I am very late in writing this post. 2020 isn’t a year I’m eager commemorate. In that view before I get into my usual tally of books read and highlights here are a few charities I supported last year. Being able to help even just by giving money was one of the few things that made the worst times bearable.
There were a few personal highlights. To begin with, on January 1st of 2020 Cossmass Infinites launched, featuring my story Deadbeat in the first Issue. If a story about the illegitimate daughter of a deceased superhero set in Chicago appeals to you it’s available to purchase here.
September saw my story Ten Secret Things You Don’t Know about Closet Monster published by Daily Science Fiction. It can be read here.
It’s always thrilling to see my writing out in the world. Watch this space as a at least two more will be coming out this year.
2020 is also the year I qualified for and joined the SFWA.
My creative output has been fairly consistent. I’ve been writing about the same amount as normal and continue to draw and embroider. I started an Instagram to feature my various craft projects. https://www.instagram.com/susantaitel/
Okay on to the numbers:
Last year I read a total of 83 books. That includes print, audio, and graphic novels. But doesn’t include short stories read on their own instead of as part of an anthology and single issues of comic runs read on a month to month basis and the many short story length or novel length or epic novel length fan fiction I read last year.
Audiobooks: 17 That number is a lot lower than normal because most of my audio listening happens on my work commute which for most of last year my work commute has been from my bedroom to my living room.
Graphic Novels: 48 That is number is a little higher than normal since I got a subscription to Marvel Unlimited.
Library books: 5
Borrowed from friends: 4
Short Story Collections: 2
Novellas &novelettes: 5
Nonfiction, memoir, essays: 4
Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. Brosh is a master storyteller. I don’t think I laughed harder at a book all year. It also made me cry.
Young Avengers by Keiron Gillen. I’m only linking to the first volume but the whole run is fantastic.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby. I lied, I laughed just as hard at this book. Maybe more. Samantha Irby is a gem.
Rogue and Gambit by Kelly Thompson. I’d read some of Thompson’s Hawkeye run and enjoyed it. Having read more of her work I now count her as one of my favorite comics writers.
Docile by K.M Szpara. Docile went places I wasn’t expecting and treated the difficult subject matter with respect and nuance. I was so invested in Elisha’s safety and wellbeing.
Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer. Catnet shares the place in my heart with Murderbot for pop culture loving, social awkward, heroic AI.
Jessica Jones by Kelly Thompson. Another Thompson entry. Jessica Jones had previously only been written by her creator I was a little worried to see her in the hands of another writer but Thompson got Jessica, one of my all-time favorites, exactly right. I really hope to see more of this character and writer pairing.
The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith. A.J. has created one of the most compelling metafictional worlds I’ve ever read. I’m saving the sequel for when I need a real treat.
Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater. I was champing at the bit for the first book of the Dreamer Trilogy that centers on Ronan from the Raven Cycle. It did not disappoint and now I’m waiting anxiously for book two.
Special shout out to Rainbow Rowell’s Runaways that I have been reading month to month. It is just phenomenal.
I read a lot of good stuff last year but probably best to stop here.
Welcome to the Twenties! How weird does that sound? I had an extra busy final week of the year so my yearly wrap up post is just a touch late.
2019 saw me primarily occupied with getting up to speed in my new job. But I also wrote more this year than I have in a very long time. I sold two stories and saw one of them published in 2019. If you haven’t already you can listen to my take on Beauty and the Beast, the Rose Sisterhood, on Cast of Wonders. Leigh Wallace’s narration is excellent.
Most of my writing-related activities in 2019 centered on my monthly meetings with my awesome critique partners. In addition I attended Fourth Street Fantasy again and have every attention to go again in 2020. I also hosted another 2-Page Workshop for MinnSpec.
Okay Enough about me, time to gush about my friends. Two of my Viable Paradise 20 classmates published novels this year. I got to read the opening chapters of Valerie Valdes’s Chilling Effect at VP and fell in love with it. I was thrilled when the rest of the book was as funny and irreverent and heartfelt as those first chapters. I highly recommend it! I also read the first chapter of AJ Hackwith’s Library of the Unwritten. And while I have not yet read the full novel (though I will be soon) I have no doubt it will be as good as the amazing sample I read on the Island.
Several other of my VP classmates had good years, publishing stories and poems and putting out Hugo nominated podcasts. So if you are looking for even more reading material check out Wren Wallis, Karen Osborne, Jo Miles, and Jennifer Mace.
On to the book talk!
My favorite reads were, in no particular order:
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Wayward Sons by Rainbow Rowell
Pumpkinheads also by Rainbow Rowell.
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
Puddin‘ by Julie Murphy
Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
What can I say? I read a lot of good stuff in 2019.
I have not read anything by this author but I ‘m going to start now because I just loved this book. It was so unexpected and fun. On its surface, it’s a run of the mill YA fantasy. A young man from the “real world” is recruited by a magic school in a fantasy world. But it has a lot to say about training teenagers to be soldiers and diplomacy over violence. However what really drew me in was its characters. I got so invested. The main character Eliott is so marvelously flawed. He is a bit awful but in a very relatable and entertaining way and his two best friends, Luke Sunborn and Serene Heart in the Chaos of Battle are fully realized and also have their own distinct and satisfying story arcs. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Plus there’s mermaids and unicorns and elves and so much LGBTQ awesomeness. Also, it’s just plain hilarious.
Another author I was not familiar with until this year. This series of novellas is narrated by an AI created to be a hirable security unit with no free will. But the AI has hacked their own programming and can make decisions for themselves. They dub themself Murderbot for several reasons, not the least being because self-aware robots are almost always portrayed as killing machines. I absolutely adore Murderbot. They are not very trusting of humanity and mostly want to be left alone to watch TV. As an introvert with anxiety, I can relate. The novellas follow Murderbot as they investigate an incident in their past from just before they became self-aware. They run afoul of an evil corporation and often find themself feeling responsible for the safety of different groups of humans despite not really wanting to be. All four books are great but the second is my favorite.
The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samatha Irby
Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories by Naomi Kritzer
Opal: A Raven Cycle Story by Maggie Stiefvater
Favorite Authors by the numbers:
Neil Gamin – 5
Martha Wells – 4
Bryan K. Vaughan – 3
Becky Chambers – 3
Seanan Maguire – 2
Maggie Stiefvater – 1
Naomi Kritzer – 1
Samantha Irby – 1
Marissa Meyer – 1
George R.R. Martin – 1
Connie Willis – 1
Holly Black -1
John Scalzi – 1
David Sedaris – 1
Nnedi Okorafor – 1
Three of my stories were published this year, including my first professional sale. Read them here: Seeded, Amenities, Cat Lady.
Fourth Street Fantasy Convention was another big highlight this year. I got to meet up with several Viable Paradise friends and made several new ones. I’m looking forward to attending again next June.
I completed my revision on my superhero novella and have begun submitting it to publishers.
I’m working on a long-form WIP that I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with once it’s done and a few more ideas percolating.
And here is the current state of my to read shelves.
It’s still completely out of control. Maybe by next year, I will have conquered the piles on the floor. Hahahahahahahahahahahahsob.