Year-long Reading Challenge & Reading Plans (2020)

2020-01-01

I turn the inwards gaze typically reserved for the end of the year onto myself pretty much every other month because my introversion is real deep. So, I formed a rough list of the book habits that I wanted to work on around October, but it’s only now that I can actually put those habits into place.

The TLDR of it: I want to read more real shit and I want to prioritize what I have over what I don’t. In more words, my 2020 reading goals are to:

  1. Read twelve nonfiction books
  2. Read all of my ebooks
  3. Finish the year with twenty or less unread physical books

To get all that accomplished, I plan to read about six books per month, one being nonfiction, two fiction, and three comics.

The below is a combination of Popsugar’s, Book Riot’s, and Build Your Library's prompt lists, modified to include prompts that are both interesting and challenging to me, personally. I’ll periodically update with planned reads, prompt fills, and Opinions.


  1. A book that's published in 2020
    • The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

      To Be Read

      Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She's got five.

      But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

      New York City is one of my favorite places that I've been to and is thus, one of my favorite book settings. While I haven't read any long-form work by Jemisin yet, I've listened to her speak and I'm excited to see how she conceptualizes and executes upon a novel.

  2. A book by a trans or nonbinary author
    • Birthday by Meredith Russo

      To Be Read

      Six years of birthdays reveal Eric and Morgan’s destiny as they come together, drift apart, fall in love, and discover who they’re meant to be―and if they’re meant to be together. From the award-winning author of If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo, comes a heart-wrenching and universal story of identity, first love, and fate.

      I've been reading more original romantic shit this year and this looks so cute! Additionally, Russo is a transgender author that writes about transgender characters and I'm pumped to see more queer narratives produced by the queer community, especially those that widen the breadth of narratives that a queer character can participate in.

  3. A book with a great first line
    • The Martian by Andy Weir

      To Be Read

      Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

      Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

      After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

      Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

      But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

      I heard Matt Damon is basically a supernerd-MacGyver in space in this, plus that cover is dope.

  4. A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics
    • Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutscher

      To Be Read

      Berlin, 1929. Detective Inspector Rath, was a successful career officer in the Cologne Homicide Division before a shooting incident in which he inadvertently killed a man. He has been transferred to the Vice Squad in Berlin, a job he detests, even though he finds a new friend in his boss, Chief Inspector Wolter. There is seething unrest in the city and the Commissioner of Police has ordered the Vice Squad to ruthlessly enforce the ban on May Day demonstrations. The result is catastrophic with many dead and injured, and a state of emergency is declared in the Communist strongholds of the city. When a car is hauled out of Berlin's Landwehr Canal with a mutilated corpse inside the Commissioner decides to use this mystery to divert the attention of press and public from the casualties of the demonstrations. The biggest problem is that the corpse cannot be identified.

      Recently, I became a volunteer tag wrangler for Archive of Our Own and one of the fandoms I picked up was Babylon Berlin (TV). This sweet baby bird did not know shit about shit because of that whole existential woe thing I've got going for me, but through wrangling, my interest for several fandoms has been sufficiently piqued to the point of actually partaking and damn, Babylon Berlin straight up snatched my wig. So, of course I nerd-hulked and bought the first book. Chandler was my first love and I love seeing how detectives built in his shadow define themselves.

  5. A bildungsroman (a novel about a person's formative years or spiritual development)
    • The King Must Die by Mary Renault

      To Be Read

      In this ambitious, ingenious narrative, celebrated historical novelist Mary Renault takes legendary hero Theseus and spins his myth into a fast-paced and exciting story.

      Renault starts with Theseus' early years, showing how the mystery of his father's identity and his small stature breed the insecurities that spur his youthful hijinx. As he moves on to Eleusis, Athens, and Crete, his playfulness and fondness for pranks matures into the courage to attempt singular heroic feats, the gallantry and leadership he was known for on the battlefield, and the bold-hearted ingenuity he shows in navigating the labyrinth and slaying the Minotaur. In what is perhaps the most inventive of all her novels of Ancient Greece, Renault casts Theseus in a surprisingly original pose; she teases the flawed human out of the bronze hero, and draws the plausible out of the fantastic.

