Sunday, January 03, 2010

2009 in books

Books read: 123

Authors: about 56 (not counting multi-author books, anthologies, etc.)
Patrick O'Brian: 19 books
Neil Gaiman: 18
John D. MacDonald: 10
Robert B. Parker: 7
C. S. Lewis: 7
J. R. R. Tolkien: 4
Walter Mosley: 4
Richard Stark: 4
William Gibson: 2
Charles Schulz: 2
One-offs: about 46

Themes for the year: re-reads, series, graphic novels
I re-read several favorite series: The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings (which I expect to re-read every two or three years for the rest of my life), 19 out of the 20 books in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series (ditto), and the Chronicles of Narnia (not as good as I thought when I was a child), came close to finishing John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series (all but a couple of which I've read before), and read 5 Spenser novels. I also began Richard Stark's Parker series and finished Neil Gaiman's amazingly good Sandman series of graphic novels.

Favorite new (to me) author: Neil Gaiman
Hands down. I love his work -- graphic novels, novels, and movies. I can't believe that I never knew about him before.

Pleasantest surprise: 115. Mental, Eddie Sarfaty ****
I saw it in the New Books section at my library and I thought, "Yet another standup comic's memoir. It might be funny." So I took it home and read it, and not only was it very funny, it was moving -- genuinely lump-in-my-throat moving in a couple of places in fact.
Honorable mention: 113. My Uncle Oswald, Roald Dahl ****
I'd never read any of Dahl's books for grownups before, so I had no idea he could write a very funny book centering on sexual themes.

Biggest disappointment: 31. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, Jon Meacham **
With its best-seller status, I had high expectations for this one, but I was very disappointed at its shallowness. It's very focused on Jackson's personal life and has what amounts to a gossip-column or even tabloid obsession with the characters around him.
Dishonorable mention: 56. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!, Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith **
I had very high expectations for this one as well, and it was just... meh. Not terrible, but not especially funny either. I suppose hardcore Austen fans like it better.

Book that most helped me better understand something about the world: 60. The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, David Neiwert ****

Most Inspiring: 84. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield ****

Plan for 2010: Slow down
I feel like I rushed through many of these books. Partly that's because I only get books from the library now, so I can't read every book as slowly as I'd like to. But I also think that counting books has made me rush a little too. In the past, I'd always read books I like two or three times before putting them away. I haven't been doing that for the last couple of years; it was always "On to the next!" because I did want that 100-book total.

So I think I'm going to slow down this year. I'm going to read the books I like a couple of times before moving on to the next one, and maybe I'll read some longer ones, even if it's going to take me two or three or even four weeks to get through each of them. If I end up only reading about 50 books that way, I'll be fine with that.


  1. I thought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was great. Then again, I'm a chick. And of course, I keep imagining Keira Knightley kicking ass through the whole thing. LOL.

  2. I suspect the movie will be better than the book, actually. (Even though it has Natalie Portman instead of Keira Knightley.)


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