2019 📚 Review: Fiction

Overview

I set a goal of reading 63 books in 2019, which was a 10% increase over 2019. I met this goal exactly. I have again increased my goal by 10% plan to read at least 70 books in 2020.

About half of the books I read (32, to be exact) were fiction. I tend to read from the sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, classics, and RPG categories. These are all categories that help explore ideas and/or history.

How I Read

I get my books multiple ways. If I don’t know if I’ll like the book, I look for the audiobook or ebook in my Scribd subscription and then Libby (to borrow digitally from my local library). If it’s a book I’ll want to reread or lend, I order a hardback via Indiebound or Alibris. I only buy fiction ebooks if there are massive discounts on something I want and it’s not already in Scribd. I use Bookbub to watch for these discounts.

My book (and article) highlights and notes from all sources go automatically into Readwise.io, where I review 15 highlights each day to aid in retention and reflection. This is one of the ways I start my day, and it’s incredibly valuable.

I rate books between ⭐️ and ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, with ⭐️⭐️⭐️ being the cutoff for a worthy book. Thus, I will only share about the ⭐️⭐️⭐️ through ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ books, here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter: while this isn’t loved by some Pratchett purists, I found this work of speculative fiction delightful & insightful and I was excited to find out there is a whole series.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N. K. Jemisin: from one of my favorite authors of 2018, this collection of shorter fiction is excellent.
  • The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie: highly-recommended fantasy where one of the perspectives is a god, and the plot constantly snowballs.
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman: an excellent allegorical tale about power and gender.
  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman: second in the Arc of a Scythe, Shusterman continues to deliver high intensity young adult fiction with lots of opportunities for deep discussion. I only wish it had a discussion guide like the first book!
  • Whitehack 2nd Ed. - Notebook Edition by Christian Mehrstam: this is an old-school RPG game with new school sensibilities. Includes pages for your own characters, notes, rules, etc.
  • Curse of Strahd by Chris Perkins and Jeremy Crawford: this D&D 5 adventure has had some solid updates from previous Ravenloft stories, including addressing problematic areas in better ways.
  • Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan: the first of the Powder Mage trilogy, this has a fresh take on fantasy and mystery. McLellan feels like a disciple of Sanderson.
  • Still Life by Louise Penny: the first of the Armand Gamache novels. I appreciated the attention Penny gave the the psychology and relationships of the characters.
  • Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon: a comic that asks big questions about war and freedom from a unique angle.
  • The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson: the 12th book of the Wheel of Time, and the really picks up and gets good, again. With this book, I can now see why folks like Egwene.
  • Mouse Guard Sketchbook: Legends by David Petersen: this is Petersen’s art that is homages-to-the-homages that show up in the Mouse Guard Legends collaborations.
  • Freefall by Jessica Barry: an accelerating thriller with fast-switching perspectives between a daughter trying to stay alive and her mother who thinks she is already dead.
  • In a Dark, Dark wood by Ruth Ware: feels like an old-school-but-modern thriller mystery.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Dawn by Octavia Butler: the first book in the Xenogenesis series, I’m looking forward to where this goes.
  • Last Tango in Cyberspace by Steve Kotler: a fun near-future cyberpunk-noir mystery.
  • The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy: this short fiction is a mashup of anarcho-punk aesthetic and modern supernatural horror.
  • Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan: the 11th book, where the plot started to finally advance, again!
  • The Good Detective by John McMahon: the first P.T. Marsh mystery, one where it’s possible the detective’s actions led to the death of the prime suspect.
  • Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman: Neal’s son joins him on this new book, and a whole cast are involved in the audio recording. Not as good as Shusterman’s normal work, this is still an enjoyable book.
  • Atmosphæra Incognita by Neal Stephenson: a hard scifi short story from a collection about building possible futures.
  • X-Files: Cold Cases by Joe Harris, Chris Carter, and Dirk Maggs: new audio stories in the X-Files universe, setup like full-audio dramas.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: in a deviation from the norm, this book is more about the sensory experience than the characters or plot.
  • Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez: I find most Lovecraft unpalatable, but this comic interpretation was spellbinding.
  • Cable & Deadpool: If Looks Could Kill by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Brooks, & Patrick Zircher: this comic has all the weirdness you might expect from Deadpool & Cable.

Further Notes

For a review of my non-fiction read in 2019, see here. For 2018 books, see here.

For the Goodreads overview of my reading, see here.

Note: this post has affiliate links. I am linking to things I truly enjoy, and have not been paid or pressured to recommend any of them.

Todd Grotenhuis @toddgrotenhuis