      Way back when I was a teenager, I googled a shitload of LGBT+ novels and requested them for the following Christmas. I burned through them, forming a great deal of my narrative taste in one critical reading year. Renault's The Persian Boy was amongst the selected and I'm excited to return to her with greater maturity since I feel that I can get so much more from her work now that I have a better understanding of the subject and my personal investment.

  6. A book featuring revolution
    • A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

      To Be Read

      It is 1789, and three young provincials have come to Paris to make their way. Georges-Jacques Danton, an ambitious young lawyer, is energetic, pragmatic, debt-ridden--and hugely but erotically ugly. Maximilien Robespierre, also a lawyer, is slight, diligent, and terrified of violence. His dearest friend, Camille Desmoulins, is a conspirator and pamphleteer of genius. A charming gadfly, erratic and untrustworthy, bisexual and beautiful, Camille is obsessed by one woman and engaged to marry another, her daughter. In the swells of revolution, they each taste the addictive delights of power, and the price that must be paid for it.

      Currently, I'm learning French and I've hit a big wall because I'm learning French for academic reasons rather than for my own interest in the language. I do have a baseline interest in French culture though, so I've been trying to dip into all things French just to beef up my language journey. (It's not really working.)

  7. A book with an upside-down image on the cover
    • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

      To Be Read

      It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

      For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

      I dipped into this years ago and I'm still kind of interested in finishing it since it looks like a quirky whodunit and Knives Out was fab and puts me right in the mood for that sort of thing.

  8. A book with a map
    • The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

      To Be Read

      Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire. Three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

      Sanderson's prose was a little too dry for my liking in the first entrant, but I'm fond of him as a creative person and I'm interested in seeing how his worldbuilding evolves over the course of this pivotal series. Plus, I'm newly armed with 2x playback speed and Sanderson is kind of perfect for that.

  9. A book inspired by African mythology
    • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

      To Be Read

      God is dead. Meet the kids.

      Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider is on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

      The first season of American Gods is fucking brilliant; it's a shame that it so quickly devolved, but watching it sorted through the book's dreamscape in such a way as to make sense of what I'd read so many years ago. I'm excited to return to this world with a fresh perspective.

  10. An anthology
    • The Mythic Dream by Navah Wolfe and Dominik Parisien (edt.)

      To Be Read

      Madeleine L’Engle once said, “When we lose our myths we lose our place in the universe.” The Mythic Dream gathers together eighteen stories that reclaim the myths that shaped our collective past, and use them to explore our present and future. From Hades and Persephone to Kali, from Loki to Inanna, this anthology explores retellings of myths across cultures and civilizations.

      Wolfe and Parisien put together two other anthologies that I enjoyed, The Starlit Woods, an award-winning collection of fairytale-inspired short stories, and Robots vs. Fairies, a collection in which authors focus on their favorite between the two while also paying homage to the other. Their anthologies are so fun and the selected works that compose them are interesting even if they're not personally to my taste. So, of course I'm super excited to read a mythic collection from them!

  11. A book that passes the Bechdel test
    • Hell Divers (Hell Divers #1) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

      To Be Read

      More than two centuries after World War III poisoned the planet, the final bastion of humanity lives on massive airships circling the globe in search of a habitable area to call home. Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to earth long ago. The only thing keeping the two surviving lifeboats in the sky are Hell Divers—men and women who risk their lives by skydiving to the surface to scavenge for parts the ships desperately need.

      When one of the remaining airships is damaged in an electrical storm, a Hell Diver team is deployed to a hostile zone called Hades. But there’s something down there far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past—something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.

      I've had this interesting piece of worldbuilding hanging out in iTunes for like two years now. The time is now, I'm finally reading this so I can immediately fusion it with a Sam Wilson-centric Captain America: Winter Soldier fanfic, bye.

  12. A book with the same title as an unrelated movie or show
    • Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab

      To Be Read

      Victor and Eli started out as college roommates―brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

      Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find―aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge―but who will be left alive at the end?

  13. A book about a profession or craft you're interested in
    • The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel

      To Be Read

      At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised.

      In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.

      Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.

      Part of why I volunteered at AO3 was to dip my toe into archiving. I pretty much instantly fell in love with it, so I'm looking into archival and librianship degrees, especially those in the arts. I only read about twenty pages of this before moving onto other books last year, but every page felt so affirming that I really want to return to this with devout focus.

  14. A book published the month of your birthday
    • Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

      To Be Read

      When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

      Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

      Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.

  15. A book about or by a woman in STEM
    • Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini

      To Be Read

      The only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the most brilliant, revered, and scandalous of the Romantic poets, Ada was destined for fame long before her birth. But her mathematician mother, estranged from Ada's infamous and destructively passionate father, is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage. Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination—or worse yet, passion or poetry—is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.

      When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize how her exciting new friendship with Charles Babbage—the brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly inventor of an extraordinary machine, the Difference Engine—will define her destiny.

      Enchantress of Numbers unveils the passions, dreams, and insatiable thirst for knowledge of a largely unheralded pioneer in computing—a young woman who stepped out of her father’s shadow to achieve her own laurels and champion the new technology that would shape the future.

  16. A book that won an award in 2019
    • Milkman by Anna Burns

      To Be Read

      In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be. Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him―and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend―rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive. Told with ferocious energy and sly, wicked humor, Milkman establishes Anna Burns as one of the most consequential voices of our day.

      This is set during Ireland's "Troubles" and is thus muy interesante (to me) where other Man Bookers sound sleepy. This is often paired with Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland to give greater historical context to Milkman's story.

  17. A book on a subject you know nothing about
    • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

      To Be Read

      Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers―some willingly, some unwittingly―have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

      Mary Roach writes about fascinating and eclectic topics. Each of her books is of interest to me. This one just happens to be most immediately useful (for writing).

  18. A book with only words on the cover
    • Be With by Forrest Gander

      To Be Read

      Forrest Gander’s first book of poems since his Pulitzer finalist Core Samples from the World: a startling look through loss, grief, and regret into the exquisite nature of intimacy. Drawing from his experience as a translator, Forrest Gander includes in the first, powerfully elegiac section a version of a poem by the Spanish mystical poet St. John of the Cross. He continues with a long multilingual poem examining the syncretic geological and cultural history of the U.S. border with Mexico. The poems of the third section―a moving transcription of Gander’s efforts to address his mother dying of Alzheimer’s―rise from the page like hymns, transforming slowly from reverence to revelation. Gander has been called one of our most formally restless poets, and these new poems express a characteristically tensile energy and, as one critic noted, “the most eclectic diction since Hart Crane.”

  19. A book with a bird on the cover
    • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

      To Be Read

      At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England-until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

      Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

      My Nanowrimo project was set in a late nineteenth century-esque city going through a magic-fueled industrial revolution, so as research I've been seeking out anything that's roughly in the same sphere. This is such a book. I didn't get around to it last year because it's intimidating, but my secret fourth resolution is to ignore page counts and just fucking read.

  20. A book with gold, silver, or bronze in the title
    • Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

      To Be Read

      Ten years after the events of Morning Star, Darrow and the Rising are battling the remaining Gold loyalist forces and are closer than ever to abolishing the color-coded caste system of Society for good. But new foes will emerge from the shadows to threaten the imperfect victory Darrow and his friends have earned. Pierce Brown expands the size and scope of his impressive Red Rising universe with new characters, enemies, and conflicts among the stars.

      Mr. Brown, this is a whole ass book.

      I promised myself I'd hold off on reading the next installment in Red Rising for at least 1-2 months. Because the original trilogy was conceived off as a trilogy without anything following, I feel like that story is complete, meaning I'm not gnawing my foot to break from my own shackles because I need to read the next one so badly.

      As far as my feelings on there even being a second set of books -- I generally find it easy to let go of characters and/or worlds that I truly love because I'd rather see my favorites end strong than live long enough that I tire of them, but I also understand wanting to hang out with your faves past their prime. It's just that I get that kick from reading fanfiction.

