I read 198 books this year in a split of: 39 ARCs, 59 audiobooks, 85 manga volumes, 9 physical copies, 2 light novels, and 6 eBooks. As my boyfriend said, “That’s a lot of things, Jo.” It is that time of year where I want to share my favorites, so please enjoy my top 20 2021 books, top 20 books from before 2021, and, a new feature, 5 manga.
I realize that I make lists for books I’m excited for and book I want to read, and failed on both those lists. So, my lists for 2022 books is mostly about boosting others works regardless of if I personally get around to reading them. That’s just how it is when you’re employed and vastly mis-measure what kind of focus you’ll have as the year goes on. Moving also robbed me of a bunch of my focus, which should not have been as surprising as it is. On top of working full time. On top of being in a relationship and trying to participate in the communities I’m a part of.
October went by quickly. I had the opportunity to go to Sirens Conference where I was on a panel about nonbinary representation in science fiction and fantasy. I also had a hard time reading this month, which was unfortunate, but I did enjoy the books, ARCs, and manga I did manage to read.
At the onset of winter, communications go down at a small northern Anishinaabe community. Turns out it isn’t run-of-the-mill power outage, but a sign of society collapsing in the urban south. What then ensues is survival prep for an uncertain winter, while reports suggest humanity declined. It’s tense, it’s sad, and in the end, community and tradition are what keep our protagonists alive and their families together despite the adversity.
Though short, this book has a lot going on in it which made it a slower read for me. There’s the intersection of community obligation and caring for the desperate. There’s the tension of what to do when technology starts failing and how to merge tradition with survival. Each brief chapter has so much going on, I had to reread a few of them more than once to really catch all the layers.
There’s also the looming fear of uncertainty. It’s not horror in much of the sense that there’s an evil to defeat or run from. It’s horror in that way where survival is the goal, and the costs associated. There is a human boogeyman in the form of Justin Scott, who arrives on the scene with a literal bang and the side-eying doesn’t end there. I can’t say too much more because that would be spoilers, but having something dangerous inside the metaphorical house of the reservation ups the ante so much. At the end of winter, there is a sigh of relief, but an acknowledgment of the work to come.