Well, it’s pretty far from 200, and 40 shy of last year’s accomplishment, but that’s still a lot of books!
I had a very busy year, publishing our first book, starting on the second one, starting a novel, while blogging about it, and working more steadily on our other blog. So yes, three blogs, two books in process, and 148 books read. Not bad.
My favorites? In fiction, I fell in love with Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. I eagerly read the next two in the series, and though both were terrific and I can’t wait for the rest, they didn’t quite do it for me like the first one.
In non-fiction, I was blown away by Salman Rushdie’s memoir:Joseph Anton. I’m a huge fan of Rushdie’s to begin with, and usually find his novels to be life-changing experiences. Joseph Anton was no different.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chomsky
Sarah’s Diary- Tshombe Amen
The Warlord Chronicles– Bernard Cornwell
The Aubrey-Maturin Series- Patrick O’Brian
A Place Called Armageddon- C.C. Humphreys
The Mark of Athena- Rick Riordan
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters- Julian Barnes
Napoleon’s Pyramids- William Dietrich
Winston’s War- Michael Dobbs
The Rules of Civility- Amor Towles
The Deputy- Victor Gischler
Irreparable Harm- Melissa F. Miller
Zombies Don’t Cry- Rusty Fisher
Black Out: An Inspector Troy Thriller- John Lawton
Saturday- Ian McEwan
The War of Art- Stephen Pressfield
The Skin of Water- G.S. Johnston
Shinju- Laura Joh Rowland– the first in a very long series featuring an Edo-period Samurai detective. Loved it!
In addition, I kept track of another 30 books I started but didn’t finish. Of those, I read anywhere from two to 100 pages before calling it quits. The vast majority of these weren’t badly written at all. In fact, I seem to be getting better and better at screening out the poorly written stuff very early on. All too often, these books simply failed to capture my interest. They took too long to get started, or just seemed really unoriginal and boring.
In addition, as I spend more time writing fiction, and reading books about writing, I become less and less patient of simple mistakes. Failure to establish a compelling setting or characters were probably the biggest offenders. The use of too many cliches or purple prose would put me off, too.
Sometimes, it was a case of personal preference. I quit reading one mystery because it was too violent (I have a very high tolerance for violence, so this was way beyond the pale). I like reading fantasy, but I don’t like too much magic. To me it has the effect of constant deus ex machina; I’d rather see the characters use perseverance or ingenuity rather than teleportation or instant, unexpected healing. I like an element of realism, so if a fantasy or sci-fi book doesn’t seem to deliver that early on, I probably won’t continue.
This year, I’ll try to spend even less time on the ones I won’t finish, and I won’t bother tracking them either. Maybe that will give me time to finish a few more!