      So...more books. Cool. My first question while reading Morning Star was how Darrow & co. would recoup from a violent revolution. Death begets death and all that jazz. It's cool that Brown is answering that, but I feel like that question requires a genre shift and so far, I know Brown for his thriller chops more than anything else. I'm curious, but do not expect anything aside from basic entertainment.

  21. A book by a woman of color
    • Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

      To Be Read

      Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

      I'm attracted to any book blessed by a Tran Nguyen cover, but this one is described as Project Runway meets Mulan?!

  22. A medical thriller
    • The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

      To Be Read

      A military space probe, sent to collect extraterrestrial organisms from the upper atmosphere, is knocked out of orbit and falls to Earth. Twelve miles from the crash site, an inexplicable and deadly phenomenon terrorizes the residents of a sleepy desert town in Arizona, leaving only two survivors: an elderly addict and a newborn infant.

      The United States government is forced to mobilize Project Wildfire, a top-secret emergency response protocol. Four of the nation's most elite biophysicists are summoned to a clandestine underground laboratory located five stories beneath the desert and fitted with an automated atomic self-destruction mechanism for cases of irremediable contamination. Under conditions of total news blackout and the utmost urgency, the scientists race to understand and contain the crisis. But the Andromeda Strain proves different from anything they've ever seen - and what they don't know could not only hurt them, but lead to unprecedented worldwide catastrophe.

      I want to check out Crichton but I'm never, ever gonna give a shit about dinosaurs. So, I skipped to another of his most talked about titles. "Medical thriller" feels contradictory though, so I'm very unsure of this.

  23. A book with a con-lang
    • The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson

      To Be Read

      An insider's tour through the construction of invented languages from the bestselling author and creator of languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Syfy series Defiance.

      From master language creator David J. Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers. Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation, covering its history from Tolkien's creations and Klingon to today's thriving global community of conlangers. He provides the essential tools necessary for inventing and evolving new languages, using examples from a variety of languages including his own creations, punctuated with references to everything from Star Wars to Michael Jackson. Along the way, behind-the-scenes stories lift the curtain on how he built languages like Dothraki for HBO's Game of Thrones and Shiväisith for Marvel's Thor: The Dark World, and an included phrasebook will start fans speaking Peterson's constructed languages. The Art of Language Invention is an inside look at a fascinating culture and an engaging entry into a flourishing art form--and it might be the most fun you'll ever have with linguistics.

  24. A western
    • Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

      To Be Read

      An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the "wild west." Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

      When I was a little kid, I mostly watched black and white westerns because I didn't know how to use the remote to click back to what I had believed was a once-a-year event: the Disney channel. I'm thankful for that, not only because it's a funny story, but because it connects me to my late uncle who was really into Louis L'amour. So, I've always had a soft spot for westerns and I'm ecstatic to read a modern take on the genre.

  25. A banned book
    • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

      To Be Read

      This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, The Rocky Picture Show, and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.

      The movie's cute, but I really want to drown in that depression, ya feel? As someone who's prone to depressive episodes, I tend to really sympathize with sadbois and even this cover is quintessential sadboi.

  26. A book set in Japan
    • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

      To Be Read

      "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" is many things: the story of a marriage that mysteriously collapses; a jeremiad against the superficiality of contemporary politics; an investigation of painfully suppressed memories of war; a bildungsroman about a compassionate young man's search for his own identity as well as that of his nation. All of Murakami's storytelling genius -- combining elements of detective fiction, deadpan humor, and metaphysical truth, and swiftly transforming commonplace realism into surreal revelation -- is on full, seamless display. And in turning his literary imagination loose on a broad social and political canvas, he bares nothing less than the soul of a country steeped in the violence of the 20th century.

      Originally traded for on a bookswap site in order to make myself look superior via tasteful literature, I've never read a word of Murakami, but now I have a craft-based interest in his work. He doesn't write according to western story structure and that's cool, gimme gimme ~

  27. A book set in the 1920s
    • The Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

      To Be Read

      On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov - recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt - is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

      Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval.

      Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?

  28. A book published in the 20th century
    • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

      To Be Read

      Brideshead Revisited is Evelyn Waugh's stunning novel of duty and desire set amongst the decadent, faded glory of the English aristocracy in the run-up to the Second World War.

