Books I read in 2021 (part 1)

stack of books and text that reads "books I read in 2021"

I thought it would be fun to share some book recommendations, so here are some mini reviews of 7 books I read in 2021. It’s a mix of science-fiction and non-fiction, with lots of essay collections. This is only one third of the books I read, you can check out the entire list here

Too Like the Lightning 

Ada Palmer 

Book 1 of the Terra Ignota series. It imagines a future in which everyone has access to flying cars that let you get anywhere in 2 hours or less. With the breakdown of borders, people are no longer bound to the government in which they are born . Instead they can choose from 7 Hives, each with different ideologies and interests. But that’s just the barest description of the world building, there is much more to this series. 

The book is framed as a piece of in-world history, told by an unreliable narrator. So, it’s pretty difficult to get into. I actually hated it when I first read it, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about it. So January 2021 I picked up where I left off in 2020 (turns out I only had 1 chapter to go), and was hooked on the series for the rest of the year.[4.5/5]

The Etched City: A Novel

K.J. Bishop     

I don’t remember much about this book, other than I really liked it. I’m tempted to describe it as a weird fantasy slice of life, but that doesn’t feel right. The setting is pretty vague, in a way your imagination fills in the rest of the details. Good characters who spend a lot of time talking about life and philosophy.  [4.5/5]

Savage Gods     

Paul Kingsnorth 

In December 2020 I purchased a bunch of essay collections from a local publisher, this is one of those.This one feels like a very good writer’s diary. Lots of random thoughts about writing, life, and Ireland. Honestly, not the most interesting premise, but I enjoyed the book. Made me want to check out some of his other work (haven’t done that yet, as of writing this). I may re-read this one. Reading about someone else’s struggles with writing (or any creative work really) is inspiring. It’s nice knowing that we all feel those ways sometimes.  [3/5]

Frequencies: Volume 1 & 2 

Various contributors

Lumping these two together. Another set of essay collections from the local publisher. All 4 volumes were very cheap, and after reading them, it’s easy to see why. I really hated just about all of these. Not a single essay in volume 1 was memorable, and I recall really liking one in volume 2 about someone traveling to a small town in South America. Never bothered to read volumes 3 & 4 after this. Vol 1: [1/5] Vol 2: [2/5]

A History of My Brief Body

Billy-Ray Belcourt 

Last of the Two Dollar Radio essay collections I read this year. The author writes about his life as a young queer, indgenous writer, in Canada. This one was the most difficult to read. The intro actually even makes a point of calling out that the language would be dense and difficult. Maybe it’s the way I read books (in bed before sleeping), but I had a tough time reading this one. Made me feel kinda stupid. That said, I did find it very memorable. Many of the essays had a lasting impression on me. I would like to revisit this one in the future and give it a closer read. [3/5]

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murakami 

I’ve read quite a few Murakami novels*, but this one made me start to lose interest in him. It’s about a guy who’s cat goes missing, then his wife leaves him. This is a long one, with many scenes of people sitting in holes. After looking at a plot synopsis, there are parts I liked, but I mostly forgot about them. To be honest, a lot of my feelings regarding this book are related to how I feel about 1Q84, so I will elaborate more when I get to that book. Overall I thought this book was just OK. [2.5/5]

*Kafka on the Shore is my favorite Murakami novel. Great piece of magical realism. If you want a more grounded book I’d recommend Norwegian Wood. I also like the short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

Book Review: ‘Soft and Cuddly’ by Jarret Kobek (Boss Fight Books)

I own quite a few Boss Fight Books, both physical and eBook. This one I got in an online bundle. Out of those various titles I was drawn to Soft and Cuddly because I had no idea what it was about. How could someone write an entire book (even a relatively short one) on such a small and obscure game? Mostly by writing about everything surrounding it’s creation and release.


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Cantrip Games Journal – Week 1

I’m going to try something different for my blog. One of my goals for this year was to update at least once a week. So far, I’ve been keeping up, but I’ve been having difficulty with writing on interesting topics each week. Coming up with ideas for posts is easy, but I’d like to dedicate more time to fleshing them out. To compromise I’ve decided to make my weekly updates quick journal entries about each game I’ve played throughout the week. This is a pretty simple format that should be easy to keep up with, while also allowing me to put down quick thoughts on games as I play them (traditionally I’ve felt the need to “complete” a game before I express my total thoughts on them). I still plan on posting more focused essays, but they will be more sporadic, but hopefully longer and of higher quality. Without further ado, here is the first entry of my “Games Journal”.

games journal logo

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100 Word Book Reviews x2 (Ready Player One and Storm Front)


That’s right, I read too!  Short and sweet thoughts on these two novels after the jump.

Fun fact: I live in Columbus, Ohio, the partial setting of Ready Player One the book, and possibly total setting of Ready Player One the film.

Continue reading “100 Word Book Reviews x2 (Ready Player One and Storm Front)”