Summer Reading List 2020

After last year’s summer reading list took me nine months to complete, I decided to make this year’s list more manageable. I certainly had fun with last year’s list – 19 books, 5 graphic novels – but by summer’s end, I’d only read 11 of the 19 books.

There were a lot of reasons for that. I didn’t read as much as I thought I would on vacation, particularly at scout camp, where I ran, swam, and climbed throughout the week, but only read one book. I went on fewer summer morning walks, which cut down on my audiobook time. And finally, I had a side project of finally catching up on my teetering pile of comic books. I succeeded in that project, but probably cost me a book or three’s worth of time.

I don’t know what this summer is going to bring. Philmont, our big backpacking trip to New Mexico (and where I was planning to re-read Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World) is canceled. I still plan on taking some vacation time this summer, and maybe even getting in a shorter backpacking trip, but it’s possible that we won’t be going far from home this year.

Thus, Nuketown’s 13th annual reading list is more constrained than its previous peers. The main list stands at 10 novels, 1 novella, and seven graphic novels. I have three novels as stretch goals, to read if I finish the first 10. It leaves me with room to add more books if I like, which hasn’t been true for the last few reading lists.

This summer’s reading is missing some stalwarts. There’s no new Expanse novel, and while there are potentially more Lost Fleet books coming out in the future, there’s nothing this summer.  Timothy Zahn’s next Thrawn novel, which has the unwieldy title of
“Star Wars: Thrawn (Book I: Chaos Rising)” doesn’t come out until Fall 2020.

As always, I’m looking for suggestions and recommendations for this and future reading lists. Add yours as a comment or email me at

You can follow my Summer Reading List progress on GoodReads.


  • Print is for books in paper or e-book format.
  • Audio is for the novels I’ll listen to in audiobook format, rather than read the traditional way.
  • Island books are the ones I intend to read during my family’s annual summer vacation at Lake Champlain.

Summer Reading Columns


  1. Excession (A Culture Novel Book, Book 5) by Iain M Banks – (Amazon) – Print – I’m making my way through Banks’ Culture series, which tells stories about the post-scarcity, transhuman, utopia known as the Culture and its interactions with the less enlightened aspects of the galaxy. Technically, I should be reading the 4th book in the series, which is a collection of short stories, but it’s not easy to find. Instead, I’m moving on to Excession, which is about an alien artifact that appeared at the edge of the galaxy millennia ago, only to disappear. Now it’s back.
  2. The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data by Gene Kim – (Amazon) – Audio – The follow-up to The Phoenix Project, which is a classic novel about DevOps that rings all-too-true with my work experience. The Unicorn Project hasn’t gotten the same rave reviews as the original book, but its still sounds like a decent read.
  3. The Bohr Maker (The Nanotech Succession Book 1) by Linda Nagata – (Amazon) – Print, Island books –  Part of a larger collection of novels about the rise of nanotech and its impact on the galaxy.
  4. The Dreaming Stars (Axiom, Book 2) by Tim Pratt – (Amazon) – Print, Island books – The follow up to The Wrong Stars finds the crew of the White Haven continuing to investigate the ancient, slumbering alien-gods known as the Axiom. I read the first book a few years ago and enjoyed it, but it slipped my mind when compiling last year’s reading list.
  5. Bone Silence (Revenger Universe, Book 3) by Alastair Reynolds – (Amazon) – Print – I loved the first book in this space opera, in which a woman tries to save her sister from the clutches of an evil space pirate (which sounds way pulpier than it was). The second was a slower-paced, smaller scoped adventure; I’m hoping for a return to form in the third book.
  6. The Wise Man’s Fear ( Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2) by Patrick Rothfuss – (Amazon) – Audio – A lot of my friends love the first book in this series, The Name of the Wind. It may be that they set my expectations too high – I certainly enjoyed the novel about a young man and emerging legend, but it wasn’t an instant classic for me the way Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber was. It was certainly good enough for me to want to read the sequel
  7. The Last Emperox (The Interdependency, Book 3) by John Scalzi – (Amazon) – Print, Island books – The concluding novel to Scalzi’s new trilogy, in which a far-flung stellar empire finds that its no match for the physics that are destroying the connections between its worlds.
  8. Fall; or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson – (Amazon) – Print – Stephenson is one of my all-time favorite authors (and his cyberpunk novel Snowcrash is one of my all-time favorite books. This novel is a follow up to Readme, a novel of cybercrime
  9. The Worst of All Possible Worlds (The Salvagers, Book 3) by Alex White – (Amazon) –  Print – The concluding novel to the Salvagers series, which mixes space opera with magic. Due out July 28, 2020.
  10. The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay, Book 2) by Chris Wooding (Amazon) – Audio – Another technology/magic mashup that’s more reminiscent of the old Crimson Skies game … with demons.

