Fave Games of 2022

Today, I’ll be looking at games that I played this year that are not video games. Most of these are journaling games of some type or another where you are given a world and writing prompts to respond to. Some of these games include tarot cards.

Pilgrimage of the Sun Guard by Amanda P. This is a journaling game about being a knightly character taking a pilgrimage and committing deeds, good or bad, along the way. I enjoyed this game so much that I played it several times.

Chalice from Monkey Paw Games. I bought the physical book of this zine and loved it. The book looks like a medieval manuscript with gorgeous full colour pages. In this journaling game, you’re a knight attempting to seek the Grail. Failure is embedded in the game: you aren’t meant to complete the Quest. As you can see, knight games are an interest of mine!

Hopelessly Devoted by A Devil Like You. My third knightly game that I played this year–you’re a squire. You get in and out of trouble as well as in and out of bed on your last year of training. This is definitely a game to play alone with some candles and chocolates nearby.

Tending by Tori Truslow. This is a sweet game about being a pilgrim tending to and helping to build a new shrine. I have only played the demo of this game so far.You need a standard set of playing cards to play this game. The prompts help you design the structure of the shrine. The game includes multimedia–you could easily create collages, maps, and other media while you build the shrine. As time passes, events happen that effect the progress of the construction. It’s a beautiful game that made me tear up more than once while playing. I am sure the full game will be excellent.

Field Guide to Memory by Jeeyon Shim and Shing Yin Khor. So this is a 20-day journaling game. You’re a scientist of some sort (your choice) who is trying to understand what happened to your cryptid-biologist mentor. You get prompts each day. The game is a keepsake game which means you’re meant to customize and decorate the journal you’re writing in, so that when you’re done playing, you are left with a kind of keepsake to remember your gameplay. It was a really thoughtful game, but I found it hard to maintain a consistency of play. This is in part because I was in the middle of my winter semester of grad school. Perhaps if I was less busy, I would’ve been more focused on this.

Vampyres Are People Too by Paul Czege and Son. This is a brief cute journaling game about trying to make a positive life as a vampire. It was written by a young boy and polished by his father. The funds you pay for the game help the boy save up to buy himself a Chromebook so he can play Roblox.

A Mending by Shing Yin Khor. This was another keepsake game. I’m actually not done playing this one! This game is a map printed on fabric. You sew your way from your “house” (a button) and make your way to your friend’s “house” (another button placed somewhere on the map). The game comes with a deck of card prompts. It’s an extremely sweet game. I’ve played it three times so far, and I think I have enough room to play twice more before I am going to wash the fabric and hang it above my bed as a gorgeous memento. Thankfully, the game also comes with paper copies of the map, so you can keep playing after you complete the fabric map.

Skyworthy by A Couple of Drakes. You are a skyship cycling between captains. You tell the story of the life of the ship. Your ship changes as the years pass and you catalogue what happens. This game was really interesting to play. I’ll have to replay it again one day.

Games I Have My Eye On

Thousand Year Old Vampire by Tim Hutchings. You are an aging vampire. Shit happens to you or you happen to other people. Live your life and its immortal consequences. I would love love love to get the print copy of this game. I think I’ll buy it for myself for my birthday in the spring.

The Good People (Na Daoine Maithe) by Moirai Myths. This is a visual novel video game but deserves a mention because it’s indie. This is a romance based on Irish mythology and faerie tale. It’s on Kickstarter right now!

I LOVE YOU ALIVE GIRL by anna anthropy (who makes amazing tarot journaling games as well). This game involves leaving cryptic reviews that are actually love letters on Amazon and Ebay. The concept of this game is really rad and I want to try it.

The Magus by momatoes. You are a wizard seeking P-O-W-E-R. You journal your descent into madness cruelty and strength. This game looks deliciously dark and I’m excited to play it this month while on medical leave.

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A Year in Books 2022

Despite grad school, I still managed to read a lot this year. Here are some books that really struck me.

