Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020 on Goodreads

2020 on Goodreads2020 on Goodreads by Various
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

2020 did not suck . . . as far as reading went. Au contraire, my methodology for limiting my "to read" shelf seems to be working. The secret is: I don't let my list get longer than 30 books. If I have 30 books on my TBR shelf on Goodreads, and I want to read another, I have to remove one. This causes me to be very careful in my pre-assessment of books. I read a variety of reviews (eschewing those with spoilers, of course) and give a good hard think to whether or not I want my "current crush" to displace something else on the list. My pickiness has paid off. I'm going to keep doing this. It also ensures that if I have had something on the list for a while, I better save up my geld and spring for that book before too long, or it might be pushed off the list by something more desirable.

To quote Devo:

Ain't it true
There's room for doubt
Maybe some things that you can do without
And that's good . . .

Another good thing is that I started the year reading Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. This set the tone for my year in many ways. I took two social media "fasts", one in February, one in December, which allowed me to read and write a lot more and focus on some projects that I had been wanting to accomplish for, in some cases, many years, including the publication of my books The Varvaros Ascensions and The Simulacra and the inclusion of a story in an anthology which I was very excited about. I was also able to spend time handwriting letters and snail mailing my favorite literary people (one of which I owe a letter, still). With my resolve hardened to spend more time in the analog world, I hit the books harder than even I anticipated.

I read so many great books that it's hard to narrow it down to my absolute favorites, but among them were definitely:

John Howard's The Voice of the Air

Benjamin Tweddell's A"> Crown of Dusk and Sorrow

Damian Murphy's Psalms of the Magistrate

The Journal of the London School of Pataphysics, #21>

Arthur Machen's
The Hill of Dreams

Colin Insole's Valerie and Other Stories

Louis Marvick's Dissonant Intervals

If you held a gun to my head (please don't), I would probably pick Howard's work as my favorite. I won't go on about it here - go read the review (then buy yourself a copy and read the book)!

Were there disappointments? Sure. I DNF Ishiguro's The Unconsoled, and my expectations for Mark Fisher's Ghosts of My Life were probably unrealistic, going into it. But I didn't read a bad book all year. Unsuccessful? Yes. Bad? No, not really.

For Christmas, my wife bought me five books. That, added to the 15 or so on my shelf, could last all year, who knows? No, who am I kidding? I'll buy more. But only up to 30 at a time! I have my limits!

Note that many of the books on my list this year and all of my favorites listed above, are from boutique small presses. I really do believe in getting the money to the authors directly, whenever possible, and to the publication houses, as the next best thing. Especially when people are struggling, I want my money to go directly to those who are producing such beautiful works, whenever possible. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, they are sometimes difficult to get a hold of. And, yes, I do sometimes buy from that one online book distributor. But I'm trying to keep it direct, as much as possible, since I'm in a position to do so. I know not everyone can do that (did I mention that many of these books are expensive), but if you can, please support the small guys out there. They need it now, more than ever, and I'd hate to see the wonderful sort of literature they are publishing and the beautiful editions that they are producing disappear.

With that, I should be spending waaaaaay less time worrying about the news in 2021, whether because of regime change or because I'm burying my head in the sand during a social media fast (I plan on "fasting" every two weeks for a two week duration, at least for the first part of this year). Oh, and I should mention: I'm not counting Goodreads as "social media" when it comes to the fast. I'm always up for intelligent conversation (or outright goofiness) when talking with readerly friends. You guys are the best!

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