2020 Reading List Update

Apr 27, 2020 | 3 minutes read

Tags: reading, books, reading list, epics

Since mid-March, my reading schedule is provisional and inconsistent. Like many others, I am working from home, which has wreaked havoc on any sense of routine, even though I do my best to cling to what I can. Still, while I am confident that much of my original reading plan will stay firmly off the rails, there is no reason to abandon hope.

Often, I make plans but lose interest in them anyway. There's no guarantee I would have been in a different place in the absence of a global pandemic, because I am also an opportunistic reader who grabs an idea and runs with it until I find something that interests me more. Here's what I have been reading this year to date.


  • Popol Vuh by Anonymous, translated by Dennis Tedlock. Excellent, enjoyable stories that elicit anger specifically because of how little survived the Spanish conquest.
  • The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, which I picked up after having mailed a copy to my Reddit Secret Santa giftee. I will happily continue reading in this series.
  • Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture by Johan Huizinga. The best that can be said for this is that it's reactionary fanfic for white supremacists masquerading as scholarship.
  • The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley. This modern recapitulation of Beowulf tells the story mostly (but not completely!) from Grendel's mother's point of view and served as a precursor to Headley's forthcoming translation of the original tale, due in August and slated for my September epic. I've preordered it from my local bookshop in hopes that a) they are in a safe position to fill the order, and b) it releases and distributes on time.
  • Victor LaValle's Destroyer by Victor LaValle. Not a retelling so much as a fast-forward from the point after Frankenstein's monster disappears into the Arctic.
  • The Tale of Sinuhe: And Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940-1640 B.C. by Unknown, translated by R.B. Parkinson. The main tale and some of the secondary tales are worth reading, but the fragmentary nature of some of the later works makes them difficult as anything but a completionist study.

Currently Reading

  • Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace by Janet H. Murray. I haven't given up completely on game studies curriculum, but I don't seem to have much attention span for it at the moment either. For what it's worth, my podcasts are piling up for lack of commute time.
  • The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I have several friends who rate this title as their favorite of Dostoyevsky's works. I can't compare yet, because I've only read Crime and Punishment and Demons.
  • War Songs by Antarah ibn Shaddad. Even as a fan of epics, I find these poems by a celebrated pre-Islamic Arab poet and warrior to be much more violent than I expected. They do, however, provide a window into a time and place that are less familiar to me, which is why I chose the work.

Always Reading

  • The Complete Poems by William Blake. I will never not be reading this. Blake is the mystical poet we need now, and I have every intention of reading all of his prophetic works, probably more than once.


Though provisional, I am still planning to make a go of the following over the next month or so:

The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot and Keith Bosley (translator). This is the great Finnish epic that grew out of its oral tradition.

What Fell Off the List

  • Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds by Jesper Juul
  • Ready Player Two: Women Gamers and Designed Identity by Shira Chess