Fantasy Faves:

The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard. My goodness, this tome. The world in this book is a delight to dive into. You have an archipelago recovering from an apocalyptic event. The main character is a part of the world government as the personal secretary to the Emperor. You follow his journey from an excessively humble man to the peak of his career. This works well as a standalone if you want, but the author has built up side-stories and prequels around this main text. The sequel just came out and it’s more than double the length of this book.

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree. I read this while in the hospital and in recovery from gender affirming surgery. It was a charming read about an orc warrior retiring from fighting to open up a coffee shop. It’s a cheery queer read just in time for the holidays.

The Walking Boy by Lydia Kwa. This was an intriguing queer read set in fantasy China. A young boy has to complete a task for his monk Master and learns to accept himself along the way. I really liked this one and want to read more from Kwa.

Sci-fi

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers. I was SO delighted to return to the Monk and Robot series. The first book in the series really struck my heart, so it was nice to see Sibling Dex and Mosscap deepening their friendship as they traveled the land by bicycle, seeking an answer to Mosscap’s diplomatic question.

Poetry

The Enlightened Heart edited by Stephen Mitchell. This book was an anthology of devotional poetry to God and Spirit. The submissions were from Christian, Muslim, Buddhist backgrounds, as well as some classic features from Western and Eastern poets. (Alas, no pagans.) It was a beautiful and heart-singing read. I am so glad I picked this up from the thrift store.

Stag Cult by Martin Shaw. I managed to score a signed copy of this! This book came out this year. Shaw writes poetic prose about his youth and masculinity, intertwining his life with myth (as usual, really).

Storytelling

Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley. This was actually the first time I’ve read Beowulf and I am so glad that I did. Headley writes this epic poem using modern slang. Rather than the traditional “Hwaet!”, the poem starts off with: “Bro.” It’s a very engaging read. I even managed to teach an excerpt of it to my enriched grade ten group.

Spiritual

I read so many excellent spiritual texts this year. Here’s just a few of my faves:

Polytheist Monasticism edited by Janet Munin. It’s fair to say that this book changed my life. The title is what it says: an anthology of essays by various monks and nuns of polytheist and pagan persuasion.

Sand Talk by Tyson Yankaporta. This book was fascinating. Yankaporta talks about Australian aboriginal knowledge forms and how we can use its principles to actually explore sustainable living, animism, science, education, and knowledge. I’ll definitely come back to this book at some point because there’s so much to chew on.

Norse Pagan

The Nordic Animist Year by Dr. Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen. This book explores a large variety of Heathen holidays under the lense of pagan animism. This book is well-researched, progressive, and thoughtful. Rasmussen has clearly put a lot of work into building up a working holiday schedule (and calendar).

Elves, Witches, and Gods by Cat Heath / Seo Helrune. This book is worth reading for anyone interesting in the Norse magical practice of seidr (loosely, Norse witchcraft). It’s a great balance of research and experiential knowledge. Heath often offers online workshops as well that are quite affordable (but often 3-4 hours long, so be ready for a lecture!).

Special mention to Claude Lecouteux for giving me lots of folklore to read and ponder this year.

Memoir

Matsuo Basho by Makoto Ueda. My love affair with haiku continues. I managed to score this out-of-print text from Amazon. It’s a biography of Basho’s life and analysis of his works by a Japanese scholar. I really really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it.

80! Memories and Reflections of Ursula K LeGuin edited by Karen Joy Fowler and Debbie Notkin. This was a beautiful book written for Ursula on her 80th birthday while she was still alive. I got very nostalgic. What a gift.

Self Help

I actually read a little bit in this genre this year and got a lot out of it every time.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. This is a book that I wish I had bought a physical copy of because I keep wanting to make notes in it and make reference of. The title says it all: Newport explores what a digital minimalist lifestyle looks like. Critics complain that you can find all the information therein on the Internet, which is true, but rather than watch hours and hours of Youtube videos on digital minimalism, you could read a book instead.

