Posted on Mar 19th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under books, reading

I read forty three books in 2020, and although this is fewer than the two previous years, I'm giving myself a pass due to an understandable increase in anxiety and lack of focus that most of us experienced due to the events of the year. Still, I was able to log many quality books from many different styles and genres, and I'd like to tell you about some of them. For those unaware, I rate everything I read on Goodreads and I like following people I know, so please connect if you have an active account.

I crossed a few major sci-fi classics off my list in 2020. For my first excursion into the work of Phillip K. Dick, I checked out Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which you probably know was the basis for Bil's favorite movie Blade Runner. While the film is peak cyberpunk cinema, I enjoyed the cold and bleak tone portrayed by the book and liked how the main character Decker was characterized quite differently than he was in the film. I highly recommend this for sci-fi fans, especially fans of the movie. I also read my first Ursula K. LeGuin novel, after a coworker gave me a copy of The Lathe of Heaven for Christmas in 2019. This novel follows a man whose dreams manifest in reality, and the doctor who tries to exploit his ability. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of hypothetical morally gray areas and from what I understand the author is known for this so I'm eager to check out some of her other works for sure.

I read two books that can be called a blend of horror and sci-fi, which both focus on a group of young women afflicted with a horrible and painful mutation. In The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, the main character returns to the Cleveland suburb where she grew up to confront her demons regarding the role of the treatment of the 'rust maidens,' a group of teenage girls afflicted with some kind of disease that turns their skin into wet, steely sharp plates. This novel had a lot promise and was a quick, easy read, but unfortunately it did not fulfill on the potential of such a terrifying affliction, rather focusing on the main character's not so interesting relationships with the secondary characters. A novel that treated this premise a lot more interestingly is Rory Power's Wilder Girls, a more action centered young adult saga of a school for for girls quarantined on an island for their various and in many cases dangerous mutations. The girls are trying to get to the bottom of their afflictions as their classmates die regularly from them, and the drama is driven both by these deaths and the scrappy nature of the characters. I really liked this one and would recommend it heavily over the The Rust Maidens.

While in past years I have read many comics and manga, I was prevented from doing so in 2020 due to the closure of my local library due to the pandemic. I do want to recommend one of the last books I borrowed earlier in the year, a graphic novel biography of Michael Jordan called Bull on Parade by Wilfred Santiago. I'm not even a fan of basketball but I enjoyed the flashy art in this work as well as what seems like a fair treatment of the source material, warts and all.

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I should probably get into reading more; I haven't cracked open a book in more than a year. Problem is, I typically find reading to be... rather tedious, especially if it's fiction. So let me get this right: you expect my rods & cones to scan these weird black-ink symbols stamped onto bleached & pulped tree carcasses, and then send them down the optic expressway to the spot in my brain that attempts to interpret them and flesh them out into some lush, amazing world with interesting characters and situations in a compelling narrative in my imagination? I'm sorry, but you're asking WAY too much of me, good sir.

I tell ya, if it weren't for comic books, I'd be illiterate today...

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