In 2021, some of Mezha’s editors added books that particularly impressed them to their personal “iron” year-end summaries. This year, we decided to make a separate article about our literary finds.
Let’s remind you of the rules that don’t really exist. Anyone can name just one best book of the year, while others can mention several series and even the entire library they read in 2023.
For almost 8 years now, I’ve been using the book analog of IMDb, which helps me organize my own reading, keep track of what my friends are reading, and find new interesting works.
I’m talking, of course, about Goodreads, I’m here if you need me, add me. So I know exactly what I read and when.
My reading list is quite eclectic: there are Ukrainian classics that I’m getting to know for the first time, comics, science fiction, and journalism. Of all this year’s books, as a boy raised on space fiction of the 1960s and 1980s, I want to highlight New Dark Ages. The Colony by Max Kidruk. It’s nice to see this kind of thing still being written, and it’s even nicer to see it being written in Ukraine. In addition, thanks to The Invincible, I decided to re-read Invincible by Mr. Stanislav Lem.
The first time I read this novel was when I was a child, and, of course, in Russian. Now, fortunately, there is a Ukrainian translation. By the way, thanks to the game, I also started reading The High Castle, a Polish science fiction writer’s memoir about his childhood in Lviv.
In terms of journalism, I’d like to mention Press Reset: Burnout and Recovery in the Video Game Industry, by Jason Schreier. Thanks to this book, I replayed some old games, including BioShock Infinite.
Unfortunately, I didn’t study Ukrainian literature at school, although I read a lot of Ukrainian, so I’ve been familiarizing myself with Ukrainian classics for several years now. I simply took the List of the 100 Best Ukrainian Literary Works by the Ukrainian PEN Club, sorted it by year of publication, and went from the first books in Ukrainian to the present. I am walking a little slowly, but the main thing is that I am walking. Although Lesya Ukrainka is represented in this list by “The Forest Song,” I would like to draw attention to another work by the writer that struck me as contemporary. This is the play Cassandra, which I read in the second volume of the Complete Academic Works of Lesya Ukrainka in 14 volumes. And although Cassandra seems to be about the mythical events of the Trojan War, it is actually a surprisingly modern story about contemporary Ukraine.
The complete uncensored academic collection of Lesya Ukrainka’s works in 14 volumes, published by the Ukrainian Book Institute on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the writer, is absolutely free and can be downloaded from the website of the Ukrainian Book Institute in pdf format.
P.S. After writing the main part of the article, thanks to the news on Mezha, I came across a series of fantastic books The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells and… in a week I read the first five (the first four stories and a full-length novel). Unfortunately, only the first two parts have been released in Ukrainian so far, so I had to switch to Russian, and then, due to the flaws in the Russian translation, to English. Now I’m waiting for the upcoming series from Apple TV+ with interest.
Taras Mishchenko, editor-in-chief of Mezha.Media
In recent years, I’ve been trying to read more books in English, which is slower than in Ukrainian, so I’m glad that this year I managed to finish Ready Player Two by Ernest Klein, the sequel to the very popular pop fiction novel Ready Player One, which was even adapted into a movie by Steven Spielberg. The sequel turned out to be just as light and full of references to popular movies, games, and music, intertwined with a story about, of course, artificial intelligence. Overall, it was quite interesting for a sequel.
I would also like to mention the autobiography of actor Matthew Perry, who tragically passed away this year. The book Friends, Lowers, and the Big Terrible Thing is written very frankly and will definitely be interesting for fans of the Friends series.
I haven’t had time yet, but I plan to read Elon Musk’s biography, Elon Musk, written by Walter Isaacson, in the near future. It was released this year, but it has already caused a lot of scandal, and it is interesting because it partially explains the changes in the behavior of one of the world’s richest entrepreneurs. Musk’s story is increasingly reminiscent of Howard Hughes, once the richest man in the world, who, due to obsessive-compulsive disorder, began to behave more and more eccentrically with age.
Yevhenia Hubina, author of Mezha.Media
I love science fiction, so this year I’m reading Robert Heinlein.
For example, I was impressed by the book Stranger in a Strange Land. This is one of the writer’s most famous works, which was awarded the Hugo Award. In it, he raises complex issues, including religion and morality.
Another cool story is described in Double Star. This science fiction novel tells the story of a failed actor who has to play a famous public figure. By the way, the book also won the Hugo Award.
I also really liked the novel Red Planet about teenagers living on Mars. It describes not only the adventures of the two friends, but also depicts the interaction between Earthlings and Martians. It also shows human values.
Children of Methuselah is about families of long-lived people who hide their origins. Naturally, the secret becomes known, and hysteria breaks out in society. The book tells the story of human vices and depicts how one can manipulate the opinions of others.
The previous work is related to other books by the author. For example, with the novel Enough Time for Love. It has a non-linear plot and consists of separate stories. But in general, it tells the story of the life of one of the longest-lived people named Lazarus Long.
Another related novel is The Number of the Beast, which I am reading right now. The book depicts four people traveling to parallel realities. I don’t know yet how it will end, but it’s easy and interesting to read.
Sergiy Gilyuk, author of Mezha.Media
It seems to me that every year I read less and less, but in fact the problem is not the volume, but the social network Twitter – and I need to read less thought-provoking books and more literature.
The book discovery of this year for me was not a book in the classical sense, but the manga Berserk by Kentaro Miura, who unfortunately died in 2021 at the age of 54, and the manga will remain unfinished, although it continues to be written by his studio staff under the supervision of his longtime friend Koji Mori.
Berserk is often called the best manga, and when you start reading it, you understand why. It’s a tough, bloody dark fantasy that highlights the darkest aspects of the human soul, but gives the reader a little hope (once every 12 chapters). And we can write several articles about Berserk’s influence on the entertainment industry. In Dark Souls alone, there are more than a dozen references to Berserk – from the cover of the Prepare to Die Edition to bosses and armor.
If you’ve never read manga and would like to try it, or if you’re looking for adult gothic stories, Berserk is exactly what you need.
Another world-opening book for me was Getting to Zero: How to Work Through Conflict in Your High-Stakes Relationships by Jason Gedis, a book about conflicts and how to resolve them. I’ve never considered myself a fan of popular literature on success, psychology, or relationships, because every person is unique and there are no universal solutions, but while reading Getting to Zero, I often found myself thinking, “That’s about me.” Getting to Zero explains why conflict is healthy and how to learn to control yourself during even the most emotional arguments.
What books you’ve read this year can you recommend?
The previous installments of the 2023 edition of the Mezha’s summary can be found here:
Automotive results of 2023: winners, achievements, technologies, failures
Made in Ukraine. Results of 2023 with Ukrainian game developers
On the brink of the new year: what we played in 2023
On the brink of the new year: what we watched in 2023