Once again, I did not manage to read 100 books this year. And I didn’t even get close! Technically I reached 50 and that counts things like Calvin and Hobbes and Roald Dahl books.
But the thing is I probably read more than ever, just fewer novels. I continue to read slush for a specfic journal, and there was a period of a week or two that I was reading 50K words a day for them. I am now reading novel slush for them and in terms of words it’s probably altogether another twenty books.
In addition, I’ve read a lot of RPG books. A LOT. A few thousand pages worth, I’d guess. Another 30 books easily, I’d guess. This broader reason is reflected in my top 5 list this year, which I just realized has no novels at all on it for the first time ever.
As always, these are books that I read this year not necessarily that were published this year. (Only one was published this year, I believe.)
5. The One Ring RPG
Considering how much of a debt D&D has to the trappings of Middle Earth, it’s remarkable how thematically it’s nowhere close. I had some friends who played MERP in high school and from afar it seemed cool, but having got my hands on this book really shows an attention to Tolkienian themes and structures. The journey is now a key part of the game, and Shadow can fall upon the brightest of hearts. I have yet to play this, but have read through it more than once and the terrific art is worth noting as well.
I need to preface this by saying this is Moore at his most provocative. For those who are easily offended, this book is offensive. I loved it though–Lovecraftian themes explored with the languid freedom of no restrictions at all.
Straight outta Sweden is this stupendous collection, which oft times feels to me like a Tove Jansson story standing on its head. There is distant sadness that permeates these tales, which are distantly beautiful and distantly evocative of a distant place. Some of the stories start to feel the same and due to the fairy-tale like narration (otherwise certainly a strength) many stories lack narrative tension. But the last two stories were exceptionally exceptional and the entire collection is worth a read for any spec fic fan.
2. World of the Lost RPG
It’s a hex crawl, and a city generator, and a dungeon set in something like 17th century Nigeria. Complete with time hazards, dinosaur people, robots, and just so much more stuff, it might be hands-down the best Role-Playing supplement that I’ve ever read.
1. Going Solo
This bit of nonfiction is as engaging as any novel. Dahl is of course a master story teller, and this story of time in Africa and signing up to fight in WWII is captivating and stupidly addictive.