Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019: The year in (good) books

I read a total of 133 books this year (I know, I know, I am bad at keeping up with my Goodreads), almost 29,000 pages. A bit less than last year, but it was a very good, enjoyable lineup anyway. 37 of these were folktale collections for the Following folktales around the world challenge - I almost made it all the way through Africa this year, with only 9 countries left for 2020! Another 12 volumes were also folktale collections for various projects. The rest, 84 books, were mostly comics and non-fiction volumes this year. I don't want to list all of them, so I made some shorter lists in no particular order or ranking whatsoever:

This year's favorite comics

Doctor Aphra - After the disaster that was Rise of Skywalker, this series restored my faith in the Star Wars universe. It is excellent fun. 
House of X / Powers of X - after a long stagnant period, the X-men comics made a kickass turn for the unexpected with this event, and launched a whole new batch of stories. They also brought back some old, beloved favorites of mine. 
Rat Queens - I'm late to the party, but this is mandatory reading for gamers. Super fun, good art, memorable inside jokes.
Domino + Hotshots - Domino and Gail Simone are a match made in Heaven. Love the character, love the team, love the one-liners, sad it did not last longer.
Shuri - My favorite Disney princess and two favorite authors teamed up fora good run. Again, sad to see it close.

This year's favorite nonfiction

Smoke gets in your eyes (Caitlin Doughty) - The goth lady with the excellent humor is fighting for a healthier, more natural view on death. Her first book tells everything you ever wanted to know about working in a crematorium, but were too afraid to ask.
From here to eternity (Caitlin Doughty) - Following the previous book, this one is about funerary traditions around the world. 
Fire and Blood: Rubies in myth, magic and history (Diane Morgan) - I like shiny things, and this book did not only contain exciting details about rubies, but also put them in the wider context of gem trade, politics, and Burmese history. 
Rome: A history in seven sackings (Matthew Kneale) - A fun concept for a history book, and a very enjoyable read. 
Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis (Kim Todd) - I got this one for Christmas so I am only halfway through it, but I am already totally fascinated by the 17th century German lady who became a trailblazer in metamorphosis research.
The Five: The untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper (Hallie Rubenhold) - I think this one was the best of the year. A detailed, stunning, and empathetic book about a part of history most people have been blind to.

Awesome books written by storyteller friends

Hogy a macska rúgja meg! (Szabó Enikő) - 13 folktales about cats from around the world, with lovely illustrations. 
Sgiath, Amazon Queen of Skye (George W. Macpherson) - The author collected and combined countless Scottish tales and legends about the warrior queen that trained such heroes as Cú Chulainn. It was past time this lady got her own book.
Buckinghamshire Folk Tales (Terrie Howey) - The Red Phoenix created an excellent folktale collection, featuring a region where people believe folklore is scarce and proving all of them wrong. 
Storytwisting: A Guide to Remixing and Reinventing Traditional Stories (Jeri Burns, Barry Marshall) - The masters of storytwisting finally made a how-to handbook, full of practical advice and detailed trade secrets!
From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story (Laura Packer) - Laura Packer created a lovely collection of short essays for beginner and veteran storytellers alike, touching on a range of important subjects, practical tips, and storytelling ethics. Just like the previous book above, this should also be mandatory reading in storytelling school.

Other awesome books

The Trans Space Octopus Congregation (Takács Bogi) - Bogi Takács' first independent collection of short stories, and loved every minute of it. I secretly wish all of them will become independent novels one day... 
Snow White learns witchcraft (Theodora Goss) - Also a collection, of stories and poems, retellings of fairy tales and folklore. Beautiful work. 
They wur cheust folk (Helen K. Woodsford-Dean) - 13 poems about victims of witch hunts on Orkney, based on the trial documents. I was deeply touched by this collection. 
Wain (Rachel Plummer) - LGBT+ poetry collection, featuring peoples based on Scottish folklore. Gorgeous illustrations, even more gorgeous poetry. Retelling and representation done well.

I wish you all a lovely new year filled with good reads, new discoveries, and endless TBRs! :)

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