My friend, Kelly, posted to FB recently that she read 69 books in 2013. That’s a LOT of books to my mind, but the question sort of piqued my curiosity about how much reading I did this year. On one hand, I read a fair amount, but on the other I feel like I have not been reading nearly as much as I did in previous years.
Lo and behold, after counting the books I actually read in 2013, I only completed 21 books. That’s not as low as I thought it would be, but it’s still not as high as it probably has been in past years.
The reason this number surprises me is because I read most of those books within a week’s time or less. (My concentrated reading rate averages about 50 pages an hour of standard text.) So, 21 books indicates that I really didn’t spend all THAT much time reading.
Anyway since the list is so short, here it is with some notes on each.
I love Ginn Hale’s writing and I’m actually surprised that I still haven’t gotten around to getting her Rifter series. Lord of the White Hell is a pair of books that I found to be superduper fun. Both books are very easy reads and, honestly, they should just be put together into a single volume, but I understand how these things happen and so I’m counting them as separate books.
The Alchemist – 10th Anniversary Edition
by Paul Coelho
I can’t remember if I read this in 2013 or at the end of 2012. I posted about it on Facebook, but FB doesn’t have a good way for me to search my posts, so I can’t verify it. I’m counting it in 2013 because I just want to make sure everyone knows I hate this book. It’s so stupid I struggle to find a place to begin criticizing it. But that’s not what this post is about. I just want to say that for a book that gets so much attention it is amazingly vapid.
I guess to be consistent I should count this as six separate books. *sigh* I really enjoyed Wool 1 – 5. The first installment is really more of a short story but the novel gets more developed as you go. I found the premises and environment of the books to be really thought provoking. I love the heroine of the last books.
But First Shift was a let down to me. It’s a prequel to the first five books and changes the style and approach. I could have gone without it.
Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
The Dresden Files is a really fun series of books that I started reading several years ago and this is the latest installment. It was not a let down except that — as usual — I read it in a couple of days and was left waiting until the next book comes out. For those unfamiliar, it’s a fantasy series that follows the adventures of a wizard/ private investigator written in a style reminiscent of noir and Daschel Hammet. It’s full of humor and exciting things.
Consider Phlebas (Culture)
by Iain M Banks
This is one of those artsy sci-fi books. It’s expansive, complex, mysterious, weird, and a lot of other things that make for a sci-fi book that critics would love to talk about. It was also pretty slow and boring to me. Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s worth reading if you’re like me and interested in getting a better understanding of the sci-fi/fantasy genre of books. This is one of those books at the “top” in terms of literary value in the genre, I think.
The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
by Gary Chapman
I picked up this book after it was recommended at ATLOScon and was not disappointed. I found it to be incredibly helpful both in terms of understanding what I can do to help build, advance, and strengthen my relationship with the BF, but also the things I didn’t know I was looking for from him as well.
Yeah. I like to read young adult fiction from time to time. Cassandra Clare turned up in my Amazon recommendations and then there was a movie made from the first book in this series. This is not as painfully silly as the Twilight saga, but it’s still pretty lame.
I will say that I found the universe of the book to be pretty interesting. There are vampires and elves and stuff, but they’re threaded into a pseudo-Christian mythos in a way that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Unfortunately, the focus of the books is less the magic and universe than it is the emotional confusion, romantic interests, and action sequences involving the narrator of the book. (I haven’t mentioned it in a while, so I will say again: I do not prefer first-person perspectives in novels.)
I find myself getting increasingly frustrated and offended with female main characters who are less competent, smart, emotionally stable, etc. than male characters. Is this really how we think our young females are or should be? I feel insulted by the suggestion.
The Richest Man in Babylon
by George S Clason
Pro: Great book for young adults in order to begin teaching them responsible financial habits. It’s short, clear, and interesting to read. Con: It’s WILDLY repetitious.
I started reading the Anita Blake series because I read somewhere that Jim Butcher said he was inspired to write the Dresden series by Hamilton’s work on Anita Blake.
I can’t say I’m a big fan even though I’ve now read something like 12 or 13 of these books. They’re like potato chips, though. They’re light, easy and quick to read. It’s hard to read just one at a time. But they’re also without a lot of “nutritional” value.
I’m giving up on the series after these three books because it’s just getting to be too porny. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with the level of eroticism in the books. They aren’t overly graphic, but there’s a weird obsession with S&M and other forms of kink. Weird because kink is portrayed in such a simple-minded way — as if Hamilton isn’t actually interested in those sorts of sexual expressions but imagines this is how it is. I don’t know, but I am not impressed or interested in all that. On the up side at least she isn’t like Anne Rice with all the graphic depictions of bodily fluids and whatnot.
SLEEPY HOLLOW: Rise Headless and Ride (Jason Crane)
by Richard Gleaves
Full disclosure: I know Richard Gleaves from real life. But this book was SO MUCH FUN. It’s young adult fiction in the fantasy vein. And I just could not get enough of it. I loved it so much that I bought a signed copy for one of my friends’ daughters.
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story
by George Orwell
The only reason I read this was because I wanted to read 1984 but the copy I bought started with Animal Farm, so I decided to read Animal Farm first. It’s a famous book. I don’t really have anything to add to the volumes of discourse that already exist on this.
The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos)
by Dan Simmons
I read Hyperion a few years ago and really enjoyed it and this is the sequel. Unfortunately, where I found Hyperion to be fascinating due to Simmons’ ability to control and modulate his writing style — owing to the Canterbury Tales-style format he adopted — while still staying within the universe of his story, The Fall of Hyperion is more of a straight-forward sci-fi opera. Nevertheless, this book is still one of those “high art” sci fi novels and is a solid read if you like the genre.
We the Animals: A novel
by Justin Torres
Ugh. This book is just… ugh. As you can probably tell from the list above, I tend to read sci-fi and fantasy. I do also enjoy history and some non-fiction. I rarely EVER get into modern art-lit and this is that.
The book is very short and it’s mostly composed of short vignettes about the lives of three young boys. As far as I can tell, the stories aren’t directly connected to one another and then, suddenly, in the final chapter of the book the narrator is a teenager and has sex with a random man in a bus stop. This book doesn’t actually have a story to it in sense that the events are causally connected to one another, so the plot of the book is, at best, ambiguous.
I am sure that if I put my mind to it I could pull out some sort of literary commentary on the book, but I hate this kind of book.
I realized that another one of the reasons this list isn’t longer is because I have a lot of books that I started and just haven’t finished for one reason or another. I have a really hard time giving up on a book, so if I start reading a book that doesn’t grab me I will usually just read a little on it here and there until it’s done. I also have a bad habit of reading multiple books at once and so I have a handful going all at once.
Here’s a list of the books I have in progress at the moment:
- Anathem by Neal Stephenson
- Crimson by Cosmo Fischer
- “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman
- Tasteful Nudes: …and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation by Dave Hill
- Pomodoro Technique Illustrated (Pragmatic Life) by Staffan Noteberg
- Agile Excellence for Product Managers: A Guide to Creating Winning Products with Agile Development Team by Greg Cohen
- Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers by James Hall
- The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth by Joseph Turow
- Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler
Looking at that “in progress” list, I think I need to spend a little time finishing some of these and cleaning out my library.