Role-playing games and travelling are not my only hobbies. I love reading since childhood, thanks to my parents and the ladies from the school library, who recommended me books of Jules Verne and Alfred Szklarski in the first year of primary school.
The year 2018 brought a significant change in my reading habits. I have no room for more paper books at home, so I bought an e-book reader. As for now, I am very happy with this change, for several reasons:
- Saving of space;
- More comfortable reading in public transport (due to the small size of the reader);
- Lower prices (at least in some cases) and there is a lot of classics on Wikisource , which can be legally downloaded for free in PDF, EPUB or MOBI format;
- The ability to (finally!) read books of one of my favorite writers, Guy Gavriel Kay, which have not been published in Poland;
- I have long liked to keep particularly interesting or inspiring fragments of books. In the case of e-books it is easier than ever, because I just need to mark such a fragment while reading, and it will automatically appear on my Goodreads profile. I have not yet figured out how to do this synchronization in the case of e-books bought outside the Amazon store, any suggestions?
On May 18, I visited Warsaw Book Fair and bought 8 (paper) books there. I think that this was the last such shopping, for the reasons indicated above.
On October 13 at the Falkon Fantasy Festival, I listened to a lecture by Michał Gołkowski about the (huge) impact of role-playing games on his work.
On October 28, I took part in meeting with Michał Kubicz, author of historical novels about Ancient Rome (only in Polish so far). The meeting was organized and moderated by Julia Wollner, founder and editor-in-chief of the Mediterranean magazine “Lente”. I was very happy that Michał Kubicz and some of his fans liked my texts about Rimini and Ravenna. In turn, his “Tiberius. Empire on the Precipice” is the first book I read in 2019.
Throughout 2018 I read the following books (some of them are only available in Polish, in case of others I used their English titles):
- Jak zawsze. Zygmunt Miłoszewski
- D-Day: The Battle for Normandy. Antony Beevor
- Głębia: Skokowiec. Marcin Podlewski
- Millennium #5: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye. David Lagercrantz
- Wedle zasług. Sławomir Nieściur
- Night Film. Marisha Pessl
- Domofon. Zygmunt Miłoszewski
- Origin. Dan Brown
- Francis Urquhart #3: The Final Cut. Michael Dobbs
- A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. George R.R. Martin (my souvenir from Malta!)
- FUTU.RE. Dmitry Glukhovsky
- Ten co walczy z potworami. Piotr Muszyński
- The Fault in Our Stars. John Green
- Pola dawno zapomnianych bitew #1: Łatwo być bogiem. Robert J. Szmidt
- Journey into the Interior of the Earth. Jules Verne (e-book from Wikisource)
- The Count of Monte Christo. Alexandre Dumas (e-book from Wikisource)
- North Against South: A Tale of the American Civil War. Jules Verne
- Kingsbridge #1: The Pillars of the Earth. Ken Follett
- The Chevalier D’Harmental. Alexandre Dumas
- Narconomics : How to Run a Drug Cartel. Tom Wainwright
- Submission. Michel Houellebecq.
- Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1). James S.A. Corey
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Powrót. Michał Gołkowski
- Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel. James Luceno
- Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2). James S.A. Corey
- Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3). James S.A. Corey
- Children of Earth and Sky. Guy Gavriel Kay
- Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4). James S.A. Corey
- Under Heaven. Guy Gavriel Kay
- Generation Beziehungsunfähig. Michael Nast (in Polish translation, as Pokolenie Ja)
As you can see, I made a nostalgic return to the works of Jules Verne and Alexandre Dumas. I read “The Count of Monte Christo” for the second time (and I maintain the opinion that this is an outstanding book), and the other books listed above for the first time.
Antony Beevor is one of my favorite historians. “D-Day” proves that even seemingly familiar topics can bring many surprises. The book, of course, focuses on the struggles between the Allied and Third Reich forces, but does not overlook the very complex political situation in France (the difficult relations between USA, the Free French Forces of Charles De Gaulle and the communist FTP). Neither the fact that not only Germans fought in Nazi army, but also many press-ganged people of Central Europe, who in the face of the Allies often turned against their German superiors and switched sides (many of them in fact considered Allies as their saviors). How much does this differ from the vision of the Nazi forces in movies like “Saving Private Ryan” or video games such as “Medal of Honor: Allied Assault” or “Call of Duty”! Beevor also reminds the impact of weather on historical events: the invasion was moved from June 5 to June 6 1944 due to bad conditions (that delay increased the risk of squandering the element of surprise!). You can learn more about D-Day from Extra History videos.
John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars” is also one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine and founder of CrashCourse, one of my favorite educational channels, where he led, among others, a series of films about the world history. I admire him very much.
“Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel” is an extremely important book. It shows how ineffective the war on drugs is. The general outlines of the problem are also presented by Kurzgesagt. I think that many conclusions from this book can also be applied to other socially undesirable phenomena. People like Tom Wainwright (and John Green, and his co-workers, and creators of Kurzgesagt) are, in my opinion, the hope of humankind.
“The Expanse” series (which I read almost parallel to watching the TV series) instantly became my favourite sci-fi story! However, the fourth volume did not impress me like the previous ones, hence the break from the adventures of James Holden, Naomi Nagata, Amos Burton and Alex Kamal.
Guy Gavriel Kay has been in my personal pantheon of Outstanding Writers since 2007, and after reading “Children of Earth and Sky” and “Under Heaven” his position remains unchallenged.
The first of these books was inspired by a really interesting epoch: the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, specifically the Balkans, where the influences of Venice, the Habsburg Empire and the Ottoman Empire were intermingled at that time and Albanian nobleman Skanderberg fought for independence. I hope that this novel people will make more people interested in this historical period!
A small hint to Kay: he made me laugh which was not intended (I think). One of the heroines is Danica Gradek, belonging to a group of corsairs inspired by historical Uskoks of Senj. She calls her grandfather “zadek” (literally “arse” in Polish). In Croatian (the language obviously the closest to Danica and her kin) “grandfather” is “deda”, so I have no idea where this “zadek” came from. Possibly due to its phonetic similarity to Polish “dziadek” (“grandfather”)?
The evidence of Kay’s greatness is also the fact that I enjoyed “Under Heaven” very much, despite the fact that I do not share my friends’ fascinations with the Far East, including China in the period of Tang Dynasty, which was Kay’s source of influence for this book. In 2019, I will certainly read “River of Stars”, which is the continuation of this novel.
I would like thank my friends for borrowing me some of books mentioned above!
And I wish you all a lot of pleasure and knowledge from the books in 2019! Remember what Tyrion Lannister said: