Superfluous Matter
Books - 2020

What a weird and distressing year. I still read some books though!

  • The Institute, by Stephen King
  • NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
  • The Dragon Republic, by R. F. Kuang
  • Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King
  • The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
  • Agency, by William Gibson
  • Finders Keepers, by Stephen King
  • End of Watch, by Stephen King
  • Thrawn: Alliances, by Timothy Zahn
  • Thrawn: Treason, by Timothy Zahn
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire
  • The City We Became, by N. K. Jemisin
  • The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders
  • A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine
  • The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley
  • The Last Emperox, by John Scalzi
  • They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, by Hanif Abdurraqib
  • White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
  • Go Ahead in the Rain, by Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance, by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall
  • The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Pizza, Pincushions, and Playing it Straight, by Rayne Constantine
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers
  • Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Tyranny of Merit, by Michael J. Sandel
  • Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett
  • Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett
  • Edgedancer, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Men at Arms, by Terry Pratchett
  • Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots
  • Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian, by Phil Szostak

Some of the best words I read this year were from Hanif Abdurraqib, a poet who also publishes collections of essays about his experiences with music and the greater societal context of those experiences from the point-of-view of a Black man, about my age, growing up in Ohio. I found that even when I didn't know the band he was discussing or even if I knew it but didn't like it I still received a ton of enjoyment just reading the words he wrote. He's an extremely talented writer. His perspectives and experiences around how America treats Black people seem particularly valuable for how they just pop up in his writing without a lot of warning, mirroring how everyday experience for Black people can turn on a dime, suddenly becoming hurtful or dangerous.

I also read a few books more specifically about Black experience in America: "White Fragility;" "Hood Feminism;" and "So You Want to Talk About Race." I recommend all of them to anyone looking to understand more about these important topics which can too easily be ignored when you are higher up the privilege ladder in our society.

One last social issues book I read that I can't recommend strongly enough was "Pizza, Pincushions, and Playing it Straight." It is a memoir of sorts by a Australian scientist who spent some time as a sex worker in a part of Australia where sex work in brothels is legal. She discusses the issues sex workers face in different regions based on the legal status in those regions and more importantly discusses why it is so important that sex work be fully legalized and regulated. This is all interspersed with hilarious stories from her experiences that make for a literal laugh-out-loud read. And much like the case with narcotics, when you actually look at the data it's impossible to argue against legalization plus regulation for sex work.

In lighter reading I've started to pick off Terry Pratchett's Discworld books which are delightful and I'm also now working my way through Brandon Sanderson's "Stormlight Archive" fantasy series which is positively enormous (each book's paperback edition has to be published in two volumes because they're too big to securely bind in one). Both series are great if you're into that sort of thing.

2020