1. Everything I Know about Life I learned from PowerPoint by Russell Davies ★
Beginning. Middle. End. Repeat. He’s got a good newsletter too.
2. Good Services by Lou Downes
Got me to write better apps and better docs at work by thinking about them as a service. I’m still crap at naming them, but I’m at least training and plugging together. And I added an “email me” button to all of them. Always have a way to talk to a human.
3. Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson ★★
Music be the food of love. How do links in a chain break? How can unconditional love be fractured? At the halfway mark, I took a stab at guessing how I’d end it. Nelson did it better.
4. Last Night by Mhairi MacFarlane
I wouldn’t normally be one to read a Rom-Com, but Justin Myers recommended it and I trust his recommendation. Valid decision.
It’s likely my jaded nature these days, but I think I’d enjoy this more if the penultimate chapter was excised and the story threads weren’t so neatly tied up.
Equally, I didn’t “solve” the mystery as is normally be bent on doing because I missed that it was a thread for me to pick. So take this review with even more salt than my others.
Vidal said literature was “a category peculiarly mystifying to Prescott.”
5. The Guide to Agile Comms by Giles Turnbull ★
This Defra post is now a book. At no point does it feel stretched though. There is a book’s worth to cover.
And it made me feel old by suggesting blogging is a middle-aged pursuit.
6. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
The best cliché avoiding sentence I’ve read.
Didn’t move an eyelash.
Reminds me of second reference Twitter account. link
7. Nina Simone’s Gum by Warren Ellis
An autobiography told through the reverential love of an objet d’art. The ugly elided and replaced with vulnerable pride. A spiritual treatise in linear time.
8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Re-read)
After comparing it to Light Perpetual at the end of last year, it got stuck in my head as part of my middle-aged man starter pack. Still beautiful. Still frightening to think about. Are we living a life worth living?
9. The Plans That Never Happened by Malcolm Rivert
Slim book with the alt plans for North Tyneside. Follies and misses. Closeness to today’s plan to be linked.
10. Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
If I didn’t already know the word psychopomp, I’m not sure if know what just happened. What a truly lovely little book.
11. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan ★
I wrote before I started “This is going to make me cry.” And, without surprise, it did. The sheer frustrating, heart-breaking cruelty of ossified institutions. Pain that can never be remidied. Debts never recouped. And a simple hero, greater than I could be.
12. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
13. The Promise by Damon Galgut
Only a cuticle of moon, casting the faintest metallic glow onto this landscape of rocks and hills, making it look almost liquid, a mercurial sea.
The loneliness of a funeral for everyone there. Like Small Things Like These the intolerable cruelty we inflict on each other through close-mindedness. Furious unsentimentality.
14. Galatea by Madeline Miller
Punchy. And true. The Pygmalion retelling we deserve.
15. Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North
I thought it was my first dip into explicit clif-fi, but isn’t that true of The Road? Anyhow, the cli-fi aspect is incidental. This is a good old-fashioned “who is the mole?” of Tinker, Tailor. More approachable, but maybe less for it? Nails our species’ capacity to repeat mistakes ad infinitum.
16. Mort by Terry Pratchett (Re-read)
I thought this was my favourite Discworld, but on reread it’s not as good as the Tiffany serries.
17. The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay
I loved his. Thankful that I listened to Jackie be warmth and charm on Poet goes to his shed so I can hunt out all her poetry.
I listened to hear her talk,
and when she did I heard my voice under hers
I feel his breath on my back
A slow climb into himself then out
18. Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers by Various
I’ve restricted myself to quotes from the opening paragraph of each story so as to not over-editorialise. If these sound fun to you, grab the collection. I’ll cones that it wore me down and unfortunately the better stories were near the front.
I arrive at the gates of the New-Ur settlement just after dawn.
Every night, as the warmth of the day radiated back through the glass water-wall of her bedroom, Del curled up with her plush quokka and listened, enthralled, as her mother spun wondrous stories.
Although Andee knew it was just a side effect of the solar nanites that Aberdonia injected into the cells of all of its citizens, the pink glow still made Madame Morell look magical.
Pedalling out of the shade of the Douglas firs, I heard the farming collective before I saw it.
He was from Toronto, that monster city with people living in the air, connected by pedestrian walkways.
When Nurul Alina binti Safia Shamsia boarded the Trans-Pacific Sunship of Borneo Airways, she was still thinking of her boyfriend.
Trees were never intended to be sentient beings, or God would have created them that way, back in the Garden.
I fall backward off the solar collector, and for an instant my splayed fingers brush the dawn.
She hadn’t seen this kind of carnage since the Terra War.
Ryan Baumann pressed the firing stud on the electromagnetic gun.
Alex fidgeted on the porch next to her robotic doll, Miss Lasagna, who was her oldest friend.
She idly followed the movement of the thermo-conductive petals the bamboo bore, as they tilted this way and that to catch the sun, twinkling iridescent blue.
But the splashes—first from the repurposed camper, then a few seconds later, from the solweave patchwork bubble, and a minute after that, frantic, human-made ones—those splashes changed everything.
19. Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden
A good book that I couldn’t get along with. Reading it reminded me of Attrib in that I can see the obvious beauty of the sentence construction, but it wasn’t beheld by my eye. A book I’ve already recommended because I knew the reader I was recommending it to.
20. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Reinvigorated my reading for the year. I was on a lonesome ledge in not liking Strange and Norrell, but this book captured me in a way that that left me cold. I didn’t know enough history to enjoy the world of Strange and Norrell and I found the inner voice lacking. This is all epistolary inner voice. And I loved it.
21. The Word for the World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin
She’s good, isn’t she. A contemporaneous account of the Vietnam way set in space.
The Great man theory of history with the Athshe… Gods?
22. Akira by Otomo Katsuhiro
Whisper it, but the film’s better. Tighter plotting and a little less Dragon Ball Z manga-ing between unstoppable forces. Still has all the Japanese processing of disaffection through nuclear war. A crime that humanity still hasn’t reckoned with because the “good guys” did it.
23. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett (Re-read)
Now this is the Death book I remember. If you can’t win an unfair fight, cheat. A moral we can and should all live by.
24. Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson
The webcomic bound and sold for easy digestion.
25. Vattu by Evan Dahm
26. Island Book by Evan Dahm
Not Overside, but still unmistakably Evan.
27. Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
All the quotables are near the beginning.31 December 2022