The following list is the result of an experiment that I’ve been conducting over the past year. I’ve never really been sure of how many books per year I’ve been reading, so I started tallying up everything that I picked up and read this year in a list. Last year, I sort of noticed that I read only a single book over the summer, and only a couple over the fall, resolved to read more than I had. In total, I picked up and read 56 books, while there were two others that I only got through half before putting them aside for a while – I intend to finish them later on at some point.
Of those 58 books there was one alternate history, two biographies, twenty fantasy, twelve history, one mystery, three science related, thirteen science fiction and six Star Wars books. This surprised me a little, because I’m more of a science fiction person than I am a fantasy reader. (Granted, seven of the fantasy books were the Harry Potter books, which I re-read in about a week.)
Some of these books were better than others. My personal favorites were as follows:
Matriarch, Karen Traviss – This is book four of Karen Traviss’s fantastic Wess’Har War series.
Singularity Sky, Charles Stross – This is the first of two books in this universe, and was the first time that I finished the book – I’d started it years ago, but never got around to finishing it. This time, I really enjoyed the storylines, which I was better able to comprehend and put together. The writing’s really good, and Stross is, to me, one of the best Science Fiction writers out there now.
Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan – This was a book that I’d been intending to read for years, and I really loved this book. It’s almost like a darker, more violent Blade Runner, and is the first in a trilogy. Morgan is another brilliant Science Fiction writer out there now.
Ally, Karen Traviss – Book five of the Wess’Har Wars.
The Children of Hurin, J.R.R. Tolkien – I picked this one up as a longtime Tolkien fan. It was a bit different than I expected, more of a tragedy. I’m not all that familiar with the Silmarillion, but this is one of the stories from it.
Victoria’s Wars, Saul David – I picked this up on England, having been looking for a book that chronicled the actions of the English military, and this book was perfect, talking about their actions in the middle east, India, Africa and Asia. Extremely detailed and a gripping read.
Soon, I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman – This book was a quick read, but for someone who likes comic books and the TV show Heroes, this was perfect. It’s a snapshot from this author’s superhero world, except a little more flawed and better thoughtout, and an all around fun read. And humerous as well.
The Battle for the Falklands, Max Hastings – This was another aspect of English history that I’d been looking to read about more, the Falklands War, fought in the early 80s. Extremely detailed, a little dull, but very, very good.
Iron Sunrise, Charles Stross – This is the followup to Singularity Sky. Another really good Sci-Fi read.
The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson – This was one of the social history books that I’d been wanting to read for a while now, and finally got a copy. This is a cool history about the Chicago World Fair and America’s first serial killer. And, said killer was part of a Supernatural Episode.
The World Without Us, Alan Weisman – This was a really cool read – what if people completely vanished from the planet? Weisman looked at all the environmental impacts that people have had, while examining what would happen to all of the buildings and things like that.
The Prestige, Christopher Priest – I loved the movie, and this book is just as good, if a little darker.
Conduct Under Fire, John Glusman – Another fantastic history here, this one about the Pacific Theater and four American doctors who were POWs under the Japanese occupation of the Philipeens. This was a Colby award winner.
In the Shadow of the Moon, Francis French – For a very long time, I’ve been looking for a history of the space program from top to bottom. I came across this while looking for things about the documentary by the same title. This is an incredibly detailed look at the Apollo mission, and is the second in the University of Nebraska’s Outward Odyssey series on space flight.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch – This book came out last year and I finally got a copy, and it blew me off my feet. By far, the best fantasy book that I’ve read this year. Lynch is a master at storylines and characters, and creates an incredibly detailed and complex world here.
Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott lynch – This is Lynch’s followup to his first book (this is the second of seven books), and he does a really good job with this one two. Instead of heists, we’ve got pirates. Fantasy pirates.
Broken Angels, Richard Morgan – Richard Morgan’s followup to Altered Carbon, and this one is just as good – where the first one was more of a mystery, this one is more Military Science fiction, which is really cool to read.
Into That Silent Sea, Francis French – The first book in the Outward Odyssey series, this one’s all about the first steps that humans take into space with the Russians and American’s first successes and failures. Another fantastic book.
Republic Commando: True Colors, Karen Traviss – This was easily the best Star Wars book of the year, and by my favorite author, Karen Traviss. It was a pretty disapointing year for Star Wars on my end, and this one redeemed everything because we’ve got Clones and more complex stories about our favorite commandos.
Probability Moon, Nancy Kress – This was a complete impulse buy for me, something that I’d passed on years ago. If you’re a Stargate fan, you might like this. It’s a pretty quick read, socio-military science fiction, with some great fleet action and science here.
Six Frigates, Ian Toll – This was another book I’d been meaning to read for a little while now, and it’s one of the better histories that I’ve read about the US Navy and the earlier years of the United States. It has a couple flaws, but overall, a really good history.
This year, I’ve got a good 14 or so books to start with. An Army At Dawn and The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson are two that I’ve been meaning to read for a little while now, I’ve got David Halberstam’s last book, The Coldest Winter, about the Korean conflict that just came out, Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill (bonus points to the first person who can guess this guy’s father is – he’s a major author in the horror field), A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr, which I’ve wanted to read for a little while, and a really neat looking book by Adam Roberts called the History of Science Fiction. Among others – there’s several more on my list. I know that I’m going to have a bunch of military history books to read, as I’ll be starting my Masters degree in March, and I’m guessing that my reading time will go down substancially, but I’m hoping to read more books this year than last year. 60 to 70 maybe?
All in all, I purchased 73 books, of varying genres. Some I’d read before, some I read this year and some I have yet to read. I wonder what I’ll come across in the coming year.
This year, I also found and downloaded a cool program, called BookBD, created by SpaceJock software, which has allowed me to catalog all of my books into a comprehensive library, by tracking titles, authors, publishers, editions, ISBNs, years and more, as well as allowing me to check out books and generally keep track of things. Much better than Excell, which I used before to keep track of things. Currently, I own 473 books (I’ve probably missed a couple here and there), and the entire collection is worth several thousand dollars, which shocked me. I also purchased a new set of bookshelves, which is now gracing my living room with my favorite books. There’s still a bunch of improvised shelves and boxes with books here. I suspect that I’ll need another couple sets of shelves before the year is out.