      The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh's novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder's infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian Flyte at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognise his spiritual and social distance from them.

      A gift from a friend that I feel bad about not reading yet, but that's what happens when you give me old shit.

  29. A retelling by an author of color
    • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

      To Be Read

      In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

      I'll never not be down for a retelling of the Arabian Nights, especially if we're talking about the framework story of a woman coming in clutch for her girls by telling bedtime stories to an asshole king.

  30. A mystery where the victim(s) isn't a woman
    • Thus Was Adonis Murdered (Hilary Tamar #1) by Sarah Caudwell

      To Be Read

      When her personal copy of the current Finance Act is found a few metres away from a body, young barrister Julia Larwood finds herself caught up in a complex fight against the Inland Revenue.

      Set to have a vacation away from her home life and the tax man, Julia takes a trip with her art-loving boyfriend. However, all is not what it seems. Could he in fact be an employee of the establishment she has been trying to escape from? And how did her romantic luxurious holiday end in murder?

      It was happenstance that I came upon this pick earlier in the month. From what I could gather through rapidfire perusal, this was a touch controversial when it was first published in 1981 because it was the literary equivalent of The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" music video that premiered on MTV in 1997. Maybe not as much sex and drugs, but -- well, we'll see, won't we?

  31. A graphic memoir
    • This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

      To Be Read

      Every summer, Rose goes with her mum and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mum and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

      I'm not big on nonfiction, especially memoirs, and doubly especially memoirs by non-famous people. I like the Tamakis work though, and I know I'll be happy looking through Jillian's artwork if I'm not all that excited by their childhood story. Still, I know this will be put off for a while just because it doesn't look Fun like a volume of Captain America is Fun. (What I'm saying is that there's not enough homoerotic tension and punching, these things are my bread and butter and I need them to live.)

  32. A book about a natural disaster or climate change
    • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

      To Be Read

      Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey-with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake-through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

      Atwood is such a powerhouse that I feel like I'd be doing myself a disservice by not trying at least one of her books. The problem then is what should I start with? The Handmaid is an obvious pick, but I already live in a dystopia, so please miss me with that. This book is still set in a not-happy land where bad things happen, but at least it's not my personal nightmare, it's just, like, climate-based catastrophe for all of humanity.

    • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin

      To Be Read

      This is the way the world ends...for the last time.

      It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

      This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

      What's stopped me from reading this sooner was its size and reputation. This is big girl fantasy that's long AF with multiple books in its series. That's a lot of committment and I'm never ready to be devoted like that, but I hope to get through a couple of highly recommended chunky fantasies. Sanderson's Way of Kings, and Rothfuss' Name of the Wind are two others I hope to get to this year.

  33. Historical fiction that's not set during WWII
    • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré

      To Be Read

      In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse—a desk job—Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service—with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants.

  34. The last book in a series
    • Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown

      To Be Read

      For a decade, Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?

      THIS IS ABOUT ALL THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY'S BABIES, OMG.

      Ahem -- so, I devoured the original trilogy last year and loved every second of it because Brown's pacing is god tier. The series thus far has been a captivating mixture of character, politics, and action-thriller that is on point and is, frankly, what I hope to achieve in my own writing. I'm always excited by the novel notion of exploring a world after its big bads have been overthrown because I'm of the opinion that utopia isn't a place, but a state of being that must constantly be fought for.

      And obligatory rule break: no, this isn't the last in the series, but as of writing, it's the last that's been published.

  35. A debut novel by a queer author
    • At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill

      To Be Read

      Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of Dublin rock where gentlemen bathe in the scandalous nude, two boys meet day after day. There they make a pact: that Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of the Muglins rock, to raise the Green and claim it for themselves. As a turbulent year drives inexorably towards the Easter Rising of 1916 and Ireland sets forth on a path to uncertain glory, a tender, secret love story unfolds. Written with verve and mastery in a modern Irish tradition descended from James Joyce and Flann O'Brien, At Swim, Two Boys is a shimmering novel of unforgettable ambition, intensity and humanity.

