Sunday, January 03, 2010

A year of reading...

I thought I'd post the list of books I read in 2009.

I'm not especially happy with it. I had hoped to read 52 books during the year, one a week. As you will see, I didn't even make quite half that.

It isn't that I didn't read a lot last year, but more that most of what I read was not in the form of books. I read a lot for work; none of that made it onto the list. I also read quite a bit of other stuff on the, articles, even some fan fiction (some of it horrendous, but some of it very good). Again, there is no place on the list for any of those.

But...I did manage to read 24 books. Sitting in the restaurant tonight, reading after I finished eating, I got into a conversation with one of the waitstaff. She seemed to think that 24 books in a year is a lot. But one year, quite a few years ago, I read 100 books in a year. I know people who regularly read even more than that.

The list:

Finished, January:
1 *Censoring Science, by Mark Bowen
2 Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay
3 *The Longest Cave, by Roger Brucker and Richard Watson (re-read)
4 Dearly Devoted Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay (warning: the "ick factor" very high in this book)
5 Wives and Sisters, by Natalie R. Collins
6 The Twilight Streets, by Gary Russell
7 Torchwood: SkyPoint, by Phil Ford
8 Slow Decay, by Andy Lane
9 Something in the Water, by Trevor Baxendale
10 The Aztec Heresy, by Paul Christopher
11 Rainbow Drive, by Roderick Thorp
12 Trace Memory, by David Llewellyn
13 The Last Colony, by John Scalzi
14 Joplin’s Ghost, by Tananarive Due
15 *From Housewife to Heretic, by Sonia Johnson (re-read)
16 *History as Mystery, by Michael Parenti
17 *West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders and Killers in the Golden State, by Mark Arax
18 Devil Bones, by Kathy Reichs
19 Amazon Ink, by Lori Devoti
20 CSI: Sin City, by Max Allan Collins
21 *Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, by Matt McCarthy
22 *A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, by Michael Barkun
23 *The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by David Grann
24 The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly

The starred titles are non-fiction. I'm a little disappointed that there are only eight of those out of the 24 books I read, just a third of the total. Especially since, of the others, nine books have some relation to television shows, another third plus one. Not that those were all bad, trashy novels; some of them were quite good.

One out of those nine books related to series television, I should note, is only related to it's show ("Bones") because the lead character of both have the same name and the show is "based on" the series of mysteries. In another case, the "Dexter" books, one is the basis of the show's first season, which stuck very close to the novel, while the other is the basis of the second season, but the two diverge greatly. Another five are related to the British science-fiction series "Torchwood". Those are actually my favorites in this category, despite a slight variation in quality, simply because I like the show so much.

The books I read this year that I would recommend most highly are, among the non-fiction, West of the West, by Mark Arax and The Lost City of Z by David Grann. Both were fascinating, spectacular books.

And, of course, The Longest Cave, by Roger Brucker and Richard Watson, simply because it is my favorite book in the world. I've read it more times than I can count; it's my go-to book when I'm not happy with the world and want to be cheered up. That the book is about cave exploration may well say something about me, but I'm not sure what that might be.

Among the fiction, I would most recommend The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly. Then again, I would recommend anything of his that I've read. Also, Joplin's Ghost, by Tannarive Due, is a remarkable book that blends two different cultural movements from two different generations which might not really be all that different at all. Rainbow Drive, by Roderick Thorp, is also a good mystery, enhanced by the fact that it was written before the advent of a cell phone in every pocket, providing a pocket lesson in how much that one technological advance has changed our culture.

Other than that, I'm not going to tell you too much about any of these books. I've written about a few of them here before, but aside from that I want you to go out and seek them out for yourselves, and I don't want you to think you know enough abaout them that you'll say that you might not be interested in them. I want them to be surprises to you.

I think some of them will be good surprises.

My goal for this year, by the way, is to read 40 books. I really, secretly, hope I can reach the book a week goal I set last year, but I thought it might be a good idea to scale back expectations just a bit.

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