Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Year-End Book Post

Welp.  It's the 29th of December.  Near enough for a look back at what I read in 2015.

First, the list, and then a few thoughts:


1.  The Plague Dogs, by Richard Adams
2.  Moonshine: A Cultural History of America's Infamous Liquor, by Jaime Joyce
3.  A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
4.  Silver Screen Fiend, by Patton Oswalt
5.  So, Anyway..., by John Cleese


6.  City Behind a Fence:  Oak Ridge, Tennessee 1942-1946
                                     by Charles W. Johnson & Charles O. Jackson
7.  Revival, by Stephen King
8.  All Clear, by Connie Willis


9.  Tretiak: the Legend      by Vadislav Tretiak
10.  In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides
11.  Black Swan Green,  by David Mitchell
12.  Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
13.  the Outlaw Album, by Daniel Woodrell
14.  Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman


15.  the Eye of God, by James Rollins
16.  the Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman
17.  Prisoner 489, by Joe R. Lansdale
18.  the Prague Cemetary, by Umberto Eco
19.  the Martian, by Andy Weir


20.  Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the Untold History of English, by John McWhorter
21.  the Dark Tower:  Gunslinger      by Stephen King
22.  I am Radar, by Reif Larsen
23.  Dust and Decay, by Jonathan Maberry
24.  Long Black Curl, by Alex Bledsoe
25.  Finding Nouf, by Zoe Ferraris


26.  the Jesus Cow, by Michael Perry
27.  Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zahn
28.  the Great Movies, by Roger Ebert


29.  The Likeness, by Tana French
30.  Finders Keepers, by Stephen King
31.  The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, by Joseph J. Ellis
32.  Hocus Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut
33.  Pitching in a Pinch: Baseball on the Inside, by Christy Mathewson
34.  Armada, by Ernest Cline
35.  Dorie:  Woman of the Mountains, by Florence Bush Cope


36.  M.A.S.H.: A Novel about Three Army Doctors, by Richard Hooker
37.  Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
38.  The Power of the Dog, by Don Winslow


39.  A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay
40.  Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow
41.  The Shepherd's Crown, by Terry Pratchett
42.  The Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves...., by Colin Quinn
43.  Secondhand Souls, by Christopher Moore
44.  The Squared Circle: Life, Death and Professional Wrestling, by David Shoemaker

45.  The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
46.  The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert
47.  As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from....., by Cary Elwes, with Joe Layden
48.  American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
49.  Bombs Away: the Hot War, by Harry Turtledove

50.  Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
51.  Epitaph: a Novel of the OK Corral, by Mary Doria Russell
52.  Jacksonland, by Steve Innskeep
53.  The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

54.  The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson
55.  Suttree, by Cormac McCarthy
56.  Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
57.  Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford
58.  The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett

My unofficial goal was 52 books, which I broke.  I don't think I actually read more than the last couple of years, but I also didn't read any doorstop tomes like The Stand or any of the Song of Ice and Fire books, which take time.

For the largest part of the year, up through October, the list is split pretty evenly between books I read, and books I listened to during my commute to work.  The last couple of months haven't been really conducive to reading at home.  I've had little down time, and when I do, I haven't had the concentration for it.  Stress, anxiety and all that.  I don't enjoy the holidays, and not being able to relax and read is a big part of it.  The only books I actually read during those last two months were Johnson's The Cold Dish, Pratchett's Colour of Magic and bits of McCarthy's Suttree, and Clarke's Childhood's End, in between listening.

Favorite books of the year?  

In the Kingdom of Ice is a tremendous, fun read, and one I gave as a gift a couple of times this year.  It's one I've tried to remember, when I'm having a bad day.  As bad as the day has been, at least I haven't been dragging a boat across the arctic ice pack, only to end up 7 miles behind where I started, because we aren't walking as fast as the ice is drifting.

Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts is one of the better horror novels I've ever read, and one I'm probably going to have to revisit, because I haven't landed on a definitive answer as to what the hell just happened.