      I LOVE GAY SHIT. I LOVE GAY HISTORICAL SHIT EVEN MORE. THIS GAY HISTORICAL SHIT IS ALSO IRISH, SO FUCKING DUH MY GUY. Plus, this cover is fire and I'm trading my tired copy in for this one if I end up enjoying this enough. Fingers crossed!

  36. A book set in a rural location
    • The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

      To Be Read

      In the backwoods of Ohio, Willard Russell’s wife is succumbing to cancer, no matter how much he drinks, prays, or sacrifices animals at his "prayer log." Meanwhile, his son Arvin is growing up, from a kid bullied at school into a man who knows when to take action. Around them swirl a nefarious cast of characters—a demented team of serial killers, a spider-eating preacher, and a corrupt local sheriff—all braided into a riveting narrative of the grittiest American grain.

      Despite being surrounded by beautiful landscapes, I don't care for the outdoors. Don't like to be in it and unlikely to be transfixed by the most sublime of its sights. That dislike extends to fiction, which is why this prompt is an actual challenge. However, I came across a neat subgenre called "country noir", Winter's Bone being one of the stand-outs. I'm generally more intrigued by the country as a place where bad things occur because that is my conception of it in real life, so I'm tentatively interested in exploring a genre that is steeped in rural grit.

  37. A book with a disabled protagonist
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

      To Be Read

      From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

      Lots of people have read this, surprisingly few that I personally follow have liked this. I'm giving it a go because it's set during occupied France, a time and place I find fascinating in no small part because of Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. What are my tastes even?

  38. A literary magazine
    • The Best of Uncanny Magazine by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas (edt.)

      To Be Read

      A 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Hugo Award winner, 2016 Parsec Award winner, 2019 British Fantasy Award winner, and numerous-time Locus Award finalist, Uncanny Magazine is an online Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine featuring passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture. Each issue contains intricate, experimental stories and poems with verve and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs, from writers of every conceivable background. Uncanny believes there’s still plenty of room in the genre for tales that make you feel.

      I've picked up an issue or two of Uncanny because Sonya Taaffe or Catherynne Valente contributed, but I'm not big on magazines since I'm not good at keeping up with anything regular. I'm glad I can catch up with this magazine by reading its self-selected best of, instead.

  39. A book by a Native, Indigenous, or First Nations author
    • There, There by Tommy Orange

      To Be Read

      "We all came to the powwow for different reasons. The messy, dangling threads of our lives got pulled into a braid--tied to the back of everything we'd been doing all along to get us here. There will be death and playing dead, there will be screams and unbearable silences, forever-silences, and a kind of time-travel, at the moment the gunshots start, when we look around and see ourselves as we are, in our regalia, and something in our blood will recoil then boil hot enough to burn through time and place and memory. We'll go back to where we came from, when we were people running from bullets at the end of that old world. The tragedy of it all will be unspeakable, that we've been fighting for decades to be recognized as a present-tense people, modern and relevant, only to die in the grass wearing feathers."

      What's particularly interesting about this ownvoices book is that it focuses upon twelve different characters who I hope have twelve very distinct feelings, opinions, and attitudes in regards to their culture because one of the things that we see most often in creative works is a monolithic treatment of groups. Showing the depth of diversity in a single group adds so much more nuance to one's understanding of that group and of the issues they face and I think it forces us to be more deliberate in our thinking.

  40. A book set in Africa
    • Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

      To Be Read

      Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit, and a talent for finding lost things. When a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, Zinzi's forced to take on her least favorite kind of job--missing persons.

      Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell's undertow. Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she'll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives--including her own.

  41. A book set in East Asia
    • Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein

      To Be Read

      A riveting true-life tale of newspaper noir and Japanese organized crime from an American investigative journalist.

      Jake Adelstein is the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club, where for twelve years he covered the dark side of Japan: extortion, murder, human trafficking, fiscal corruption, and of course, the yakuza. But when his final scoop exposed a scandal that reverberated all the way from the neon soaked streets of Tokyo to the polished Halls of the FBI and resulted in a death threat for him and his family, Adelstein decided to step down. Then, he fought back. In Tokyo Vice he delivers an unprecedented look at Japanese culture and searing memoir about his rise from cub reporter to seasoned journalist.