Your Head is a Houseboat by Struthless / Campbell Walker. This book is a surprisingly accessible book analyzing what the fuck goes on in your head using terminology that is amusing, intuitive, and way easier than psychological terminology. This is definitely worth a read if you feel the need to excavate some of your personal demons.

The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. I have joined the bullet journey club. I am following Carroll’s minimalist method so far to keep things simple and easy for me. I figured that a good way to get into the community was to read the founder’s book so here we are. It’s very detailed with lots of useful exercises to do for goal-setting, intentions, and journaling.

Romance

Hunger Pangs: True Love Bites by Joy Demorra. This was one of my favourite books this year. A progressive vampire lord falls for the disabled werewolf captain of his guard. The m/m vampire/werewolf romance had plot, intrigue, and quality flirting. There’s even a positive portrayal of polyamory! The mini-sequel skips over all the fun parts of the buildup of the polycule which makes me way sad, but Demorra is supposed to be writing a sequel so we’ll see what happens.

Honourable Mentions

The Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year by Linda Raedisch. I am currently reading this book of folklore to amuse myself throughout the Yuletide season. It’s well-researched and fun! It even includes a bunch of crafts you can do. Raedisch clearly made this book a labour of love.

Sapphomanteion: A Lesbian Oracle from Contagion Press. This little book uses excerpts of Sappho’s poetry as bibliomancy (book divination)! It’s a delight. I was so happy to catch this press tabling live at my local bookfair.

Dracula by Bram Stoker. I caught the Dracula Daily email trend and was behind, so I decided to just read the book instead. This book has surprising chosen family vibes. I quite enjoyed that. You can also read it queerly, if you tilt your head.

Njal’s Saga translated by George W. DaSent. I am reading this Icelandic saga as a part of a Discord server book club! It’s so long. T.T

Well, that’s it for me! What are some of your favourite reads from this year?

A Year in Books: 2021

Best Sci-fi

Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (read twice). This book is about a burnt-out monk who starts offering tea and peer support to their local community. They meet a robot and have an adventure. If you’re looking for optimistic domestic sci-fi, this is for you. I loved this book to pieces.

Best Fantasy

Circe by Madeline Miller. I am a sucker for a good retelling of Greek myth. Miller goes above and beyond, delivering a wallop of a tale about Circe, the witch from The Odyssey.

Best Poetry

So Far, So Good: Final Poems 2014-2018 by Ursula K LeGuin. Reading anything of LeGuin’s work now contains an element of heartbreak for me since Ursula has passed on. I remember the poems were focused mostly on aging and mortality, but all I can really remember is my own lingering grief.

The Art of Haiku: Its History Through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters by Stephen Addiss. This was a fantastic and engaging overview of the history of haiku and haiga. I’m quite glad I bought the physical book as it contains full-colour pictures. I’ll definitely reread this in the future.

Best Spiritual

Honouring Your Ancestors by Mallorie Vaudoise. This book arrived right when I needed it. This book isn’t for everybody: it does contain a lot of Italian witchcraft and Catholic folk magic. But it gave me good ideas on how to improve my practice, which is what I wanted.

A Witch’s Book of Silence by Katrina Blackheart. This book felt timely too. It helped me understand my relationship to social media and my avoidance of silence. Blackheart’s interpretation of the four tenets of the Witch’s Pyramid was really cool.

Best YA

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal. This book was SO fun! Werewolves! Disability! Discord servers as literature! Just, yes. I can’t talk coherently about this book, ok? I just really liked it.

Best Comics

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by K. O’Neill (read twice). The beautiful conclusion to a gorgeous trilogy of comics about dragons who grow tea leaves on their body. It was a joy to return to this world for one last time and see how each character grows and changes. If you need a soothing read, I recommend the whole series, starting with Tea Dragon Society.

