It’s been a stressful year for just about everyone. I don’t need to get into that, right? Some of us developed new hobbies and interests. Some of us focused on the familiar. Some of us read more than ever before; some of us could barely crack open a book due to constant mental buzzing. Unfortunately, I leaned more toward the safe and familiar in my down time this year. And I was lucky to stay employed, in a job that gradually took more and more of my time and attention, so it was very difficult to read more. At this point, I’ve accumulated quite a number of books to read that I just haven’t gotten around to. While my ambitions may simmer away to nothing, I’d still like to reassert a focus on reading.
Looking at my shelves right now, there are several books I’m eager to get around to. And while it might be blind hope, it looks like some of the added demands of the job should calm by the end of February at the latest. Maybe listing some of those books here will keep me motivated. So here are some of those books I hope to have finished by the end of 2021:
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: From A Certain Point of View, because I loved the first anthology of stories for A New Hope, and because I’m reading it right now. I better finish this! There have been some phenomenal stories already. This is the first example of why I just need to set more time aside for reading–I’m actually enjoying this collection! There isn’t yet a story that I love like “The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper,” but several I’ve liked rather a lot, especially the most recent one I finished, Seth Dickinson’s “The Final Order,” which finally gives a name and personality to the Star Destroyer captain who dies in the Hoth asteroid field but also provides a searing reflection on the nature of fascism and (although this is probably an instance of my own worldview strongly influencing how I interpret the story) some fans’ unhealthy obsession with Imperial aesthetic.
- The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler. This is another book I’m currently reading and want to finish. I’ve been reading an ebook version, though I prefer print, so it’s just something I pick up in rare idle moments. It’s also a book I skimmed through back in law school, and I’m finding it generally more interesting than I remembered. It remains unfortunately timely.
- Star Wars: Master & Apprentice and Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost, because I’ve become rather fond of Old Republic and Clone Wars content and because they’re books that I’ll enjoy discussing with my wife. She already finished Master & Apprentice for the Qui-Gon content and, while she doesn’t tend to read licensed fiction like this, she was thoroughly engaged.
- The Dinosaur Heresies and Raptor Red by Bob Bakker, because Dr. Bakker’s role in promoting the image of dinosaurs as smart, fast, warm-blooded, and closely related to birds was key to my early infatuation with dinosaurs becoming so dominating in my life ever after. He was a regular presence in many of the dinosaur documentaries I loved as a kid. But I never got around to his books, and they’ve been a little harder to find over the years. I’ve got both of these books now, though. While science has marched on, I’m still excited to read his popular nonfiction argument for the updated image of dinosaurs and his fictional companion novel that attempts to demonstrate what those dinosaurs might have actually acted like.
- Digging Dinosaurs by Jack Horner, for similar reasons to the above. He was similarly everywhere when I was a kid, for his discovery of Maiasaura and their nests, his theories on nurturing dinosaurs, and his influence on the Jurassic Park films.
- Michael Crichton’s Dragon Teeth is on my list for more nostalgia. Another posthumously published novel, this provides a fictionalized account of the Bone Wars. I was surprised to discover that I rather enjoyed his Pirate Latitudes, especially after finding his later technothrillers to be somewhere been jumbled and formulaic and unfortunately influenced by increasingly anti-science attitudes, and I would expect another historical fiction period piece to be similarly delightful.
- My Beloved Brontosaurus by Riley Black (though her former name is still used on the print copy I have). I’ve been meaning to start this book forever! She’s been a tremendous science writer with a paleontology focus who hooked me back when she was writing under the B. Switek name. And she has several more books out at this point that I want to read, too.
- Victor Milan’s Dinosaur Lords trilogy (well, it’s looking more like a series, but I have the first three, so that’s what I’m focused on). I read the first book when it came out. It was…fine, but I’ll keep reading for more knights-and-dinosaurs fantasy.
- Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. I’ve slowly been watching the television adaption, and the setting was engaging enough for me to want to read the source material. I’ve been interested in more recent attempts to challenge and interrogate the racism and xenophobia in Lovecraft’s works, so this is a starting point for me (recommendations requested, though!).
- Star Wars: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Michael Stackpole. I started this a while ago when I was reading a lot of the old EU, but I never finished it. Jason Fry’s “Rendezvous Point” was very fun and apparently loaded with references to the Rogue Squadron books, though, so I want to try again. We’ll see if I get through it or any other books in the series. Pretty good timing, what with a Rogue Squadron movie coming out!
- Last for the list, Star Wars: Darksaber and Planet of Twilight, just to round out the Children of the Jedi trilogy of EU books.
There are other books I want to try to read this year, including several books stuffed away elsewhere in my house or currently only remembered thanks to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list. We’ll see how far I get, but if I even get through most of this list, I’ll be doing better than I did in this pathetic reading year of 2020. Fingers crossed!
Now, shall I do a similar post for games I want to try to get through in 2021? Hm…probably not. There’s a tension between time spent on video games and time spent on books, as both are time-consuming hobbies that demand my focused attention. Still, there are games I want to get to for next year. And no, I won’t be doing similar lists for TV shows and movies–sadly, I get more than enough of that in.
And don’t worry, I don’t see this “things I want to get to” post being annual. (Have I done something like this before? Uh…maybe?) Just trying to set some positive goals for next year, after such a dreary 2020.