Stretch Goals

  1. The Ancient Ones by David Brin – (Amazon) – Print – I haven’t had great luck with science fiction comedy since The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but this book is by David Brin, one of my favorite authors, so I’ll give it a try. The setup is simple enough: humanity always thought it would be the brash and lucky ones when we finally stepped onto the galactic stage. But it turns out that role is filled by the alien Demmies … and they see us as the “Ancient Ones”
  2. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky – (Amazon) – Print – A story about the remnants of humanity trying to survive on a terraformed world that is not their own … all while avoiding the attention of an all-powerful (and hostile) alien race.
  3. The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, Book 2) by N. K. Jemisin– – (Amazon) – Audio – The Broken Earth series mixes magic and science in an apocalyptic setting in which even the continents have moved into new shapes. In Book 1, the world – already beset by frequent earthquakes and toxic “fifth seasons” – is truly broken when a powerful wielder of tectonic forces shattered the continent. Essun, the protagonist of the first novel, returns, presumably to continue her quest for her kidnapped daughter.


  • Auberon: An Expanse Novella – (Amazon) –  Island books – The latest (and possibly last) novella in The Expanse series. Since there’s no Expanse book this summer, this will have to tide me over.  The book is set on Auberon, one of the first world’s that humans colonized.

Graphic Novels

Two years ago I finished Hellboy‘s run. Last year, I finished B.P.R.D‘s run. Thankfully, the Hellboy universe still has books I haven’t read yet, including the “young Hellboy” books set in the 1950s as well as the Abe Sapien titles.

  1. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1955 – (Amazon)
  2. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 – (Amazon)
  3. Abe Sapien Volume 5: Sacred Places – (Amazon)
  4. Abe Sapien Volume 6: A Darkness So Great – (Amazon)
  5. Abe Sapien Volume 7: The Secret Fire – (Amazon)

In late summer, I added two more beautiful hardcover graphic novels to my collection:

  1. Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series Aliens – (Amazon)
  2. Aliens: Nightmare Asylum and Earth War – (Amazon)

I own a couple of these comic books from their original print run (the cover art for the first black-and-white Aliens comic was a fixture of my office and game room for years until we had kids and, ahem, I was worried about it scaring them.  These new editions are big, hefty,  versions that are a pleasure to view and read.

Previous Summer Reading Lists

  • 2020: 10 books, 1 novella, 5 graphic novels
  • 2019: 19 books, 5 graphic novels
  • 2018: 15 books, 7 graphic novels
  • 2017: 17 books, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
  • 2016: 16 books, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
  • 2015: 15 books, 9 graphic novels
  • 2014: 13 books, 5 graphic novels
  • 2013: 11 books, 5 graphic novels
  • 2012: 11 books, 1 graphic novels
  • 2011: 11 books, 0 graphic novels
  • 2010: 7 books, 0 graphic novels
  • 2009: 9 books, 0 graphic novels
  • 2008: 8 books, 8 graphic novels
  • 1993: 26 books

5 thoughts on “Summer Reading List 2020”

    • I hear you. It’s tough when you have kids, a busy job, and creative endeavors to balance. For many years, especially when the kids were really little, I didn’t have a reading list at all. I made a special effort to get back to it, but it definitely comes at the cost of other things (like not spending as much time writing). It helps that as the kids have gotten older, their activities facilitated my reading habit. If I’m spending the weekend camping with NeutronLad, I’m guaranteed to have time at night to do some reading. 🙂

      For me personally, I find listening to books helps, either on my commute or during my morning walk, but only if, ahem, I’m actually commuting somewhere or get up early enough to go for a walk. Adding “read a book” and “read a comic book” to my bullet journal habit tracker also helped. That’s particularly true of comic books – you’d think it wouldn’t that hard to read a comic book, since it takes, what, 10 minutes? 15? – but it’s an easy habit to fall out of.

      Speaking of reading, I’m looking forward to reading your new Zine of Wondrous Power! (

      Hmmm … I should probably add an addendum to the reading list for all the zines and RPG books I’m reading this summer (I’m looking at you, DoubleZero –

      • I’ve made my peace at the moment with the tradeoff between reading and spending time with the girls and wife. I still work on getting writing done, but it’s more a bunch of small sessions than a long sit-down lately.

        Also, I hope you’ll like The Ioun Codex. Almost done!

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