Posts for January 2021

2021-01-01: 2020 Book Reading in Review

In 2020, I finished and reviewed 42 books, two more than 2019 (although I had finished but not reviewed two books at the end of 2019, so the total is even more similar than that). This is the best year for reading in terms of book count since 2012, despite being seriously distracted by a new job, a pandemic, and US political meltdowns. Those distractions do show up in the drop in page count.

If it weren't for the pandemic, the count would have been higher. Just as I got into a rhythm of reading while I exercised, gyms became a bad idea for the rest of the year. Treadmills are good for reading; long walks around the neighborhood not so much. That time went to podcasts instead, which I'm not too sad about but which don't prompt reviews.

Finding the mental space and energy to write reviews proved as much of a challenge as finding time to read this year, and I once again had to do some catch-up at the end of the year. To the extent that I have goals for 2021, it's to tighten up the elapsed time between finishing a book and writing a review so that the reviews don't pile up.

I read one book this year that I rated 10 out of 10: Michael Lewis's The Fifth Risk, which is partly about the US presidential transition and is really about what the US government does and what sort of people make careers in civil service. This book is brilliant, fascinating, and surprisingly touching, and I wish it were four times as long. If anything, it's even more relevant today as we enter another transition than it was when Lewis wrote it or when I read it.

There were so many 9 out of 10 ratings this year that it's hard to know where to start. I read the last Murderbot novella by Martha Wells (Exit Strategy) and then the first Murderbot novel (Network Effect), both of which were everything I was hoping for. Murderbot's sarcastic first-person voice continues to be a delight, and I expect Network Effect to take home several 2021 awards. I'm eagerly awaiting the next novel, Fugitive Telemetry, currently scheduled for the end of April, 2021.

Also on the fiction side were Alix E. Harrow's wonderful debut novel The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a fierce novel about family and claiming power that will hopefully win the 2020 Mythopoeic Award (which was delayed by the pandemic), and TJ Klune's heart-warming The House in the Cerulean Sea, my feel-good novel of the year. Finally, Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth were a glorious mess in places, but I had more fun reading and discussing those books than I've had with any novel in a very long time.

On the non-fiction side, Tressie McMillan Cottom's Thick is the best collection of sociology that I've read. It's not easy reading, but that book gave me a new-found appreciation and understanding of sociology and what it's trying to accomplish. Gretchen McCulloch's Because Internet is much easier reading but similarly perspective-enhancing, helping me understand (among other things) how choice of punctuation and capitalization expands the dynamic range of meaning in informal text conversation. Finally, Nick Pettigrew's Anti-Social is a funny, enlightening, and sobering look at the process of addressing low-level unwanted behavior that's directly relevant to the current conflicts over the role of policing in society.

The full analysis includes some additional personal reading statistics, probably only of interest to me.

2021-01-04: New year haul

For once, I've already read and reviewed quite a few of these books.

Elizabeth Bear — Machine (sff)
Timothy Caulfield — Your Day, Your Way (non-fiction)
S.A. Chakraborty — The City of Brass (sff)
John Dickerson — The Hardest Job in the World (non-fiction)
Tracy Deonn — Legendborn (sff)
Lindsay Ellis — Axiom's End (sff)
Alix E. Harrow — The Once and Future Witches (sff)
TJ Klune — The House in the Cerulean Sea (sff)
Maria Konnikova — The Biggest Bluff (non-fiction)
Talia Levin — Culture Warlords (non-fiction)
Yoon Ha Lee — Phoenix Extravagent (sff)
Yoon Ha Lee, et al. — The Vela (sff)
Michael Lewis — Flash Boys (non-fiction)
Michael Lewis — Losers (non-fiction)
Michael Lewis — The Undoing Project (non-fiction)
Megan Lindholm — Wizard of the Pigeons (sff)
Nathan Lowell — Quarter Share (sff)
Adrienne Martini — Somebody's Gotta Do It (non-fiction)
Tamsyn Muir — Princess Florinda and the Forty-Flight Tower (sff)
Naomi Novik — A Deadly Education (sff)
Margaret Owen — The Merciful Crow (sff)
Anne Helen Peterson — Can't Even (non-fiction)
Devon Price — Laziness Does Not Exist (non-fiction)
The Secret Barrister — The Secret Barrister (non-fiction)
Studs Terkel — Working (non-fiction)
Kathi Weeks — The Problem with Work (non-fiction)
Reeves Wiedeman — Billion Dollar Loser (non-fiction)

Rather a lot of non-fiction in this batch, much more than usual. I've been in a non-fiction mood lately.

So many good things to read!

2021-01-28: INN 2.6.4

INN 2.6.4 has been released. This is a bug fix and minor feature release over INN 2.6.3, and the upgrade should be painless. You can download the new release from ftp.isc.org or my personal INN pages. The latter also has links to the full changelog and the other INN documentation.

As always, thanks to Julien ÉLIE for preparing this release and doing most of the maintenance work on INN!

Changes in this release:

Last spun 2021-04-05 from thread modified 2021-01-29