories Pratchett tells through them that appeals to me more than do the Witches, Rincewind, or Susan Sto Helit.

It’s interesting to hear the way Pratchett builds upon the Discworld, on its places and characters, book by book. Each one take up something new, expands upon ideas introduced in earlier books, and works to create this rich, living world with strong continuity which nevertheless manages to stay accessible at each step. Pratchett’s is an oeuvre of strong stand-alone novels that you could pick up individually at any point, but are all the more rewarding when you’ve read those that come before.

I hadn’t listened to audiobooks before, but it seemed the most convenient way to fit them into my schedule. Listening to the audio production of a book has been quite a different experience from reading them; it took me some time to get used to the narrator, Nigel Planer, because his voice was so far from what I would have given the books in my own mind. But I soon grew accustomed to him, and to the distinct and recognisable voices he gave to each of the many characters, to the point that when the narrator changed – on The Fifth Elephant, the book I’m currently listening to, which is read by Stephen Briggs – it all felt very wrong (I’ve spent the early chapters repeatedly thinking “that’s not what he/she’s supposed to sound like!”). Still, whoever’s reading them, it’s Terry Pratchett’s words, his wit, and most of all his characters that shine through.

If you’ve never visited the Discworld before, I can highly recommend it. Pratchett’s work is funny, finely crafted, and full of heart. (Many readers would recommend starting with the completely standalone Small Gods.) I only feel sorry that at the pace I’m getting through them, I’ll run out of his books all too soon.