One of my most popular posts is a list of sites that will help you decide what book to read next. It surprises me a little that people use google to help them decide what they should read as I have stacks of unread books all over my house. Well, not in the kitchen although there are a couple of cookbooks on the table.
And since I love the library, I am constantly checking out books and rarely get to the unread ones that I own.
I’ve been keeping track of the books I’ve read since 1991. I wish I had started earlier but that’s when I started writing them down. I’d also like to get them in a database but I don’t know when I will find the time to do that. Anyway, I’ve averaged a book a week since that time. A couple of years I read less, such as when I was in grad school or when my daughter was born but overall I’ve read between 30-70 books per year.
I don’t view this as any great accomplishment. I love to read, I rarely watch television and I make time for it. I usually go to bed around 10 and read for at least an hour. The problem I frequently run into, however, is that I will be so engrossed in the book that I will stay up too late.
We are halfway through 2010 and I’ve read 28 books so I’m on track to read one per week. Here is the list of what I’ve read. As you can see, I read a lot more fiction than non-fiction and the fiction I read tends to lean toward science fiction and fantasy. I’ve also been leaning toward neo-noir this year, which is surprising because I don’t usually read thrillers and mysteries. Obviously, I’m not reading War and Peace but I do read some really long books and the average tends to stay the same. I also read more than one book at a time. There is always one fiction and one non-fiction but frequently I am reading 4 books at once so I have something for whatever mood I’m in.
The books are in chronological order. The first one on the list is the first one I finished this year. The ones with asterisks were my favorites.
- **Under the Dome: A Novel – Stephen King. I’m not a huge Stephen King fan and haven’t read many of his novels but I loved this book. It was 1,100 pages and I blew through it. The detailed small town characters captivated me far more than the story. I did read The Stand when I was 14 and that book terrified me. It still does.
- **Await Your Reply – Dan Chaon. I didn’t know much about this one and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a story about identity theft and three strangers.
- Shades of Grey: A Novel – Jasper Fforde. I love Jasper Fforde’s books, especially the Thursday Next stories such as The Eyre Affair, and I’ve read everything by him. This one I didn’t love. I’m not sure why but I was bored. It’s a story about social class being based on the colors that individuals can see.
- The City & The City – China Mieville. I really like China Mieville but I didn’t care for this book. I thought it was dull. And I’m very surprised that it keeps winning different sci-fi awards. An excellent book by Mieville is Perdido Street Station.
- The Magicians: A Novel – Lev Grossman. I have mixed feelings about this one. The main characters were mostly horrible people but the story was intriguing and I couldn’t put it down.
- **Louisa May Alcott The Woman Behind Little Women – Harriet Reisen. I really enjoyed this one. Louisa May Alcott had an interesting life due to having an somewhat odd family. Her father was good friends with Emerson but was not very good at earning money. It seems that as Louisa started earning money from her writing that she felt put upon to support her family.
- Inverted World – Christopher Priest. One of the strangest dystopian novels that I’ve read. If you like dystopian literature, I would recommend it. Otherwise, I’m not so sure.
- Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back – Douglas Rushkoff. Rushkoff argues that corporate culture has disconnected people from each other and increased individuality over community.
- Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier. Historical fiction about female fossil hunters in the Victorian era.
- **Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Seth Grahame-Smith. This is by the same author as Pride &Prejudice and Zombies. I liked this one a lot better. It combines history with the fantasy of vampires being real and Lincoln being a hunter of them. Did you know that vampires were on the side of the South in the Civil War?
- **Sleepless: A Novel– Charlie Huston. A post apocalyptic novel about a disease that makes people unable to sleep. The cause of the disease shocked me, yet also seemed plausible. While I loved this novel, it was very violent so would hesitate to recommend it to everyone. I am now reading Huston’s other novels. Even when violent and crass he has spot-on perfect dialogue.
- In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan. I’m not sure what took me so long to read Pollan. I really liked him in the documentary Food Inc. so I decided to read some of his books. This basically discusses the typical Western diet of processed and fast food and how it’s negative effects on our health.
- **Boneshaker– Cherie Priest. This was a surprise favorite. An alternate 1880’s American steampunk novel that includes environmental degradation, dirigibles and zombies. Boneshaker just won the 2010 award for best science fiction novel. (Take that as you will – The City and the City, which I couldn’t stand, got best Fantasy Novel).
- The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: A Novel – Peter Ackroyd. A fictional account of Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the monster. Overall, I didn’t care for this one. I did, however, like that Victor is friends with Percy Shelley and it did have a surprise ending.
- Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future – Bill McKibben. The author argues that the planet doesn’t have enough resources to sustain unlimited growth and that a new economic model is required.
- Blackout – Connie Willis. I’ve read everything by Connie Willis and this is her first novel in a long time. I didn’t care for this one as much as her earlier ones – it was lacking in the humor that she is known for. I also discovered halfway through this book that it was the first of two parts and that the second won’t be released until October. I would have waited to read it, if I had known that before starting it.
- **The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel – Charlie Huston. A gritty novel about crime scene cleaners. Again, even though it really wasn’t my type of book, I loved it. Huston just has such a way with dialogue. Definitely not for the squeamish or those offended by foul language.
- Freedom (TM) – Daniel Suarez. Follow up to the novel Daemon. A computer program has taken over the Internet and millions are joining the virtual world to fight those in power. I liked this one better than the first but both are excellent technothrillers.
- Already Dead: A Novel – Charlie Huston. The first in Huston’s Joe Pitt vampire series.
- **The Spellmans Strike Again: A Novel (Izzy Spellman Mysteries) – Lisa Lutz. This is one of my guilty pleasure series. It’s about a family of private detectives who spend more time spying on each other than on their clients. Very funny.
- **The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change – Annie Leonard. The book looks at consumption and all of the resources and unpaid for costs that go into all of the products that we buy. It will make you think twice about buying something as seemingly simple as a t-shirt.
- Impact – Douglas Preston. I not sure why I read this one – I think was on a NPR list of sci-fi books. It’s about a meteorite like object that hits the Earth and the ramifications of that event.
- Equal Rites: A Discworld Novel – Terry Pratchett. The third in Pratchett’s very funny Discworld series.
- Bitter Seeds – Ian Tregillis A sci fi alternate history of World War II.
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals – Michael Pollan. Another of Pollan’s books about food.
- Blasphemy – Douglas Preston. I liked Impact pretty well so I thought I would try another book by this author. This one is about a supercollider particle accelerator and religion.
- Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate) – Gail Carriger. This book was light fun. Alexia is an oddball in a Victorian London that accepts werewolves and vampires because she doesn’t have a soul.
- **The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage) – Steig Larsson. This seems to be one of those books that people either love or hate. I enjoyed it pretty well and liked most of the characters and the story. I did think that some of the character’s reactions to some rather horrific events were kind of flat. Apparently this has already been made into a movie.
photo credit: 0olong