Best Fan Fic

In All The Ways There Were by Molly Knox Ostertag (LOTR fanfic). This was a rewrite of LOTR where Sam and Frodo are explicitly in love. It was so gay and so good.

Favourite book of the year: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschotts (read twice). I read this book back in January and it was clear to me even then that this would be my book of the year. This is a book about a low-priority hench at a villain company who gets injured by a superhero. You follow her story as she gets revenge. This book was devastating, hilarious, and angry as fuck.

Honourable Mentions:

The Only Horror Book I Read This Year: The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárate. I admit, I hoped this was gonna be a sexy gay Dracula novel but it turned out to be a toe-curling drama about a captain who is hella closeted and has a vampire on his ship. It’s a tense, sparse book. Fortunately, it wasn’t heavy on the horror, so I was still able to read it.

The Only Manga I Read This Year (excluding web-comics): Saint Young Men, vol 1 by Hikaru Nakamura. This book was so charming and cute! Jesus and the Buddha have incarnated in modern-day Japan and are roommates. Drama ensues. This book both respects their respective religions, but also has fun poking fun at these saviours. If you’re a nerd for religion and comics, I recommend this one.

The One Essay I Read For Fun: Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf (1976). A quote from this was in some academic article I had to read for school and I wanted to read the whole thing. Woolf explores what consciousness is and how writing fits into that.

Favourite Zine: Armchair Demonology: The Magical Benefits of Cultivating Bad Habits by Clint Marsh and Gerhard (read twice). Marsh writes about how tea and tobacco help him achieve very mild states of trance. It’s a quick, interesting read.

The zine/Instagram post that blew my mind: First Principles of Queer Goetia. This zine was written for the queer dead. It’s a poem-manifesto-invocation. I foresee that I’ll be reading this many times over the years. Unfortunately, the zine itself is very difficult to acquire.

Reading Goals for Next Year

  • I’d like to read one memoir a month.
  • I want to read less fantasy and more sci-fi.

What are your reading goals for next year?

Well, thanks for reading. Happy holidays, and happy new year!

A new zine!

After five months of hard work, and generous editing from my writing club, my zine is finally seeing the light of day! If you’re a pagan or polytheist, you’ll enjoy my devotional zine to Odin, the Norse god of magic, battle, and death.

It is available on Lulu for a very reasonable $6.55 USD, as I want folks to have access to this zine. (I would’ve made it even cheaper but there are publishing fees.)

I am very excited that this zine is finally out in the world. I hope you enjoy it.

A Lokean Anthology

I am deeply delighted to tell you that I have several poems and a short essay coming out in a pagan Heathen anthology about the Norse deity, Loki: culture hero, trickster, and trans-fabulous being of great chaotic shenanigans.

Preorder your copy here. Release date is, appropriately, April 1st.

Jan 2021 Reads

Read

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Ebook. Oh man. I think I might like this book even more than the first one in the series. I loved learning about the life of a fictional sentient AI.

A Stranger from Olondria by Sofia Samatar. Ebook. So I read this just after Hench and the transition was super jarring. Hench is fast-paced, witty, and dark. Stranger is luxurious, slow, and showy. I nearly abandoned the book, but I kept at it! I was rewarded. I really related to the themes of this book: illness, religion, love of reading, and mysticism. These are all my favourite topics. I’m glad I read this.

Datura: Explorations in esoteric poesis edited by Ruby Sara. The formatting in this Kobo ebook was terrible. The poems would often look like:

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.

But I kept reading because the topic of esoteric/occult poetry as medium for ecstasy was fascinating for me. Some of my favourites were: “Ogma’s Knife” by Michael Routery, all of Erynn Rowan Laurie’s contributions, “Hymn to Inanna” by John Harness, and Mr. VI’s writings. (I am sure there is more that I liked, it’s just hard to flip through an ebook to check). Some poems left me confused or alienated, but I think that’s normal with any anthology: some works are just hit or miss. While I hesitate to whole-heartedly recommend this, if you find the topic of ecstastic poetry interesting, it’s worth a read.

