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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Books I Read in 2020

In 2020 I learned the word "doomscrolling," the perfect term to describe the way I obsessively followed online news feeds during this strange and stressful year. Reading so much about politics, the environment, social injustice, and general disaster online continues to have an impact on my reading, though I did somehow manage to eke out a couple books more this year than I did last. I read 107 books in 2020, compared to 103 last year--an improvement, but still short of my long-standing target of 136. 

This was another escapist year in reading for me. I took comfort in nostalgia to an even greater degree than usual, re-reading material from Alan Dean Foster, John Steinbeck, Henry James, and William Golding; revisiting old roleplaying rulebooks to fire my imagination for games I hope to play after COVID; exploring the history of film, art, and video gaming; and starting, finishing, or continuing fantasy and science fiction series that began long ago. I also managed to squeeze in a little bit of mainstream reading of the sort I really should have gotten to decades ago.

I don't claim that the list below reflects where my psyche was at this year, but I guess I chose these titles, which must say something...right? 

Here's the list: 

January: 10
The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story (Stephen R. Donaldson, 1991)
The Gap into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge (Stephen R. Donaldson, 1991)
The Gap into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises (Stephen R. Donaldson, 1992)
Star Trek Log Five (Alan Dean Foster, 1975)
The Egg (Andy Weir, 2019)
Star Trek Log Six (Alan Dean Foster, 1976)
Watchmen (Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, 1987)
Villains & Vigilantes: Superhero Role Play (Jeff Dee, 1982)
Car Wars: Deluxe Edition (Steve Jackson, 1996)
The Turn of the Screw (Henry James, 1898)

February: 10
The Gap into Madness: Chaos and Order (Stephen R. Donaldson, 1994)
The Gap into Ruin: This Day All Gods Die (Stephen R. Donaldson, 1996)
Star Trek Log Seven (Alan Dean Foster, 1976)
Combat Shield and Mini Adventure (David Zeb Cook, 1984)
Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck, 1937)
The Shady Dragon Inn (Carl Smith, 1984)
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck, 1939)
Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954)
Black Beauty (Anna Sewell, 1877)
Top Secret/S.I. (Douglas Niles, 1987)

March: 11
Star Trek Log Eight (Alan Dean Foster, 1976)
Lord Foul’s Bane (Stephen R. Donaldson, 1977)
Star Trek Log Nine (Alan Dean Foster 1977)
Augie and the Green Knight (Zach Weinersmith, 2014)
The Holy Bible: Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness (Zach Weinersmith, 2015)
Science: Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness (Zach Weinersmith, 2017)
Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness (Zach Weinersmith, 2018)
27 Nerd Disses: A Significant Quantity of Disrespect (Phil Plait and Zach Weinersmith, 2013)
Religion: Ruining Everything Since 4004 BC (Zach Weinersmith, 2015)
Science: Ruining everything Since 1543 (Zach Weinersmith, 2013)
Trial of the Clone: An Interactive Adventure (Zach Weinersmith, 2012)

April: 13
The Higher Frontier (Christopher L. Bennett, 2020)
Summer Frost (Blake Crouch, 2019)
Emergency Skin (N. K. Jemisin, 2019)
Ark (Veronica Roth, 2019)
You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Amor Towles, 2019)
The Last Conversation (Paul Tremblay, 2019)
Randomize (Andy Weir, 2019)
The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind (Jackson Ford, 2019)
If It Bleeds (Stephen King, 2020)
Gwendy’s Magic Feather (Richard Chizmar, 2020)
A Very Scalzi Christmas (John Scalzi, 2019)
The Collectors (Philip Pullman, 2014)
The Test (Sylvain Neuvel, 2019)

May: 7
Fallout: Wasteland Warfare Roleplaying Game (Various, 2019)
John Carter of Mars: Adventures on the Dying World of Barsoom (Various, 2019)
GURPS (Steve Jackson, 1989)
GURPS Wild Cards (Steve Jackson, 1990)
GURPS Wild Cards Aces Abroad (Kevin Andrew Murphy, 1991)
The Last Emperox (John Scalzi, 2020)
The Most Dangerous Game (Richard Connell, 1924)

June: 7
Comic Book Implosion: An Oral History of DC Comics Circa 1978 (Keith Dallas and John Wells, 2018)
Star Trek Log 10 (Alan Dean Foster, 1978)
Comics Ad Men (Steven Brower, 2019)
The Great Canadian Comic Books (Michael Hirsh and Patrick Loubert, 1971)
The Art of The Empire Strikes Back (Deborah Call, 1980)
Network Effect (Martha Wells, 2020)
GURPS Atomic Horror (Paul Elliot and Chris W. McCubbin, 1993)

July: 5
The Oppenheimer Alternative (Robert J. Sawyer, 2020)
James Bond: My Long and Eventful Search for His Father (Len Deighton, 2012)
Pulling a Train (Harlan Ellison, 2012)
Getting in the Wind (Harlan Ellison, 2012)
La Belle Sauvage (Philip Pullman, 2017)