  42. A book set in Europe
    • The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

      To Be Read

      A sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man's life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland. Cyril Avery is not a real Avery -- or at least, that's what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn't a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

      I became a touch smitten with Irish culture during the three years that I role-played an Irish Pavee musician, so I have a baseline interest in all things Irish. What pressed me into actually picking this book up, however, was that it was a queer narrative by a queer author. It's since come to my attention that the author has said some dumb shit pertaining to the trans-experience, so my excitement has cooled significantly.

    • Now I Rise by Kiersten White

      To Be Read

      As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

      These covers are so gorgeous and yes, that's like 70% of the reason why I'm still reading this series. 20% is Radu and 10% is because this is baby's first taste of the Ottoman empire.

  43. A book set in the Pacific
    • The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper

      To Be Read

      After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke's steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn't tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

      Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there's more to Luke's death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

      One of my favorite booktubers, Literary Diversions, raves about Jane Harper (and Australian fiction, in general). Finally, I'm taking the bait.

  44. A book set in North America
    • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

      To Be Read

      A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink.

      I loved Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union and I found out that my writing is at least superficially like Chabon's and authors like him (those writers being: Jonathan Frazen, Jonathan Lethem, David Foster Wallace, and Dave Eggers -- basically, I write like a middle-aged white guy that snarks on Twitter a lot), so I'm reading more from him to further hone in on my stylistic preferences.

  45. A book set in South America
    • The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

      To Be Read

      The House of the Spirits, the unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world’s most gifted storytellers, brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.

      The one writer that comes up on read-alikes for Michael Chabon that isn't a white dude is Isabel Allende. I like magical realism enough to trust anything that touts itself as such, so while I don't know anything about this book or about Allende's work in general, I'm kinda interested.

    • Brasyl by Ian McDonald

      To Be Read

      Think Bladerunner in the tropics...

      Be seduced, amazed, and shocked by one of the world’s greatest and strangest nations. Past, present, and future Brazil, with all its color, passion, and shifting realities, come together in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling.

      That description means nothing, but its gist reminds me of Terry Gilliam's Brazil since they're both strange cyberpunky science-fiction.

  46. A book set in the Middle East
    • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

      To Be Read

      In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker, who goes by Alif, shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, revolutionaries, and other watched groups—from surveillance, and tries to stay out of trouble.

      The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and himself on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God,” as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground.

      When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.

  47. A book set in Central America
    • The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

      To Be Read

      In this dazzling novel, the book that established his international reputation, Roberto Bolaño tells the story of two modern-day Quixotes--the last survivors of an underground literary movement, perhaps of literature itself--on a tragicomic quest through a darkening, entropic universe: our own. The Savage Detectives is an exuberant, raunchy, wildly inventive, and ambitious novel from one of the greatest Latin American authors of our age.

      (Cool cover, bruh. You anything like Y Tu Mamá También? Hopefully yes, hopefully no.)

  48. A book set in South Asia
    • The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie

      To Be Read

      At the beginning of this stunning novel, Vina Apsara, a famous and much-loved singer, is caught up in a devastating earthquake and never seen again by human eyes. This is her story, and that of Ormus Cama, the lover who finds, loses, seeks, and again finds her, over and over, throughout his own extraordinary life in music. Their epic romance is narrated by Ormus's childhood friend and Vina's sometime lover, her "back-door man," the photographer Rai, whose astonishing voice, filled with stories, images, myths, anger, wisdom, humor, and love, is perhaps the book's true hero. Telling the story of Ormus and Vina, he finds that he is also revealing his own truths: his human failings, his immortal longings. He is a man caught up in the loves and quarrels of the age's goddesses and gods, but dares to have ambitions of his own. And lives to tell the tale.

      Around these three, the uncertain world itself is beginning to tremble and break. Cracks and tears have begun to appear in the fabric of the real. There are glimpses of abysses below the surfaces of things. The Ground Beneath Her Feet is Salman Rushdie's most gripping novel and his boldest imaginative act, a vision of our shaken, mutating times, an engagement with the whole of what is and what might be, an account of the intimate, flawed encounter between the East and the West, a brilliant remaking of the myth of Orpheus, a novel of high (and low) comedy, high (and low) passions, high (and low) culture. It is a tale of love, death, and rock 'n' roll.

