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According to Goodreads, I read 28 books in 2016; that includes several graphic novels and one novella, but one book was a trilogy collected in a single volume. Still, in terms of actual books that's fewer than two a month, which seems kind of dismal. I blame my Critical Role obsession -- catching up on the show, and then rewatching it took many many many hours of time, at least some of which would otherwise have been spent reading. But that's over now, so I want to read more in 2017, and also pick up gaming again. I hope to make the quest for balance a theme this year, in my life generally as well as in media consumption; wish me luck.

Some stats (counted by book -- I have a couple of duplicate authors):

  • 22 women/6 men (79% women) -- I'd bet that's about average for me, although I don't usually track this data. It might be a little higher than usual because I was still doing the Bradford Challenge at the start of the year.

  • 21 white authors/7 authors of color (25% PoC) -- This is... not great, although it could be worse. I want to read more books by authors of color in 2017, particularly men -- every single one of these authors was a woman, which is kind of cool in some respects, but it's still a limit on reading diversely. And there are male authors of color, like Daniel Jose Older and Tobias Buckell, who I've been meaning to try for years. So this could be a good opportunity for me to broaden my repertoire.

Some favorites, listed alphabetically by title:

Books published in 2016

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders -- Fascinating tale of science vs. magic, wrapped around a friendship/romance that I enjoyed very much. A great San Francisco book, too.

  • In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan -- Yes, I know, I've already enthused about this book quite a bit, but it was my favorite book of 2016 in June, and nothing came along to supplant it. I think this whole series is brilliant (as you know if you saw my contribution to The Book Smugglers earlier this month), and this fourth and penultimate volume is the best so far. I don't know whether to be more excited or sad that the final book is coming this year.

  • League of Dragons by Naomi Novik -- Not the ending I had envisioned for the Temeraire series; instead I got something even better, a series of unexpected twists that felt like the perfect way to wrap everything up.

  • Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott -- This sequel to Court of Fives was even better, as the political intrigue stakes are raised and Jess's sisters get awesome subplots.

  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin -- Yet another sequel that rises above the book that comes before; no mean feat, since The Fifth Season was such an accomplishment.

Books published before 2016

  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab -- Portal fantasy with a lady rogue and an intriguing magic system made this story exactly my jam. I haven't read the sequel yet, and need to remedy this state of affairs soon.

  • Musketeer Space by Tansy Raynor Roberts -- A mostly-genderflipped retelling of The Three Musketeers, in space, with multiple queer romances. If that description alone doesn't sell you, maybe the fact that Roberts is one of the funniest writers I know, while still able to bring the feels, will do the trick. I also read and loved a couple of her short stories this year, and I think my next step is seeking out everything she's ever written.

  • My Real Children by Jo Walton -- A story about memory and family and alternate universes, and whether you would trade your life for a better world. Tells two versions of one life in parallel, in two Earths almost but not quite like our own.

  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho -- This book had everything I loved about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (the magic, the manners, the society) with much more diversity and less dense prose.

  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers -- A fun space opera featuring found family, adventures, and just enough heartbreak to keep it real. (The sequel, A Close and Common Orbit, is even better, and it would have made my top five 2016 books list above, but I didn't quite finish it in time.) I could read a hundred more books in this universe, especially if the characters and their relationships continue to be this engaging.

Movies/TV/Other Visual Media

  • Agent Carter, Season 2 -- Although I had my quibbles with it, Agent Carter was still my favorite TV show of the year, and I'm still in mourning.

  • Arrival -- Beautiful movie, both metaphorically and visually, about language and time and accepting your fate. I had high expectations for this one, and I'm happy to say they were, for the most part, met. More thoughts here.

  • Captain America: Civil War -- Although not exactly the Captain America movie I was looking for, it was easily the best Avengers movie yet, and after last year's disappointments, it renewed my faith in the film franchise. I'm especially eager for Black Panther, but Civil War also did something I thought impossible: I'm actually looking forward to seeing another Spider-Man movie.

  • Critical Role -- It would be intellectually dishonest to write about my favorites of 2016 without mentioning the web series that took over my life from July through mid-December. A weekly livestream of professional voice actors playing a long-running Dungeons & Dragons campaign putting out some of the best collaborative storytelling I've ever seen. The DM, Matthew Mercer, is particularly skilled at keeping the story moving while giving the players room to breathe, and he plays dozens of unique NPCs with distinction and flair. (Even if you never watch anything else of the show, this visit to Victor the gunpowder merchant is more than worth your time.)

  • Ghostbusters 2016 -- I'd been looking forward to this one for years, and it did not disappoint. More thoughts here.

  • The Librarians -- This show is ridiculous, but it's my kind of ridiculous. From the creators of Leverage (one of my favorite shows of all time), a found family of misfit geniuses, a kickass lady soldier, and their grumpy mentor played by John Larroquette (on whom I've had a bit of a crush ever since Night Court) protect the world from harm and collect dangerous magical artifacts in a mystical archive known only as The Library. It's a sequel to the (even more) ridiculous Noah Wylie TV movies (Wylie shows up as an occasional guest star) and is just finishing up its third season.While no one should expect any actual librarianship to occur, it's a great deal of fun, and the team dynamic is wonderful. It's not quite the show Leverage was, but few shows are; at least for me, the The Librarians scratches the same itch.