August: 5
The Secret Commonwealth (Philip Pullman, 2019)
Frankissstein: A Love Story (Jeanette Winterson, 2019)
Tooth and Claw (Jo Walton, 2003)
Sleeper (Jo Walton, 2014)
The City and the Stars (Arthur C. Clarke, 1956)

September: 3
The Yellow Wallpaper (Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1892)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Inside the Art and Visual Effects (Jeff Bond, 2020)
Lifelode (Jo Walton, 2009)

October: 15
Sid Meier’s Memoir! A Life in Computer Games (Sid Meier, 2020)
The Dynamite Art of Lucio Parrillo (Lucio Parrillo, 2020)
The Marvel Art of Savage Sword of Conan (John Rhett Thomas, 2020)
Star Wars: The Lightsaber Prop Guide Book (Seth Sherwood, 2018)
Creating the Worlds of Star Wars: 365 Days (John Knoll, 2005)
Star Wars Art: Visions (J.W. Rinzler, 2010)
The Illustrated Star Wars Universe (Kevin J. Anderson, 1995)
Star Wars Portfolio (Ralph McQuarrie, 1977)
The Art of the Matrix (Spencer Lamm, ed., 2000)
The Art of Fallout 4 (Aaron Walker, 2015)
The Art of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (Jonathan Bresman, 1999)
The Art of Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (Mark Cotta Vaz, 2002)
The Empire Strikes Back Portfolio (Ralph McQuarrie, 1980)
Return of the Jedi Portfolio (Ralph McQuarrie, 1983)
The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story (Phil Szostak, 2018)

November: 11
The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Phil Szostak, 2015)
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Phil Szostak, 2017)
The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Phil Szostak, 2019)
The Art of Painted Comics (Christopher Lawrence, 2016)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season (Mike McMahan, 2015)
Mrs. Claus: My Life as the Wife of the Big Cheese (Julia Reinfort-Claus, 2013)
Taken by the Muse (Anne Wheeler, 2020)
Common Sense (Thomas Paine, 1776)
Player’s Handbook: Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition (James Wyatt, 2014)
Monster Manual: Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition (Mike Mearls, 2014)
Dungeon Master’s Guide: Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition (Mike Mearls, 2014)

December: 10
Cajun Night Before Christmas (Trosclair, 1992)
Once Upon Atari (Howard Scott Warshaw, 2020)
The Souls of Black Folk (W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903)
Passing (Nella Larsen, 1929)
Candide (Voltaire, 1759)
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass, 1845)
The Aliens Are Coming! (Dayton Ward, 2002)
The Day Remo Died (Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, 1982)
Savage Song (Warren Murphy, 2014)
Number Two (Warren Murphy and Donna Courtois, 2012)

Nonfiction: 47
Fiction: 60

Adventure: 3
Fantasy: 10
Horror: 2
Mainstream: 17
Science Fiction: 23
Star Trek: 9

Top Authors
Zach Weinersmith: 8

Stephen R. Donaldson: 6
Alan Dean Foster: 6

Phil Szostak: 4

Steve Jackson: 3
Ralph McQuarrie: 3
Warren Murphy: 3
Philip Pullman: 3
Jo Walton: 3

Harlan Ellison: 2
Mike Mearls: 2
John Scalzi: 2
John Steinbeck: 2
Andy Weir: 2

Books by Women: 18
Books by Men: 88

Books by Decade
1750s: 1
1770s: 1
1840s: 1
1870s: 1
1890s: 2
1900s: 1
1920s: 2
1930s: 2
1950s: 2
1970s: 9
1980s: 10
1990s: 12
2000s: 6
2010s: 45
2020s: 12


Bruce Keith said...

Earl...this theme! (shudder)

Hope you "enjoyed" the Donaldson. Such a bleak guy. And Jo Walton—I can't figure out if i like her or not. Just finished Or What You Will and I can recommend it if you want to exercise a few brain cells. Never heard of Weinersmith but The Holy Bible: Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness sounds...well...useful :-)

Happy 2020

Earl J. Woods said...

I definitely shouldn't have jumped right into Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books right after finishing the Gap series, that's for sure. The Gap stuff was so very harsh and dark, and I found it miraculous that it had an even slightly uplifting conclusion--a conclusion that made it feel safe for me to tackle Lord Foul's Bane. Hoo boy. As you can see, I stalled out there. But I can't let it stand as an unfinished series, so I'll dive in again this year or next.

I like Jo Walton, though like any author some of her works are better than others. I love Among Others, My Real Children, her early The King's Peace fantasy trilogy, Lent, her non-fiction. I was less enthused by Tooth and Claw and Lifelode. I think Or What You Will is the only Walton book I haven't read, and I'll definitely get to it this year.

Weinersmith's stuff is great fun, breezy; all of them are fast reads. They were available for free for a while on his website - you might still be able to snatch them up.

Might be time for a new theme for the blog . . .