      Rushdie is another modern titan that I feel weird about not having read. There are more seminal works that I should call my first, but Book Outlet (that's a referral link with -$10 coupon attached for first-timers) had this shit for $9.

  49. A SF/F novella
    • The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

      To Be Read

      Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong.

      Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

      Timely.

  50. A book about or by an immigrant
    • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

      To Be Read

      As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is modern classic.

  51. A book over 500 pages by a woman
    • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

      To Be Read

      A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make.

      Recently, I saw Kat from paperbackdreams (Youtube) cry her way through this. Others have also stated that this book made them cry a shitload and I, being so very cold and heartless, am curious to learn of this strange phenomenon. Do your best A Little Life. In the very least, I plan on annotating the heck out of this to learn its sorcery.

  52. A book featuring foreign cuisine
    • The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee

      To Be Read

      If you think McDonald's is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined. New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese), Jennifer 8 Lee, traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. In a compelling blend of sociology and history, Jenny Lee exposes the indentured servitude Chinese restaurants expect from illegal immigrant chefs, investigates the relationship between Jews and Chinese food, and weaves a personal narrative about her own relationship with Chinese food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles speaks to the immigrant experience as a whole, and the way it has shaped our country.

      Take-out Chinese is actually an American cuisine invented by Chinese immigrants, but in recent years these restaurants have reintroduced authentic Chinese dishes to their menu due to rising demand (see "Here's what Chinese takeout menus can teach us about immigration" by Dolly Li on Medium). I know that much, I'm hoping this book will tell me even more and by its synopsis, it delves into the sociological experience of Chinese-Americans through my nation's most beloved cuisine.

    • Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi

      To Be Read

      By the time he was twenty-seven years old, Kwame Onwuachi (winner of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year) had opened—and closed—one of the most talked about restaurants in America. He had launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars that he made from selling candy on the subway, yet he’d been told he would never make it on television because his cooking wasn’t “Southern” enough. In this inspiring memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age.

      I don't have a sophisticated palette and I don't care about the culinary arts all that much, but I find the creative process compelling regardless of the medium it's applied to. Chefs have an intense culture alongside a lifelong art form to master that makes their personal narratives much more fascinating to me than say, a sculptor's. This dude, in particular, appears to have the sort of intensity that will shame me for my grand total of zero accomplishments at the age of twenty-seven.

  53. A biography or memoir about a foreigner
    • Shush! Growing Up Jewish Under Stalin: A Memoir by Emil Draitser

      Many years after making his way to America from Odessa in Soviet Ukraine, Emil Draitser made a startling discovery: every time he uttered the word "Jewish"—even in casual conversation—he lowered his voice. This behavior was a natural by-product, he realized, of growing up in the anti-Semitic, post-Holocaust Soviet Union, when "Shush!" was the most frequent word he heard: "Don't use your Jewish name in public. Don't speak a word of Yiddish. And don't cry over your murdered relatives." This compelling memoir conveys the reader back to Draitser's childhood and provides a unique account of midtwentieth-century life in Russia as the young Draitser struggles to reconcile the harsh values of Soviet society with the values of his working-class Jewish family. Lively, evocative, and rich with humor, this unforgettable story ends with the death of Stalin and, through life stories of the author's ancestors, presents a sweeping panorama of two centuries of Jewish history in Russia.

      My education sums Russia up as a blonde monolith, but it's important to break stereotypical images and to replace them with more nuanced models, especially when regarding entire cultures. I'll likely never know the full breadth of Russian culture, but I think this will give me an honest view from a very specific perspective.

  54. A book based on your ancestry
    • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

      To Be Read

      On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

      Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters - assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts - A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 1970s, to the crack wars in 1980s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 1990s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James' place among the great literary talents of his generation.

      My family's Jamaican and we root for Jamaica's break-out stars on principle, so this feels like required reading. She thicc though, that an audiobook to the rescue?