I exceeded my goal of fifty books by eight!
In 2013, I planned on hitting fifty and fell short by three. Well darn, how could that be? So in 2014 my resolution was 50, for sure. Not only did I read a lot more this year but I listened a lot more. I found I was spending a lot of time in my studio working on my art and listening to the radio, time that could be spent reading. Simple solution, have someone read to me. Multi-tasking at its best. So I started buying more books from Audible and forced myself to learn how to download books from the public library’s collection called, One Click Digital. I now love OCD because I got hooked on the Longmire series of books by Craig Johnson. Once one book was done I wanted the next, NOW! THIS MINUTE!! If you are a reader of series books you know what I mean. You want to know what happens next to your favorite characters of the moment. Forget waiting lists, reserving or driving around from library to library ( ’cause don’t cha-know, one library doesn’t carry all of one series. They get sprinkled between the various branches). Hey I’m a retired librarian, I know the secrets and the method to their madness. So download it and continue on.
But I digress, here are my reading highlights of the past year.
Well as I mentioned, Craig Johnson’s Longmire series was really enjoyable. I learned of his books because there is an A&E series we’d been watching based on the books (will be moving to Netflix next year.) What was fun is the books are different. Sure, Walt Longmire is the same, craggy, easy-going small town sheriff in present day Wyoming who is seemingly well read like his creator, but his deputies aren’t or they have very different personalities (case in point, Vic) and the cases they work on are separate from the television series. So, double your pleasure. Here are books 1,2,3. Also, the narrator of the audio books, George Guidall, is really fine.
The other series I continued to read was David Baldacci’s “John Puller.” John Puller is a combat veteran and a military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. He gets the tough cases. Sure, he’s over the top, super intelligent, crack shot, savvy in the field…but who wants to read about an average guy who pulls the easy jobs. Baldacci is also a guilty read for me. His books are what I call “fast reads”, that is, start on Monday, done by Tuesday, next book please. Great thrillers. I read books 2 (The Forgotten) and 3 (The Escape) this year. But you need to start with Zero Day.
Okay, I’m a Science Fiction/Fantasy fan. No apologies, I love this genre and I think the majority of readers are missing some good stories because they think it’s all like Star Trek or Peter Pan ( both worthy in their own ways). I had three favorites in this category.
First, The Martian by Andy Weir. This author self published The Martian in 2012,but then Crown Publishing picked it up in 2014. I bought it from Audible on the basis of one review. The story is basically about astronaut, Mark Watney, who is presumed dead when a Mars mission goes bad because of a severe storm. His crew mates leave for Earth. Except Watney is alive and now has to figure out how to survive till NASA notices and tries to figure out how to rescue him. It has been described as Apollo 13 meets Castaway and that is just about right. Get it in audio, the narrator does a good job. I heard Ridley Scott is making a movie of it to be released this November.
Second, Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I am also a self-confessed fantasy, Young Adult, dystopian novel junkie. This one seemed to sing to me. Darrow, is a member of the lowest caste, the Reds, in a color-coded futuristic society. He has been told his work, dangerous mining on Mars, is for the good of the society and will ensure a wonderful future for all. Lies of course. After tragedy hits close to home he is contacted by the rebels who ask him to take on the body and mannerisms of a Gold (through training and surgery) and infiltrate the ruling class. First in a series but wow! what a great start. Better than Hunger Games and I would rank it more an adult novel than YA.
Third, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A little bit of fantasy, a little bit of horror and written by one of my favorite authors. This was a treat because it was a BBC full-cast dramatization. Sound effects and music and a descent into the world of London Below. That’s right, a huge world below the city where evil lurks and things definitely go bump, and grind, in the night.Onward to the horror category, though Neverwhere could qualify, you can’t beat the King, Stephen King of course. Last year his Dr. Sleep was my horror favorite and I can’t say that Mr. Mercedes, this year’s pick, was better but it was the good and the best King I read this year. Definitely better than Revival in my opinion. And though I love a good demon, Mr. Mercedes was all about real-life horror – an insidious psychotic killer who goes up against the former cop who failed in the first go-round to catch him. King is the master of good vs evil.
I belong to a book group and because of that I also read some mainstream fiction. It is good discipline for me or I would just read SF/horror/fantasy for the rest of my life. I am not that one minded but this group definitely broadens my horizons and puts variety into my book life. For me the best from this group was Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. In this fiction book she explores environmental themes and the migration of the Monarch Butterfly but ties it seamlessly together with the life of a woman who is trying to sort and make sense of her life, her marriage, her family. I also love Kingsolver because she writes beautifully. You don’t fast read her books, you savor them.
Finally I think you may have noticed the lack of nonfiction. I read some. It is not my favorite reading and many nonfiction books that I start I do not completely finish. But I did read a few this year and this is my top pick, Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman, designed and illlustrated by Chip Kidd. It is Gaiman’s Keynote address to the University of the Arts Class of 2012. It is a gem of a book. I’ve linked to his address here, which is wonderful, but combined with Kidd’s design, it is amazing. Find a copy if you can.
So there you have the highs of my year. Here’s a link to the complete list. Titles in green were Curt’s reading. My resolution for 2015, 60 books, for sure!