Craig Johnson's A Cold Dish was a lot of fun, and I'm glad Shyam recommended that one.  Johnson turns a good phrase, and I like Sheriff Longmire a lot.  

I was tremendously sorry that I'd waited so long to get to Suttree.  What a tremendous book.  And one that'll make me take a walk around downtown Knoxville sometime to see the sights.  I loved this book.

Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell is one that I keep coming back to.  I was uneasy with the ending, which seemed to meander, but it has since grown on me.  I've given this one as a gift to a couple people.

Alex Bledsoe's Long Black Curl really hit close to home.  Alex's Tufa books are my favorite things that he's done, and this one was my favorite of that bunch.  I got a better sense of the community in this one, than I had before.   I gave this one as a gift, as well.

And Michael Perry's The Jesus Cow as a funny read that hit very close to home for me.  Somebody else I'd recommended it to didn't have a lot of use for it, though.  As with all things, your actual mileage may vary.  For me, it hit somewhere in the region that Keillor, Hiaasen and Christopher Moore hit.  I liked it very much.

There were disappointments, I'm sorry to say.

I love Christopher Moore, but Secondhand Souls was rough.  It felt very much like a book his publisher wanted him to write, as opposed to something he enjoyed.  I can't describe it except that there isn't as much bounce in that one, as there is in others of his.  At the end of the day, I didn't care a lot for A Dirty Job, the book that Souls is an unnecessary sequel to.  I guess if another comes out in the series, I'll avoid it.

I used to love Harry Turtledove, but Bombs Away left a bad taste in my mouth.  It's like he's trying to channel George R.R. Martin, but using paper dolls to do it.

Ernest Cline's Armada was garbage.  I am mad at myself for pushing through to its end.  Ready Player One was a tremendous, fun read.  Armada was trying for that same vibe.  I'd almost think he was trying for parody, only I wasn't amused even by that.  I tried to tell myself I didn't dislike the book, after I first read it.  I think I was trying to soothe my mind after wasting that time, and I don't like running down the work of others.  Now, I guess I can admit that it was bad.  And I hope Ready Player One wasn't just lightning in a bottle.....

Final thoughts?

I'd wandered away from Terry Pratchett for a few years.  Not sure why, except that I probably read a lot of his stuff in a short period, and had sillied myself out.  I read The Shepherd's Crown this year, as it was a gift from a friend.  It is a great read, but it made me sad.  Pratchett's a favorite.  And this was his last.  I'm going to pick my way through the Discworld books that I haven't read.  I'm currently reading The Colour of Magic--I have about 50 pages left, and it'll likely be the last thing I finish this year.

I had a small handful of re-reads this year.  A Confederacy of Dunces was one of them, and I have an even greater appreciation for the work.  Came away from that one with a better understanding of Ignatius, and a bit of a kick in the pants to not be him.

I did The Gunslinger as a re-listen.  I'd always considered it the least like anything else Stephen King had written, in that there wasn't much of a Stephen King character in the book.  Until I realized this time around that young Jake was very much King.

And American Gods was an interesting re-read.  Odd the parts that worked for me greatly 10 years ago did not work as well now.  I may revisit it in another 10 years, just to see how I react then.

All in all, a good year.  Trying to continue to pull myself away from mindless TV.  It's too easy to let myself get sucked in.  The reading helps.  No specific goal for next year.  I'll just keep on reading....


Blogger alice said...

"I don't enjoy the holidays, and not being able to relax and read is a big part of it." Amen, bro. This year was the worst. Next year I'm going to look into just bugging out for at least part of the holidays. I don't even have to go to anywhere fancy. Just some place where I can curl up under a blanket and enjoy reading a good book. Some place secret, where other humans can't find me and make me feel anxious about their problems or shitty attitudes...

I know that's not an option for those of you in retail, but if I could, I'd fix that. Poof.

5:20 PM  

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