In 2021, I read a total of 20 books. Not my strongest year, not by far.
I would argue that having a baby, buying a house, receiving a promotion to a new post, and writing a book of my own got in the way of my reading schedule. But also I just plain made less time for myself reading than before.
It’s funny in a way, how the pandemic has actually seen my reading habits drop. Missing are those 20 minute bus rides twice a day that helped me slay a book a week.
Anyways, here is the list:
Olsen – A Conspiracy of Faith
Olsen – Purity of Vengeance
Kepler – Lazarus
Druon – King without a Kingdom
Anthropy – ZZT
Ito – Uzomaki
Morgan – The Steel Remains
Morgan – The Cold Commands
Morgan – The Dark Defiles
Higginbotham – Midnight in Chernobyl
Brown – Red Rising
Brown – Golden Sun
Brown – Morning Star
Baker – Gospel According to the Klan
Harris – Red Dragon
Haruki Murakami – After Dark
Ryo Murakami – In the Miso Soup
Reed – Resident Evil
Higashino – Salvation of a Saint
Duncan – Before the Storm
Some thoughts on these:
Morgan’s dark fantasy trilogy made for an enjoyable if forgetable read (along the lines of me needing to make this list to even recall reading them). That’s not to say they were poor, but compared to his Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, the world felt – lighter? More hollow? Evn then he does a lot of worldbuilding, a lot of it felt less coherent or consistent than his sci-fi work for whatever reason. Maybe it had to do with his decision to make everyone speak in contemporary and vulgar English that caused it to feel almost like fantasy cosplay at times.
While reading Red Dragon, I was amazed at times both by how close the two movie versions hewed to the novel, as well as that it could become such a bestseller at all. Now, I don’t mean it was a poor book or anything like that (certainly not perplexing in the way something like 50 Shades might become a billion dollar franchise), but I suppose I was waiting for something in it to really astound me or rattle me to the core the way one might. I suppose on the one hand its because I had already seen these characters acted out on a screen a few times before, and on the other that I am already an avid reader of crime thrillers that this book influenced (and unfortunately, while it was an originator of what would become tropes, reading in this order stop it from feeling like the tropes it created).
The one true disappointment from this list would be Druon’s King without a Kingdom – the seventh and final book in the Cursed Kings series about the slow fall of the Capetan Dynasty of France. The first six books were brilliant, if sometimes uneven, giving us characters to love and hate (and sometimes both) as it plotted out almost nonstop intrigues and treachery like a 13th century Godfather story. Book seven, however, was something else – written in a completely different style (pompous letters or monologues from a pompous character on the sidelines) about different characters, in a different era, The end result read more like a boring appendi or a failed experiment than a true final book to the series.