July 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in late 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

The high point of the month was getting out of Belgium for the first time since lockdown, a three-country trip to my cousin in Luxembourg, my sister in France and work/tourism in Geneva. While we were there we watched the Disney Hamilton and saw Comet NEOWISE.

We enjoyed watching Picard and Staged, and I delved into the etymology of the Ardennes. More seriously, the Spanish Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología del Periodismo found completely in my favour in a complaint I had raised against a journalist who published a false story about me.

I also paused my ten-day COVID updates, but restarted my Doctor Who anniversary posts, which I had first done in 2010-11. I am still doing them, but on Facebook only.

The Hugo Awards gave us a lot of grief. The preparation of the online voting system on the final ballot was so badly delayed that we were within hours of just using Surveymonkey, before the local software solution finally came through at the last moment. Online commentators were rightly scornful of the fact that we opened voting so late, but they didn’t know the half of it. The final ballot results came through as we were driving home from Geneva, and to my astonishment it turned out that there was a tie for the Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). I checked and rechecked the votes, but there was no error.

The CoNZealand Retro Hugo ceremony passed off OK on 30 July, though my connection was poor and some of the actual winners were a bit embarrassing. At midnight on July 31st, I was at my computer waiting anxiously for the 2020 Hugo ceremony itself. We had heard worrying hints about the presentation, but as administrators we had little to do with it (indeed, the pronunciations we had painstakingly gathered earlier in the year somehow were not communicated to the ceremony team [edit: turns out they were communicated, just not used]); surely the convention leadership would take action to protect their own reputation?

…well, I’ll write more about that when I get to August 2020.

Anyway, in July 2020 I read 21 books:

Non-fiction: 5 (YTD 37)
EU Lobbying Handbook, by Andreas Geiger
The Complete Secret Army: An Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Classic TV Drama Series by Andy Priestner
George Eliot, by Tim Dolin
Yugoslavia’s Implosion: The Fatal Attraction of Serbian Nationalism, by Sonja Biserko
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, by Mary Trump

Fiction (non-sf): 3 (YTD 18)
The Overstory, by Richard Powers
Guban, by Abdi Latif Ega
Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo

sf (non-Who): 5 (YTD 76)
City of Lies, by Sam Hawke
Tooth & Claw, by Jo Walton
TOR: Assassin Hunter, by Billy Bob Buttons (did not finish)
“Houston, Houston, do you read?” by James Tiptree Jr
The Ruin of Kings, by Jenn Lyons
“The Bicentennial Man” by Isaac Asimov

Comics: 6 (YTD 27)
The Wicked + The Divine vol 6: Imperial Phase Part 2, by Kieron Gillen etc
The Wicked + The Divine vol 7: Mothering Invention, by Kieron Gillen etc
Gaze of the Medusa, by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby and Brian Williamson
The Wicked + The Divine vol 8: Old is the New New, by Kieron Gillen etc
The Wicked + The Divine vol 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen etc
The 1945 Retro Hugo finalists for Best Graphic Story or Comic

Doctor Who 2 (YTD 8)
Doctor Who Annual 2020
Doctor Who and the Cybermen, by Gerry Davis

5,700 pages (YTD 44,200)
7/21 (YTD 54/165) by women (Biserko, Trump, Hawke, Walton, Tiptree, Lyons, Beeby)
1/21 (YTD 18/165) by PoC (Ega)

As so often, two non-fiction books stood out for me this month, Andy Priestner’s delightful Complete Secret Army, which you can get here, and Sonja Biserko’s horrifying Yugoslavia’s Implosion, which you can get here. I also enjoyed rereading James Tiptree Jr’s “Houston, Houston, do you read?”, which you can get here.

Some awful books too. The 2020 Doctor Who Annual was a poor effort; you can get it here. Guban, by Abdi Latif Ega, is very badly edited; you can get it here. TOR: Assassin Hunter, by Billy Bob Buttons, is rubbish; you can get it here. And Asimov’s “The Bicentennial Man” has not aged well, but you can get it here.