  • Luke Cage -- MCU on Netflix continues to provide solid shows with this outing. I liked Luke's character a lot on Jessica Jones, and I'm really glad he got a solid introduction on that show first -- they were able to build on his existing storyline rather than having to start from scratch. Rosario Dawson also returns as Claire Temple, in a much meatier role this time. The show features a fantastic suite of new characters, too, including the fabulous detective Misty Knight who needs her own show immediately, and two of the best MCU villains so far in Cottonmouth and Black Mariah. Although I'm undecided about watching Iron Fist (depends on reviews), so many MCU Netflix characters coming together in The Defenders is one of the things I'm most looking forward to in 2017.

  • Solstice -- My favorite video game of 2016. Solstice is the latest release from indie developer MoaCube (creators of Cinders, a Cinderella retelling which is still my favorite visual novel ever), and it tells the story of a mysterious frozen city where everyone has secrets. As the player, you investigate the city and its people from the point of view of two outsiders (both of whom have their own hidden agendas) and try to prevent a tragedy -- but is it a tragedy, really? The twist and turns and moral ambiguity of this story are breathtaking, and to say anything more would involve huge spoilers, so I won't. Lots of possible paths and outcomes, many of which I still need to play.

  • Supergirl -- While Supergirl can be uneven, I thoroughly enjoy having a superhero show that's unabashedly centered on women and their relationships, that features a hero who knows she's stronger when she's part of a team, and that's suffused with a sense of optimism. No grim and gritty worldview here. Also, the first few episodes of the second season featured the best portrayal of Superman I've seen in ages. Add in a recently-established canonical f/f relationship for one of the lead characters, and I can forgive some clunky writing, uneven plotting, and the unfortunate loss of Calista Flockhart early in season two.

  • Zootopia -- Gorgeous movie, with some of the most creatively-imagined environments I've ever seen and a welcome, if imperfect, anti-prejudice message. Some nice voice acting and character relationships, too.

Coming in 2017

Lots of movies, shows, and books are headed my way in 2017. To mention some of the more obvious: Star Wars Episode 8, Wonder Woman, Hidden Figures (which I will have already seen by the time this goes live), The Lego Batman Movie, The Dark Tower. Regarding television, besides the aforementioned-Defenders, I'm looking forward to seeing where Supergirl and Agents of SHIELD go through the rest of their current seasons. As for books, it's hard to know where to start, there are so many, but I'm quite excited for the new John Scalzi space opera series (I heard him read the prologue at WorldCon, and it was really great), as well as the final books in a number of series: Buried Heart by Kate Elliott (Court of Fives series), The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth), and Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan (The Memoirs of Lady Trent). There's also a new October Daye book coming, and I'm sure there's more but I'm very bad about knowing upcoming books that aren't books in series and/or by my most favorite authors. :) So I'm sure there's more coming. On the video game front, there's Mass Effect: Andromeda out in March, and although I'm more of a Dragon Age girl, I'm still looking forward to it. The Final Fantasy XII remaster is also slated for 2017, no specific release date yet, and is this the year we finally get Kingdom Hearts 3? Only time will tell.

I've never set specific, measurable reading goals before, but I want to try in 2017, if nothing else to see how it works for me.

In 2017, I will read:
  • At least 40 books total, not including novellas/short fiction or graphic novels/comics collections.

  • At least 20 books by authors of color; of these, at least 10 by new-to-me authors (i.e. authors whose work I've never read before).

  • At least 5 non-fiction books.

  • At least one novella and one piece of shorter fiction each month -- not just during Hugo reading season!

  • At least 10 books or graphic novels/comics collections off my existing TBR shelf.

Not so long ago, I could have read 40 books in my sleep, but my media consumption patterns have changed, so I wanted to be realistic. Three books each month and a little more -- that's not so bad, right? And if I hit that goal early, I can re-evaluate.

I hope you all found books, movies, TV, and games you loved in 2016, and have plenty to look forward to in 2017 as well! Any favorites that you think I shouldn't miss? Comment and let me know.

Cheers, and Happy New Year to all.

Date: 2017-01-11 06:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
Happy New Year to you too.

Totally agree about In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan, I enjoyed the first book in the series, but didn't lurve it. However every book seems to get better and better. Labyrinth has me really excited about the last book.

Also, yes, I would read anything by Becky Chambers at this stage. Both her books are just wonderful. Everyone should read them.

Date: 2017-01-12 07:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
I don't see how anyone couldn't love the Wayfarers books, they feel like reading a hug :)

Date: 2017-01-15 03:46 pm (UTC)
jb_slasher: melissa mccarthy (Default)
From: [personal profile] jb_slasher
Critical Role: after that clip, consider me convinced! :D

Date: 2017-01-19 07:54 pm (UTC)
jb_slasher: melissa mccarthy (Default)
From: [personal profile] jb_slasher
I just went down and watched Ep 1. I think I might start my own Critical Role Thursday :)


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