Books Opinions

Books I Read in 2014

Back at the start of 2014, I challenged myself to read 40 books over the course of the year. In the end, I completed 42. For a while, I was overconfident, thinking I could push it to 60 or so (I was power reading on the bus every morning), but once my PhD started, my novel reading prowess had to take a back seat to speed reading course materials.

A couple of thoughts came to mind about a few of the books I read this year:

Michael Adams and his quest for the worst movie ever made reminds me of my average Sunday afternoon as I peruse youtube with my brother, looking for shit to watch, while eating Indian food and drinking copious amounts of Black Label beer. I wasn’t all that surprised to learn that I had already seen most of the movies he writes about.

I read a solid 10 novels from Henning Mankell this year. I had previously read Faceless Killers and enjoyed it, but something about rereading it got me hooked on that man’s prose and the ridiculous, tragic, realistic events in the life of Detective Wallander. The final novel in the series, The Troubled Man, might have been the most heart-wrenching novel I have ever read, particularly because certain elements of Wallander’s of aging, and losses, struck a little close to home.

Times without Number by Brunner definitely gets the prize for “most difficult book to find”. I had somehow discovered it’s existence on a Wikipedia article about time travel in fiction, and was intrigued by the premise. Unfortunately, the bastard’s been out of print for a while so finding a second hand shop that sold it (over Amazon, no less) was an ongoing challenge. In the end, it’s story was less interesting than it’s ambitious themes, but the themes and thoughts alone were worth the treasure hunt.

The book that challenged and moved me the most was definitely Althaus-Reid’s The Queer God. A well-read, bixesual, latino woman, who was also a liberation theologian, applying Queer theory to Christianity and given no fucks about typical academic methodology? Talk about a wild time. I don’t think I will ever be able to write an academic paper the same way.

Worst book I read might have to go to Stephen King with The Wind through the Keyhole. I love most of this work, but talk about an unfortunately long-winded wreck of a book. The prose were smooth, but fluffly, the plot and structure ambitious in concept, but made pointless through their execution. Oh well, one can’t be expected to write killer fiction for 40 years without a few bags of crap along the way.

Anyways, here’s the list of books I read in 2014:

Kafka – The Trial
John Fante – Ask the Dust
Leo Brent Robillard – Leaving Wyoming
Don Delillo – White Noise
King – The Langoliers
Vonnegut – Gold Bless you Mr Rosewater
Henning Mankell – Faceless Killers
King – Secret Garden Secret Window
Camus – L’etranger
Michael Adams – Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies
King – The Mist
P.D. James – Talking about detective fiction
Mankell – The Dogs of Riga
Mankell – The White Lioness
King – The Library Policeman
King – The Sun Dog
Chester Himes – A Rage in Harlem
Steinbeck – Cannery Row
Mankell – The Man who Smiled
Heinlein – The Puppet Masters
Mankell – Sidetracked
Mankell – The Fifth Woman
Wells – The Isle of Doctor Moreau
Mill – Utilitarianism
Vonnegut – Breakfast of Champions
King – The Wind through the Keyhole
Mankell – One Step Behind
Mankell – Firewall
Mankell – The Pyramid
Mankell – The Troubled Man
John Brunner – Times without Number
Marcella Althaus-Reid – The Queer God
Abbie Reese – Dedicated to God
Pierre Boulle – Planet of the Apes
Orwell – 1984
Fleming – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Burrus – Sex Lives of the Saints
Jay Johnson – Peculiar Faith
Hammett – The Thin Man
Fulton J. Sheen – The World’s First Love
David Mitchell – Cloud Atlas
Gibson – Neuromancer


Books I Read in 2013

I had meant to get this post up sooner, but the nature of a blog is to be ignored and ignored it was.

In 2013, I read a total of 20 books. It’s a little shabby, especially considering the large amounts of free time I had compared to previous years (though, I suspect the lack of free time is what pressed me to read more when I could). As well, I certainly spent more time writing for myself than I have in previous years, so at least I managed to strike some sort of rough literally truce between my pen and the books on my shelf.

Here’s what I plowed through last year:

  • Stephen King – The Green Mile
  • Frank Miller – Batman: Year One
  • Robert Jordan – The Eye of the World
  • John Wyndham – The Day of the Triffids
  • Harry Harrison – Make Room! Make Room!
  • Michael Pollan – The Botany of Desire
  • Sigmund Freud – Civilization and its discontents
  • Tristan Das – Documentary Screenwriting
  • Linda J. Cowgill – The art of Plotting
  • Kurt Vonnegut – Player Piano
  • Marilyn Webber – The Writer’s Road Map
  • Alan Weisman – The World Without Us
  • Edward Dolnick  – The Clockwork Universe
  • Maurice Druon – The Iron King
  • Stephen King – Insomnia
  • Robert Jordan – The Great Hunt
  • Bryan Lee O’Malley – Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
  • Ethan A. Kincaid – Blood Of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy
  • Robert Jordan – The Dragon Reborn

I also read an ebook called A Crash Course in Visual Content Creation but I can’t seem to find the damn thing or remember who authored it.

I had a good year in the non-fiction category. Most were insightful, others life changing: after reading The Botany of Desire I can honestly say I will never buy non-organic potatoes again (in fact, the majority of all vegetables I buy are now organic).

I wasn’t expecting to read so much fantasy, but that’s just the way the cards hit the table this time around. As always, I squeezed in a few Stephen King novels in there, but that’s to be expected since everyone needs a little junk food now and then (and it’s so plentiful and wondrous!). What I did realize is that I need to branch out my reading patterns a little bit more and dive into new authors, which I have fortunately already started this year.