2017, begrudgingly

For the last few years I have, after posting all my reading round up posts for the year, done a sort  of summary, reflecting  on my reading (and my year) and  thinking about the year to come. But, as I said on twitter a few days ago, I haven’t felt very present in 2017. For much of the summer I had a mysterious illness that may have been exacerbated by stress, and that still flares up every so often, though less severely. And getting through the final months of the PhD was as exhausting as several people had warned me it would be. In most ways I haven’t made the transition from last year to this one–as I write this I’m visiting my parents in Delhi, in limbo between the thesis and a job I’ll hopefully be starting in the spring, and Of No Fixed Address. I’ve discarded most of what I own (all but the books, obviously) to fit the rest into a few suitcases; I’m not entirely sure what country (or continent) I’ll be in in a couple of months, so any marching boldly into the future has had to be put on hold. I’m feeling this page (the second one, on the right) of a comic by Krish Raghav quite intensely at the moment–everything is either endless queues or the possibility of more change than I can wrap my head around.

For now, though, I’m in this city I love, and close friends and family (and this perfect dog) are all within reach, so feeling stuck isn’t all that bad.

Some mandatory reading stats (see previous years’ disclaimers for this year’s disclaimers): I read (about) 50 books, of which (about) 35 were by writers who weren’t cis men, and (about) 25 were by writers who I knew to be non-white. As in previous years, the authors I binge-read tended to be white British women. Things I read that mattered: My SFF recommendations are in the Strange Horizons year in review, here, and I wrote about one of those books, The Magical Fish, here. I also liked both of Patrice Lawrence’s YA novels, and found comfort in the familiarity of the new Philip Pullman. I rarely talk about my academic reading on this blog (and maybe I should try to do more of that in the future), but the most engaged I’ve been this year has been when I’ve been rereading Simon Gikandi and annotating furiously.

Other things:

This interview with the Out of the Woods collective. One of the things that I (and others, I know) have found exceptionally difficult recently is to think in ways that aren’t fragmented. (As my friend Kate put it, “we don’t want to pretend things are okay, we want to know about the direness as it is–but it’s also hostile to having a train of thought. The fear and grief bursts come closer together.”) Something about the certainty of this interview, and its subjects’ ability  to define … not a manifesto, necessarily, though I think it might be that as well, but a broad, clear moral position, gave me something I really needed.

This essay, by aforementioned friend Kate. It’s very specific and personal (a decision not to have a baby), but it’s also about thinking about the future, loving people in this present, and other things that feel central to living in the world now.

This review by Samira Nadkarni, as a touchstone when I need to step back and think about what frameworks I am or am not willing to work within in my critical writing. (Also as an example of writing that is personal and emotional and rigorous all at once.)


2018, then. *Deep breath*

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