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HerrBerta’s favourite books in 2020

best book in 2020 me and white supremacy

Books I’ve read in 2020:

  • Total: 36
  • Total authors: 22
  • Female authors: 12
  • From “not-white” authors: 10

What is interesting here is that since 2019 I am putting extra effort into looking for authors that are not white men. Not that I think that white men are bad authors, but as I see with this little overview they are already present enough. To understand and navigate a complex and nuanced word, I find it beneficial to look for different voices and perspectives.

I love sci-fi as it allows us to investigate the dangers and chances through a looking glass. And I think most of my moral and ethical understanding is modelled after Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek the next generation. And still how refreshing was it to watch the wandering earth (Liúlàng Dìqiú 流浪地球). A sci-fi thriller about earth’s survival all dramatic, heroic, cheesy and funny. It would have been such a boring movie if it would have come out of Hollywood with the same old faces, but the Chinese perspective made it refreshing, and I really enjoyed it.

Liú Cíxīn (刘慈欣) btw. did make it into this years reading list, but we listened to the excellent yet at times confucing German radioplay adaption of the Trisolaris-Trilogie (三体三部曲) where we are waiting for the 3rd part to be released.

Another author who has expanded my view is Octavia Butler. The anti-racist and feminist tone is so profound and yet subtle, her perception is empowering and somehow goes deeper. I wanted to write that she was ahead of her time, but actually her time – our time too – fell way behind her. This year I read her short story collection: Bloodchild and other stories. For 2021 I am eyeballing Octavia E. Butler’s the parable series: Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents and the third one didn’t get finished before her death. Black, female sci-fi authors, is a thing! And this worthwhile checking out – you’ll come across N.K. Jemisin too and I am looking forward to seeing where she is going with her writing.

Having talked about female sci-fi writers and my interest in the fictional “earthseed” religion the next step is Margaret Atwood and her “God’s gardeners”. Which are the focus of her book “the year of the flood” from the MaddAddam Trilogy. Let me just say that I have pretty much converted to parts of the god
s gardeners “cult” at least when it comes to the community part where sustainable living is the key aspect. I am not sold on the religion itself but I guess those stories would make sense for a community too if not taken too serious or literal.

I’ll wrap my list up with a white man and his book: Walkaway. Cory Doctorow presents yet another type of future community living that is based on a different form of society. It could have been a white male book, but he does the best he can to be inclusive, so one of the main characters is black the other on is trans, there are queer people and long term couples, there are even sex scenes that include lived consent. And he packs it all in the class struggle, the technological development, the climate, and the daily struggles to find a good solution, the fact there’s not one perfect solution, and it is all complex and messy. He acknowledges that he’s a white man and so it feels like he is pouring a lot of himself, his hopes, struggles and learnings into the book, and still, it never feels preachy.

For my German readers, I recommend Margarete Stokowski and her up to date take on feminism. Her book “Untenrum frei” is important, sad and also funny. She is 11 years younger than me and I am very grateful that she puts herself out there (also in Social Media Channels) for me to have her as my virtual mentor. Because truth be told, I am as much learning and discovering about patriarchy and the bullshit I used to buy into as I do with white supremacy yet from different angles.

For those who like lists. Here are my top 3 reads in 2020:

  • Octavia E. Butler: Bloodchild and other stories
  • Margaret Atwood: The year of the flood
  • Cory Doctorow: Walkaway
  • GERMAN: Margarete Stokowski: Untenrum frei

Me and white supremacy by Layla F. Saad is not on this list because it’s not a book one simply reads. It’s a task, a mission, the work and more. It goes beyond the intellectual level and lets us investigate further. So it’s a lesson, a journey that I highly recommend you embark on too.

The books I read/ listened to in 2020

  • Audiobook: Forward – Stories of tomorrow
  • Year of the monkey / Patti Smith
  • Radicalized / Cory Doctorow
  • Living the good life / Helen and Scott Nearing
  • Homeland / Cory Doctorow
  • Tales from the loop / Simon Stålenhag
  • Walkaway/ Cory Doctorow
  • Snow Crash / Neal Stephenson
  • Die Welt der Wirtschaft / André Fourçans
  • How long til black future month? N. K. Jemisin
  • The last man / Brian K. Vaughan
  • Bloodchild / Octavia E. Butler
  • Permanent Record / Edward Snowden
  • Barfuss durch Hiroshima 1/2/3/4 / Keiji Nakazawa
  • Cyber War / Constanze Kurz, Frank Rieger
  • Untenrum frei / Margarete Stokowski
  • Durst ist schlimmer als Heimweh / Lucy Fricke
  • Die letzten Tage des Patriarchats / Margarete Stokowski
  • How to be an Antiracist / Ibram X. Kendi
  • The year of the flood / Margaret Atwood
  • God help the child / Toni Morrison
  • Cybersexism / Laurie Penny
  • Zikora / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Me and White Supremacy / Layla F. Saad
  • Men explain things to me / Rebecca Solnit
  • Street Zen / David Schneider
  • Der Buddha / Thích Nhất Hạnh
  • Oryx and Crake/ Margaret Atwood
  • Monstress 1-5 / Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda