Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
To say that 2021 was not my best reading year would be an understatement – this was my worst reading year since 2011, when I’d graduated law school and moved back to Vancouver. I’ve talked about this before but a lot of it is pandemic related. Given that my primary reding time was during my public transit commute to and from work and because I’ve been working from home all this time, it’s been harder for me to find time to read. One of my New Year’s resolutions has been to try to get my reading more on track, so we’ll see how that goes.
That said, I’ve read (and listened to, which I count as reading and will fight anyone who suggests otherwise) some great books this year. I ended up joining the book club that was organized at our housing cooperative and was exposed to novels I probably would not have turned to on my own. It was a great experience but by the of it, I had trouble keeping up and also with my poor reding schedule wanted to branch out into my own selections.
There were a few other notable reading events that happened for me during the year that don’t quite make the last below including:
Thanks, but Let’s Not Do This Again
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. I suppose I could have used The Way of Kings for this one, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the absolute trip that was this novel. I had to actually stop in the middle of the audiobook to catch up my knowledge on its context because I needed to confirm how much of it was based on what actually occurred and how much of it was just inspired by true events. Turns out, Hunter S. Thompson wanted the book so accurate that he actually lamented mashing up two separate trips into one because he thought it hurt the authenticity of the narrative.
To actually believe what was happening stretched the limits of my imagination, especially considering how horrible the two main characters were to a lot of the people they encountered along the way, but well, I guess that’s drug and drinking binges for you. In any case, it was a super fascinating window into a world so far removed from mine I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it, but I think one such trip is more than enough.
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso. Good heavens was this graphic novel ever a depressing read – from the heinous crime that launches the events of the book, to the various characters’ reactions to it to the crushing proliferation of conspiracy theories and how they affect the people closest to the events. The illustrations are also done in a particular style that minimizes the expressions of the characters which further adds to the sense of sadness and detachment that oozes from every page. As heavy as the book was though, I think it was also brilliant. That said, I think the only way I could read was the way I ended up doing – a few pages at a time.
Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. I’ve read the Scott Pilgrim series before, about ten years ago when I used to live in Toronto where this graphic novel (or comic, whatever, labels are stupid) is set. I encountered a couple of Instagram reels about the movie recently and got nostalgic so decided to pick it up again. I feel like it’s got one of the best main character introductions I’ve ever read since basically on the very first page you’re told Scott is twenty-three and has a new girlfriend who’s still in high school. It’s like, “Yup, there’s Scott, he’s a giant loser by the way”. I’m already halfway through volume four out of six and having a lot of fun getting back into this world that is basically like ours except with certain video game elements woven into reality. I highly recommend the read, but the movie stars both Captain America and Captain Marvel so you could watch that, too.
Best Book of 2020
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. There is not enough I can say here about just how much I enjoyed this book. In fact, I prepared a whole separate post to go on and on about how great it is, but for whatever reason I had neglected to publish it. It’s a science fiction graphic novel, though the soft sci-fi aspects take a back seat to the gorgeous art and touching story. I’m going to be rereading this one again and not that long from now I just known it. In the meantime, at the risk of going on too long about it here, I’ll just leave this as a placeholder when I finally post that full entry and link to it.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Funnily enough, I have the same deal with this one as I do with On a Sunbeam in the sense that the book struck me so much I went and wrote a whole post about it and then just never ended up publishing it. Again, I think I’m just going link to it when I finally do get around to posting it. What I do want to say is that this was one of our Book Club books, which again is why I’m happy I joined, and one of the books I really enjoyed with how much it got into the descriptions of the landscape and the local wildlife without losing sight of what is essentially a coming-of-age story with a background undercurrent of murder mystery that suddenly ramps up to such a pace that you find yourself surprised you can’t put the book down.
I think that about wraps it up for this year. Here’s hoping for a more productive, but at least just as fun, reading year this year.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.