Monday, January 20, 2020

My Best of 2019

Time to take a look back at 2019 and some of my personal entertainment highlights as far as books and games go.

Some thoughts on the books I read in 2019;

Overall I can't say 2019 was a good year for my reading. I did a lot less of it first of all. I think the main explanation is that I used to do most of my reading at my work (it used to be very intermittent work load with sometimes longer breaks in-between) and now I have a different job that has pretty much no breaks for reading instead. The upside is that I have more fun at work, the downside is that I have less time to read.

I also didn't read many books that wow:ed me and some times when I read a lot of not-so-exciting books in a row it sort of puts me off reading for a while. I have this issue with watching anime or TV-series as well. For instance my usual go to series when I want something that I know I'll enjoy - The Expanse - ended up being not as good as I usually think they are. The fifth book in the series, Nemesis Games, introduced a character I had little interest in and really just wanted to go away.
Unfortunately that seems very unlikely to happen anytime soon, but maybe I can suffer this character if the rest of the storytelling is as good as it usually is. Nemesis Games didn't deliver but Babylon's Ashes which I am reading at the moment is already proving to getting back to older forms.
As an anecdote I can mention that I've watched all the seasons of The Expanse on Amazon as well (and Netflix before the move) and while I think the books are amazing I actually think the TV-series is even better.

Didn't have much of this last year.

I've also read a couple of Agatha Christie books as it's always been on my bucket list to read through at least a few of her works. I find them very snack-sized. They're easy get through and entertaining enough but not really anything you'll remember for too long afterwards.

Interestingly enough my favorite books of last year where actually two books I had already read before and re-read because I enjoyed them so much. I guess they don't really count then since I knew I liked them already.

The first one is The Mountain Village by Chun Chan Yeh. I have a fascination with the ordeals of Chinese people through the ages and maybe especially the early 1900. This book takes place in a little village out on the countryside and what happens to the people there as cultural and political revolution takes place around them. People are only trying to get by and do the right thing, but when the right thing is defined by whomever has the most soldiers that day it turns out to be a very hard thing to do. It's well written and heart breaking in many ways. I love it because it manages to make you smile through all the hardships, it's not all grim. You really care and feel for these characters who could've been any one of us.

The second re-read I did last year was of a book I read and owned when I was little. It's called Vitterväder (Wights Weather) by Börje Lindström. It's a ghost story for young adults and I remember really liking it for its down to earth writing style. I decided to buy myself a copy as I've lost my old one somewhere and see if it still held up, and it definitely does. It has the right amount of creepy yet doesn't over-embellish but keeps it clean. I always enjoy books that can tell things with less words rather than more.

Another book I am glad I read last year was Frågor Jag Fått Om Förintelsen (Questions I've Been Asked About The Holocaust) by Hédi Fried. Hédi Fried is a Holocaust survivor born 1924 in Romania and she has worked many years with different kind of educational work regarding the Holocaust. Frågor Jag Fått Om Förintelsen is a straight-forward Q&A with things people have been wanting answers to regarding the Holocaust when she has been out giving speeches. The subject matter makes it a dark read, but it's a necessary one. These things will always be difficult to process and understand, if not impossible, but this book breaks it down to just the thoughts that pop in to people's heads and it's a great read.

My gaming year of 2019 was pretty good actually...

It started off absolutely brilliantly with Return of The Obra Dinn. What a great game. The only bad thing about is that it's a one-off, you can't experience the magic on a second playthrough anywhere near as it is the first time you play it - but that only goes to emphasize what a special game this is. Original idea executed amazingly, this is fun and enthralling from beginning to the end.

Cause of death - really bad luck.

I also played Bloodstained and enjoyed it a lot. Bloodstained is a good example of how you can't capture lightning in a bottle twice, but by golly if you can't have fun with it a second time around. Borrowing very heavily from the Castlevania Symphony of the Night formula, Bloodstained decided to add more of everything and I think it worked. A lot of the extra stuff wasn't really necessary but it also didn't detract from the core game so I didn't mind it. The main game was competent enough and kept my interest throughout.

Talking about re-treading old footsteps as I seem to have done in my book reading last year, I also replayed Resident Evil 2 in a way. Resident Evil 2 remake was finally released, more than 15 years after it was first announced (yes, it was first announced when the first Resident Evil remake was released). The first Resident Evil remake still stands as the template on how to not just make a game justice but actually improve upon it with modern tools and I was definitely worried that Capcom could not pull that off twice. I am so glad I was wrong. The Resident Evil 2 remake embraces everything that made the original great and adds new flavor to the formula to keep the familiar feeling yet making it fresh. Kudos to Capcom for pulling it off again. Let's hope they can do a hattrick with Resident Evil 3 Nemesis.

2019 was also the year that saw the return of WoW Classic and I can't tell you how much fun I've been having with it. I still play it though literally no one else I know does (or at least not on my server). Even my bf who played it a bit the first couple of months, and we were levelling paladins together, cancelled his subscription last month. Me, I am trudging along in my loneliness. It's not that bad actually, and to be fair it's pretty accurate to my original WoW Vanilla experience. Back then I only knew my brother who played and for the first nine months we shared an account, so playing together wasn't an option. Also he was all into Pvp and I really wasn't.

I've missed this place.

At the moment I play my different alts (have pretty much one of each class) and haven't even made it to 40 on any one of them yet. I run around and do quests and the occasional dungeon while listening to podcasts. I love that you're often forced to ask other people for help and most of the time I only meet nice and funny ones. I am taking my time to get to endgame because I know that's probably when I hit my stop button. I never really raided in Vanilla and I don't have much desire to do so this time around either. On the other hand I know endgame content is more accessible this time around, for whatever reason, so I wouldn't mind giving it a shot. We'll see when I get there, because at this rate of levelling it is going to take me another half year at least, and I am perfectly fine with that.

If I were to also look ahead a bit...

I am mostly stoked for Cyberpunk 2077. I wasn't too fussed about it really until I started playing the Witcher 3. The only reason The Witcher 3 is not on my "awesome games I've played this year" list in this post is because I am nowhere near done with it yet. Spoiler alert, it will be on my list for 2020, if I remember to make one. While I really enjoyed The Witcher 1 and 2 and so I knew CD Projekt Red clearly could do great games, I put it down to the IP rather than the craftmanship. But now that I have played X many hours in The Witcher 3 I have a completely different idea of the skill set of these developers. Cyperpunk isn't something I am crazy into but definitely a genre I enjoy, so now I am really looking forward to trying this game out. As I am writing this, CD Projekt Red just announced that the game has been delayed until September and to me that's is practically good news since I still need more time to finish off The Witcher 3 before I can delve into Cyberpunk 2077.

Can't I just play as Geralt in the future?

Years and years ago, it feels like now at least, I heard about Final Fantasy VII remake being a thing. I decided to buy a ps4 pretty much on the basis of being able to play that game. Years later we are all still waiting as you know and I was starting to become pretty sure that the game wasn't even going to make it onto this generation of consoles but that I would have to invest in a ps5 as well. Well... it is coming out this year now finally right? Did I get that right? I don't even know anymore and I don't even know if I care. Maybe one day it'll come out and when it does I will be a happy camper and play it.

On a personal scale life is absolutely great and on a global scale I am panicking, but at least there are some good gaming and reading hours ahead of me...

Any of you have some personal favorites of last year? Book recommendations are definitely always welcome!

Images from,,,


  1. You're not the first person I've seen that thinks that The Expanse (series) is better than The Expanse (novels). I think it has something to do with hindsight and pacing. They have to redo some things for the series for expedience's sake. For example, making sure that Avisarala and Draper get enough screen time each season, even if they're not really part of the story for whatever book that season is covering. It's fanservice, pure and simple, but it's GOOD fanservice! :D

    1. Yeah they really get it right. Even where they've changed and in some cases straight up added characters I don't mind, because they make it all work. I always thought one of the prime examples of where the screen adaptation improves on the books story telling in many ways was The Lord of the Rings - The Expanse is now another example.

  2. That's exactly what I was thinking about. The middle of that trilogy (book) was just awful, not that engaging or exciting. But The Two Towers (movie) is in contention for best movie I ever saw.

    1. Completely agree. They turned what is basically a repetitive slog into something awesome.