I read 54 books this year, slightly less than last year. I used to read twice that much. That was before the internet came along and rewired my brain. Each year I vow to reverse the internet damage, and each year it’s harder. I’m trying to regain my focus, through more deliberate internet usage and through mindfulness meditation, but I watched more than my share of dog videos this year.
I did finish writing a first draft of a manuscript, for what it’s worth, though I slacked off on writing these past few months.
May 2020 be the year of more reading and more writing.
Total books read, cover-to-cover:
- Adult: 46
- Children’s: 8
Books that were published in 2018:
- Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, by K. J. Parker
- The Last Days of August, by Jon Ronson
- The Man They Wanted Me to Be, by Jared Yates Sexton
Genres (as some books have more than one genre, total exceeds 58):
- Adventure – 1
- Biography – 2
- Economics – 1
- History – 2
- Humor – 4
- Investigative Journalism – 1
- Memoir – 6
- Nature Writing – 1
- Science – 5
- Self help – 1
- Social science – 3
- Survival – 1
- True crime – 2
- Adventure – 2
- Crime/Thriller – 2
- Epic poem – 1
- Fantasy – 11
- Historical fiction – 3
- Literary fiction – 10
- Science fiction – 3
- Western – 1
- Annual fat Russian novel: Instead of a novel, I did a collection of Chekhov short stories
- Re-reads: 9
- Audiobooks: 33
- Unique authors: 46
- Most read author: Lloyd Alexander, because I revisited the Prydain books this year
Nothing very noticeable, except that I read more literary fiction this year. Literary fiction and I have an uneasy relationship (too few dragons, among other problems), but my favorite two books this year was were critically acclaimed works of literature.
Best book of the year:
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro, the basis for the movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson–which I’ve never seen, so I was unprepared for how much it would break my heart. Gentlemen, you need to learn to express your emotions.
K.J. Parker tho. Isn’t he the best?:
He is, he really is.
- The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander. I loved these books as a kid, and I’ve re-read them twice as an adult. They’re Welsh High Fantasy.
- The Wizards of Once and Twice Magic, by Cressida Cowell. I’m not sure if I would have loved these as much if I’d read the print version, but David Tennant does the audio narration and oh my heavens. He’s such a talented narrator–plus he gets to use he native Scottish accent for the sorta-wicked queen.
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman, about the culture class between Hmong refugees and American doctors.
- Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney. Somehow I made it this long without reading the whole thing. What a rollicking fun story.
- Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand. I’ve had enough WWII books for a lifetime, but I made an exception and I’m glad I did. As with all the best survival stories, it features an ungodly number of sharks.
- Tribe, by Sebastian Junger. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role of community. This hit home in a lot of ways.
- Missoula, by Jon Krakauer. I had a few misgivings about reading about sexual assault as written by a man, but I’m such a Krakauer fan that it was worth it.
- Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. Holy shit, this was a good book. Did not see that coming. This was my second favorite book this year. It starts out as a collection of charming character sketches and then turns suuuuper violent.
- Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore, who is a treasure. He’s such a funny writer.
- Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, by K. J. Parker, who is among my very favorite living novelists. Everything I know about medieval siege warfare I owe to this man. I now have opinions on catapults v. trebuchets.
- How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan, about mind-expanding drugs like mushrooms and LSD. To say nothing of the recreational potential, there are so may possible therapeutic uses for these drugs, but almost no one is doing research on them because we, as a society, are a little too Puritanical. Heaven forfend that something with medical value might also be recreationally enjoyable. (See also: marijuana.)
- The Godfather, by Mario Puzo. It’s not a work of high literature, but holy hell this was a fun read.
- The Last Days of August, by Jon Ronson. I’m such a fan of Jon Ronson. He takes the most bizarre topics (in this case, the death of a porn star) and turns them into fascinating works of nonfiction.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain. You don’t need me to sing the praises of Mark Twain. This was such a fun book. Goodness. Medieval time-travel meets alternate history.
- Crosstalk, by Connie Willis, who is my favorite living science fiction writer. This one’s about telepathy
All the books I read:
|Alexander, Lloyd||Taran Wanderer||Fantasy||1964|
|Alexander, Lloyd||The Black Cauldron||Fantasy||1965|
|Alexander, Lloyd||The Book of Three||Fantasy||1966|
|Alexander, Lloyd||The Castle of Lyr||Fantasy||1967|
|Alexander, Lloyd||The High King||Fantasy||1968|
|Alexander, Lloyd||The Foundling||Fantasy||1973|
|Balcombe, Jonathan||What a Fish Knows||Science||2016|
|Chekhov, Anton||The Kiss and Other Stories||Literary||1915|
|Cowell, Cressida||The Wizards of Once||Fantasy||2017|
|Cowell, Cressida||Twice Magic||Fantasy||2018|
|Didion, Joan||Blue Nights||Memoir||2011|
|Ennis, Garth||Rover Red Charlie||Adventure||2014|
|Fadiman, Anne||The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down||Social Science||1997|
|Flores, Dan||Coyote America||Science||2016|
|Grann, David||The White Darkness||Adventure||2018|
|Harris, Dan||Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics||Self help||2017|
|Heaney, Seamus (tr.)||Beowulf||Epic Poetry||2000|
|Ishiguro, Kazuo||The Remains of the Day||Literary Fiction||1989|
|Jemisin, N. K.||How Long ‘Til Black Future Month||Science Fiction||2018|
|Johnson, Denis||Jesus’ Son||Literary Fiction||1992|
|Junger, Sebastian||Tribe||Social Science||2016|
|Krakauer, Jon||Missoula||True Crime||2015|
|Lahiri, Jhumpa||The Interpreter of Maladies||Literary||1999|
|Larson, Gary||Cows of Our Planet||Humor||1992|
|Larson, Gary||The Chickens Are Restless||Humor||1993|
|Larson, Gary||Far Side Gallery v. 4||Humor||1993|
|Le Guin, Ursula K.||The Left Hand of Darkness||Science Fiction||1969|
|Leopold, Aldo||A Sand County Almanac||Nature Writing||1949|
|Lipska, Barbara||The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind||Memoir||2018|
|McMurtry, Larry||Lonesome Dove||Western||1985|
|Moore, Christopher||A Dirty Job||Fantasy||2016|
|Noah, Trevor||Born a Crime||Memoir||2016|
|Nunez, Sigrid||The Friend||Literary||2018|
|O’Brien, Tim||The Things They Carried||Literary||1980|
|Parker, K. J.||Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City||Fantasy||2019|
|Pollan, Michael||How to Change Your Mind||Science||2018|
|Price, Adam O’Fallon||The Grand Tour||Literary||2016|
|Puzo, Mario||The Godfather||Crime||1969|
|Randisi, Robert J, ed.||Greatest Hits||Thriller||2005|
|Rash, Ron||The Risen||Literary||2016|
|Reitman, Janet||Inside Scientology||Investigative Journalism||2011|
|Ronson, Jon||The Last Days of August||Biography||2019|
|Sedaris, David||When You Are Engulfed in Flames||Humor||2008|
|Sexton, Jared Yates||The Man They Wanted Me to Be||Memoir||2019|
|Steinbeck, John||The Wayward Bus||Literary||1947|
|Twain, Mark||A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court||Historical||1889|
|Weatherford, Jack||Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World||History||2004|
|Willis, Connie||Crosstalk||Science Fiction||2016|
|Wohlleben, Peter||The Hidden Life of Trees||Science||2015|