I was in a massive rush to finish Evaristo’s Booker Prize-Winning novel Girl, Woman, Other—not because it was bad and because I wanted it to be over with, but because it’s a library book and after today, I won’t have access to the library anymore. As I carefully pushed Evaristo’s book into the ‘return’ bin in the ground floor of the library, I let out a breath of relief. Another book done.

What’s next?

Since August 25, when I started reading Jarret Kobek’s Only Americans Burn in Hell, I have read a total of 15 books this season. Whew. Not all of them have been winners while others have been phenomenal. From award-winners to debut novels my reading list has grown and expanded as I have accumulated more and more books.

In taking advantage of the library’s seemingly infinite resources, I was able to read a half dozen books that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. While I was using the library, I was also delving into local bookstores like Dymock’s and Readings. These books were literally ‘shelved’ in my room as I worked my way through title after library title.

Most of the books on my current ‘to-read’ pile are fiction/science fiction. It’s my genre of choice (genre a choix for the Francophiles) and I have a slough of favorites that I hold onto for dear life*. Generally, if it’s not sci-fi or fantasy, I head for literary and historical fiction**. I’ve started to expand my reading into other genres (namely, nonfiction) on topics that I am interested in (largely, science.) But my primary love will always be sci-fi and fantasy novels, hence the books that I’ve accumulated for my next reading binge.

image of chen quifan's book "waste tide"

These books are the only ones that I will have with me until I return from my trip (unless I buy more from an airport bookstore which, let’s be honest with myself, is a definite possibility.) I’ve been holding onto these for a while, and I’m excited to be reading more sci-fi again. The last sci-fi book I read was Jennifer Mills’ Dyschronia, and I finished that book at the end of September. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve sunk my eyes into a good science fiction novel, which is why the first book on my upcoming reading list is Chin Qiufan’s Waste Tide

Waste Tide is Qiufan’s debut novel, diving into the world of speculative fiction with the help of renowned translator Ken Liu. The book focuses on the idea of technological waste, taking place on a fictional island called Silicon Isle. It’s been praised by Cixin Liu and David Mitchell, both familiar figures in the realm of science fiction and speculative fiction. I’ve had this book for a very long time, and I’ve been staring at it on my shelf for weeks just waiting to dive in. It’s the first book on my list, and I’ll be tearing into it very soon.

After Qiufan’s Waste Tide, I have a collection of more sci-fi and fiction:

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Out of this list, Jordan’s novel is most obviously out of place. Not because The Eye of the World isn’t within the realm of sci-fi and fantasy; Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series is one of the most prolific fantasy series ever written, and remains a vital facet of literary fantasy. However, the series began in 1990 with the most recent book in the series being published in 2013. As a part of my goal to “read recent,” i.e. books published within the last year, Jordan’s novel falls well outside that boundary. But, The Wheel of Time is one of my friends’ favorite series, and I want to at least read the first book to see what it’s all about.

Besides, it’s not as though I’ve never found old science fiction love before; I am deeply enamored with Storm Constantines Wraeththu series of which the first book was published in 1989. Plus, I always find it promising when someone gives high praise to a book series and encourages me to read it. I take it as a, “I really liked this, and I think you will too,” which is a good assurance to the fact.

Adeyemi’s novel, too, is a bit old. First published in 2017, it is the first book of a trilogy: Legacy of Orïsha. However, I reeeeaaally want to read it! The second book, Children of Virtue and Vengeance will be released on December 3rd, and I intend to finish the first book before then so I can be fully caught up on Adeyemi’s series. I’m willing to rewind my reading timeline a bit and dip back into 2017 to read Children of Blood and Bone so that I am ready and waiting for the next book.

I’ve finessed this reading list to gradually work backwards in publication date (minus Qiufan’s Waste Tide.) From Bardugo’s Ninth House, released October 8 of this year, all the way back to The Eye of the World in 1990, I’m going to travel back in book-publishing time as I read through these titles.

Here goes nothing!


*This includes Megan O’Keefe’s Velocity Weapon and Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree, the latter of which is more fantasy, but still a favorite.
**See: Madeline Miller’s Circe, Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

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