Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Summer Reading List 2019: Adri

Has it really been a year since I was last putting together a summer reading list for Nerds of a Feather, right at the start of my time as a reviewer here? How time has flown!

I was pleasantly surprised to realise that I read five out of the six books on my list from 2018, despite getting pretty busy in unexpected ways (alas, the Robin Hobb reread has fallen off the radar for now, though I still hope to return to the world of the Six Duchies someday). This year, I've already taken my big vacation in February, and I'll be spending most of my weekdays enjoying relative peace and catching-up time while everyone else is on holiday at the day job, while also appreciating city sunshine and long northern summer days with friends and family. That said, I also have big plans for quality time in parks and cafes, getting to grips with some of the reading that's been piling up for me, and it's as good a time as any to get strategic about what's on my radar and burning up to the top of the TBR pile.

Last year, I was very kind to myself and said I would make a summer list that cut through all the weird guilt about things I "should" be reading. This year, I'm skipping all the be-nice-to-self stuff and leaning right into that weird guilt, because I have so many books that I want to read so very, very much and it makes me sad that there hasn't been time to get to them yet. This list is therefore a not-so-secret plea for someone to invent me some kind of Genevieve Cogman style personal library where time is suspended and all the books are around - as long as there's plenty of natural light in there too.

1. The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

I've heard a lot of good things about this book, in particular that it's Kameron Hurley levelling up, which I didn't even realise was possible. Obviously, I preordered it and it's therefore been sitting on my shelf since release day, judging me with its beautiful cover and its apparently even better contents. Actually reading the thing will let me engage more deeply with some of those reviews I've been avoiding, for fear of spoiling the experience.

2. Tremontaine Season 2 by Ellen Kushner, Joel Derfner, Tessa Gratton, Mary Anne Moharanj, Paul Witcover, Racheline Maltese and Alaya Dawn Johnson.

My excuse for not getting to some of the amazing Serial Box titles on my e-reader is that I've accidentally filed them away in a category that I never check when I'm looking for new things. How long it would take to fix this? About ten seconds. Have I done it? Of course not. Maybe putting this on my summer reading list will be the extra kick it takes to get something done about the whole sorry situation, and to catch up with some of the great and not-so-good of Kushner's vibrant city after Season 1's intriguing endings.

3. Jade War by Fonda Lee

I've had the sequel to Jade City, one of my top books of 2017, on preorder since last December and I'm excited that this summer will bring it into my desperately grasping hands. This continuation of Lee's epic fantasy about gang supremacy and geopolitics in a modern Asian-inspired world looks like it promises to ramp up the action even further, no doubt bringing more fantastic jade-powered fight sequences, complex character motivations and likeability, and hopefully some unexpected twists along the way.

4.  A Bond Undone by Jin Yong.

The sequel to A Hero Born continues the story of this mega-famous Chinese 1950s wuxia epic, which is now being translated into English for the first time. Despite its stereotypes and quirks, I found myself absolutely enthralled by A Hero Born, with its story of doomed Song patriots and colourful martial arts masters, and the destinies of two children: noble but dim Guo Jing, and smart but spoiled Yang Kang. The first book left things on a very unfinished note (it's only one volume of the first four which make up "Legend of the Condor Heroes", which is itself first of a trilogy) so it's time to brush up on my Song era history again and dive back in.

5. Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple.

My 2019 reading spreadsheet reliably informs me that I have read zero non-fiction books so far this year, and while that's not too worrying - it's not where my head's been at and I'm satisfied that I do plenty of non-fiction reading and Engagement With The Real World through non-book means - I do want to set the smallest of goals to not end the year on zero. This beautifully illustrated memoir was on my TBR shelf for a while, before I made the schoolchild error of lending it to someone before I'd read it, but luckily recovering it and putting it on my list later in summer will be straightforward enough.

6. Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee.

I'm cheating by counting Lee's Four-BEE duology as a single title, because it's sitting on my shelf in its original two-novel form: "Don't Bite the Sun" and "Drinking Sapphire Wine". I've been interested in Lee's crumbling future utopia teen nihilist story for a long time but held back because only the first was available for purchase in the UK and apparently they really do benefit from being read together. A recent second-hand bookshop trip solved the problem for me, and now these are top of my list of feminist SF classics to get through this summer.

POSTED BY: Adri is a semi-aquatic migratory mammal most often found in the UK. She has many opinions about SFF books, and is also partial to gaming, baking, interacting with dogs, and Asian-style karaoke. Find her on Twitter at @adrijjy.