While we are a community focused on games and how they intersect with our lives, we’ve never shied away from exploring and discussing other media critically and enthusiastically. It only seems appropriate, then, that our End of Year event offer up a space for us to share our own “Waypoints” from 2020.
This topic is dedicated to anything that you read. That could be a book, a short story, an article or a blog! It could also be a comic, whether it be a big superhero comic, a serialized manga, or an independent webcomic! Whatever you share, we’re excited to read about reading.
The best thing I’ve read this year is the same as the best thing I’ve read for the last 6 years.
My 14-Hour Search for the End of TGI Friday’s Endless Appetizers
Its possibly the greatest piece of food journalism ever. So many twists and turns, so much drama.
As far as manga goes, Chainsaw Man took me for a ride this year.
Went on a Terry Pratchett’s Discworld re-read this year also. As relevant as ever, on a wide range of topics.
a lot of dredd mega-epics thiis year for me on the comics front along with the complete case files alongside hox/pox and dawn of x era x-books. getting through the Pratchett novels i have on hand is probably going to be a new year’s resolution. I need to get back into dc cause it hits so many of my itches but i am so behind and this year has been realizing that i may be more invested in dc animation than the comics themselves. though there are enough creators at dc i enjoy that i’ll probably jump back in. the shifting of some of the animated properties to hbo max complicates things
I started this year reading Knausgaard’s My Struggle series (book two, A Man In Love) and I finished it reading Knausgaard’s My Struggle (The End). I have complicated feelings about them. It’s hard to gauge what the point of Knausgaard writing this level of detail about his own life and those around him, the cost it evidently had to his own life and his family’s as well as inevitably questioning the veracity of the events discussed. They’re frequently cliched, often filled with digressions (he writes about Hitler for 400 pages in the last book), and are invasive and often lack a point but they are compelling. I read every single book and I’ve just bought another of his semi-autobiographical. He’s become a major figure in literature off the back of this and I am still thinking about every book despite it being something I would never normally consider looking at. It also felt like the first thing I enjoyed reading that I felt wasn’t something I couldn’t also do but as Knausgaard would ask: why would you put yourself and your family through this?
Three books I read this year really stood out.
A Memory Called Empire took a bit for me to get into, but once I realized just what the book was thematically going for I was hooked. It deserves all the praise its been getting and I am very excited for the sequel next year.
Harrow the Ninth took a lot of risks but they all payed off spectacularly. I can’t really say more without spoiling the book, but Muir did a lot of weird stuff for her second published novel and amazingly it all fits together in the end.
Like all of the Stormlight Archive series, Rhythm of War is a lot of book. That being said, I read through all of its 1000+ pages in just two days. I didn’t like it as much as the previous Stormlight book Oathbringer, but it was still really good. Stormlight is a really good series if you don’t let the length of it get to you.
Since my work cut my lunch period down to a half hour I have not read shit. It’s awful. This year basically the only thing I read was Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. The Mirror and The Light was a solid conclusion to the entire arc.
I sort of turned emotionally on Thomas Cromwell by the end of the very first book. He already had done his Tony Soprano journey in my mind from flawed hero in a bad system to being the bad system. Also Henry VIII fucking sucks and is one of my least favorite historical figures. But I did love these reads.
I didn’t read many books released in 2020, mostly since my library was closed for half of the year and is a pain in the ass to use now that it’s open again (you get piped through every aisle of the entire library just to get the ‘on hold’ section and check out with your books). Nino Cipri’s Finna was perhaps my favourite of the handful I read, though, a millennial ‘working in retail is hell’ sort of story with a bit of interdimensional travel.
Best thing I read that wasn’t published this year was [checks notes] either Malatesta or Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin. Honestly, I mostly read political theory all year. Going to keep an eye on this thread for some fiction recs, I need something else to read.
Chainsaw Man is one of the best things I have read in quite a while. I guess I would describe it as goofy and light-hearted body horror with good slice-of-life characters? Which is not something I have read a lot of, because I didn’t even know you could combine those things like that.
Including links to the twitter threads I made for best books I’ve read this year:
and best comics:
Overall read less this year because of the libraries closing.
For those who don’t want to use twitter, my favorite two books were Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir and The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies by John Langan. What a title, I know. It’s a collection of excellent horror stories.
Favorite two comics were Mister Miracle by King and Gerads and Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy. Both were unique takes on familiar DC characters.
I’ve not been good at keeping up with 2020’s literature - I’m still catching up on a bunch of stuff from several years ago that I put in a pile and then didn’t read yet due to various life things butting in.
I think probably one of the few things from 2020 that I read was Joe Abercrombie’s The Trouble with Peace, which therefore gets my vote here as an eligible suggestion.
(My favourite book this year, assuming that it ends at the same level of writing as it has so far with >10% to go, is The Golem and the Djinni* [which was apparently released as “The Golem and the Jinni” outside the UK - titles are weird]. )
The best thing I’ve read all year is each issue of Adventure Journal that has shown up at my house. The stories and articles are the best you’ll find in outdoors writing, and really shies away from the EPIC EXOTIC ADVENTURE crap you get in other outdoor magazines. The latest issue has an article about living in an astrovan, an interview with Bill Mckibben, plus a great article about professional women athletes grappling with an outdoors industry that’s kind of indifferent if not hostile to motherhood. All great stuff. Plus the photography is incredible and the quality of the magazine itself is unheard of for an outdoors magazine. The print version definitely comes at a higher pricetag than other magazines, but even if you’re just into photography or some interesting storytelling, I highly recommend it.
I finished reading Alex White’s Salvagers trilogy with A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy and The Worst of All Possible Worlds (plus a short story set between them, Happy Birthday Orna Sokol) and really really enjoyed it all. I love the whole cast of characters and the fantastic sci-fi-but-with-magic setting. White is the kind of author whose writing really inspires me and has reinvigorated me to try and actually work harder to improve my own personal writing.
I had a look at what came out this year that I had also read which wasn’t much but special shout out to Seth Dickinson’s The Tyrant Baru Cormorant, essentially the concluding arc of his second book, for taking the great radical reflections of the second and marrying it to the wtf plot developments of the first. Also a special shout out for that man’s deep knowledge of ships.
This was the most productive year of reading I’ve had in my entire life. So many great books! The top three for me: Circe by Madeline Miller, Jade City by Fonda Lee, and The Scar by China Mieville. Also, a shout out to the Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett. I enjoyed these books so much that they inspired me to write a novel of my own, and I’m on course to finish the first manuscript this week.
The current arc of Once Piece started in 2018, and in my eyes has been the strongest arc with a bullet. But last October (starting with the Oden flashback) it seemed like it had gained a drive that I hadn’t really felt from it before. It’s been electric to read over the past year and a bit, and has been some of the strongest storytelling from Oda that I’ve seen. More than ever, 2020 has made me feel like Oda has his eyes on the end.
Also Chainsaw Man whips ass.