Another year gone by.
After three years and three pandemics we tighten our global resolve to beat the virus(es), curb inflation, stop global warming, and end a senseless attempt by oligarchs to annihilate an entire county and kill the millions of people who live there.
We have no way forward but through change. This is the way it has always been: we adapt to survive. When the old ways no longer work, we innovate. We partner with our friends (and in so doing, help ourselves), building strength in numbers. In solutions. In ideas. Eventually, the momentum will turn, and change will come. As it must.
The only constant is change.
As a writer, this is a lesson we already know: we can’t keep writing the same story. We constantly look for new ideas; explore new worlds; seek to understand where our futures will go and how it will look. How will these changes affect our lives? Our politics? Our ideas and goals?
In that vein, I changed up my reading genres this year. Thanks to Roku, I enjoyed the televised milieus of Michael Connelly’s LAPD Detective Harry Bosch (on Bosch) and Ann Cleeve’s DCI Jimmy Perez (Shetland). Connelly’s books already take up a good portion of real estate in my bookshelves, but I hadn’t discovered Cleeve’s work.
After reading a dozen or more of her novels, I can say her her Jimmy Perez series, starting with Raven Black was my FAVORITE READ BY NEW-TO-ME AUTHOR this year. While I think the television series for both authors is better (in a different way) than the books, the Shetland series doesn’t capture the island culture and politics of the series quite like the books do, and Connelly’s Bosch series has better characterizations/relationships in secondary characters and builds a stronger sense of immediate danger better than the novels. Honorable mention goes to N. K. Jemison’s The Fifth Season, which (to me) wasn’t exactly enjoyable as much as admirable.
FAVORITE CLASSIC: I reread the entire Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling this summer, one right after the other. Twenty-five years later and it’s still magical; it still works. Oh what a wonderful world she built.
FAVORITE READ BY FAVORITE AUTHOR: Hands down, Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series, particularly the third book, The Golden Enclaves was the best ending to a series I’ve ever read (a place previously held in my heart by Robin Hobb’s Blood of Dragons). Having just finished rereading all about Hogwarts, I was wary that this was just another magic school trope, but it is/isn’t in the most acerbic/stunning way. In fact, Novik’s three-volume Scholomance series got better with each book, and I sobbed (for lack of a better word) with both joy and horror the entire last third of the book, an emotion I have never experienced before. Utter cruelty and brutality in a single thought. The pinnacle of heroism in a single word. Novik’s Temeraire series made her an auto-buy author for me, but this one is just…Wow.
The lesson to me is to keep evolving. Keep exploring new ideas. Live a life of constant learning. Keep in touch with friends and keep making new ones. Value new experiences; good or bad, you will learn something new. As we learn, we change. As we must.
Oh, and keep reading.