Do end-of-year lists have a point? 355 days is enough time to both get acquainted with massive amounts of creations and… forget about a lot of them, no matter how good they were. Yet, those subjective “the best of” lists do have an appeal of discovery of another person’s favorites that in the next year might become mine.
Nowadays I’m more focused on creating rather than consuming, so I don’t have dozens of books or tv shows to pick from, but I still can point toward my favorites, so here’s a meager Melfka’s Best of 2019 list.
I’ve become pickier and pickier with what I read, and I don’t finish many books I start, but I still manage to find gems that I consider well-worth the time.
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders is the best novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading back in 2019. It enchanted me with it’s storytelling style and straddling multiple genres in a skillful way. Then, there was the story itself, woven without a rush. I might have not connected to the characters as much as I would have love to, but I still followed their lives with my breath held. What’s interesting, I read it early in January and thought, “This is going to be the best book I’ve read this year.” And even though I had 11 more months to go, it turned out to be true.
When it comes to non-fiction, my absolute number one is The Write Attitude by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Not only it contains a plethora of information and interesting perspectives, but is also written in an engaging and entertaining way—something I immensely value in non-fiction.
Other books I enjoyed this year would be Simon R. Greene’s Swords of Haven – fun adventures of a married couple working as city guards and Soulless by Gail Carriger that was a light read set in Victorian England with a pleasantly entertaining writing style.
Tv shows and movies
What’s interesting, I haven’t seen that many new movies. I’m not a cinema-goer, and even though I enjoy Marvel movies, for several reasons I skipped Avengers: Endgame, so my movie-watching is limited to Netflix and blu-ray editions. And as I look back at 2019, I’m sure I’ve watched quite a few new movies, but I can’t exactly recall any of them. I know I quite enjoyed Train to Busan—quite unique Korean approach to a zombie movie or the 2010 remake of True Grit, would I consider them worthy of “the best of 2019” list? I’m not sure.
When it comes to tv shows, it’s much easier, though there were strong contenders.
Disheartened by modern series’ approach to storytelling (which led, among others, to being greatly disappointed with Stranger Things 3 – you can read about it more in my Friends Do Lie: Normalization of Lies in Fiction post), I turned to anime (mostly re-watching my favorites) and carefully picked Korean dramas about which I hope to write in separate posts, but then a new season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D landed, and even though it wasn’t as good as the previous one, I still highly enjoyed it. Then The Witcher arrived, and despite my complaints as a fan of the books (the show misinterpreted some of the crucial bits of the stories), I enjoyed it as well. So, in the end, it is a tie.
I don’t have much time for gaming anymore, but I still keep an eye out for video games that could provide some inspiration for my writing. This year, Greedfall steal the spot, showing that you can weave a story that doesn’t offer clear divisions between what’s good and bad, and which can offer a new approach to a seemingly familiar setting. You can read more about it in my Gaming Writer’s Saturday post.
Among other games I enjoyed this year was Conan: Exiles – a survival game loosely set in Robert E. Howard’s world. It doesn’t offer much of a story but it has other qualities that made me return to it over and over again, and I’ll likely do so in 2020 as well. The other one worth mentioning are Anthem – a sci-fi shooter with a very interesting setting and Path of Exile – an action RPG that despite it’s repetitive game play offered me a lot of unexpected inspiration that in the future will definitely grow into a project.
How about you?
Do you have your favorites of 2019? A book that enchanted or surprised you? A show that was so good you will likely watch again? And if you have your own “the best of” post, feel free to share it in the comments!
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.