Books I read in 2016

In 2016, I only read 31 books.

Sadly, for a second year in a row, I missed my mark of reading 40+ books.

Of that 32, many were for research and study. For the rest, well I gotta be honest, I went for a lot of novellas to pad in the numbers when I noticed I was dipping behind.

In light of having just read four books this past week, it looks particularly bad. Maybe I was trying to overcompensate.

Oh well, here’s the list:

Crichton – Jurassic Park
Crichton – Rising Sun
Crichton – Lost World
Benchley – Jaws
Wolf – Envisioning Power
Manciejko – The Mixed Multitude
Hoover – Does God make the Man?
Guy – Becket: Warrior, Rebel, Martyr
Martin – Feast for Crows
Martin – Unsound Variations
Martin – A song for Lya
Martin – Game of Thrones
Hess – Magister Ludi
Orsi – History and Presence
Mankell – Return of the Dancing Master
Bishop – Beneath the Shattered Moons
Brunner – Give Warning to the World
Brunner – The Super Barbarians
Brunner – The Squares of the City
Heinlein – All you Zombies
Druon – The Strangled Queen
Druon – The Poisoned Crown
Dubuc – Frere Andre
Masterton – Tengu
Patanaik – Jaya
Mercer – Alexander the Great
Campbell – Who Goes There?
Plate – Key Terms in Material religion
McGrath – Christianity’s Dangerous Idea
Mitchell – Cloning Terror
Craig – The Fall of Japan
Hill – The Fireman

Some observations:
I rediscovered how easy it is to burn through a Michael Cricton novel on the bus / metro. More than once.

Joe Hill’s prose is roughly as addictive as the early work of his father (Steven King).

Amazon lets publishers charge WAY too much for some Kindle releases ($14.99 for an Ebook vs $4.99 for a Paperback… really Harper-Collins?)

Some confessions:
I reread a number of Martin’s crack-addictions that pass for novels, which I always seem to end up doing in the downtime between seasons of the show and the eventual (hopeful) release of his books.

John Brunner’s pulpy-science-fiction novels never disappoint. Fast-paced, imaginative and resolutely tacky yet awesome.

Some highs and lows (mostly lows):
Tengu was undeniably the trashiest book I read all year – but not without some enjoyment.

The premise: A possibly psychic, bed-ridden Japanese evil mastermind creates and army of demonic supersoldiers to invade the USA in retribution for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yup.

Crichton’s Rising Sun really comes in a distant second thanks to that one.

Magister Ludi was, in spite of all its ambitions, probably the most disappointing read of the year.

Yes, I know it won a Nobel Prize for literature, and it was masterfully written as a prose piece. I honestly can’t shame it for being beautifully told.

BUT in terms of story — of weaving together a meaningful narrative and characters — well…

I suppose there’s only so much time I want to spend with listless characters who bloviate for pages on end. This is not how humans speak to one another.

Perhaps at the time it was released, the premise and setup would have come across as more innovative and meaningful. However, it’s not my first time at the speculative lit-fic rodeo.

Within the first forty pages of a somewhat meandering setup I realized there was only one trajectory the novel could follow and one way it could end.

And then I spent the next couple hundred pages following that exact trajectory to that exact ending.

Anyways, enough shitting on the classics. Time for highlights.

Apart from the consistently excellent Henning Mankell mysteries, returning to Druon’s Cursed Kings series was a delight.

I’ve always been a buff for history and well-written non-fiction, and these generally fact-based historical fictions are addictive and engaging even if we know where they are leading us. Down the gutter for France.

Author: alexander

Drinker of bad wine and writer of many things.