Egil’s Saga trans. by Bernard Scutter. Physical book. Reread. Hm. This wasn’t as fun as I remembered it, possibly because I wasn’t listening to the Saga Thing analysis episodes. I still enjoyed Egil’s wild antics though.

Hench by Nathalie Zina Walshots. Ebook. Wow! This is the best supervillain novel I have ever read. It delights in evil, questions the ethics of superheroics, and has some queer joy. And it’s by a Canadian! Read. This. Book.

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe by David Petersen. Christmas gift. Reread. Returning to the world of Mouse Guard is a delight, as ever. I really enjoyed this deep look at such an important character.

Sibley Birds East by David Allen Sibley. Physical book. An informative bird identification book with a nice intro for beginners. I’m not actually going to read this cover to cover, but consult it when necessary.

Supra: The Hidden Path of an Oracle by Linnea Gits, illustrated by Peter Dunham. A companion book to an oracle deck. This is a beautiful, brief book. I liked it a lot, although I hoped for more of an explanation or examination of Jung’s influence. (Clearly, I just need to go read some 101 Jung book)

The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield. Kindle ebook (unavailable elsewhere) / short essay. Oh! This was so fascinating! I learned a lot about Basho, Japan’s most famous haiku poet, more than I ever learned before. (I also want to read Hirshfield’s poetry…) I wish I had read this all in one sitting to really absorb it.

What is Tao? by Alan Watts. Ebook. This did not interest me as much as I thought. It didn’t tell me about the practicalities of Taoism, its practices, or histories. This book was just… Watts comparing Western and Eastern mentalities. The book seems outdated.

What It’s Like to be a Bird by David Allen Sibley. Physical book. This is a gorgeous full-colour book on the life cycles of birds. I decided not to read it cover to cover so that I could have some surprises the next time I open it.

Aborted Reading

Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens. Physical book. Okay, I made a second attempt at this, but then decided that if I was unwilling to meditate, it felt like spiritual bypassing to read the book and not do the exercises. I’m still happy to own the book, and I know I will get to this when the time is right.

Tolkien’s Poetry edited by Julian Eilmann and Allan Turner. This book was way more academic than I expected. Oops.

Currently Reading

Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry by Jane Hirshfield. Physical book. An intriguing series of essays on the nature of poetry, writing, and life. I’m running out of room for physical books; I really must stop buying books.

TBR

I have ordered The Proverbs of Middle-Earth by David Rowe and The Art of Haiku: Its History through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters by Stephen Addiss.

Notes

  • I have read 4 out of 7 books on my ‘list of books to read before going back to school’. Tolkien’s Poetry and Love and Rage are abandoned for now. I am sure I will pick it up again in the future. The last book on the list is the third Becky Chambers novella.
  • I’d like to get into Gary Snyder’s poetry at some point. I’ve always admired him from afar and I think now is the time to jump in before I get sucked into school stuff. I’m not sure where to start though. Recommendations welcome.
  • Dr Devon Price is the author of the Medium article “Laziness Does Not Exist”, and a new book out by the same title. I’ve got my eye on that too, since I think it’d be a great read in terms of thinking about pedagogy and education.
  • R.B. Lemberg, an author I am a fan of, has a new book coming out about Ursula LeGuin’s poetry! Can you believe! Like! This book needs to exist. And it’s coming out so soon! Yay!

What are you reading?

Two Poems Up at Gods and Radicals!

You can read them here.

I am really happy these poems, “Insomnia” and “Instructions for Waking” respectively, have found a place at G&R. They are my most personal poems to date–I’ve not been this public about my health since my gender transition blogging at the Link newspaper.

Isn’t that such a pretty graphic?! Thanks to editor Mirna Wabi-Sabi for the art. Mirna was the one who paired these poems together, which I did not think to do!

I hope you enjoy. ❤