Saturday, January 05, 2013

A Wrap-up of What I Read in 2012

Remember what I said about 2011 being a terrible year because my reading rate had gone down? Well, this past year was even worse. For 2012, I didn't even read half of the number of books I read last year.

Count 'em, I only read 18 books this year.



What the hell happened last year?

Okay, there was January when I lost my job when Megaupload shut down. Fortunately, I managed to get a job a week later for an online gambling company. But due to a heavy/complicated job load, work politics, and moving into a new place on my own, I found I had less time to relax-- including time to read.

So yeah, I read only 18 books-- and 2 of them I dropped a third of the way because I wasn't really getting into them. This is pretty good, given that I dropped 5 books from my 2011 reading list.

(Let me clarify this one: as I've gotten older, my patience for reading books I don't like has gotten shorter. But I give them a lot of chances, figuring that I'm not in the right mood and I'll just put it aside for the moment for another-- easier-to-read-- book. And there are other books I really like despite some obvious flaws and I continue to hold on to 'em and reading them off-and-on for years. So yeah, if I give up on a book, then that book's given up for lost. But I digress.)

So what did I read the past year? It's a mixture of genre (fantasy, SF, horror) and literary reading as usual. Some of these are a mix of both or even new subgenres, like Western-horror. But all of these still fall into the category of speculative fiction, i.e. the element of strangeness is a prominent factor in the story.

The list is as follows:
  1. Bestial, William D. Carl 
  2. Blood Bound, P.C. Hodgell 
  3. Geist, Philippa Ballantine* 
  4. The Crippled God, Steven Erikson 
  5. Not Flesh nor Feathers, Cherie Priest 
  6. The Demon and the City, Liz Williams 
  7. The Thorn and the Blossom, Theodora Goss 
  8. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline 
  9. Blackout, Mira Grant 
  10. The Black Lung Captain, Chris Wooding 
  11. MM9, Hiroshi Yamamoto 
  12. The Fallen Blade, Jon Courtenay Grimwood 
  13. Our Tragic Universe, Scarlett Thomas* 
  14. Dust of the Damned, Peter Brandvold 
  15. This Dark Earth, John Hornor Jacobs 
  16. Zone One, Colson Whitehead
  17. Double Dead, Chuck Wendig
  18. Hart and Boot, Tim Pratt
Looking at this list, I suppose this is what happens when Life happens. Between reading a book and earning a living, we all know the choice we have to make, right? And it's not like I didn't get to read some great books last year.

For example, Colson Whitehead's Zone One was a fantastic literary take on zombies while P.C. Hodgell's Blood Bound reminded me how much I loved picking up this little-known fantasy series so many years ago. There's Theodora Goss new quirky love story The Thorn and the Blossom, and I discovered a new author I found I liked, Chuck Wendig, after reading Double Dead.

And Tim Pratt's old story collection, Hart and Boot, reminded me that, dammit, some books may want you to read incredible stories but Pratt's stories make you want to write incredible stories like he does. (Yes, you can quote me on that.)

So yeah, I fret that I'm not reading as much as I used to. I could probably read fewer books like what Michael Bourne states for a greater appreciation of what I'm reading. But I read for a different reason. I don't read to compete against myself or the world; I read so much (and buy so many books) because I want to discover great stories as much as I can while I still live on this earth. 

That's not a bad goal in life, right? It doesn't harm anyone, it's ecologically-friendly, and it makes me happy. So yeah, I think we're off to a good start this year if I resolve to read more books again. 

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