Thursday, June 18, 2020

Summer Reading List 2020: Adri

This is set to be an interesting summer for reading: on the one hand, there are going to be no holiday breaks or long plane journeys to really pack in the pages , but on the other, there's plenty of reasons to want to escape and not going halfway round the world has the added advantage of being within touching distance of my entire TBR at all times. I've got several conflicting reading tasks on my mind right now, including finishing off awards shortlists, recommitting to non fiction reading, catching up on my never-ending short fiction backlist, and trying to get the physical TBR back under control - all while still getting to the new stuff I'm most excited about in 2020. And all of this at a time when I've also rediscovered the many and varied joys of fanfiction (specifically of the Fire Emblem: Three Houses variety, no I shall not be letting this game out of my heart any time soon) - in short, things are feeling pretty busy, and I'm hoping to be as targeted as possible about what I'm picking up at the moment.

Looking back on my list from last year, I'm pleased to say that I've read all six of the books I intended to, although this did not by any stretch all happen in the summer of 2019. I'm hoping I can replicate that success with this set of bangers:

1. Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

New Yoon Ha Lee fantasy! I heard a reading of this while at Worldcon last year, and when the cover was revealed to be something out of the coolest video game ever, it became pretty clear this was going to be a Big Deal for my reading calendar. With a non-binary protagonist caught up in political intrigue when all they want to do is make art, in an empire whose military force includes giant mecha powered by mystical sigils. Have I mentioned I'm excited? I could literally not be more excited. Why am I not reading this right now instead of writing an article?

2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I've been a Moreno-Garcia fangirl for a while now, and one of my favourite things about following her writing is how it takes me into a different genre with every book. Plus, gothic literature is an old teenage fixation of mine, so when it comes to this feminist reimagining, I need very little persuasion in the first place. This story, about a woman who receives a letter asking for help from her cousin following her marriage and move to a mysterious gothic mansion, looks like it's going to be claustrophobic

3. Ancient, Ancient by Kinii Ibura Salaam.

What would a summer reading list be without a collection of poetic science fiction short stories from a feminist press? I've had my eye on this volume for a while and I finally got my hands on it a couple of months ago, it went right up near the top of my reading list. I don't believe I've read a story by Salaam before so, with the exception of a few very promising reviews, I'm going into this with little expectation beyond being very intrigued by what it has in store.

4. Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent by Priyamvada Gopal.

I once spent an otherwise normal train journey sat opposite two other commuting strangers, one of whom was reading Saul Alinsky and the other who was reading this intriguingly titled history book. (I was reading Palestine +100, and I like to think we all got some book recommendations off each other that day). I made a mental note to remember the book title, but on getting off the train it went out of my head again... until a couple of months later when I rediscovered it at Housman's bookshop in London. Of course I then had to have it, and this summer seems like an excellent time to read it.

5. Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Standing in for all the remaining award-nominated fiction I need to get to in the next month and a bit, Exhalation is on my list for the two original stories on the Hugo finalist list, but also because its Ted Chiang and of course I'm going to read the whole thing from start to finish and hopefully love every moment of it. Like the Salaam, I think I've avoided previously reading any of these stories, and I have no expectations about their content except "very good".

6. Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire by Rhodes Must Fall, Oxford

A few years before Edward Colston took a dip in the Avon, the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa successfully campaigned for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town; the movement sparked similar calls around the world, including in Oxford, where a statue of Rhodes (at the time of writing) still stands outside Oriel College, on the High Street. This volume combines the history and analysis of that movement, and reflections from sister movements in the UK, with pieces about the broader need to decolonise the curriculum and teaching at British universities. I've had the book on my shelves for a year and I'm excited to finally read it, especially since it might soon need a new afterword...

POSTED BY: Adri, Nerds of a Feather co-editor, 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.